The History of The Elder Scrolls – Part 2

Continuing our retrospective of Bethesda Softworks’ The Elder Scrolls series, we look at the second instalment in the venerable RPG franchise, Daggerfall.


Creating A World

With Ted Peterson assigned as lead game designer, production of Daggerfall began immediately after Arena’s release. Originally titled Mournhold and intended to be set in the region of Morrowind, the game’s developers later opted to relocate the action to High Rock, Hammerfell. Of course, Morrowind would later be utilized as the setting for third game in the series, released in 2002 on Xbox and PC.

Touted as the first true open world 3D videogame – using randomly generated terrain – the world was approximately twice the size of Great Britain (about 487,000 square kilometers) and featured over 15,000 locations to explore with over 750,000 non-playable characters (NPC’s) to interact with. Featuring a complex and dynamic political system consisting of numerous orders and religions, gamers could join guilds, preform quests, and earn reputation within their guild, influencing how the NPCs reacted and interacted with the player.

Daggerfall saw a number of new features incorporated, including a much more robust character creation system, a new spell creation system, the ability to enchant armor and items, as well as the opportunity to become a vampire, werewolf, or were-boar. In eschewing the old experience points system of Arena, Daggerfall focused far more predominately on role-playing and skill-sets.

Do What You Want, When You Want

For the main story line the player is given two tasks; free the ghost of the late King Lysandus and discover what happened to a lost letter the Emperor had sent to the Blade spies located in Daggerfall. Unlike Arena and its linear narrative however, depending on the choices players make, he/she can unlock one of six endings to the game. As in all Elder Scrolls titles though, gamers are free to do what they want and when they want.

A Buggy Start

Daggerfall was released on August 31, 1996, with an M rating, a first for the series, due to the presence of gore, topics of a sexual nature, and mild nudity. Similar to Arena, Daggerfall was plagued with buggy code, and a number of patches were released as a result to quell the issues. In an effort to avoid this problem in the future, Bethesda ultimately employed a far more cautious release schedule, as well as putting the numbered Elder Scrolls titles on hold temporarily.

Stay tuned to PSU as we continue our retrospective of The Elder Scrolls series in the coming weeks.

Article by Justin Titus