View Full Version : Thoughts on Daggerfall?

March 5th, 2019, 17:14
I'm curious to know what people think of Daggerfall here. It isn't really discussed all that much on The Watch, typically being overshadowed by Morrowind.

I find that Daggerfall is still incredibly immersive and seems to hold up rather well in its control scheme once you've been able to adjust the settings a bit. The leveling system takes me back to a time where it was much simpler, in contrast to something like, say, Oblivion's (a game I thoroughly adore but suffers from its fair share of issues).

It's been fun to go back in time and experience this game again. The pixel art it still surprisingly well done, in my opinion.

It was a bit of a throwback to see one of GhanBuriGhan's mod's in the install list of the DaggerfallSetup executable.

Anyway, what are your experiences with Daggerfall? What do you think of it when held up against Arena, Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim?

March 5th, 2019, 18:54
I played it around the year 2000, so not at release.

To me it was an awesome experience and it's the most outstanding Bethesda RPG.

Why? Mostly because I think that a world which is procedurally generated and where you can literally find constallations of things as the very first person on the whole planet is extremely fascinating. Besides of a huge world and a "realistic" feel to travel through it, it also had immense dungeons, which were fascinating as well.

That doesn't mean I would say that's objectively the best RPG from bethesda.

When I played it the graphics were already horrible, it was quite bugged and 30% of the dungeons were unsolvable, either by designed or because of bugs I guess.

So, would I recommend it to just play? Probably not. But if I had to drop all experiences about playing a bethesda RPG, that one is the one I'd want to keep most.

March 5th, 2019, 20:08
Daggerfall was the first RPG with over 400 hours of game time for me. For one play-through! Epic dungeons and gameworld, great skill system, cool story.

March 6th, 2019, 21:20

I played it shortly after release and I found it immensely epic and in some cases also overwhelming.

Ah, my first play-through… took me roughly 7 months.

I loved the day and night cycles and weather effects (of course, we already had those in Arena) and music befitting the time of day. Loved exploring the Iliac Bay, going everywhere by horse and cart… I even enjoyed the holes in the world, those I alwas fell through in those reandom dungeons. And hoo boy, there were vast dungeons that made absolutely no (architectural) sense…

I loved the paper doll and the zillions of different clothes - couldn't bring myself to play a female Dunmer, though, because her paperdoll was a millimeter off and thus the clothes didn't quite fit her. And yes, that was even after the immense 20 MB bug fix that thankfully came with enabled debugging keys (Alt F11, I say! Alt F11).

I loved the fact that I could buy a ship, live on it and travel the bay with it. It took me, like, forever to find a house I thoroughly liked (found one in Ephesus, and I still saddens me that the Ephesus in ESO that predates it is just a collection of ruins).

So how does it hold up when compared to the other ES games?

I didn't like the fact that the passwall spell (which had saved my characters life so often in Arena) was not in Daggerfall. It might have been incredibly helpful in those Escher-esque random dungeons. But Daggerfall was of course much better looking! You should have seen my Khajiit main in his sexy straps.

Okay, so the would-have-been Daggerfall addon played very differently, but it looked better yet, and had better NPCs. Not as many player races, though, nor the freedom to travel … no horses or carts… but at least it had those world-rending holes in the floor. Just that this time, it weren't the Dwemer who fell through them to vanish in the void of lore… no, in Battlespire, glyphs (basically the keys to the next level) tended to fall through the floor. had to replay many a level because of this.

How did Daggerfall hold up to Redguard? Well, the beautiful 3D vistas of Stros M'kai were something to behold. The faces of the NPCs, not so much - even though Dram was one cool character. And let's not talk about the Redguard Khajiit! They were the first Khajiit to actually sport cat heads. I don't like cat-headed people, be they post-Daggerfall Khajiit or KotOR Cathay or Lands of Lore Hulines!
It didn't take me 7 months to finish Redguard for the first time (or have you ever heard of an adventure taking that long to finish?)… and I still remember more characters, quests, locations and incidents of Daggerfall than of Redguard.

This game took the beauty of Redguard's landscape to the next level. Also the fugliness of the characters. I loved it as it introduced Imperials and Orcs as playable races. Just fair after they took my Ohmes and Ohmes-raht Khajiit away. It took me 15 months to finish Morrowind and addons once.
Comparing it to Daggerfall? Well, both games were an explorer's dreams come true, both had THE VIBE when the sun rose … and when it came to housing, Morrowind won, hands down. Clear any house, decorate and keep it (in addition to those houses you could buy)…

After the gonk style of Morrowind, Oblivion was something of a shock. Everything - not just the vista - was incredibly beautiful, just like back in the goode olde Daggerfall times! Yes, even the characters, although everybody and his brother was (and still is) nagging about the faces. But let's be real here, any Oblivion NPC would have won a beauty contest against the Morrowind NPCs. The setting was less bizarre as well, more along the lines of Arena or Daggerfall.
So - how does Oblivion compare to Daggerfall?
It had better quests. The guild quests (the Brotherhood and Thieves' Guild quests come to mind) were especially good … not quite the FedEx quests of Daggerfall. And while there were no Imperial Legion quests in Oblivion as opposed to Morrowind, your main quest might count as such… kind of, at least. The explorable world seemed a lot smaller, though… pity.

Well, they tried to please everyone with this game, and looking at the sales numbers, they actually succeeded. The characters were a balanced mix of fugly and beautiful (at the same time, I mean), and while the world felt bigger (and was the best-looking world yet), the quests weren't quite as good as those of Oblivion. Though better as Daggerfall's. Sad!
Now: how do Daggerfall and Skyrim compare?
Erm … in my book, Daggerfall wins. I'm NOT fond of Nords, their culture and looks. Even though Skyrim had marriage and (with addon) kids and all, I'd rather have the Iliac Bay and its inhabitants back!

March 6th, 2019, 21:54
I'm like Kordanor, only played it around 2000 (before Morrowind released, I tried both Daggerfall and Arena).

I loved a lots of stuff about it. The clothing/customization options, the fact that you could get quests from basically anyone in the game because they were mostly procedurally created. Lots of dungeons and areas to visits. The night/day cycles. How you could interact with everyone to get information to find places/people. The spellcrafting. The character creation system.

What I had more issues with was:
- the clunky mouse combat controls, took a while to get used to.
- my last character starved to death at level 6 in a dungeon because she fell in a hole with no levitate potions or any magical skills (disadvantage choice) that couldn't be climbed.
- some annoying sound effects.

March 7th, 2019, 01:24
Lots of positive reception, that's excellent!

I can certainly acknowledge the bugs, particularly in regards to falling through the world. That was never fun, but it definitely got me in the habit of saving often (read as: very often). That was a habit that transitioned into other games too, like the Gothic series.

400 hours! That's impressive. I think I clocked around 200 total in 1997 (or was it 1998? I know I didn't play it at release).

My checklist of 'things-to-do' was never complete back then, and I never got around to truly finishing it. As such, I'm starting a new playthrough with community fixes this time around.

Skeleton shrieks still catch me off guard. I actually jumped in my seat two nights ago when I turned around and had one charging toward me with a screeching wail. Made me realize how the atmosphere really lent itself well to that kind of thing (aided by the fantastic soundtrack).

Azarhal, I think I can understand your troubles with mouse combat. I think for most people, it's hard to transition from clicking Mouse1 to swing (just as most modern games do) into moving the mouse to swing. It never bothered me though. Plus, there's always Archery or Magic. Still, I see where you're coming from.

March 7th, 2019, 02:17
With Daggerfall Unity not being too far off, I think anyone interested in starting Daggerfall now might be better off waiting a little longer. DU looks promising to say the least.

March 7th, 2019, 02:42
With Daggerfall Unity not being too far off, I think anyone interested in starting Daggerfall now might be better off waiting a little longer. DU looks promising to say the least.

That's my case, exactly. I hope DU doesn't take that looooong to be released :)

March 7th, 2019, 04:45
I was a minor beta tester of Daggerfall, so I got in really early. I'm going to say 1995? I think that's right because I was one of the very few people who had a Win95 during the beta. Most folks just had MS-DOS. I used to chat with Mary Jo, better known as the goddess Dibella nowadays. She was a major beta-tester of the game and forever immortalized. I think this is one of the coolest things ever, btw. I believe most of the gods were beta testers of either Arena or Daggerfall.

P.S. This was prior to me being crpgnut, which I started in '96.

I have very fond memories of Daggerfall and Bethesda in those early days. I became very involved with Bethesda and the development of Morrowind; just as a fan and Dalnet helper not in any official capacity. I thought Bethesda was amazing with their fans back in the early days and miss that level of interaction. The money them both greater and much lesser at the same time.

March 7th, 2019, 07:44
With Daggerfall Unity not being too far off, I think anyone interested in starting Daggerfall now might be better off waiting a little longer. DU looks promising to say the least.

Oh? Interesting. I think I had only heard of it previously once before, but I typically don't keep track of fan made projects, as they often takes years, many of which ultimately halt development at some point before the full release.

I'll check this out out, though.

I think this is one of the coolest things ever, btw. I believe most of the gods were beta testers of either Arena or Daggerfall.

Yep, you're absolutely correct. Julianos is named after Julian Jensen (aka Julian Lefay), and I believe Sheogorath was named after Ted (Theodore "Sheo") Peterson. Though, they weren't simple beta testers. Julian Jensen was the chief engineer at the time, with Ted Peterson being the writer, IIRC. Still, I always marvel at that, and I think that is one of the coolest ways to be honored for your time.

May 10th, 2021, 19:15
Pretty good for its time, I had a lot of fun with the dungeons the last time I played it.

May 21st, 2021, 14:17
It remains one of the most disappointing games of my life, unfortunately.

It's also the most hyped up I've ever been about a game, though - so that fits.

I literally spent 6 months almost 24/7 dreaming about Daggerfall during a time in my life when I had no other obligation, and my dreams were based on a handful of magazine articles about it - and some Usenet exchanges.

I would sit and listen to the MIDI music they released for it - for hours :)

It's also the only game I've ever bought the "luxury" edition for - with all the trappings.

It was quite an ordeal getting something shipped from the US back in the day, let me tell you.

Unfortunately, almost all the features I was most excited about turned out to be about as barebones as you can possibly imagine.

I still remember the ship you could own being essentially a 100% useless location that you couldn't actually sail or do anything with, apart from using it as a storage cabinet.

For whatever reason, I expected the ship to actually do something - perhaps like sailing.

Of course, I do believe it actually enabled some kind of travel benefit in math terms - but nothing tangible that you could see.

Also, the way they randomly generated dungeons is among the least impressive ways I've ever seen procedural generation work - and I started playing dungeon crawlers with Nethack :)

Of course, having it be entirely infested with game breaking bugs didn't help much.

That said, I was very young - and I should never have let my imagination run wild like I did.

I suspect many of the Daggerfall fans played a game they hadn't spent months and months dreaming about.

I think if I'd simply stumbled upon it by chance - or later in my gaming career - I would probably have been a much bigger fan.

I also think Daggerfall is part of why I appreciate the direction Bethsoft took afterwards, where they did more with less - rather than the other way around.

I'm probably one of the few Watch members who think every Bethsoft game since Morrowind has been a huge improvement over the last one.

Well, ok, not FO76 - but that was another team, and it's not bad actually. Just not at all like a proper evolution.

I'm hoping Starfield will be another example of this.

May 21st, 2021, 19:06
I hated Arena. Thought it was slow, empty, and generic. I saw the ads for Daggerfall, "16 million square miles!" and thought oh great, even more empty and generic game incoming. What the hell do I care that there are 1,500 taverns if they're all exactly the same.

So I skipped it and heard about all the bugginess from afar. Bethesda got me big time with Morrowind, though. I was super hype for that game and it didn't disappoint.