If there's ever been a game I've felt intimidated by, it's the second entry in the Elder Scrolls saga. There where Arena was huge, Daggerfall flies past it by being gargantuan in every way possible: it just simply has more of everything. The province of Daggerfall alone is speckled with hundreds of locations to visit. In fact, Daggerfall might be, even today, the biggest game that has ever been made, not counting space sims like Elite, as Bethesda claims that the land mass alone covers around the size of Great Britain and it has over 15 000 towns, cities, villages and dungeons. To fill that space Daggerfall also has over 200 different kinds of mission types for you to tackle. You can get missions from the guilds, shopkeepers, innkeepers and what not.
|World map of Daggerfall. Each of those areas border lined in yellow can be opened up to reveal a lot more locations you can visit.|
What nicely emphasizes this more, is the dungeons system, or better yet the maps of the dungeons. This time around the dungeons really sprawl up and down. There's no special staircase that takes you to a next level: you physically walk stairs and slopes that take you to different levels, but this also makes getting lost easy, as the dungeon map isn't the easiest thing in the world to read. Luckily this time around, unlike Arena, the game has a teleport spell that can be used to get out quick. Small blessings and all that.
|On the left: a city map, which is easy enough to read. On the right a 3D dungeon map, which gets more and more complex the further you explore a dungeon.|
Both Arena and Daggerfall, are interesting examples of how ambitious Bethesda was with Elder Scrolls series right from the start. Or perhaps it's a good example of how you can get hungrier while eating. That hunger culminated with Daggerfall and its own kind of insanity with areas filled with locations no player could ever hope to visit even if they'd spent their time doing nothing else but playing Daggerfall. And even if they'd be able to do so, there's no snowball chance in hell that they would be able to actually explore every nook and cranny of the world.
Granted, at least as far I can tell from walkthroughs and FAQ's, the actual main plot missions for the game are relatively few, considering a number of locations in the game. But just as it is easy to forget the game objective for hours on end in the more modest sized Skyrim or Oblivion, it's positively easy to just let the main plot drown in Daggerfall. As such Daggerfall is a game that is not only suggesting that you keep game notes outside the in-game notebook, but be methodical with them as well. The games own log gets just far too messy far too quickly and as it has no search functions, finding the right info from there is just yet another hassle.
|Dungeon crawling. While the dungeons do have different kinds of wall textures, something like this is a pretty common sight.|
Not only is there the mapping issues with disappearing map data, but also the way the maps have been constructed. On many dungeons, the sloping pathways to different levels blend far too much to walls, as they seem to be almost 90-degree pathways, which you can for some reason scale upwards. Also, and this is a given considering how old the game is, the dungeons themselves have a fairly sparse amount of landmarks. There are some objects here and there, but nothing major that would really aid the navigation.
|City in the rain and a wilderness by day.|
Daggerfall is more interesting as an old tech demo, a bit like Arena is as well. With them, Bethesda did interesting experimentation with open world games and really pushed what was possible with the tech of the era. But it really isn't the easiest game to approach.
If you want Daggerfall you can get it free from Bethesda or if you buy their games from GOG, it's included as a freebie.