The Elder Scrolls Anthology released recently contains five Elder Scrolls games, from Arena to Skyrim, and all of the expansions and DLC. Arena and Daggerfall, the first two Elder Scrolls games, are pretty tough to find these days and are a nice addition, even though they can be downloaded for free from Bethesda's website. Where the collection really misses out though is the gaiden games in the larger Elder Scrolls franchise. The side games Battlespire and Redguard are so rare and so far below the radar that even staunch Skyrim fans might not know they exist. The lack of these games is a glaring omission for what should be a total Elder Scrolls package, though I'll forgive them for omitting the cell-phone based games, for what I hope are obvious reasons.
|The book has a nice leather texture, but the Skyrim inspired branding|
seems inappropriate for all of the games that aren't Skyrim.
It seems Bethesda missed a golden opportunity to show these games to the world, though maybe they were aiming for a more cohesive product. Battlespire and Redguard don't fit in with the main series of games, either in story or gameplay (one featured multiplayer, the other was an action adventure title), so it's possible they were judged unworthy of the anthology. Unfortunately the CD version of Arena was also judged unworthy; instead of including the version of Arena with the voice acting and higher quality music, the anthology includes the neutered floppy disk version available for free on Bethesda's website. That means you get a CD of the floppy disk version, which seems kind of backwards.
|A CD version of the floppy diskette version of Arena. How meta.|
Packaging is reasonably attractive; the game discs are contained by a thick "book" with pages for each game, all housed in a nicely textured slip cover. The iconography chosen for the set is clearly reminiscent of Skyrim, which is unfortunate as imagery universal to series as a whole would have been more appropriate for an anthology release. The discs included also don't contain all of the content; Steam activation is required and all of the Skyrim DLC is download only. This isn't a deal breaker as Steam probably isn't going away anytime soon, but it once again detracts from the presentation of the set as an "anthology."
|Skyrim disc contains only the base game; the rest of the content|
must be redeemed and downloaded on Steam.
|Anthology map (top) and|
Morrowind map (bottom).
|For access to all of the content you paid for, please visit a page|
on our website accessible to everybody for free.
What about extras, or bonus content? You get a sticker. A sticker advertising the upcoming Elder Scrolls Online. And that's what this release feels like: a large, expensive advertisement for The Elder Scrolls Online.
What the Elder Scrolls Anthology really boils down to is another trumped up Game of the Year Edition. I would recommend it to someone wanting to pick up the more recent games and all of the expansion content for cheap, since you do save a bit off the current suggested retail for all of the games. Similarly, for a newcomer to the series, $80 USD gets you a lot of bang for your buck and is a great introduction to the series. For the hardcore fan who actually wanted a definitive Elder Scrolls collection, I don't recommend it. This anthology is lacking games, lacking features, and lacking in presentation.