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An Elder Scrolls Retrospective: Daggerfall

Daggerfall Box.jpg

"Rest well this night, for tomorrow you sail for the Kingdom of Daggerfall." With those words, Emperor Uriel Septim VII (that guy you spent all of Arena trying to rescue, remember?) sends you out to investigate the death of King Lysandus. Things have been getting pretty crazy in High Rock and Hammerfell, and rumors have started flying around that the massive war machine golem used to unite the first empire has been found in that area. The biggest adventure in The Elder Scrolls universe awaits in Daggerfall. Make the jump.

Bethesda released the second chapter of The Elder Scrolls in August of 1996, and even 15 years later, the sheer size of this game continues to defy plausibility. Get this. There are over 700,000 NPCs in Daggerfall. 700,000. And the map is larger than England. You know, a real place in the world with a rich culture and history stretching back hundreds of years? Yeah, Daggerfall dwarfs it. Sure, most of the NPCs and areas are cut and paste, the areas have relatively little detail, and most of the dungeons are randomly generated labyrinths, but so what? This was still an unheard of technological achievement for the time. Hell, it's still one of the biggest offline worlds in all of gaming!

Daggerfall Throne.png

But Daggerfall satisfies more than just size queens. The story revolves around an artifact called the Totem of Tiber Septim and its ability to control a massive golem called Numidium. The major political factions, including several nobles, a ghost king, and the dangerous necromancer Mannimarco, the King of Worms, want you to give it to them and solve all their problems. Factor in the twenty other or so nobles, guilds, witch covens, vampire bloodlines, and friggin' gods that want a piece of your time, and that's a buttload of political maneuvering players have to deal with.

Everything in Daggerfall was just...more. The game didn't really make any major advancements over Arena other than some minor interface and graphical updates. But anything you wanted to do in Arena is 10x bigger in Daggerfall. More quests, more options, more places to go, more books to read and artifacts to collect. Think of it as a love letter to the dedicated players that make Arena an underground success.

Players have never had more options in an Elder Scrolls game, but unfortunately, they weren't always good ones. Daggerfall was overflowing with bugs, many of which rendered quests uncompleteable or would eliminate rewards, which has always made gamers really happy. (sic) Every action you took would make someone happy, but piss someone else off, and if that happened to be a quest giver, you could easily lock yourself out of quests because someone was butthurt that you didn't help them. Plus, when the main game ended, it was done for good because (spoilers) the final events kill your hero.

Daggerfall Wolf.png

Bonus fun fact: Daggerfall is unique in that it has not one, but six endings to the main storyline. Better yet, all of them are canon. Yup, all of them, despite their mutual contradictions. A fluctuation in time and space, referred to as The Warp in the West, revolving around the phenomenal power of the Totem of Tiber Septim allowed for each event to occur simultaneously. The end result? A consolidation of the forty-four city-states into the four areas, a new home for the Orcs, possibly a new death god, and infinite confused historians in Tamriel.

5 Comments

Briker Ed said:

Still one of my favourite games, of all time. Used to play it for years and actually never completed the main quest line :P Was just happy exploring, ranking up in numerous guilds and temples and buying houses (and hunting down paintings in pawn shops!)

Chris said:

I still remember getting this game the day it came out and attempting to install it on my PC only to find out the install was bigger than my current hard drive. Twisting the parents arm got a hard drive big enough to install on (though not without removing a ton of apparently important applications) I got the game up and running and...promptly fell through the floor into infinity in the first dungeon.

I never did finish the game, or even come close but it was truly an amazingly ambitious game for its time even if the bugs defined it more than anything else in my mind.

Apparently there is also a modern installer for Windows that incorporates a ton of patches and updates as well using Dosbox http://theelderscrolls.wiwiland.net/?title=Daggerfall_:_DaggerfallSetup_EN

yesyesno said:

I can't believe it's been 15 years since I got Daggerfall for Christmas. It's definitely on my all time list. 96 was an amazing year for gaming.

Nexus said:

I wonder whether these older TES games have a chance of appearing on GoG.
Would be interesting to give them a go.

sarah penguin said:

They're free for download from the Bethesda site.

And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!

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sarah penguin on An Elder Scrolls Retrospective: Daggerfall: They're free for download from the Bethesda site....

Nexus on An Elder Scrolls Retrospective: Daggerfall: I wonder whether these older TES games have a chance of appearing on GoG. Would be interesting to give them...

yesyesno on An Elder Scrolls Retrospective: Daggerfall: I can't believe it's been 15 years since I got Daggerfall for Christmas. It's definitely on my all time list....

Chris on An Elder Scrolls Retrospective: Daggerfall: I still remember getting this game the day it came out and attempting to install it on my PC only...

Briker Ed on An Elder Scrolls Retrospective: Daggerfall: Still one of my favourite games, of all time. Used to play it for years and actually never completed the...

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