The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall Review

Jonathan Leack
The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall Info


  • RPG


  • 1


  • Bethesda


  • Bethesda

Release Date

  • 11/30/1999
  • Out Now


  • PC


You’ll never believe how much fun it is exploring a world that doesn’t revolve around you!!!

Role-playing games have been around for a long time. I admit, I’m an ex-D&D player. I have an extensive background in pen and paper games (I even won second prize at a D&D convention in Manhattan and that’s something for mom to be proud of!). Later, I discovered Middle Earth Role Playing, or MERP, in college and have never been the same since. MERP encompassed creating a character from scratch. You would have to decide every single skill, how good you were at each, roll special advantages/disadvantages, roll stats, and play like your life depended on it. It took a couple hours to get it all down on paper and begin.

Later, I advanced to Role Master. Another game from the same company, Iron Crown Enterprises, but it was even more detailed. That took four hours plus to create a character (That’s why we played like our lives depended on it). The problem I discovered later was that I was addicted to detail and realism. I can’t say that it’s a terrible fault, however, it did take up quite a bit of time to have a realistic combat sequence. Roll, add, subtract, multiply and divide were the terms used to make a situation “realistic”. But, when a battle ended, we had a lot more to say than “I did 19 points of damage to slay the Magic User”.

We could talk for days

on how our group’s hobbit snuck up behind a troll and instantly killed it by

impaling his magic short sword in his lungs. Or, our warrior monk character

once did back-handsprings over to a group of orcs, then kicked one in the groin,

and as it keeled over, the character swept the feet out from underneath the

second orc, leaving only the third. The first went into shock, the second smacked

his head on a rock causing 4 rounds of stun and was bleeding 2 hp per round.

The third was finished by our mages waterbolt spell and it’s skeleton was reduced

to a gelatinous pulp(with the added comment: “Try a spatula”). The fun was in

seeing all of our hard earned skills put to action! Each skill was developed

separately, from acrobatics, to ambush, to aiming the waterbolt. Well, for those

of you who have a great imagination for that kind of realism and skill development,

and you don’t have the time to sit in Denny’s rolling dice, I present Bethesda’s


Daggerfall is essentially part 2 of Bethesda’s original hit game: Arena. Arena was one of the best PC role-playing games of all time. There are only two reasons why it didn’t make it bigger in the PC games market. The system requirements were pretty heavy for it’s time and the graphics couldn’t match that of Doom (and everybody wanted Doom). The memory hungry Arena demanded a lot; even from the new PC standard at that time(486 with 8 MB of RAM). The graphics were only part of the whole picture. Behind this innovative first person fighter was a game of power, levels, skill development, and interaction. Following in those footsteps, Daggerfall gives you all that and more! The graphics are great and the gameplay is better than ever.

When you first play Daggerfall, your going to need a character. First you choose from one of eight different races, male or female. Then you choose between nineteen different character classes or create your own. From there, you must choose special abilities and/or disadvantages. All of this, including character generation, may be done by answering questions or if you prefer, control all of it yourself. Choose a face, name and finally, you distribute points to your starting statistics and skills. I created my own character (since I thought I knew what to expect from playing Arena) and it took under 15 mins for all the character detail I could ask for in a game. Later, I created another character and changed my skills. There was much more to this game than I expected!

After you watch the opening scenes and get an idea of your first goals, you’re ready to begin. Daggerfall has an in-depth storyline and history. In the beginning of the game, the Emperor calls you to his chambers to perform a special quest. He tells you of a Noble’s ghost haunting Daggerfall at night. He asks you to find out what is going on, and solve the problem. Then he tells you of a note that he sent to the Queen that never reached her and asks if you could investigate that also (This takes place years into the history of the game).

Traveling to Daggerfall, your ship is wrecked and you take refuge in a cave offshore. A well placed avalanche traps you and this turns out to be your first dungeon. It was designed to help you practice your skills and learn the controls. From there you search, talk, kill, steal, and cast all in the name of survival. You are the main story line hereafter in Daggerfall. What you do and how you go about it effects the people around you in either a positive or negative way. There are no rights or wrongs in Daggerfall. You must use skill and wit to accomplish the goals YOU set out to complete in the name of fame, fortune, or fun…

The game controls are a

lot easier than they look at first. You can look up or down and move in a similar

fashion to other first person action games. At the bottom of the screen are

energy bars for HEALTH, FATIGUE, and MAGICKA. There are also bars to access


and INTERACTION. The INTERACTION icon, when clicked, changes between PICKING

FINGERS (to steal, pick locks, etc.), the GRABBING HAND (grabs items, levers,

touches), the EYEBALL (examine), and a WORD BALLOON (begin conversation).

While you journey through the lands of Tamriel, you will frequently click these icons in order to use various skills. All of which are calculated separately. As long as you use a skill, successful or not, there is a chance that it will increase after 6 hours of rest. Whether it be swinging a morning star, speaking dwarvish, climbing a wall, or running; there is always the possibility you’ll get a little better at it. The more you use the skill, the better the chance.

Your level is determined by how well you’ve increased in your Primary and Major Skills (a total of 6 determined by character class or character generation). The more a thief picks pockets, backstabs uses stealth, uses short bladed weapons, climbs, and picks locks, the higher these skills will rise. This will eventually rise him/her a level. Aside from the main 6, you also have 6 Minor Skills(these are like secondary skills) and anything not listed among the main 12, is kept track of in your Miscellaneous skills. A grand total of 27 skills. The best part is that you do not have to ever worry about them after initial character generation. Once a level is gained, you are given a random number of points to add to your main statistics (STR, INT, WIL, AGI, SPD, END, PER, LUC). These in turn help with character skills and so on….

The mapping system was probably the best I’ve ever seen. On the Dungeon Map, you can choose between two viewing modes. Top Down is an arial view which you can name areas or click the floor to see through it. Perspective view allows you to turn the 3D map 360í¯Â¿Â½, move away from it, or move below it, etc. On the World map, you can see huge continents to travel across. Click on one of the Kingdoms and see a closer view. You can change the Map Bar to display colored dots representing Dungeons, Houses, Towns, Taverns or all the above. Right click to zoom in on an area and see more(And let me just say that there are thousands…) Luckily you can use the Find button to get fast and specific results.

To get a good perspective

on the graphics, let’s say that they fall somewhere between Doom and

Quake. As for the sound effects and music,

they are not phenomenal, but not terrible either. Like any game, after a couple

of hours, you want to turn off the BGM and play your stereo instead.

The magic and combat systems are great! Spells have a variety of appearances as they lash out at the enemies. You can buy spells at select guilds or join the Mages Guild and make your own. There you can also learn how to create magic items and weapons. Or maybe you’d prefer to spend time creating potions for the long travels ahead. You have total control.

When faced with inevitable combat, each character has strengths and weaknesses. A Sorcerer may elect to Levitate upward and cast Ice Bolts from above. A Monk can jump at a foe and kick him. Then use his Hand to Hand skill punching and kicking to defeat the enemy. While a Nightblade might choose to cast Shadow Form, use Stealth to sneak behind his foe, and finally Backstab the unsuspecting beast with a poisoned blade. All the aiming of spells, weapons, and martial arts are accomplished through the mouse. By holding down the right mouse button and sliding the cursor in different directions, your character can do increased damage with a penalty to hit. Or increased hit bonus with damage penalty. There are four possible combinations in all.

Daggerfall has Guilds for Fighters, Mages, Thieves, Assassins, Knights and specific Temples to worship at. A character may join almost any of them as long as he/she meets the requirements set by the group. Some, like the Dark Brotherhood(assassins) are secretive while others are recognized by everyone in the land. Once a member, you will advance in ranks and gain benefits like Potion making or free healing. Most guilds provide some training in skills like weapons, magic, dodging, critical striking, etc. But only to their members. Join as many as you can and don’t get kicked out!

In my opinion, Daggerfall is one of the BEST role-playing games in history (so far). If you’re tired of shotguns and chainsaws and need to play a game that takes brains, strategy, character development, role-playing, magic, and much more, BUY DAGGERFALL NOW!!!!! You are guaranteed hours of excitement in a constantly changing world.


Easily, the role-playing game of the year!!!
Keeps track of everything
Beautiful blend of magic and combat