It’s been a long time coming, but the big day is finally here: Daggerfall Unity, the best version of Bethesda’s nearly 30-year-old open-world RPG, has now hit version 1.0 and is “considered complete.”
We all talk about Skyrim and Morrowind and Fallout 4, but I would argue that none of them were as influential as Daggerfall. It set the tone for three decades of RPG history: It was huge, it was open, it was epic, it was buggy as hell, and it was a hit that set Bethesda on a course it continues to follow today. Playing it these days, though, is a challenge: It looks rough (although it still sounds great), but the bigger issue is its straight-out-of-the-’90s interface, which has not aged well.
That’s where Daggerfall Unity comes in. It’s a fan-made, open source rebuild of Daggerfall in the Unity engine that brings the game to modern PCs with WASD-based controls, improved graphics, lighting, and widescreen display support, greater draw distances, and numerous other enhancements. You can opt to play in “retro mode” if you’re looking for the old-school experience, but Daggerfall Unity also supports “hundreds of incredible mods” that add everything from improved graphics and audio to new classes, quests, and geographical regions.
Another interesting but widely overlooked feature of Daggerfall Unity is the option to set smaller dungeons. When enabled, the game will limit randomized dungeons to roughly the size of Privateer’s Hold, Daggerfall’s tutorial dungeon, and while it might seem odd to want less of an open-world Bethesda RPG, you have to keep in mind that Daggerfall is massive, and its randomized dungeons are massive, and honestly it’s just too damn much: Smaller dungeons makes random questing faster (hand-crafted dungeons are unaffected by the change) and believe me, that is a smart idea.
To run the game, you’ll need a copy of the original Daggerfall, which is now free on Steam, and of course Daggerfall Unity itself, available from Github. Extract the Daggerfall Unity archive into its own folder and run the .exe, then point it toward the Steam install when prompted. Set your resolution and image quality as you like, and then have at it. If you run into trouble or uncertainty, detailed instructions for setting it all up can also be found on Github.
Thank you everyone for all your kind words in the replies, I truly appreciate them. Happy new year!December 31, 2023
It’s a little more effort than what’s required by Daggerfall Unity – GOG Cut, but a couple weeks before the 1.0 release the Daggerfall Unity team urged players to move away from the GOG Cut, saying that it’s now nearly two years out of date and comes preloaded with “dozens of mods” that you may or may not want.
“[The GOG Cut] is buggy, slow, and completely changes how the game looks and plays,” developer Interkarma wrote. “The Daggerfall Unity development team did not assemble the ‘GOG Cut’ release and in no way recommend it to play Daggerfall Unity.”
If you already have the GOG Cut installed, instructions for uninstalling it (without also deleting your saved games) in order to get a fresh start with the latest release are up at dfworkshop.net. We’ve also got an in-depth guide of our own that covers setting up Daggerfall Unity and some choice mods that will give you the best experience possible.