As part of the launch of QuakeCon this weekend, recently minted Microsoft subsidiaries id Software and Bethesda have brought a slew of classic games to PC Game Pass—including what is arguably the worst Elder Scrolls game, Battlespire. Battlespire and fellow ’90s Elder Scrolls games Arena, Daggerfall, and Redguard were recently brought to Steam as well (opens in new tab). The full list of games coming to Game Pass and the Microsoft store is as follows:
Coming today with PC Game Pass
- Return to Castle Wolfenstein
- Quake 4
- Wolfenstein 3D
- An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire
- The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard
- Unlock all Champions in Quake Champions via a Game Pass Perk
Free today on the Microsoft Store
- The Elder Scrolls: Arena
- The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall
- Quake Champions
For sale today in the Microsoft Store
- Heretic: Serpent Riders
- Hexen: Beyond Heretic
- Hexen: Deathkings
Now I don’t mean to be a hater—I’m against anti-Bethesda revisionism, even if I’m not the biggest fan of Fallouts 3 and 4, but Battlespire is a game only a mother could love, if she could even stand to play it very long.
Elder Scrolls’ combat has always served as more of a nice accompaniment to exploring Tamriel’s rich, wide open worlds, which begs the question of why you’d then emphasize that combat in a largely-linear dungeon crawling game.
Battlespire’s basic premise is pretty questionable then, taking the clunky melee combat and busted, uneven skill system of Daggerfall and building a hack n’ slasher out of it. Battlespire also offers a particularly buggy, punishingly difficult experience on top of stripping away the series’ signature selling points. As YouTuber and noted Elder Scrolls fan LGR put it, “This isn’t Daggerfall! Manage your expectations. (opens in new tab)“
Still, even bad games deserve to be preserved for future generations, and Battlespire comes from an interesting time in Bethesda’s history. There was a long period of wandering the wilderness for the company between the release of Daggerfall in 1996 and that of Morrowind in 2002 (initially planned for 1998!) Battlespire and Redguard helped keep the company moving before its first true megahit, Morrowind, and it’s neat to see these games get the Game Pass and digital storefront treatment all these years later. No such luck for the surprisingly good Shadowkey for Nokia N-Gage (opens in new tab) or the more predictably mediocre Dawnstar and Oblivion Mobile for flip phones.
Quake 4, Wolfensteins 3D and Return to Castle, as well as Hexen/Heretic being made available from more sources are all slam dunks as well. The Quake Champions bundle just makes me wish that quite good arena shooter had a little more juice in it—not to go crying “dead game” or anything.