Sunday, September 14, 2014

Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall Finale - Pale Palace

Previously on Daggerfall... I managed to rescue my game and get it working again, then finally finished Dust of Restful Death, Lysandus' Tomb, and associated quests. Now, with the curse on Daggerfall City lifted and the spirits freed from their wandering, it's time to go to Aetherius and revive the ancient super-golem Numidium.

Who was that? Was she hot? Y no visuals, game?

Oh, it's Bri Mode again. She's at the Silver Woodchuck, which should have been called The Gray Beaver. Because she's long in the tooth, that one.

She once again tries to get me to help The Emperor out with stuff. Can't he do this himself? He's The Emperor. Looks like I'm heading to Castle Daggerfall.

Some loot I found. Well, THAT'S creepy. Surprisingly valuable, too. If I were a Saint I would just sell all my hair to pay the bills.

Next up is the dungeon of Castle Daggerfall. Some nefarious monsters lurk under here, unsurprisingly. It's also a sweet place to kick back and light up some righteous bud. Gazpacho sits by the fire for a little while and does just that.

Behold! The Totem of Tiber Septim. This thing can control Numidium. Soon I'll be unleashing The Giant of Babil on everybody who ever mocked Gaz.

It's obscenely valuable, obviously, but selling it to a merchant would be a huge mistake. The major powers in the region all want this thing, and now I'm the one who has it. Some will try to take it by force, others will make offerings. Everyone wants control of Numidium.

Yanno, I think I'll just keep it for myself and become the all-powerful ruler of Tamriel.

...or not. The Totem straight-up tells me that I can't keep it. There are six or seven people who can lay claim to being of the bloodline of Tiber Septim, and I'll need to give it to one of those people. This is like Game of Thrones.

At this point, the letters begin to roll in. Piccolo Gortwog wants control of Numidium so that he can establish an independent orcish state and command respect in the continent. Really? You won't try to expand beyond your existing, frequently-attacked borders? Somehow, that's hard to believe. PASS.

Paige? Oh, page. For a second I was excited. Regardless, another letter rolls in. Let's see what this one says.

Whoa! Before I can even look, another letter arrives! They're basically forming a line to hand letters to me now. Gazpacho may be a perverted flasher with no scruples, but he just became the most popular man in Tamriel.

I hang out in the middle of a rainy mire just to troll the mail-deliverers while I wait for more letters to come in. Hawr! Suck it, mailpeople!

The mysterious Underking offers me a potent artifact for the Totem. At this point, I care less about what they're offering (the game is nearly over) and what they'll do with it (Tamriel can burn) as much as I care about which one gives me the simplest, most tedium-free delivery avenue. This guy sends his emissary to some town in Wayrest. Where is he in that town? I have no clue. PASS.

Depending on your choice, you could get a number of bonuses. Some of the bidders offer you 100,000 gold, some offer you artifacts, some offer you NOTHING, some attempt to have you killed, and the King of Worms offers you a huge amount of reputation with basically every minor faction in the game. Other possibilities include Chrysamere, Warlock's Ring, and Necromancer's Amulet.

Oh look, it's Brie Mode again. She sent me to get the totem and told me where it was to begin with, and I guess she expects me to bring it to her now. I believe that would result in it going to The Emperor. Unfortunately, she's in a residence that I'd have to look for. PASS.

The Queen of Sentinel offers me tons of money that I have no use for. She also seems like a paranoid weirdo. PASS.

The King of Worms - who never did any wrong by me and was a very upfront and honest sorta chap earlier - sends me a fairly well-spoken letter. HE WINS, besting four other pretenders. I'll take my massive faction bonuses, which would be very useful for sidequests and guild quests if I had any intention of playing this in any way after I finish the main quest.

To Scourg Barrow! I haven't been there since earlier in the game... which was months ago.

The King of Worms looks like a trustworthy fellow to give an all-powerful engine of destruction to. He has scantily-clad dancers in his room with him, so the sly Gazpacho can enjoy the sights.

Huh, the Totem requires a Mantella to work. What's a Mantella?

Story time. I'm just going to step back and let the game talk.

This is a big turn of events. Looks like the hero of this game plays just as major of a role in the history of Tamriel as the hero of the first game.

Now I need to go to the Mantellan Crux, a sub-realm of Aetherius.  Nulfaga of Shedungent here is the key to getting there. ...And one sexy piece of tail.

She babbles a lot and sends me to another dimension. Aetherius seems to be more or less the "higher plane" of Tamriel, a place where the gods dwell. It is never really visited in the series, aside from this one chapter. Though I hear Skyrim goes there for a while in the endgame, I haven't confirmed that.

Oblivion (of ESIV: Oblivion fame) is the parallel universe to Aetherius, a sort of hell to whatever heaven Aetherius might be. It's much easier to travel to and from Oblivion, which happens numerous times in the fourth game.

The final dungeon is underway... and it's a doozy. Aetherius doesn't follow the laws of physics, so this place is full of hovering islands in a void.

This is more three-dimensional than any other dungeon in the game, with doorways high up on walls and hidden in the underside of floating islands. You NEED a levitate spell to get around here, and spend a lot of time slowly flying through the air.

The dungeon is also extremely dark. I wish it were a bit brighter. Here's a door that was sealed by an energy barrier for a while, despite that I hit the switch to open it. After backtracking and hitting the switch again, suddenly it was clear.

I gotta say, this was the longest and most complicated dungeon that I've played in ANY game in a very long time. It took me a good three hours to get through this one area.

There's a hovering pyramid midway through the area, and it's a complete headache to get through. There are blocked passages everywhere and specific switches to open everything. Though I will say that it's pretty memorable. I won't soon forget hovering my way around this flying pyramid, trying to figure out which switch I need to hit and when in order to get past the latest impasse inside.

Atop the pyramid is an Ancient Lich. It's pretty nasty (especially with me at level 13). This game doesn't really have boss fights, so this is about as close as we get on that front.

...oh, I haven't really done a level update in a while have I? Yeah, I'm still level 13. Haven't gained any levels since I got the game working again, because I haven't been training skills at all.

Here are my final stats. My levels are painfully low for the endgame; I thought I'd need 25+ to beat the game, as is the case in the other games in the series. My skills all hover around 40-50% of max, which is low. Most of my stats aren't even capped. I have a top-tier sword, but my armor is weak, low-tier, outdated stuff for the most part. Surprised I was able to finish the game like this. I had a couple chances to get a Daedric breastplate earlier and I wish I had jumped on it.

Jesus H! Put your pants back on, man! Folks, I'm sorry about this...

This mysterious guy named "The Benefactor" apparently LIVES in an empty room hovering in the middle of the void here.

...and later I find his gravestone. Well, that's creepy. So his body is still walking around, spirit-less?

Towards the end of the dungeon is a very impressive room. It's huge and filled with ascending walkways. In here you need to click floating stone heads to make them all face towards the center, or something like that. The walls are also made out of fire.

This room also contains the closest thing that Daggerfall has to a final boss. Four Fire Daedra attack you from all sides at the center of the room; they're the strongest enemies in the game. This was the most difficult fight I had. Even my trusty Raise Shields spell got chewed through quickly by these guys.

The good news is that their projectile attacks were visible, so I was able to dodge them while fleeing around the room. Once I got them all on the same side, I lucked out and managed to take them down before they took me down.

Protip: The spell Reflect bounces their projectiles back at them for HUGE DAMAGE.

At the top of the fire room lurks the bastardly Sheogorath, a Daedric prince. He appears throughout the Elder Scrolls saga.

The final areas are even more void-like. I don't know who the mocking voice is. I thought it was Sheogorath, but now I'm not sure.

Sheogorath loves the crossbow so much that the last part of the dungeon is shaped like one. Climbing into the loading chamber of the massive structure causes it to fire you to the final area. Wow.

A massive sword comprises another stretch of terrain. Without levitate, I don't even know how much of a disaster it'd be to get knocked off of this bridge.

Meanwhile, a number of floating sky-cages have Fire Daedra in them, throwing fireballs at you. It's a dangerous area. Invisibility spells proved very useful.

FINALLY. The last room. That dungeon was epic in every sense of the word and I actually enjoyed it, as long-winded as it was.

Here it is, the Mantella. All of that trouble to get... the emerald from Romancing the Stone?

With that, we get an incredibly quick and simple ending video. The King of Worms took control of Numidium and proceeded to make himself a god in Aetherius. He totally left the world of Tamriel alone, just like he said he would. As usual, he was a straightforward kind of guy. I'm pretty sure one of those petty rulers would have started a world war with that power instead, so I made the right call.

 After this very short ending, the game drops me outside Aetherius, main quest complete, so I can run around and do other stuff.

That'll do it for me, though. The optional quests/dungeons in this game are random and procedurally-generated to the point of total blandness. One could spend dozens of hours doing all of them, but... why? You don't need to get more powerful for anything (as I proved by barely getting through the final dungeon - the pinnacle of the game's difficulty - at level 13 with subpar gear). It isn't an MMO so there isn't any social interaction to be had as you do these things. The main quest is fun, at least, if it doesn't glitch out in some way. It can be beaten in about ten hours if you know what you're doing, fifteen if you don't but have guide help.

Final thoughts on the game? As much of a PITA as it was, I'm glad I played it. It's a huge part of gaming history. Arena was better, though. Looking forward to the rest of the series now that I have the two archaic installments done. Bring on Morrowind, but first, there's a classic RPG series from Natsume and Taito that I want to take a look at.


  1. Gotta admit this bidding war for what you have is quite intriguing.

    You know I'm probably better off not asking how an orc can be related to these humans.


    Well, that ending was pretty anti-climatic, but I'm glad you went with the honest guy.

  2. I can feel the progression, that you've done so much tricky stuff that they're perfectly willing to give you a job this tough now.
    If a saint sold her hair to pay the bills, would she still be a saint? Hmmm...I'll allow it!
    I'm glad you gave it to the King of Worms. He seems the most awesome all around.
    That was an awesome ending dungeon, it really made the dungeon itself seem like a boss and defined dungeon-crawling. Cool stuff. Great job, I know how hard you worked for this.