How to Play – The Elder Scrolls: Arena
If you are an Elder Scrolls fan or someone who is new to the series you may be curious or nostalgic about where it all began.
There are actually numerous titles in the Elder Scrolls series. Some of which are lesser known than others (Travels, Battlespire, Redguard, etc.)
Today we will be installing and playing the very first entry into the series; The Elder Scrolls: Arena.
Arena can be downloaded for free directly from Bethesda’s website:
The game can no longer be download directly from Bethesda’s website so I am providing an alternate link to the files from the Elder Scrolls Wiki:
Unzip the Arena106Setup.zip file you downloaded and run the Arena106.exe setup file that’s inside. By default the installer will create an “ARENA” installation folder on your C: drive.
Once you have downloaded and installed the game, you will need to configure it to work with a program called DOSBox since it’s an older DOS based PC game from 1994.
Click the link below to download the DOSBox emulator:
Run the DOSBox installer and it will create the following folder on your hard drive:
C:\Program Files (x86)\DOSBox-0.74
The easiest way to run Arena in DOSBox is to create a shortcut that points to both The Elder Scrolls Arena and DOSBox. This can be done by right-clicking on your desktop and selecting New > Shortcut.
Copy and paste the following line into the shortcut location bar:
"C:\Program Files (x86)\DOSBox-0.74\DOSBox.exe" "C:\ARENA\ARENA.BAT"
Then name your shortcut “The Elder Scrolls Arena”.
PLAY THE GAME
When you double click on the shortcut, the game should launch and play without needing to type any DOSBox commands. If it doesn’t start, check the locations above that you copied into your shortcut and ensure the paths and program version numbers reflect what is installed on your system. (Current as of May 2017)
On a modern PC, the game should run fairly smooth but if you are having any performance issues you may need to adjust some settings in the DOSBox configuration file.
If you are technically inclined I have linked to additional information on that here.
Some of the more relevant configuration info can be found in the “Performance Tuning” section of the article:
ELDER SCROLLS: ARENA GUIDE
Once you have the game up and running you may want to checkout Retromaggedon’s outstanding new player guide for Elder Scrolls Arena. It covers everything a new player to Arena would need to know.
ESCAPE FIRST DUNGEON
Additionally, checkout this brief video on escaping the first dungeon which has been known to make or break the Elder Scrolls Arena experience for many new players:
In a nutshell go Straight > Left > Straight > Left > Straight > Left > exit.
(West, South, West, South, West, South, exit)
ARENA SPELL COSTS
Upon exiting the first dungeon you will be asked a question that can only be referenced in the Arena manual. (A staple of early 90’s software protection.) In Arena, you will need to know the cost of certain spells which can be located here:
Congratulations on adventuring forth in the world of Arena! From here on out the game is actually pretty fun and fairly challenging at times. Remember to save often and look back in appreciation of how far the Elder Scrolls has come!
(When you exit the game, if you are taken to a command prompt simply type “exit” to get back into Windows.)