The Elder Scrolls: Chapter II - Daggerfall

aka: Daggerfall: Die Schriften der Weisen, Daggerfall: The Elder Scrolls - Chapter 2
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Description official descriptions

Daggerfall is a sequel to The Elder Scrolls: Arena; it is set in the same medieval fantasy world Tamriel - more specifically, in the homeland of the Breton race, known as High Rock, and the province Hammerfell, home of the Redguards. The game's title is derived from the name of High Rock's capital city.

The main protagonist travels to Daggerfall at the request of the emperor Uriel Septim. His mission involves freeing the ghost of the late King Lysandus. Apparently, a letter concerning the king and sent by the emperor to the court in Daggerfall contains information about a dangerous ancient power. It is now up to the hero to retrieve the letter, reveal the dark secret that has been preserved in the king's family, and eventually discover the key to the resurrection of an iron golem who wields immense power.

Like its predecessor, Daggerfall is an open-ended role-playing game, in which the main quest is but a small fraction of the various missions and assignments the player is able to undertake. The game is notable for breaking records concerning the size of its world (though much of it has been generated randomly). Interaction with hundreds of thousands of non-playable characters is possible. The player is free to join one of the many political and social organizations of Tamriel, as well as pursue a personal quest for power. The player is able to buy houses, ships, and horses, as well as become a werewolf, a vampire, or a wereboar.

Combat in Daggerfall is action-based: the player uses the mouse to determine the direction and the power of sword swings and shots from a ranged weapon. Character growth is handled somewhat similarly to that of Quest for Glory games: the more the player performs an action, the better the protagonist becomes at it. For example, swinging the sword will eventually increase the player character's attack power and skill with that weapon, etc. This extends to non-combat activities such as jumping, bartering, speaking foreign languages, etc. Leveling up occurs when several main and secondary skills have been raised sufficiently. During character generation the player is given the option to create and name his or her custom classes by combining attributes and skills.

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Credits (DOS version)

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Average score: 81% (based on 26 ratings)


Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 106 ratings with 8 reviews)

Deep...Very Deep.

The Good
Probably the most open ended game I've ever played! You are free to go anywhere, do anything to least that's how it feels. Though having certain technical problems, it is a very atmospheric game...when you are crawling in the dungeons with the lights off, you actually get scared. Also, the possibility of owning property (houses, ships and a wonderful wagon) was unique in those days and very rare, these days.

Wonderful game.

The Bad
It was full of bugs...

The Bottom Line

DOS · by Alexandre Reis (3) · 2005

A complete world in a box, and the freedom to do what you want.

The Good
This game is big. Really, really big. Perhaps a little too big...

There appears to be infinite possibilities in this game. The only problem is that there is just not enough time to explore more than a fraction of what goes on here. A complete world is mapped before you, and you can go anywhere. A dozen countries each with a culture of their own, hundreds of towns and villages and spralling cities. Dungeons, tombs, crypts and castles litter the countryside. So many, you are spolied for choice.

The game's character system is easily the best around. There is a huge scope for character creation. including the inclusion of negative and positive character aspects which allows for the closest thing to real role-playing you'll find in a game. Any character you can imagine can be created. The skills-based system is wonderful. For the first time a game dares to break the level-based mold, and it does it so well. Practice a skill and you will get better at it. Want to be better runner? Run everywhere you go. Practice your climbing on nearby buildings, and jump around alot - you're skills will increase. Brilliant.

There are some wonderful touches. Buy yourself a cart, park it outside a dungeon. Everytime your inventory is full in your sweep through the dungeon, take it back to the entrance and dump it in the cart. When your cart is full, take it back to town and sell the contents for a fortune. Enough to buy a house, perhaps? Go ahead. Buy a house. You can if you want to. You could also buy a ship to sail around the lands.

I would like to comment on the creative and compelling storyline, but I didn't actually see it much. There is a deeper purpose to the game, but with so many side-quests and exploring to do, it's very easy to forget that this game actually has a purpose.

The Bad
It is bugged. Badly, badly bugged. But, there are always patches...

The worst parts of this game are the dungeons. They're horrible. I was always told that any dungeons should have a purpose - why is it here? who built it?. In this game, all the dungeons are obviously built by a complete psycho intent on ruining your day, and spoiling a damn fine game. The corridors appear endless, a myriad of twists and turns leading nowhere. And don't say "Ah... a labyrinth." Are you trying to tell me that every single dungeon is a labyrinth? Every single one? I don't think so! Additionally, all the dungeons look the same. There are whole sections which are just dropped in, duplicated across mnay seperate dungeons.

The game is perhaps a little too large, with little cohesion. It is very easy to lose the main plot of the story and find yourself on a personal quest for fame and fortune. Not a bad thing in its own right, but it doesn't take long before you realise that the main game has gone, and you are in a situation with no apparent ending. A bit like real life, I guess.

There's something which amuses me. With a horse and cart it is still possible to climb walls, hence you can be ride along city walls and rooftops with your cart behind you. Let's call it a 'feature', shall we?

This game is magnificent in so many ways, but I just got bored and frustated with it too quickly.

The Bottom Line
As a game, this is magnificent. A huge, rolling adventure allied to the best RPG system available. It's just a little too serious to be fun.

DOS · by Steve Hall (329) · 2000

Where wereboars visit endless cities on sleepless nights

The Good
Daggerfall follows the design philosophy pioneered by its predecessor, dropping you into a gigantic world in which you can role-play to your heart's content. In this installment they refined and expanded the ideas of the original, which resulted in a deeper, more immersive game that many fans still consider the apex of the series.

Daggerfall prides itself on having one of the largest worlds ever created for a game. Indeed, its vastness is absolutely mind-boggling. At first sight the world appears smaller than the one of Arena, containing only two provinces instead of the entire Tamriel. However, such calculation is misleading: each province has many more points of interest, so the overall impression is that of an even bigger and certainly busier environment. There are more than a dozen of fiefdoms in the province, each with dozens of towns, dungeons, and other specified locations. Words can't even begin to describe how huge the whole thing is.

The role-playing system that comes with this world is much deeper and more flexible than the fairly basic rules of Arena. In the beginning you are treated to an elaborate character creation, which includes the awesome possibility of customizing your chartacter's class. You can combine various attributes and skills together and create whatever you feel your protagonist should be like. I spent a long time trying to make the perfect character, and even restarted the game after having completed the first dungeon.

The game introduces what later become the staple of the series: the skill system. Rather than leveling up in the old-fashioned way, by gathering experience points (like in Arena), you become stronger by repeatedly executing the same action. This system might not be to everyone's taste, but it is certainly more absorbing than the one of its predecessor, and very addictive. Seeing how every action has a direct impact on your character's growth is exhilarating; which Elder Scrolls player hasn't made his protagonist merrily hop through vast landscape and slash the air with a short sword, patiently waiting for the magic words "your skill has increased" to appear?

Much of the world in Daggerfall is randomized, just like in Arena; however, the game conceals this randomness better. Part of this comes courtesy of the graphics, which are noticeably more varied and do a more convincing job at creating an illusion of a living, breathing world. This is particularly evident in dungeon design; the starting location of Daggerfall grabbed me right away with its ominous atmosphere, while in Arena I had to first get out of the imperial prison in order to become really interested in the game. The dungeons are very complex and hard to navigate, but the emotional reward you receive for completing them only adds to the game's addictiveness. The immersion is complimented by excellent sound effects and the optional, but highly recommended mouse-look exploration mode.

Tamriel of Arena was a mishmash of fantasy elements put together with little coherence. In Daggerfall, this world is a much more detailed, individualized environment, with its own background and lore, racial, political, and social dynamics, etc. The leap in quality is instantly noticeable and constitutes perhaps the main reason for the game's improvement over its predecessor. Well-written books are scattered all over the world, providing enjoyable reading that surpasses the randomized in-game dialogue. Rummaging through dungeon loot or public libraries in search of the third volume of a pseudo-historical pulp novel with sexual overtones is just one of those many little goals that can engross so much in this game.

The higher level of detail in the world is more than just a cosmetic choice; plenty of gameplay mechanics have been added to the core formula to enhance and deepen the experience. There are many more types of quests, and you can now join various guilds and ascend in their ranks. You earn reputation which is affected by your actions. You can become involved in the politics of High Rock and Hammerfell, siding with various organizations. Time passes by, just like in Arena, but this time you also get timed quests, and your reputation depends on how often you visit a particular guild and accept quests from it. Add to this the ability of making your own magic spells, the possibility to contract a disease and become a vampire, a werewolf, or a wereboar (each with its own set of rules, advantages, and disadvantages), and you'll begin to see how varied and involving the game can become despite its generally repetitive nature.

On top of that, the main quest of Daggerfall is by far more interesting than the generic "gather eight pieces of something to defeat the bad guy" we've seen in Arena. Not only is the main story ripe with conspiracies and hidden agendas, it is also branching: you can choose between several different characters and organizations to support, each with its own goals, as well as influence the game's ending and the fate of Tamriel through your decisions.

The Bad
In many ways Daggerfall was ahead of its time, and it is clear that technology is to be blamed for most of the flaws found in this outstanding virtual world. It was obviously impossible to hand-craft such a massive environment with the 3D capabilities of the time. Daggerfall hides its randomness better than Arena, and has much more personality; but after playing for a while, cracks begin to show in the magnificent edifice that is its world.

There is no true continuous world in the game in the same sense as in, for example, Ultima VI. The world outdoors has no real locations; it consists of randomly generated, identically-looking terrain that stretches without end. Theoretically you can physically explore it and discover towns and dungeons on your own; in practice, this is a very boring activity, since there are no landmarks at all in this world, not even roads or anything else to distinguish one place from another. A convenient fast travel opinion is provided, which unfortunately takes away from the joy of exploration.

Towns and dungeons are perfectly functional and acceptable for whatever gameplay they offer; but visually, they are repetitive and lack coherence. There are huge towns in this world, but they lack planning, clearly displaying random elements. Buildings are positioned without much logic, and it is hard to get attached to a particular town when you know there are hundreds of others that look more or less the same. In a strange way, it contributes to the game's impartiality: you choose "your" town, "your" guild, "your" quest etc. out of many similar ones and individualize it with your choice. But lack of original features in towns and other locations eventually make the playing process tiresome and nearly depressing.

The game's dungeons are twisted monstrosities that make those of Phantasy Star II look like linear pathways. The 3D map is, frankly, almost completely useless and confuses more than it helps. I loved the dungeon crawling in the game, but I was nearly physically exhausted after having spent several hours in a devilish maze before almost accidentally stumbling on the life-saving exit symbol.

The game's main quest can be easily broken, so if you intend to follow it, don't deviate from its prescribed path. Having to fulfill level requirements for triggering the next stage of the quest can get annoying. Even though the story is interesting, don't expect interaction with fascinating characters or anything of the sort. The NPCs in the game are random, and as such have absolutely no personality, unless your fantasy complements their lack of such by deliberately singling them out, treating them in particular ways, etc. It is the same as with towns: the quantity is overwhelming, but there is hardly any quality to speak of.

The Bottom Line
No amount of problems can change the fact that Daggerfall is an immersive, deeply addictive game, astounding in its vision, flexibility of gameplay, and sheer size. This game won't satisfy those who play RPGs only to encounter interesting people and read cleverly written dialogues; it appeals much more to the type of player that finds joy in complete, head-spinning freedom. For what it's worth, Daggerfall is a huge, awe-inspiring virtual playground that surpasses in scope everything that was done before or after it.

DOS · by Unicorn Lynx (180495) · 2011

[ View all 8 player reviews ]


Subject By Date
Do these (DOSBox-ed) as a free bonus count as a Windows release? Cavalary (11397) Dec 25th, 2015
Daggerfall Soundtrack Remake Pieces of 8-bit Dec 3rd, 2015
It's FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE Foxhack (31939) Jul 18th, 2009


Freeware release

The game was offered as freeware on July 9, 2009 in celebration of fifteen years of Elder Scrolls.


Daggerfall's creature art is an interesting mix of hand-drawn work and rendered material. All of the creatures, in fact, originally had 6 frames to every animation, but this had to be chopped down considerably to compress the size of the game which was already monstrously large for the time it was released.

The only remaining trace of these original detailed animations is in a "bestiary" video describing several of the creatures of Daggerfall.


  • Computer Gaming World
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #8 Top Vaporware Title in Computer Game History
    • May 1997 (Issue #154) – Role-Playing Game of the Year

Information also contributed by PolloDiablo.

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The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
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The Elder Scrolls: Legends - Heroes of Skyrim
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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Special Edition
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The Elder Scrolls III: Tribunal
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The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind - Game of the Year Edition
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BioShock & The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Bundle
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The Elder Scrolls III: Bloodmoon
Released 2003 on Windows

Related Sites +

  • Daggerfall at Wikipedia
    Information about The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall at Wikipedia
  • Doug's Daggerfall Page
    A Fansite dedicated to Daggerfall.
  • TES: The Essential Site
    A site for Daggerfall, featuring one of the largest surviving conclaves of fans.
  • The Tamriel Compendium
    The Tamriel Compendium has lots of info about Daggerfall (and a few files), including a bestiary with creature sounds.
  • The UESP
    The Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages is one of the oldest sites about the Elder Scrolls series. It has huge amounts of information about Daggerfall.

Identifiers +


Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history!

Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Omniscia.

Windows Apps added by Plok. Windows added by Rik Hideto.

Additional contributors: Brian Hirt, ShadowShrike, formercontrib, Yearman, Patrick Bregger.

Game added January 23rd, 2000. Last modified August 25th, 2023.