Copy/pasted from my comment on another post. Was interested to hear other people's thoughts.
Daggerfall is great but it's not perfect or the best TES game. It was a truly groundbreaking game, but so much of it was made just because it could be done, not because it enhances the experience or serves any kind of greater purpose. Sure, the land is huge, but there's no point to it being so large. There's nothing unique to see or do, no geographical landmarks, just endless fractals that go up and down forever. The world becomes a tool for the game to disrespect your time, nothing more. That's if you see the world at all – there's nothing to stop you from fast travelling everywhere from the start. So the world is either a waste of time or a waste of disc space, which isn't exactly a point in its favour. Ships and houses are interesting enough, but there's practically nothing you can do with them. Ships allow you to fast travel more efficiently and store loot, but apart from that they're an isolated mechanic that doesn't feed into anything else or do anything novel. A house is the same, but with no fast travel and much more of an upfront cost. People call Skyrim "wide as an ocean, deep as a puddle", but this is taken to the extreme in Daggerfall. It's a world as big as several real life landmasses, recreated in real scale, in which nearly every mechanic is a stub that serves only one or two purposes. I love Daggerfall for role playing purposes. I've sunk more than 150 hours into every TES game except Arena, Battlespire, and Redguard, and Daggerfall is no exception, but I frankly can't call it my favourite TES game.
For what it's worth, I think Arena is basically Daggerfall but less mechanics (the selling point for Daggerfall in the modern day being that it has a lot more mechanics and role-playing opportunities than other TES games). It's basically a slightly worse and less focused Ultima Underworld, but I can appreciate it as a trailblazer nonetheless. Morrowind has the best world design in the series and the deepest character building (and for that reason it's probably my favourite). Oblivion has the best balance between RPG mechanics and action elements, as well as the best balance between scale and detail, but the style and world are both bland to the point of being ugly. This is probably controversial, but I find it harder to come back to than Morrowind. I don't mind the additional action elements of Skyrim, I just wish it didn't come at the cost of some of the RPG elements. I still classify it as an RPG though, as it still satisfies most of the same urges as it's predecessors. Whichever direction they go next, I hope they keep the two-hands magic/equipment system as it allows for so much more freedom and flexibility. It particularly makes paladin and magical assassin builds a lot smoother, gameplay-wise.
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