The Elder Scrolls: Arena

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The Elder Scrolls: Arena
The Elder Scrolls: Arena cover
Developers
Bethesda Softworks
Release dates
DOS 1994
Windows September 10, 2013[1]
The Elder Scrolls: Arena at Wikipedia
The Elder Scrolls
The Elder Scrolls: Arena 1994
The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall 1996
An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire 1997
The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard 1998
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind 2002
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 2006
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim 2011
The Elder Scrolls Online 2014
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition 2016
The Elder Scrolls: Legends 2017
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR 2018
The Elder Scrolls: Blades 2019
The Elder Scrolls VI TBA

Key points

Floppy disk version re-released as a free download in 2004 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of The Elder Scrolls series.
ArenaSetup is a pre-packaged installer for Windows, including the CD version of the game.

General information

Official site
Official forum
The Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages
UESP forum
GOG.com Community Discussions for game series
GOG.com Support Page

Availability[edit]

Source DRM Notes Keys OS
Retail
Prompts for answers from manual, code wheel, etc.
Floppy version: requires manual to answer Shift Gate copy protection questions.[2] Use DOSBox.
DOS
Retail
Disc check (requires the CD/DVD in the drive to play)
CD version: disc check. Use DOSBox.
DOS
Official website
DRM-free
This is the CD version pre-packaged with DOSBox.
Windows
Official website
DRM-free
The floppy disk version from the official site (without DOSBox).
DOS
The GOG.com version is available by purchasing any other game on GOG.com published by Bethesda Softworks.

Version differences[edit]

The CD version has voice acting during cutscenes, removes the Shift Gate's copy protection questions,[2] a remastered ending, and small graphical changes to items like shields. The two versions are otherwise identical.
The Elder Scrolls Anthology includes the floppy version.[3]

Essential improvements[edit]

Patches[edit]

Patch 1.06 is the latest patch for the retail floppy version. The CD version and the freeware floppy version are already fully patched.

Run in DOSBox[edit]

To play Arena properly under DOSBox, make the following changes to the DOSBox configuration file[4]):
  • Change core=auto to core=dynamic
  • Change aspect=false to aspect=true
  • (OPTIONAL) Change scaler=normal2x to scaler=normal3x
  • Change fullresolution=original to fullresolution=desktop
  • Change cycles=auto to cycles=max or (OPTIONAL) cycles=fixed 20000
  • Change output=surface to output=opengl or output=ddraw (Windows)
If output= isn't changed from surface and the aspect= command is turned to true, the game will become unplayable.
Changing scaler= to "normal3x" will emulate the game in windowed mode at twice the resolution, staying faithful to the original's size. Paired well with aspect=true.
Changing the cycles= command to max will force DOSBox to emulate the game at a higher framerate with high detail settings, but animations will be sped up, making NPCs very hard to talk to, as they move too fast. This also applies to enemies.
Changing the cycles= command to "fixed 20000" will force the game to play as it should on release, but will become unplayable on higher detail levels due to slowdown.
Changing the core= command to "dynamic" will allow the game to run at a higher framerate when using high detail settings, as opposed to "auto."

Enhanced Music[edit]

When installing the game under DOSBox, the guide provided by Bethesda recommends SoundBlaster 16 for the music and sound emulation. This provides faithful, but worse musical-quality. For increased musical quality, the Soundcard settings must match these:

  • SOUND: Sound Blaster or SB16 (or compatible) - I0:220 IRQ:7 DMA:1
  • MUSIC: General Midi or MPU-401 - I0:330 IRQ:2 DMA:1
While improving musical fidelity, GeneralMIDI will make various dungeon tracks sound "awkward" due to the new instrument sounds.
Some dungeon music won't play if GeneralMIDI or SoundBlaster is used, as both modes have special music. GeneralMIDI seems to have the most variation.
When using SoundBlaster, some overworld music, like the snowing music, will have odd, warping-sounding instruments in the background.

Source ports[edit]

OpenTESArena is an early developed user-made port of the game based on SDL2 which supports Linux and Windows. However, the software must be compiled for now and the instructions & requirements are available.

Game data[edit]

Save game data location[edit]

System Location
DOS <path-to-game>\*.0*
Windows <path-to-game>\*.0*
Each save is comprised of multiple *.0* files, with the extension's number matching the slot it was saved to.[5]
NAMES.DAT stores the save file names (saves can still be loaded without it).
In-game settings are stored in each save rather than shared.

Save game cloud syncing[edit]

System Native Notes
GOG Galaxy

Video settings[edit]

General settings.
General settings.
Graphics option Option Notes
Widescreen resolution
320x200 only.
Multi-monitor
Ultra-widescreen
4K Ultra HD
Field of view (FOV)
Windowed
Toggle with Alt+ Enter (when using DOSBox).
Borderless fullscreen windowed
Anisotropic filtering (AF)
Anti-aliasing (AA)
Vertical sync (Vsync)
For DOSBox use an unofficial build (see the glossary page for other workarounds).
60 FPS
Capped at 70 FPS, on maximum cycle settings.
120+ FPS
Capped at 70 FPS, on maximum cycle settings.
Color blind mode

Input settings[edit]

Keyboard and mouse Native Notes
Remapping
Key remapping only available while pressing ALT+F1 in DOSBox.
Mouse acceleration
Mouse sensitivity
For DOSBox set in the DOSBox configuration file.
Mouse input in menus
Mouse Y-axis inversion
Touchscreen optimised
Touchscreen rarely works, and only for menus.
Controller
Controller support
For DOSBox use the DOSBox Mapper (see the glossary page for other workarounds).

Audio settings[edit]

Audio options Native Notes
Separate volume controls
Sound and Music.
Surround sound
Subtitles
All dialogue is text.
Closed captions
Mute on focus lost
This game supports the MT-32 and General MIDI for music.

Localizations

Language UI Audio Sub Notes
English
Only cutscenes are voiced.
French
Use Projet French Arena or ArenaSetup. Some text is English.
Russian
Fan translation Download

Other information[edit]

API[edit]

Technical specs Supported Notes
DOS video modes VGA
64-bit executable
16-bit executable.

System requirements[edit]

DOS
Minimum
Operating system (OS) 5.0
Processor (CPU) Intel 386 25 MHz
System memory (RAM) 4 MB
Hard disk drive (HDD) 25 MB
Video card (GPU) VGA

References