Elder Scrolls, You've Come A Long Way, Baby

Today, the fifth game in the Elder Scrolls series will be released. Considering the franchise is seventeen years old, that's not many Elder Scrolls games!

It's been quality over quantity, though, and over the years the series has sought to continuously evolve and improve, staying a perennial favourite while competing games come and go.

With Skyrim upon us, then, today is as good a day as any to look back on the history of the Elder Scrolls series.

In the gallery above you'll find footage from every major release in the series (not counting expansions), from the numbered "main" games to the less awesome spin-offs.

Total Recall is a look back at the history of video games through their characters, franchises, developers and trends.

The Elder Scrolls: Arena (1994) - Our introduction to the world of Tamriel, Arena wasn't meant to be an RPG at all. It was only when developers Bethesda began realising that a fighting game's side-missions were more interesting than the fighting that the nature of the game was decided upon. That's why the game is called Arena: it was meant to be all about the combat, and despite arena combat being cut from the game, it was too late to take back all the posters and art that had been made.

The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall (1996) - Things got a little more mature with the second game in the series, so much so that Daggerfall shipped with a system that would lock kids out of adult content like dead bodies, blood and the sexier side missions.

An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire (1997) - Oh dear. The series makes the first of its two ill-advised detours from the main series. Battlespire was less of an RPG and more of a first-person slasher, was confined to levels instead of a sprawling world and was plagued by bugs.

The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard (1998) - Redguard was even more of an action title than Battlespire, and is the only game in the franchise to divorce the player entirely from the first-person perspective. I remember playing this game in my teens. I do not remember enjoying it.

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (2002) - Ah, that's more like it. Back on track. The third true game in the series, Morrowind was also the first in the main line to appear on console, courtesy of an Xbox version. Morrowind laid down the template the series uses to this day of leaving the player free to not only explore a fully-3D world, but to engage in structured side-missions like joining a guild.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (2006) - Long-time fans may sometimes prefer the slightly more complex Morrowind, but Oblivion is the game which blew the doors off the franchise, catapulting it from successful RPG series into industry blockbuster. Released across not just the PC but two consoles, it featured a beautifully-detailed world, haunting soundtrack and hundreds of hours' worth of side-missions. Like Morrowind, it's also benefited tremendously from a large and passionate modding community on the PC, extending the life and the appeal of the game.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011) - The fifth game in the series, Skyrim, is out this week on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.


    Daggerfall was a good game. I enjoyed it a lot when I was too young to be playing it :P

    I remember I REALLY wanted to play Redguard. Sounds like I didn't miss much?

      Pfft, RedGuard was a fantastic game. I was disappointed they never continued with TESAdventures.

        i've wanted to play a proper pirate RPG for so damn long now, I was disappointed when they cancelled that spiffy lookin' Pirates of the Caribbean RPG.

          I hate you. Why'd you have to and ruin a perfect day?


            For what it's worth, I share your pain. ;)

            Risen 2 is looking kinda pirate-y

            The good kind of pirate-y I mean

          Sid Meier's Pirates might not qualify as a proper RPG, but it is wicked sick if you haven't tried it.

    Daggerfall!! so many memories.

    You know, I still haven't finished Oblivion...

    *cue rock throwing*

      It's ok, I'll save you by sacrificing myself...
      ...I didn't like oblivion, or fallout 3. I found them to be boring.

      I like my RPG's to be linear, with a awesome story (ie. my favourite is FFX).

        You like 'awesome stories' and like FFX? Huh?

      You've got nothing to worry about, I never even made it out of the dungeon at the start...

    Daggerfall, Redguard and Morrowind were the greatest of the Elder Scrolls games. Oblivion, not so much. I don't hold out much hope for SKyrim.

    Such a cynical and jaded gamer I am nowadays...

    oooo, Elder Scrolls, this is that majong game right?
    they've come along way since minecraft.

      You are not funny., you arE an idiot


          He's completely and utterly furious, but you are still an idiot.


              I thought it was funny

    When I first played morrowind, the first few minutes was enough to put me in sheer awe of the potential of the world. I got the same feeling when I played oblivion and fallout.

    I can't wait for the buzz I get in the first few minutes of skyrim, when I realize just how much there is to do in this game.

    I hope the modding community starts up fast, because I can't wait to see the kinds of things they'll be rolling out.

    I loved Morrowind. Hated Oblivion. Quietly optimistic for Skyrim.

    R35 is very angry and upset at you for trolling and you are an idiot for trolling in the first place. Granted I am the bigger idiot for feeding you. Can we call it a draw?

    It's strange, initially it made me think of an updated might and magic 6 (graphics wise that is) and then moved to fable in the narrow mountain paths and wolves and bandits.

    Haven't played a game where you upgrade the skills you actually use in a long time tho

    Morrowind was a lot more fun the Oblivion. Less rules and contrived barriers.

    I forget which palace but you could rob the hell out of the treasury, titles, huge amount of gold, weapons and jewels. The main quest was seriously hard to do but just flying around using those boots that made you blind (but you could fly) was heaps of fun.

    Lots of easy ways to get rich easy (and get a kick ass sword).

    Oblivion was easy and artifical. The easiest way to beat the game was to simply not level up. There were very extremely powerful weapons that you could access and simply use them instead of levelling (and having the monsters level with you)

      Most of those weapons leveled as well. So leveling up meant that the weapons would have better stats when you found them. It wasn't perfect, but it wasn't some kind of 'terrible black sheep' like people seem to treat it as.

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