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The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall is legendary, and deservedly so: It was a major success when it was released in 1996 despite being a massive mess of bugs, and it’s the game that effectively locked in Bethesda open-world RPGs as we know them today. It’s also pushing 30 years old, and while the dated graphics aren’t a deal-breaker (I kind of like the look, to be honest), the ancient interface is. Simply put, Daggerfall is a hassle to play. Which is a shame, because it really is a great game.
This is where Daggerfall Unity comes in. It’s a full port to the Unity engine with updated graphics and sound, mod support, much-need bug fixes, and quality-of-life improvements including a modern interface. It is, as we said last month, the best Daggerfall experience in 2022—the only drawback being that it’s a little bit of a pain in the ass to set up. It’s not rocket appliances, but there is a multi-step process to be followed, with minor variations depending on the version you’re using: Steam, Bethesda’s launcher, or the original game discs that true-blue old-school hardasses insist on sticking with.
Now there’s a better way, courtesy of Daggerfall Unity – GOG Cut, which eliminates all of those extra steps in favor of a very conventional installation. Just download it, run it, have a nice day. It’s accessible through GOG Galaxy or as a standalone download, for those true-blue old-school hardasses who insist on sticking with such things (hi, me again). It’s also free, which is a big plus.
“All you have to do is download the game and simply launch it,” the listing states. “The GOG Cut of Daggerfall Unity doesn’t require any special actions or updates on your behalf. Thanks to settings and mods that were selected by GamerZakh you can explore the rich world of Daggerfall with enhanced visuals and gameplay.”
(The listing also warns that work on the project is still ongoing, so “some technical issues might occur.” Be sure to quicksave often.)
I tried it, and it works really well. It’s a relatively big download (5.5GB, which is massive for a 1996 videogame) but setup is as painless as it gets. Movement and combat feels floatier and less precise than I’d like but that’s probably to be expected given the age of the thing, and the WASD interface is a literal game-changer. The tutorial dungeon might feel unexpectedly brutal—it’s big and vicious, and will no doubt kill you several times over before you make your way out—but that’s just the way things were done back then. Everything eases up a lot once you’re outside and into the very big open world, where you can do what you want.
The original Daggerfall is still available, also for free, from Steam and GOG, if you’d like to see it in all its true mid-’90s glory. I still love the way it looks and sounds, but that interface is just too old, even for an oldster like me. For anyone looking for more than anthropological exploration, Daggerfall Unity is indeed the best way to experience the game these days—and from where I sit, the GOG Cut is the best way to do it.