Daggerfall Unity – GOG Cut is a project that aims to modernize the Bethesda classic to make it accessible to new generations.
There are video games born on the amateur scene that manage to shine with their own light, eventually attracting the attention of the general public. In fact, beyond the noise and the glitter of big industry, it is all a swarm of projects of all kinds, among which there is no shortage of those for the preservation and recovery of old games. Sometimes fans work so well that they deserve the limelight, as this special dedicated to demonstrates Daggerfall Unity – GOG Cut.
The rescue of a masterpiece
If we were to indicate which are the games that have most involved us over the years, entering on a permanent basis in our memories as gamers, we would say that in general they are all those that contained a promise. We are not talking about games made simply well or very well, which they do not mind, but of those that hinted at something that had never been seen before, that is, the unexpressed potential of a genre or the whole videogame medium, opening up completely new perspectives. The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall it was one of these titles. Bethesda’s RPG was huge and showed such ambition on the part of the development team, Pete Hines and Todd Howard’s Bethesda Softworks, that it immediately approached that of other classics in the genre such as Ultima.
Of course, it certainly started from what we saw in the Ultima Underworld, which Howard and colleagues copied more blatantly with The Elder Scrolls: Arena (the first chapter of the saga), but it went much further, trying something that had never been seen before, that is to offer players an immense open world, allowing him to develop his character a bit as he wanted, thanks to the extremely flexible game system, in which skills grew with use and not with the assignment of experience points (a feature also maintained in the other chapters of the series). It was 1996 and a lot of years have passed since then. The original Daggerfall is difficult to approach for modern gamers, either for the dated graphics, or for the not-so-friendly interface that requires a minimum of study. Over the years Bethesda has never resumed its game, devoting itself more to the best known and best-selling subsequent chapters (Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim). Fortunately at one point it made it completely free, granting everyone access. But how to make it more friendly and modern?
The answer was Daggerfall Unity, an open source project born from the community in 2009 with the aim of re-imagining Bethesda’s game using the Unity engine, making it friendlier, but without distorting it in substance. Over the years the work of the collective renamed Daggerfall Workshop has grown so much, that it has attracted modders and new developers, becoming something absolutely exceptional. Finally, in 2022, GOG published completely free Daggerfall Unity – GOG Cut, that is a version of the project edited and updated by the developer GamerZakh for Windows, which is managed by the CD Projekt store like all the other games in the catalog, that is is automatically updated using GOG Galaxy. In this way, the need to go and install the game and individual mods by hand has also been eliminated, and the player no longer has the burden of having to update them by himself.
Where to download
Daggerfall Unity – GOG Cut is naturally downloadable from GOG. The game is handled like any other title in the store catalog, so you can install it by hand or via the proprietary GOG Galaxy client. The latter solution guarantees automatic updates. If you want you can download Daggerfall Unity also from the official website of the project, so you can install it somewhere you want. In this way, however, the burden of keeping it updated and modding it will be up to you. For the mods of Daggerfall Unity refer to the usual Nexus Mods, where you will find all those of the GOG Cut and many others.
There history the background to the action has remained the same: in the bay of Iliac the ancient golem Numidium was found, a very powerful weapon used in the past by the emperor Tiber Septim. The discovery follows the murder of the king of Daggerfall, whose spirit begins to haunt the kingdom. It will be up to the player, commissioned by Emperor Uriel Septim VII, to give peace to the victim and prevent Numidium from falling into the wrong hands.
As already mentioned, Daggerfall Unity – GOG Cut doesn’t aim to overturn Daggerfall, it just wants to make it more accessible and expand it. So, in the face of the maintenance of most of the mechanics of the original, it introduces some big news in the technical field. Meanwhile, let’s start with the basic ones: there is native support for Windows (the original is for MS DOS), which dramatically increases the compatibility of the game. Then there are support for more resolutions, greater code cleansing (therefore fewer bugs), a more developed artificial intelligence of the enemies, a completely revised terrain generation system for more varied landscapes, an enormously greater visual distance than the 1996 title, a complete overhaul of quests, and support for native translations. Finally, support for mods has been enhanced, so as to allow players to customize and expand the experience as they want (there are also tools for modders on the official website of Daggerfall Unity).
As mentioned, the GOG version is taken care of by GamerZakh, who has selected and pre-installed many mods in the pack, to further improve some aspects of the game. Most are graphic mods, such as DREAM, Better Ambience, Enhanced Sky, Real Grass 2 and many others, which modify the visual rendering, for example by changing the lighting system, adding details to the game world, which is still procedurally generated, or replacing some textures with new ones in high resolution. However, there are also more substantial ones such as the Roleplay and Realism packages, which add quests, improve mounts, change some equipment values and add many objects, including weapons. There is also the Bestiary mod, which does exactly what it says, introducing a searchable bestiary into the game, with all the creatures that can be encountered during the various wanderings to Iliac Bay. The Daggerfall Unity Quest Packs 1 and 2, on the other hand, add more than three hundred quests, vastly expanding what is already immense.
There are also several mods to improve the life quality of the player, such as Leveling Inspiration, which adds motivational texts to the pop-ups announcing leveling up (something similar has been seen in Morrowind and Oblivion), or Travel Options, which adds travel options, so as to give the player more choices for travel and make this aspect of the gameplay more interesting. World Tooltips is also very useful, which adds pop-up descriptions when interacting elements are highlighted, for example providing information on the level of a lock or on the class of a certain character.
As of today, there is no easier way to rediscover Daggefall Unity’s Daggerfall – GOG Cut, which allows you to access the game without having to struggle with installations, compatibility issues and mod search. For those curious to discover or rediscover the second chapter of the famous Bethesda saga, there is no better way to do it. Some might argue that it is still a remake and that, therefore, it is not comparable to the original as an experience. True, but in this case the greater accessibility makes it preferable, also by virtue of the fact that the developers have managed to be very respectful of the original work.
If in doubt, remember that Daggefall Unity – GOG Cut and The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall are both free, so you can download and compare without spending anything, and then choose which one to continue. Either way, you will find yourself living in a world full of things to do, procedurally generated dungeons to visit, quests to solve, and enemies to fight with. By developing certain skills you also get a freedom of movement that does not exist in any other role-playing game (or almost), but if we wanted to, we could indicate many other reasons why it is still worth playing today. So what are you waiting for?
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