Is The Elder Scrolls Anthology That Good of a Deal?
It wasn’t too long ago that the id software-developed and Bethesda published collection called Doom 3: BFG Edition came out. Now it has been announced that a new collection from Bethesda is making its way to shelves in several countries in mid-September 2013: The Elder Scrolls Anthology. The news hit the internet a couple of weeks ago but almost completely slipped by me, as I only saw it in a gaming newsletter just the other day.
The Elder Scrolls Anthology will retail at $79.99 in the US, £49.99 in the UK, €59.99 in the UK/Europe and $89.99 in Australia. You get The Elder Scrolls: Arena, The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and the expansions (Tribunal and Blood Moon) as well as the Elder Scrolls Construction Set, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion plus the major expansions for that (Knights of the Nine and Shivering Isles), and lastly The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, plus all the DLC (Dawnguard, Hearthfire, and Dragonborn). To add to this you also get a Steam key to unlock digital copies of Morrowind GOTY, Oblivion GOTY Deluxe Edition (which comes with all the official content including Horse Armor, etc.), and Skyrim Legendary Edition on Steam.
- Disc version of The Elder Scrolls: Arena
- Disc version of The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall
- Disc version of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
- Disc versions of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind expansions (Tribunal and Blood Moon)
- Disc version of Elder Scrolls Construction Set
- Disc version of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
- Disc versions of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion expansions (Knights of the Nine and Shivering Isles)
- Disc version of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: Legendary Edition (includes DLC: Dawnguard, Hearthfire, and Dragonborn) - requires Steam activation
- Steam key to unlock Morrowind GOTY , Oblivion GOTY Deluxe Editio, and Skyrim Legendary Edition
- Five physical maps of Tamriel, Iliac Bay, Morrowind, Cyrodiil and Skyrim
There’s no doubt The Elder Scrolls Anthology provides incredible value for money in some people’s eyes, but I have my reservations. I probably won’t buy it and here’s why:
First off, The Elder Scrolls: Arena is a freeware game. Bethesda released it as such in 2004, to mark its tenth anniversary. And the one that is included in this bundle is the original version (although it hasn't been confirmed whether this is the floppy or CD version – the floppy version being the one you can download online for free) – when most fans were hoping that it would be an HD version or at least optimised for modern operating systems, seeing as TES: Anthology is advertised to run on Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7 (Windows 8 support is as of yet unconfirmed). It will instead run in a pre-configured version of Dosbox, which has become the industry standard, used by Good Old Games with their range of classic games.
The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall is freeware too. It was released as such by Bethesda in 2009, thirteen years after its original release. This one is also the original version and will run in a pre-configured version of Dosbox as well. Let me tell you right now that there are better ways of getting it to work on modern operating systems, such as using Dagger XL, now just known as the XL Engine, which is a source port.
As for Morrowind, I already have it – it was included in a bundle, along with the Construction Set, that arrived with a graphics card that I bought years ago. While the expansions included in TES: Anthology would be nice, I personally don’t play the game anymore (some die hard RPG fans might be horrified to read that), even though I do have very fond memories of it (except for the cliff racers – still trying to forget them actually). The truth is that there are so many freely available mods online for Morrowind (hopefully there's one that takes cliff racers out of the game completely), that if I wanted to I could extend my enjoyment of the base game that much more, and for much less. The version of Morrowind in this pack is also the original version, which as I said I already own, and at one point I downloaded one or two Morrowind overhaul mods that enhance its graphical and audio quality.
And it has been said that Morrowind doesn't come with any of the minor official plug-ins. You will still have to download those, free of charge.
I could say virtually the same things when it comes Oblivion. I own the game but don’t have the expansions or any of the minor extra content for it. There’s a copy of Oblivion: 5th Anniversary Edition that stares me right in the face every time when I am down at my local games retailer, beseeching me to give in to temptation and buy it. But I still haven’t done that months down the line, so I obviously don’t want it that badly.
Then there’s Skyrim. I have yet to play the game, I must admit (once again, RPG fans are literally scratching their eyeballs out). You’d think to get Skyrim and the DLC for the game would be reason enough to buy The Elder Scrolls Anthology but it isn’t, because there’s Skyrim: Legendary Edition, and that fulfils that need very nicely.
Games such as An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire and The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard are not included here and neither are any of the The Elder Scrolls Travels games for mobile devices, like Stormhold, Dawnstar, Shadowkey and Oblivion. So when several gaming blogs reported early this month that every single Elder Scrolls game is present here, that just isn’t true. The reason they aren’t included is because they are spin-off titles and not considered part of the TES canon. And because it would apparently be even more hellish to get a copy of Redguard working on any system nowadays because the game was optimised for 3dfx Voodoo graphics cards, which have since disappeared after the company went bankrupt over a decade ago.
A lot of people were also put out that Bethesda has seen fit not to include the soundtracks or the physical manuals for any of the games – instead opting to put PDF versions of the manuals on each game’s disc.
Should I get it or not?
If you are a complete newbie to RPGs, or at least you haven’t played any of the games in the series, then maybe give Anthology a try, but keep in mind that at least two of the games in there are free – something which I feel is perhaps a tad unethical; selling freeware games, even as part of a box set, although they are the original disc versions. So if it matters to you that much – having physical copies instead of digital versions, in the form of zip files downloaded off of Bethesda’s website – then you might be interested. Otherwise, if you are a collector or enthusiast (read: complete nutter), Anthology might also appeal to you. Just remember that you can’t gift the Steam key to anyone if you have any of these games in your Steam library already.
Anthology might be a good buy for those people who still don’t have internet access or very slow internet connections, as it has been confirmed that Arena and Daggerfall will not require Steam activation, and neither will the disc versions of Morrowind GOTY and Oblivion GOTY, but Skyrim Legendary Edition will, and so will the games you have to activate on Steam, so you will need an internet connection to be able to access all of Anthology's content.
If you are a console gamer however, then you are out of luck, because Anthology will be a PC-only affair. This is particularly true for Arena and Daggerfall, with the official story being that the source code for both games was lost, making it highly unlikely that ports would ever be developed for consoles. All the other games in this box set are available on various consoles, but you'll have to buy them individually.
I would personally recommend that you just try to get a hold of Morrowind GOTY, Oblivion GOTY Deluxe Edition (or the plain Oblivion GOTY Edition, if you can live without the minor extra content) and Skyrim Legendary Edition separately – particularly on Steam during one of their sales which would all be cheaper overall than getting the TES: Anthology pack (although Skyrim Legendary Edition retail edition is much cheaper right now). In fact, looking at the retail prices of these three games alone, you'll save at least a few dollars. Just don't even bother trying to buy the first two games outside of this bundle because they are rare and would cost an arm and a leg.
True, by doing this, you wouldn’t get the box, the artbook or the maps (some of which you will already have if you bought the Collector’s Editions of Oblivion and Skyrim), but you would have all the games, and you’d save money. So it depends on your financial situation and/or desperation.
As for me, it’s tempting, but I’d rather same my money and pick up a copy of Skyrim: Legendary Edition, or wait for the price of Anthology to come down, keeping in mind of course that there will probably be a limited amount of these box sets for sale.
Keep in mind that this is probably all a marketing ploy to prepare people for the upcoming The Elder Scrolls Online, which not everyone is looking forward to – mainly because it’s an MMORPG in the same vein as World of WarCraft. Some people might like that, but others have a dim view of it because many have tried and failed to topple World of WarCraft from the peak of the Massively Multiplayer Online mountain. That and because speculation amongst fans suggests that TES: Online may be the last ever Elder Scrolls game, and the anthology release perhaps proves that – the swan song for one of the most revered role-playing game series of all time.
And even if it isn’t the end, one has to wonder that if there is indeed an Elder Scrolls VI, is Bethesda jumping the gun by releasing Anthology right now, and should you not wait until possibly a new and improved re-release of this box set comes along in the future?
Would you buy The Elder Scrolls Anthology?
© 2013 ANDR01D