Crapshoot: The (Lost) Elder Scrolls

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From 2010 to 2014 Richard Cobbett wrote Crapshoot, a column about rolling the dice to bring random obscure games back into the light. This week, we look back to a time when Skyrim was new and shiny and Battlespire and Redguard were hidden gems. Gems-ish.

Skyrim! It’s here, it’s awesome, and you’re probably playing it right now, aren’t you? But here’s something interesting you may or may not know—while it’s officially The Elder Scrolls V, it’s actually the seventh game set in its universe—not including expansion packs like Shivering Isles and Bloodmoon, or a set of mobile games for N-Gage and cellphones. Somewhere in the middle, two went missing—and their names are Battlespire and Redguard. What happened to these lost adventures?

While The Elder Scrolls is currently the biggest single-player RPG universe out there, the surprising thing is that it was never originally intended to be one. The first game, Arena, started out as a gladiatorial combat hack-and-slash about a team of mercenary types fighting their way through fantasy tournament bouts with the aim of ultimately taking down an evil wizard. During development, what had been intended as side-quests ended up becoming the game’s core; a game that featured no magic items called Elder Scrolls, nor any fighting in an arena. The first bit was added to the title more or less for the hell of it, the second handwaved by the idea that the land of Tamriel was so dangerous, so chaotic, simply living in it was like living in… uh… an arena, that “Arena” had been adopted as its nickname.



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