Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Elder Scrolls: Arena Finale - Mordorith

Time to finish this game up and move on to greener pastures, as I storm the Imperial Palace and fight Jagar Tharn.

Jagar appears via Skype with increasing frequency as we get close to the end of the game. He never stops being cocky. Perhaps he knows something that our hero doesn't.

Next stop: The king of Ebonheart in Morrowind province. He needs a hammer from a nearby dungeon, because striking said hammer on an anvil will reveal the location of the next staff fragment dungeon. This is the most out-there reason yet to waste my time with an interim dungeon. Let's get on with it.

 Black Gate is the next dungeon. Two water-filled floors, and I gimp it quickly with Passwall and Levitate.

 There's one door here that seems to be bugged, because the Skeleton Key doesn't open it. Luckily, the holder of the specific key for that door is this steel golem that hangs out right next to it. One epic slugfest later, and...

 ...I retrieve the key. Also, these mechanical golems have awesome corpses. They don't even fall over.

Got the hammer. Whatever, not a fan of these generic mid-term dungeons. Eager to move on to Morrowind's big signature dungeon.

Dagoth-Ur is the final fragment dungeon. It's full of lava, and much more interesting.

This sorta reminds me of Turtle Rock in A Link to the Past. Also an eighth dungeon and full of lava.

One of the floors is expansive and consists of finding five keys to open five doors that are lined up. I get through it in 30 seconds by using Passwall to break through to the last door. One Skeleton Key use later and it's over. Would have opened all the doors, but the once/day usage of the SK is a problem in dungeons where resting is difficult.

There's the result of a couple shots of Passwall, as I break through to the north door. What a cool spell. Too bad it doesn't return in any of the later games because it's so potentially game-breaking.

At the end is a great lake of fire. Nothing levitate can't get you past easily. Only problem is that you need levitate to be off to climb the structure in the center for the staff fragment, which involves running around waiting for it to wear off.

There it is, the final staff fragment. With that, the Stick of Truth Staff of Chaos is finally complete.

There's only one place left to go: Jagar Tharn's black castle. ...unless you count the hundred plus locations that I never even went to because there was no reason to, though I assume they come into play with sidequests. There's little reason to do any sidequests aside from artifacts, though. And with so many locations being so cut-and-pastey, there's little incentive to visit.

At this point, Mick Jagar appears to reveal that the Staff of Chaos is actually completely useless.

...........so, if I'm to understand this correctly, you spent the whole game collecting parts for this weapon that can defeat Jagar Tharn, only to discover that he already drained it of power and you ACTUALLY just need to shatter the power crystal in his lair to defeat him. He himself is invulnerable.

This...is kinda bullshit. 1. Why couldn't they just let the player have the staff they worked so hard to get? What purpose whatsoever does this "it was actually useless" story serve? 2. Why couldn't they just have the player click the staff on him to dispel his invulnerability, then fight him in a real battle? Running past him and breaking a crystal to win is lame.

The Imperial City is still quite plain. Too bad I couldn't just come here right at the beginning of the game, since the staff wasn't necessary. ...am I missing something? We'll see.

There's the Imperial Castle. If you try to enter at any point before this, it's locked. That's all. Just locked. No actual lock to pick, so the Skeleton Key was probably out. It was locked by PLOT.

Jiggawhat is back, and his speech font is now RED. He means business!

Here are my stats heading into the final area. Level 16 is almost definitely underpowered, and I never got an Ebony sword (the best type). My stats turned out really well, at least, with Str/Agi/End all high enough to give me their top bonuses to damage/hit%/health gained respectively. Maxed-out Luck helps in some indeterminate way; probably critical hit rate or something along those lines. I know it's a good stat, in any case. The only stat that I didn't really get around to at all that I wanted to was Willpower, which affects your magic defense. This caused me problems in the final dungeon, where EVERYTHING hurls spells at you.

Final equipment. Off-screen is my Kite Shield of Strength and Adamant Longsword. Wish I had an Ebony weapon, but I never saw one pop up in a dungeon and they're prohibitively expensive.

Liches attack EN MASSE in here. They launch highly-destructive lightning attacks, and I found myself unable to even kill one of them. I was going through heal potions like crazy just to stay alive, and ended up fleeing my way through most of this area.

The final room is full of lava. Best thing to do here is put on Levitate and Resist Shock, then beeline for the center area while Liches snipe at you.

In the center area is Jagar Tharn himself, and he unleashes hell.

His attacks are vicious, but nothing I can't stay ahead of with potions. I wailed on him for a while, but as far as I could tell none of my strikes were even landing. Eventually I gave up on trying to kill him and ran past him.

Here's the power crystal that keeps him going. I ran up and shattered it, and Jagar was defeated. ...so basically the final battle was a Super Mario Bros 1 boss.

We get a sweet cutscene with the jewel restoring power to the Staff of Chaos, which then destroys Jagar. OH, NOW I get it. The Staff's power was stored in this crystal. So putting together the Staff wasn't a useless endeavor after all; just needed one last step to finish the job.

Jagar proceeds to face-melt Raiders of the Lost Ark style.

The Emperor is saved, and proceeds to talk with a bizarre animation where his face repeatedly puffs up like a fish.

His top warrior is equally weird-looking. Now that I've saved these feckless, inept dudes from their prison, the heroic Bob Marley Sting can retire to his cabin in the woods.

In a way, this game almost seemed like a beta run at the rest of the series. It's unpolished and there are a lot of underused ideas.

Was expecting credits, but instead it dropped me back into the world. I guess at this point you can explore and do sidequests and keep leveling up. For my part, I'm more than done. Bring on Daggerfall.


  1. Truly epic! The second to last picture you posted is also the character creation background in Daggerfall iirc. Does this imply a connection?

    1. I'll find out soon enough, Daggerfall is coming up very soon. Epic is a good word for it, this game was waaay better than I expected it to be.

  2. Sounds like the entire final dungeon was a wash, but at least you had fun with the game.

  3. I find it so interesting that you just ran right through the final dungeon and didn't even have to kill anything to beat it. Sometimes LIFE IS LIKE THAT SON! Anyway good game and GREAT intro.

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  5. Great posts! About how long, would you say, did it take you to get through this game

    1. It's hard to say because there isn't an internal clock, but I think it was under 20 hours. Keep in mind that I made a lot of use of maps and walkthroughs to get through the dungeons more quickly than was probably intended.

      According to http://howlongtobeat.com/ the average time it takes is around 23-24 hours.