Bethesda brings its classic games to Steam for free

Polycount

Posts: 3,017   +590
Staff member
In context: The Bethesda Softworks we know today is a very different beast than it was three decades ago. Talent has arrived and left, and the developer's priorities and approach to game design have shifted substantially. Instead of making old-school RPGs catered to a niche audience, Bethesda develops AAA experiences designed to appeal to as many people as possible.

If you weren't gaming back in the 90s and early 2000s, you might have missed this shift at Bethesda. Perhaps the gentle, rolling hills and lazy rivers of Oblivion or the alien atmosphere of Morrowind are what you grew up with.

If so, you might think it's too late to experience the classics -- but you'd be wrong. Bethesda offers several of its oldest games to the public for free, including greats like The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall. If you weren't aware of this, don't feel too bad. They were available through Bethesda's controversial Bethesda.net game launcher, which is shutting down this year; presumably since nobody really used it.

Since the launcher is shutting down, Bethesda needs another convenient way to distribute these games. Instead of relying solely on its website as it has in the past (you can grab DRM-free copies there), the company has decided to bring Daggerfall, Arena, and Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory to Steam, along with the Creation Kits for Fallout 4 and Skyrim: Special Edition.

This is fantastic news for modders and players alike. While I'll be the first to admit that Arena and Daggerfall don't exactly hold up well in the modern era, they're still worth preserving. They represent a different era for RPGs and the gaming industry as a whole. Besides, who knows? Maybe you'll actually enjoy them if you give them a chance.

Daggerfall, in particular, is still surprisingly fun. I played the Unity version of the game (a project by a third-party modder) and sunk a couple dozen hours into it before growing bored. If you, like me, are used to retro RPGs with clunky interfaces and even clunkier combat systems, give these games a whirl. Daggerfall, Wolfenstein, and Arena are totally free and don't take up much space, so you have nothing to lose.

Have you played these three games before? If so, did you enjoy them? Let us know in the comments.

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Dimitriid

Posts: 2,218   +4,270
As the article says, it's strongly suggested that instead of playing the default version you actually play the Daggerfall Unity instead: it's much more stable, easier to run on modern systems and it actually fixes a lot of bugs that were never patched on the original.

Not only that but it also introduces a pretty substantial modding community to customize it a lot further
 

nnguy2

Posts: 490   +1,020
640x480 mid-late 90's resolution is gonna look like a s s on modern monitors (1080p or higher). this
 

yRaz

Posts: 4,604   +5,541
Oblivion was my favourite... even better than Morrowind... have probably wasted over 2000 hours on it...
Oblivion was amazing, especially looking at it for it's time peroid. It was a technical marvel for when it came out. But I think it's greatest strength was that it's main story was just a framework to craft your own adventure. We'd talk about our adventures at the lunch table and even take on some political arguments. I had a group of friends who hated argonians, I always hated nords but hated the Altmer more. It was trendy to say, "By the Nine!" instead of "Oh my god!" at the time. And while other games came and went, all it was was one mention Elderscrolls and everyone was back to it.

 

terzaerian

Posts: 1,472   +2,146
640x480 mid-late 90's resolution is gonna look like a s s on modern monitors (1080p or higher). this
This is why I buy 4:3 ex-medical monitors.

I value the games that have come out far more than the games that are yet to come out.

That and the companies that make them are fantastic to work with. God bless you Eizo
 

terzaerian

Posts: 1,472   +2,146
Mine too, could never get into Skyrim for some reason.
I've had a long, weird journey with TES/Bethesda games.

My first was definitely Morrowind, and I got some gold box combo edition with all the DLC new in the store back in the day. But this was when I was still playing Baldur's Gate, which is and remains my number one RPG of all time... so I never got into it while it was "current". In particular, the fact Morrowind didn't have free fast travel irked me, when BG basically did; it just deducted time spent off the game clock and threw in random encounters every now and again. Thus, the latter day quibbling by Morrowind grognards about fast travel has likewise irked me.

I didn't really pick one up again until Fallout 3. This time I got deeply hooked, and I still have personal affection for it beyond even New Vegas, which I still haven't gotten into, though I admit this is a personal defect on my part. Fallout 3 was also when I got heavily into modding and publishing mods.

As Skyrim drew near I felt that it would only be proper to get Oblivion, so I got that and played it intensively the summer before Skyrim, also with plenty of mods, and found it highly enjoyable.

Skyrim was the high point, though; not because it was objectively the best game but the one which I plumbed the most out of. I've played enough hours of it that, had I been flying a plane instead, I could have gotten a pilot's license easily, and that's before factoring in my Construction Kit hours. I released many mods for it, including Follower Commentary Overhaul, which was one of Nexus's top mods at the time. Whatever criticisms you have of the game's design - which are justified - you can't deny Skyrim's historical importance in saving the RPG genre in the west the way Baldur's Gate did back in 1998. Both periods were times when big publishers like EA had struck out on their offerings and, instead of blaming themselves, figured the genre was just "over," and Bethesda delivering the proverbial god hand pimp slap in the form of Skyrim was probably gaming's highest moment.

I played Fallout 4 as well, and had a good amount of fun, but by then I could tell the formula, as well as the engine, was nearing its limits. The base-building of the game was what sucked me in, which was telling for the direction things were going.

We do not speak of Fallout 76.

Finally, after COVID started, I decided I needed to knuckle down once and for all and experience Morrowind before the world collapsed, and to give myself a fresh perspective on the game that the grognards objectively didn't have, and I came away convinced by the grognards. While I'll never admit Skyrim was a bad game I definitely loved Morrowind's gameplay a lot more, seeing as by the end I was skating around through the sky with a magic bow, shooting down Cliff Racers to Kenny Loggin's "Danger Zone" and beating Dagoth Ur into unconsciousness. Morrowind is truly the greatest fantasy flight simulator ever made.
 
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ET3D

Posts: 1,787   +419
I spent hours haggling with merchants in Daggerfall. Never got into any other Bethesda game.
 

DAOWAce

Posts: 323   +62
640x480 mid-late 90's resolution is gonna look like a s s on modern monitors (1080p or higher). this
You didn't finish your comment?

Also, this is why 16:10 was the best aspect ratio. Scaled 4:3 content perfectly.

Sadly, the industry decided to go the TV route for PC monitors, and us enthusiasts have suffered endlessly as a result. Still no HFR monitor over 1680x1050 that exists as far as I'm aware. Would love to have an OLED in a 21:10 aspect ratio now that those panels are finally being released as PC monitors..
 

Sausagemeat

Posts: 1,597   +1,422
Who has time to play these now? I wish I did! But any spare time I have for gaming is spent on playing modern games, I wish I had the time to go and play some classics like daggerfall.