The Elder Scrolls

Arena – The best kept secret in Skyrim modding?

Well, not sure is it's a secret here; however, I think it's a bit of a secret overall in the community. Arena, in my humble opinion, the greatest gameplay mod around. I discovered it around a year ago and like many players it was found because I was in a never-ending search for the perfect gameplay mod. At first, like many, I thought I wanted a de-leveled world. After playing mods like Requiem, which I respect greatly, I realized a de-leveled world is not for me. I like being able to go anywhere and explore most places freely right out of the gate. Morrowind nailed this perfectly with it's mix of leveled and static enounters. Oblivion was horribly broken and I refuse to play it without a mod(s) that fixes the leveling. Skyrim does much better than Oblivion, which isn't hard, yet it's not quite what most of us want.

It finally struck me that what I wanted was a sense of progression. The vanilla game tries to provide this, yet it falls a bit short. Arena is exactly what Skyrim should have been from day one. SimonMagus616 has created a masterpiece of modding that enables the player to feel a sense of progression and still be able to explore like the developers intended. The mod "fixes" the encounter zones. Even if you are perfectly happy with your current modlist you need to read his description of encounter zones, leveled lists and leveled actor multipliers. I finally understand how encounters and dungeons work in Skyrim! I thought I knew, but it was never explained to me as clearly as his modpage. For that alone, he deserves an endorsement.

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After using this mod for a year I am happy to report that the world works exactly how I want it to. I suspect that this mod could be the answer to a lot of others who are looking to make the world a bit more challenging and gain a sense of progression. The mod is perfect for those of us that want something greater than vanilla, but don't want a de-leveled world like Requiem. This is an area that most players want improved, as evident by the plethora of mods that attempt to change the overall gameplay difficulty and change encounter zones.

So why do I endorse Arena so exuberantly? My encounter-zone gameplay, regardless of other mods, has just felt perfect over the last year. I'm constantly modding, like many others I suspect. Yet this mod, along with Encounter Zones Unlocked, is a staple. Vampires and Dragon dungeons are challenging, as they should be. The main quest is something that can be started ASAP because of the -5 adjustment applied to main quest zones. The same adjustment is applied with guild quests. The player is never "locked out" of story content with this mod. Around level 25-30 you are ready to tackle nearly everything. Making this mod perfect for those of us that do many playthroughs with different characters.

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I'm not the type to create one character and do every guild and side quest with him (not immersive in my opinion). I like archetypes, so my mages do the College of Winterhold and never join the companions for example. My warriors are the opposite. My stealthy characters never touch either, but might do the Dark Brotherhood or Thieves Guild. Very rarely both. The main quest is for the goody goody types (e.g., Paladins, Noble Warriors, Priests of Arkay, etc.). I just don't see my assassin saving the world. This mod supports, perfectly, this style of play. It's also fine if you want to reach obscene levels, although I might suggest adding a high-level enemy mod. There is no cap on encounter zones, so coupled with a high-level enemy mod Arena is great for those 100% runs.

There are always many looking for mods to balance gameplay and/or give a sense of progression. That's why mods like Requiem are insanely popular. This gem is for those of us that want something a bit different, not better or worse. Those of us that don't want a de-leveled world, yet still yearn for progression and a sense of pride and accomplishment 🙂

If you are too much of a milk drinker for mods like Requiem and haven't found a mod to balance the encounter zones/difficulty, then check out Arena by SimonMagus616. I guarantee that if you decide it's not right for your load order that you will learn a lot about how encounters work simply by reading the mod page. I suspect there are a few people out there that will find this mod is exactly what they want in their playthroughs and will never look back. I hope my ringing endorsement of this mod helps even one person enjoy the game a bit more. Happy modding everyone and stay safe out there.

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TL;DR – Arena, by SimonMagus616, is an Encounter Zone mod that aims to add a sense of progression to Skyrim. Simon has perfectly balanced the zones in the game and his mod page contains the greatest explanation of how encounter zones, leveled lists and leveled actor multipliers work.


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