Have You Played The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

A bit of a dirty word in some quarters of the roleplaying community, given that it marks the beginning of once-revered series’ ongoing drift into all violence all the time, and directly led to Fallout’s controversial divergence from its former cRPG path. Good god, Oblivion was exciting at the time, though. Probably the most excited I’ve ever been a RPG ahead of playing it.

Those trees! The horses! Those NPCs who went to work and came home again! I worked in a magazine office at the time, and the first thing my colleagues and I did every morning for a fortnight was swap tales of our adventures in Cyrodiil. Our savegames noted hundreds of hours played. How can it be that so many of us sneer at it now?

“Fallout 3”, a game I did not think especially highly of, is the foremost answer to that question, but I suppose also it’s because our memories of unexpected encounters or consequences faded, replaced by annoyance at the horrendous voice acting, the pudding-faces, the risible conversation minigame, the bugs, the looping behaviours – and a creeping sense that Oblivion massively disrupted the course of roleplaying games, that the beloved age of Black Isle was truly over now that big action was earning bigger bucks than the genre ever had done before.

Just as Lord of the Rings made fantasy film massively mainstream, Oblivion – aided and abetted by the next year’s Mass Effect – made RPGs something that everyone wanted to play, and a price was paid for that. I think, perhaps, that I/we should remember it a little more fondly than we perhaps do, nonetheless.

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  1. Snarkman3 says:

    Fond memories, truly. I was amazed at the time, exiting that imperial dungeon for the first time, seeing the mountains and the huge (at the time) draw distance. I also remember playing around with the config files so that my toaster could run it, installing Oldblivion, making it look much worse but…work. Trading stories with friends, hearing about the Dark Brotherhood that way.

    Then the honeymoon period blew off and I realized Morrowind is better in every way

  2. Creeping Death says:

    “How can it be that so many of us sneer at it now?”

    I wasnt aware that anyone sneered or actively disdained Oblivion. I still think it’s the game Bethesda peaked at.

    • dangermouse76 says:

      There is definitely a Morrowind systems were better feeling by some. I’m not bothered I enjoy each game for what they are.

    • Jerkzilla says:

      I sneer a lot at it. In fact, I’m kinda having a deja vu now. Didn’t RPS already do a Have You Played with Oblivion before where I already posted a sneering comment? Oh well, better be thorough…

      For a while, I thought the problems with it were with piecemeal things like Alec mentioned, the puffy faces and crap VO and such. But now that I’ve played a bunch of classic games with less than stellar mechanics and who’s graphics have aged terribly, I feel like I could have tolerated all of those, I guess, trivial problems if there was any real point to the game.

      I don’t think anyone can really identify a central theme to the game, at least an interesting one. Not forgettable, but… disjointed and nonsensical. crowleyhammer’s comment about the bandit in super-expensive armor demanding the trivial sum of 20 gold really captures the whole thing. And that’s a pretty sad thing to remember about a game that advertised itself as being so much.

      • dangermouse76 says:

        I couldn’t identify a central theme to the game either. Except close the gates of oblivion ? Join guilds ? Do the DLC ?

        I still had great moment to moment fun though, either in the dungeons or looting villages of literally everything. Sometimes I can enjoy a game in-spite of itself if you know what I mean.

        Also there were some nice individual stories in amongst all the side quests, some good one liners.
        Not trying to covert you or say you wrong, just chipping in with my experience.

        • Jerkzilla says:

          Yeah, I see what you mean. I’d be lying if I said I enjoyed NONE of it.
          For me though, I still remember watching the dev videos pre release about the stealth and combat and the radiant AI and the dungeons and all that stuff and dying with anticipation. But the real thing just didn’t connect.

          Out of curiosity, did you hear of Oblivion after it release, or did you get hyped for it?

          • dangermouse76 says:

            I heard about it after. A friend and I got it as a Xbox 360 launch title I think.

      • ThePuzzler says:

        The theme was rambling around in a fantasy landscape.

      • khamul says:

        The balance was a bit rubbish, too. And the auto-levelling, which meant that you never felt the benefit of improvement.

        And it was the poster child for ‘Too Much Bloom’.

        And there was no *edge*. It was pretty much pretty all the time – compared to Morrowind, which is pretty much what you get if you look up ‘strange beauty’ in the dictionary. To make an impression – and certainly coming from an Elder Scrolls lineage – beauty needs a bit of weird.

        That was the biggest problem for me… though the fact that the world just blatantly didn’t make sense was also a biggie.

        • Freud says:

          The one thing that broke the illusion was bandits wearing the best items in the game after a while, due to the auto leveling. It broke the illusion, even if the basic idea to keep the game challenging is somewhat sound.

          • khamul says:

            Here’s the thing: a good difficulty curve is not D = Nx. It’s not linear. D = Nx^2 is better – it gets harder as your skill improves – but that’s also not the right answer.

            The right answer is a complex high-order equation: D = Nx^3 – Mx^2 – Yx… something that goes down as well as up. You want the odd peak – though not too steep – but also you need to feel your achievements mean something. When I pick up that Sword +3 Of Awesomeness, the game needs to feel easier for a bit, as I just slaughter all the things that were giving me grief.

            And then it needs to throw a dragon at me.

            So I agree with the concept in general, but not in detail. Make the game harder, so it stays fun, sure… but not at the cost of making me feel like I can never improve.

          • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

            The especially alarming thing about Oblivion’s difficulty curve is that if you don’t level optimally, you can actually very quickly fall behind the curve, and the game actually just gets more difficult the longer you play, instead of getting easier.

        • Replikant says:

          I agree with the world not making sense. Oblivion was the game where I started wondering how this world could function at all, when all the roads and lands were constantly besieged by bandits and beasts. All the farmers and merchants would be dead by now (except the ones in glass armor, of course).

    • Yglorba says:

      I honestly do not see how anyone could think Oblivion was the best in the series. To me, it was a decent but ultimately middling midpoint between Morrowind and Skyrim.

      Morrowind was better at having a deep, fleshed-out, original-seeming world and backstory, and at having complicated, intricate systems with a lot of room to tinker if that’s what you wanted.

      Skyrim was better at being easy-to-play, having a visceral fun-factor, giving you a huge amount to explore and do, and generally just being well-designed. It was also much better-looking and better-sounding, with excellent visuals and voice-acting. It trimmed a lot of mechanics, but a lot of that stuff (the conversation systems, the excessive stat-management on level ups) was just not working out right and deserved to be trimmed. And while it wasn’t as good at the worldbuilding as Morrowind, it was loads better than Oblivion.

      Oblivion just… didn’t do anything quite as good as either of those games. It was the awkward teenage form of the series. And it did all this set in the most generic-fantasy setting the series has ever used, bland and unappealing. Even Skyrim’s designers specifically called out how bland Oblivion’s setting was when mentioning what they kept in mind when making its sequel.

  3. Kefren says:

    I was disappointed with the inventory system. I preferred the dress-up dolls of Might and Magic to Oblivion. And Oblivion didn’t even have a two-handed staff as a weapon (ruining my plans to play as a monk Monkey).

  4. PennyPacker says:

    Played it lots and lots. But only with the excellent Oscuro Mod which made fantastic work modifying level progression and balancing. Think I barely totaled 30 minutes or so in vanilla version
    (Long time reader, first time poster)

  5. GenialityOfEvil says:

    Traditional RPGs are still made. They’re not as popular as TES or Mass Effect, but they weren’t before.

  6. crowleyhammer says:

    My defining experience of this game is being held up for 20gp by a guy wearing Elven armour and weaponry worth tens of thousands.

  7. Blackcompany says:

    To death. Dome 500 hours.

    Finished with high res textures, Deadly Combat and Midas Magic installed.

    My last quests were Stranded Light and Heart of the Dead. Both so well done…

  8. dangermouse76 says:

    Hated it ( friend said keep going ). It’s all set in a sewer ! This sucks, that sword swing is awful ( friend said keep going ). My god those animations are terrible ! Is this set underground or something, my god those faces when they talk have they had a stroke or something ?

    Friend said keep going.
    Out of the sewer………..and 400 hours later. Lets hit up the wiki and go get the best sword in the game.
    Whats the most powerful flame spell I can make ?
    Glass armour !
    I loved this game. I never completed the main quest.

    • dangermouse76 says:

      Remember creating your own spells ? I loved that.

      • Sakkura says:

        That system was way worse than in Morrowind though.

        I feel like for every major improvement in Oblivion, there was a major downgrade in some system or other. I sort of enjoyed it at the time, but felt like so much was missing that should have been brought over from Morrowind. It felt like a missed opportunity for greatness, and that made “pretty good” hard to swallow.

        • Replikant says:

          And no levitation spell!

          • Porkolt says:

            The levitation spell was cut for technical reasons, though. Real-time crossovers into major areas crammed with NPCs weren’t feasible meaning that levitating over a wall and seeing beyond means you could tell there wasn’t anybody inside.

            Morrowind compromised that problem by putting the better part of its NPCs inside (note how pretty much every inhabitant of the grand city of Vivec is located inside the cantons, while the streets are populated only with the odd Ordinator and the occasional boatman), but already gave up on making that work as soon as Tribunal was released (remember how levitation spells don’t work in Mournhold?).

  9. melnificent says:

    Great game, broken autolevel system. Everyone levelling up with you meant that it was a bad idea to level as the Oblivion gates got harder.

    • PennyPacker says:

      Yeah, leveling was totally broken in a spectacular way. The Oscuro mod fixed that so it’s pretty much the only version I know

  10. Blizniak says:

    Yes I have, never again.

  11. Sin Vega says:

    One of the most important games of the last deca…. shit. The last twelve years. Not so much for its design as for its impact on the industry and the perception of games outside our grubby little corner.

    I really enjoyed it at the time, as most of us did, but it’s when I realised that Bethesda games were all about the stringing out the ongoing promise that things are about to get amazing aaaaany minute now.

    Still, with a few billion mods there’s lots of fun to be had. And some really fun ‘quest’ ideas. Also it birthed Livin’ in Oblivion, which completely changed how I play games and led to me finally getting round to writing about games, which eventually led me to writing for some crappy website or other, so it’ll always be a little special to me.

  12. Nemo1342 says:

    I hate this game to such a degree that it stands alone in my mind, despite a lifetime of video games playing games. I don’t even know where to start, in terms of extolling Oblivion’s awful qualities, and it would be tedious to list them all, so I won’t.

    Suffice it to say that Oblivion was the absolute nadir of the Elder Scrolls series.

  13. Stevostin says:

    “given that it marks the beginning of once-revered series’ ongoing drift into all violence all the time”

    Have you actually played Morrowind, Daggerfall, Arena ? Were you drunk ? They were hint at something else to do than combat in those, like “disguise”, except it was just that, a hint to something that was never actually in production. All of those games have exclusively been about exploring & fighting. There are actually far more way to complete a quest in Oblivion that in its glorious ancestors. Heck, there are probably more ways than in Fallout 1 & 2. (or at least Fallout 3 offers for sure way more options for that than F1&2, a raw fact plain to see by comparing games wiki grossly overlooked by most)(as a result, Bethesda stopped caring about that and made huge bucks out of Skyrim & F4, two games with very little options offered to the player in quest completions).

  14. McCool says:

    For me Oblivion will always be the game that broke my childhood gaming innocence. It was, and remains the biggest disappointment ever in games for me, and the very last time I allowed myself to believe in “the hype”.

    It all came crashing down the moment I left those sewers, and saw the ugly, repeating square textures plastered over the hills, the weird bright neon shine that made everything look like a demented theme park. Cyrodiil, the land I had been more excited than any other to finally explore, turned out to be just that, a shallow, soulless violence fest with the most hilariously misjudged leveling system in RPG history making all progress meaningless.

    There were some good times in there, mostly the Dark Brotherhood and the Thieves Guild, but the majority was just one crushing disappointment after another, my young self increasingly unable to convince myself I was having a good time.

    The best thing I can say about Oblivion is that it taught me never to buy into the hype, and always go in with the lowest possible expectations.

  15. A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

    This game, this was the game that brought me back in to the fold. I remember it with such fond memories. I’d been a PC gamer throughout my teenage years but left the thing at home when I went to Uni (was a tough call, but I knew I’d spend too many hours locked in my room if it came with). Sure enough I stopped missing games after a while, spent my days socialising, partying, getting in to stuff I probably shouldn’t have, doing everything except studying and eventually dropped out like a massive loser.

    Anyway, first job after dropping out, i saved up and bought a Xbox 360 as soon as I could. Something to distract me from all the fun I was missing out on. It was a couple of years after Oblivion had come out and I picked it up cheap with a few other games. It sat at the bottom of that small pile for a month or so in favour of PES 20..something or other I expect.

    We’re getting there, I promise – I still remember clearly going out for a house party with a couple of Uni friends, and it was the first time I felt really ostracised for not being a student (not by my mates, but everyone else) plus I was miffed a promised bowl full of class As had already been consumed by the hosts. I turned my back on it. Went home. Felt really sucky about dropping out of Uni, needing drugs to enjoy social situations, stuck in a town where my entire social circle were students when I no longer was.

    So. So, I picked up a crate of beers to feel better about the fact I at least had a (miniscule) wage now. I sat in front of Xbox, was bored of PES so stuck Oblivion in the tray and VOOM. That was that. I played until the sun came up. I had never, and will probably never again, feel as 100% immersed in a virtual world as I did in the world of Oblivion that night. The last RPG I’d probably played was Morrowind about 10 years before. It was such a complete world, and I was so unaware of gaming developments and tropes and tricks. It seemed so utterly real (helped by beer). Doubt I’ll ever get that back, I’ve played too much and see too clearly the way games are designed now, that total immersion is nigh on impossible or at least lasts for a much shorter time.

    I never looked back really. Stopped doing drugs. Reduced the nights out to weekly, rather than nightly. I knuckled down and managed to swap the 360 for a gaming PC a couple promotions later. Found out all the missing PC Gamer writers were hiding over here. I know some would say I just swapped one evil for another, but gaming really did help me level out when I was seriously listing, and Oblivion happened to be the game that made it happen.

    • Premium User Badge

      Grizzly says:

      This is one of those comments that makes this comment section worth reading.

    • phelix says:

      I want a comment spotlight vote button. Now!. Horace, make it so!

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      cheesysmell says:

      +5 interesting, favorite added, 10/10 would read again.

      I think we’re about the same age, though ironically Oblivion was the last game I played before selling my PC so I could be social at uni. Though really we just smoked out and played Smash Bros.

  16. Vacuity729 says:

    Played it, installed mods and played some more, and then started *making* mods. Oh, gods. Years of my life just vanished, but the community I joined was wonderful.

    • shadeMe says:

      Had to stop lurking to post this but my curio got the better of me – is this Vacuity from the Bethesda/Team Alpha forums?

      • Vacuity729 says:

        Well, hello there old friend! Yes, ’tis me! I really should pop by the alpha team forums again sometime.

  17. Sinomatic says:

    I can’t really comment on how good or bad it was in terms of Elder Scrolls games (I’d only briefly played Morrowind and never really got into it, years before), but I thoroughly enjoyed galloping around the countryside on my horsey, sitting at my hut by the lake, looking up at the stars, and wandering around the Shivering Isles in a state of perma-amusement.
    Don’t think I ever understood how the hell the levelling worked though.

  18. Maxheadroom says:

    Out of all of them Oblivion was probably the one I cooled on the quickest. In no small part to that Conversation Wheel. Oh god the Conversation Wheel!!

    Speaking of Elder Scrolls as a whole though, I could quite happily wait another 5 years for the next one if it meant they’d finally switch to a new engine. Surely they’ve had their monies worth out of this one by now?

  19. noom says:

    Having recently reinstalled Skyrim and gotten sucked into the mod scene for that, I’ve actually been thinking a lot about Oblivion lately. Can’t say my memories of playing it vanilla have really stuck with me, but I do remember having a bloody great time modding the hell out of it with FCOM Convergence. Shame it was so hard to get stable, as the CTDs really pulled you out of what was an otherwise massively absorbing experience.

    As for Skyrim, I’ll give Requiem a shout for general de-leveled overhaul goodness (other overhauls are available… haven’t tried them).

    But really it’s the little things that count for me. Hiding the compass, blocking quick travel, having better verbal descriptions on quest objectives so you actually need to travel and search… these small changes actually allow you to appreciate the engaging environment that Skyrim actually is. It’s easy to be critical of TES games, but honestly I think Bethesda really undermine their own work by pandering towards accessibility.

    • noom says:

      Oh, and getting a map with roads marked on it. Such a tiny change but lets you plan out your journeys before you leave. Currently considering throwing a paper-map in that doesn’t even show you your location, letting you actually become properly lost!

  20. Manco says:

    I thought it was the weakest TES. The world was generic and did away with a lot of interesting lore, the main quest repetitive, the levelling system was annoying, the levelled enemies infuriating,…

    I spent several hundred hours playing it but in hindsight it was all for the mods. Morrowind was the better experience and Skyrim the better game.

  21. Turkey says:

    I came into it already not liking Morrowind, but they got me interested by hyping the fact that they got Emilio whatsit from Thief 3 to revamp their stealth system. Turns out sneaking isn’t that fun when you’re stuck ploinking a billion arrows at one of those freak of auto-leveling boss npcs.

    • Frank says:

      Nah, Pagliarulo didn’t work on T3 and pretty much just did writing/quests here, says Mobygames.

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    hemmer says:

    I did play it, several times, and actually liked it a lot! More than Skyrim even!

    It had a lot of good sidequests, really good sidequests, the guilds were awesome and everything involving the gods being dickheads was great as well.
    Oh and the expac was trippy and good.

    It of course had all the same problems TES-games always have, but at least there was interesting content for once without having to mod it in. Something Bethesda games usually lack, massively.

  23. Epicedion says:

    I’m sorry, I was busy boasting, joking, threatening, and insulting a vampire lord.

  24. Urthman says:

    I came to Skyrim a couple years late and only ever played it with FCOM, Midas Magic, and a bunch of other mods, so I have no idea if the original game was any good, but the version I played was fantastic.

    • Urthman says:

      My favorite part was the thing a lot of people complain about, which is that you can basically do everything with one character. It made all the dungeons much more interesting to be able to go into each one and decide, “Ok, I’m gonna sneak around sniping everyone with arrows from the shadows” or “this time I’m gonna focus on summoning and making my creatures do most of the fighting” or drink a bunch of buff potions and wade in with a two-handed weapon or find a nest of vampires and burn it to the ground with my best custom fire spells. I can’t imagine the tedium of playing that entire game restricted to the approach of only one viable character class strategy per playthrough.

      • Qazi says:

        The only great thing is that they ran with it, either intentionally or not. The Champion of Cyrodiil, whom is the king BrawlerFighter, the ArchMage GreyFox Thief master, both Divine Crusader (who could be an Elf) and depraved Listener… Mad-God.

  25. Solidstate89 says:

    It’s my least played of all the Elder Scrolls games. I played about 100 hours or so when it came out (and I bought it for the Xbox 360 – didn’t have a computer then to play on) and since then I’ve not felt compelled to go back and play it since.

    Morrowind’s environments, story and all around presentation is far more interesting and unique, and Skyrim’s combat system is leagues better, to say nothing that its setting despite being similar, is altogether more engaging. Maybe if Oblivion actually took place in a rain forest jungle like the original lore stated than it would have been a much more fascinating locale.

  26. K_Sezegedin says:

    Remember that pre-release demo of Oblivion where Todd demonstrates Radiant AI by having a woman practice archery in her bedroom then set her dog on fire?

    At the time I was perplexed how they though that was a good demo of anything other than a scripted simulation of malfunctioning AI routines, but then actually playing the game I started wishing the world actually was that gonzo theme park run by clown-logic they demonstrated.

    • Replikant says:

      Lol. Thanks for bringing that demo up. Yes, I thought it was hilarious to show off that havily scripted sequence as an example for the lifelike behaviour of the NPCs. Didn’t the woman go to bed and fall asleep after killing her dog?

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        Andy_Panthro says:

        One of the biggest examples of pre-release hype not making it to the real thing.

        There was so much talk from Todd Howard and co. about the radiant AI and the dialogue wheels and so on. It never worked as intended, so instead we just got scripted and scheduled NPCs, which weren’t significantly better than examples in older games (I think the earliest example of NPC schedules I can recall is Ultima 5, and after the Ultima series I think Gothic did it too).

        I seem to recall there’s a way of turning on the full radiant AI system though, with some hack or mod, which basically makes everything chaotic (NPCs stealing food and fighting with each other, or something).

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          Aitrus says:

          There are unscripted events that happen in the game. Some NPCs will steal food and fights will break out, but a single player may never experience that. It’s pretty rare. That said, I think some NPCs are more likely to get themselves killed, like City-Swimmer.

  27. Voqar says:

    I never really noticed Oblivion hate, and I also don’t know why people dislike FO 3.

    I was violently against FO 3 at first due to it shifting away from the glory of isometric past but it’s an excellent game full of tons of fun content and a decent enough story. Unlike many I prefer FO3 to NV too.

    Overall I always have mixed feelings about every Bethesda RPG – they mix a lot of good with a lot of screwiness. For ex, in every game of theirs the character development systems are always a little whacked. I think part of it is having to ultra dumb things down for console peasants (along with horrid UIs for console/controllers).

    • brucethemoose says:

      I always proffered Fo3 to, and I don’t know why. Did the world just feel more… Alive?

      Maybe it’s because it was my first Fallout game.

  28. Replikant says:

    God awful level-scaling. I made the mistake of skipping the main quest too long. By the time I got to the gates, They were crawling with atronarchs and stuff. I closed one and then decided I couldn’t be bothered.

  29. Chaoslord AJ says:

    Played it endlessly and it’s certainly good were there not Morrowind and Skyrim which I played even more.
    Worst offender is balance and enemy scaling leading to massively unfunny regenerating zombies with enormous hitpoints as well as the glass-decked bandits.
    Fallout / Skyrim have leveled lists which allow for weaker enemies to reappear.
    Then there are the hideously looking faces of the characters.
    Also things like everyone’s essential while I could kill everyone in Morrowind at least.
    Shivering Isles was cool though.

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      Yeah, Shivering Isles is the main reason why I want to get Oblivion, but Morrowind seems better and Skyrim seems funnier (even without all the mods).

  30. JD Ogre says:

    Yes. Yes I have played Oblivion.

    Actually, it’s my main game at the moment and, thanks to altitis, I have three different characters on the go. :/ (standard Khajiit thief-type, my preferred play style for open-world games, a Breton conjurer, and just started an Imperial this morning that will be going Hand-to-Hand in the Arena [but not joining any of the Guilds or the Dark Brotherhood or the Knights of the Nine – for the sake of variety, characters get **one** faction to join]).

    • Grim Rainbow says:

      Deadly Reflex V6 mod adds skull crush, a hand to hand move which could be a lot of gun in the arena.

  31. Xiyng says:

    Back then, I randomly remembered reading about a first-person role-playing game, which I soon learned was Morrowind. However, as luck would have it, Oblivion was just released when I learned it, and I got into Oblivion instead. Good times.

    At least that’s how I remember it. I do remember Morrowing being somehow related, but it could be in some other manner too. What’s for certain is that those were some good times.

  32. Monggerel says:

    Ah, Oblivion. To be 14 again and get this thing of beauty and mortal boredom to run on a proto-computer fueled exclusively with a top secret mixture of aromatic petrochemicals. And I remember picking locks and haggling minotaur genitals and skellymen with scimitars just glad to have some company man it’s been a while and wheat fields and the open sea and a ship that’s really more like a building with how static it is oh no the crew is ghosts and the watercolor sun at nearing the horizon at the end of its daily parabola, which was new, and exciting, and the *future* that was here, battering my fucking door down with a daedric warhammer, careful-like, very good technique, no splinters blown back towards our erstwhile operator here, no sirree, and then someone runs up says “S҉T̶̕̕OP̶ Y̕O̷͜U̢͟ ͏̨͡V͏̷I̛O̕͟L̀͟Á͡T̸É͏̸D ̕̕THE̵ ĹA͡W̕͝ ͝P̴̀AY̧͞ T̸͞H̡̛E̴̕͞ C̵͘O͠UR̨͡Ţ̵ ҉Ą ̧̨F̛I̶N̢̛͜E̸҉ ̡OR ͏͟S̛ER̕͏-” and man that’s a whole lotta red sky and candy sauce this place looks like the shittiest metal album cover I ever seen, just, fucking disgraceful, wowwee I got killed for levelling up silly me oh cool an assassin questline now,

    • TheAngriestHobo says:

      This is your brain on skooma.

      Skooma. Not even once.

      • Monggerel says:

        Personally I prefer to pound raw Moon Sugar straight up into whatever orifice is most convenient at the moment
        – an act that, while deeply symbolic, is ultimately both futile and wasteful, because Moon Sugar is technically a Histrionicotoxin and can be efficiently absorbed through skin

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          caff says:

          I love you.

        • TheAngriestHobo says:

          I mock, but I mock respectfully. There’s actually something quite soothing and poetic about your gibbering stream-of-consciousness. It’s one of the more interesting comments I’ve read recently. :)

  33. Antongranis says:

    Yea, alot. I loved it at the time.

    Looking back at it now though? Such a flawed game! The samey gameworld, the awful combat, the terrible levelin-gsystem, the generic as hell dungeons.

    I consider skyrim better in most ways.

  34. brucethemoose says:

    There are 2 kinds of gamers I’m this world.

    Those who played Morrowind first, and hate Oblivion, or those who played Oblivion first, and love Oblivion.

    If you don’t fall into either of those categories, you’re either way too young or way too old.

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      particlese says:

      That sounds a lot like four categories to me, but maybe I’m too

      • Replikant says:

        Nitpicking alert.
        If we assume that the word “world” int “players in this world” refers to the game world of the Elder Scrolls, than that would bring the count down to two again.
        But of course then there is the people who played Daggerfall first (the “too old” ones) or Skyrim (too young) and we have four categories again.

        But, nitpicking and counting aside, I wholeheartedly endorse the OPs point.

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          particlese says:

          Hmm! I hadn’t thought about those being what was meant by “old” and “young”, but it fits. I was just flippantly responding to the overly simple categorization. :)

        • Kala says:

          GAH I’M TOO OLD.

      • Frank says:

        I raise you a further nitpick: The OP can say there are two types. That does not preclude there being — in addition — two other types!

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      Andy_Panthro says:

      I played Arena first, then Daggerfall, then demos for Battlespire and Redguard (almost nobody talks about those anymore though! Probably because they were both terrible), then Morrowind, Oblivion and finally Skyrim.

      I only ever completed Oblivion, but I did it just so I could say I’d finished the damned thing, and be done with it forever. The initial wonder and enjoyment reached a point where it dropped off a cliff for me, and the hate set in (although perhaps hate is too strong a word). I gave up on Skyrim after a while, in many ways it was far too similar to Oblivion for me.

    • Crafty_Banana says:

      Hey, I played Morrowind first and liked Oblivion fine! Maybe I’m just an aberration.

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    particlese says:

    I initially played it about 4 hours vanilla at a friend’s house and loved it. Once I finally got round to buying it (a year or so later), I modded the living daylights out of it, probably “playing” about 10 hours just in testing the mods. Eventually, I got sick of testing and updating mods, so I started playing it for keeps and kept an in-character diary of it to keep me moving forward. Nothing was taken seriously, as often happens with (semi-)in-character game diaries. The game seemed slightly bland on the whole compared to Morrowind, but making my own fun within it, I had a blast!

  36. Doubler says:

    Coming from Morrowind it was quite the disappointment for me on release. While I’ve grown significantly fonder of it over time I still find it nearly unenjoyable without mods and I still think it stands as the low point in the series.

    What I was looking for was a sense of place, time and the opportunity to explore a culture. Oblivion in this regard had nothing below the surface. It’s a bland and dull theme park where the moment you try and look behind the window dressing there’s almost nothing there.
    The fact it did this to Cyrodiil of all places permanently scarred the setting a little bit for me. In that respect it was certainly a memorable game :P

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    ffordesoon says:

    Oblivion is overrated, but many parts of it (usually having to do with things outside of moment-to-moment play, like quest design) aren’t, and Shivering Isles especially remains a thing of beauty. I feel SI is wildly underrated due to the overall reputation of Oblivion nowadays, and it is true that SI’s nature as an expansion pack means you still have to contend with the clunky bits of the original game, but it’s still one of those lovely RPG expansions which was so huge and so much better than the main game that I feel it should be treated as a new game for retrospective purposes. Dragon Age: Awakening(s?) is another one of those.

    • EvilMonkeyPL says:

      I can usually overlook technical issues in games (be they leveling, poor animation, puffy faces, bugs, all other criticisms usually aimed at Bethesda games) if the setting is interesting and the story thought out, at least. The main part of Oblivion was just medieval France with too much bloom slapped on but man, did Shivering Isles recapture that Morrowind feeling of wonderment and excitation. I mean, you have to go through a room made of butterflies to even get there. It doen’t get more fantasy than that.

  38. aliksy says:

    Played it. Hated it. Played it more anyway.

    The shit level scaling was the worst part. It’s the text book example of how not to do it, now.

    I eventually got a precarious balance of mods going where combat was satisfyingly deadly, and the loot was randomized instead of based on my level. Let me tell you, knowing you’ll never find anything cool because you’re low level really takes the magic out of adventuring.

  39. Shinard says:

    Yes, and… surprisingly, thinking about it again, it’s probably my favourite Elder Scrolls. It shouldn’t be, but it is. Objectively, I know the levelling system was broken, the animation wasn’t great, the opening level was annoying (though, you have to admit, at least it was better than Skyrim’s), a lot had been lost from Morrowind, a lot was gained in Skyrim… but I have nothing but fond memories of it.

    Those Arena fights, with the adrenaline rising in anticipation before the gates fell! The Dark Brotherhood quests, every one of them, but especially the Agatha Christie murder mystery where you were the murderer! The Thief’s Guild questline, ending in pulling off a heist to steal an actual Elder Scroll! Fighting demons in what were peaceful forests, and diving into their own realm to clear the land once again! That’s what sticks in my memory. My glasses are so rose-tinted they’re turning crimson, obviously, but it doesn’t change how I feel about it.

    Oh, and while I made multiple characters, and invested a lot of time into each one – I think my least played character was pushing 40 hours? – I still never completed the main quest. Why bother, when there was so much else to do?

  40. Werthead says:

    This gave me one of my favourite moments in gaming. I stumbled across the lair of the powerful Umbra very early in the game (maybe 2 or 3 hours in, at most) and almost died instantly. I fled out of the dungeon, but much to my shock she followed be right out of the lair and across many miles of terrain before I got some guards to attack her and I was able to make my getaway.

    40+ hours later, having adventured across Cyrodiil, gained many items of great power, levelled up many times and brought the main game quest almost to a close, I set out on the final quest alongside Lord Boromir Stark. On a whim, I decided to walk right across the map alongside Shawn Bawn rather than fast-travelling back to the city. Jogging briskly together, we came to the lakeside and found a side of absolute carnage, bodies strewn in all directions as far as the eye could see. Merchants, guards, bandits, a few monsters. It was a bloodbath.

    Before I knew what was going on, Umbra emerged from behind a nearby rock and immediately attacked! Despite being far more powerful than when I first met her, it was still a close fight and I required the full assistance of Sean Bean to defeat the enemy. Finally standing over her freshly-looted corpse, I guiltily realised that I was responsible for her leaving her lair and wiping out half the population of the Imperial Province whilst I arsed around inside magic paintings and medieval fantasy homages to Under Siege.

    Then I went off with Sean Bean and he turned into a dragon god and saved the universe. Good times.

    • Rinox says:

      Very much enjoyed reading this. :D

      Feels very LOTR: the supposed hero unwittingly unleashed a curse upon the lands because of his/her curiosity, leading to the deaths of many innocents. Ultimately, they are redeemed, and save the world.

      Also, Sean Bean dies.

  41. CartonofMilk says:

    you mean have i played the best game of all time? Uh…yeah.

    Is it weird i could never get into skyrim? Whats weirder is both in morrowind and oblivion i played a Nord….. i should have been all over skyrim.

    There’s no doubt mechanics wise Morrowind was the peak but here’s the thing, with mods you could get oblivion to be exactly like Morrowind anyway. Oblivion and morrowind to me were survival games before it truly became a thing. At least the way i played them with mods. I had to sleep, i had to eat, i had to drink. I put 500 hours in oblivion on ONE character but i did everything. And then more. Because sure you couldn’t build a house in oblivion, but there were so many great houses mods . I got a mod that allowed you to have one of those oblivion towers as a house. And then i decorated it. it was pretty amazing. I even had minions.

    I never finished morrowind, i started getting serious migraine issues maybe a hundred hours into the game and by the time the problem went away, maybe 2 months later, during which i barely played anything, i moved on to other games. I wil day this fo rmorrowind, sure its dated graphically and all that draw distance fog, but the world was so unusual, i kinda wish they’d go back to morrowind in a future ES game. I liked the high fantasy lushness and brightness of oblivion, and the nordic ruggedness of skyrim, but they are kind of fantasy staples and didnt’ feel original. Morrowind felt alien, and that’s what was great about it.

    Anyway, Ultima VII had the title of my favorite game of all time for 14 years, but Oblivion dethroned it in 2006. And that’s no small achievement.

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    Skabooga says:

    Good or bad, this place gets a special distinction for being the origin for a recurring phrase that my brother and I use on each other: “You should have PAID THE FINE!”

    “Stop right there criminal scum!” may have been more famous, but we were outside gaming circles at the time. It is a testament to the omniscience of the guards in Oblivion that my brother and I independently hit upon our own guard catchphrase.

  43. syllopsium says:

    I’ve played loads of RPGs, haven’t finished Oblivion, and still love it – even though I’ve played (and not finished) Morrowind first.

    Yes, it’s a bit generic, the cities are too close together, and there’s no specialisation, but there are many high points.

    Not to mention as always there are so many mods for it. Just a pity the mod management isn’t better, and that it’s so easy to destabilise the game/make save games unusable.

    There’s some of the best quest design I’ve seen in an RPG yet – the creators are definitely inventive. The ‘rat quest’, the ‘painting quest’, the Shivering Isles. Fighting through Kvatch, getting to the end, repeatedly dying, then screaming as the random monster generator *filled* the room with something ridiculously high level. I still like gathering herbs, and finding locations hidden on the map.

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    caff says:

    I had mixed feelings about Oblivion, but then I have mixed feelings about every Bethesda game, ever. It doesn’t stop me loving them though.

  45. Durgendorf says:

    Borrowing was technically better, but it was also the first time I remember cRPGs might not be all they’re cracked up to be. I spent so much time flat out lost. I spent so much time in Oblivion climbing demon spires and testing new spells with names like Mr. Bombastic.

  46. LupusYps says:

    I see i messed up my links before -.- Sorry. Just google for SureAI, Nehrim and Enderal. If a Mod could merge my two posts, that would be awesome.

  47. Spudster says:

    Oblivion had some of the most interesting quest in the TES series.

    Whodunnit and Paranoia are some of my favorite gaming moments

  48. Unsheep says:

    I tried Oblivion back in the day, as my brother was a big fan, but I got bored very quickly. To me Bethesda simply doesn’t do interesting game-worlds, it’s the same story with Skyrim and their Fallout games.

    • fdel says:

      I tend to agree. Since TODD took place as TES manager it tumbled down to boredoom.
      He fired all the guys that did the tales interesting sold his ass to console comunity and since them the game are boring and shallow impossible to play without a hundred mods.
      It would be OK if the company did learn from the modding comunity but not.
      Not even the engine is upgraded.Same Morrowind engine, which obviously shows its weakness and fragility for today standart.

  49. Rinox says:

    Like others here, I have a double feeling when it comes to Oblivion. While it represented a pretty substantial step backwards in terms of game mechanics (for TES), it was also a glorious achievement for its time. I don’t think anyone will forget that moment when they stepped out of the sewers for the first time. I very much enjoyed playing it when it came out, but looking back I don’t have nearly as fluffy a feeling about Oblivion as I do about Morrowind or even Daggerfall. I liked Skyrim better too.

    Having said that, I recently replayed Oblivion + Shivering Isles with a whole host of mods installed. The modding scene offers (great) solutions to almost all of its technical woes. The potato faces, check. The broken as f*ck levelling system, check. The silly combat system for bows, more or less check. The terrible inventory system/GUI, check. The boring Oblivion gates, check. Hell, there are even good overhauls of the character creation system to make it more interesting. Sprinkle in some mods to update the graphics and textures and to add some spice to the magic and stealth systems and voila…you have a game that feels like it is a true classic, not just a flawed one.

    Because for all its faults, Oblivion had some very interesting quests and just generally speaking a lot of ambition in that department. You can tell Bethesda was trying to take the next step in quest design by making use of their NPC’s schedules and radiant AI systems (regardless of how limited they turned out to be). The story and quests were never Oblivion’s problems.

    • deiseach says:

      “I don’t think anyone will forget that moment when they stepped out of the sewers for the first time.”

      Oh yes. I loved the way in which I came barrelling out of the sewers to a setting of bucolic tranquillity, a lone guard plodding along on his nag. All Hell was about to break loose based on the events that had just taken place and no-one else knew about it. I’m uncertain that it was deliberate, but the pathos was effective.

  50. fdel says:

    Clearly the top everworst Elder scroll game.
    Setting was bland comon stuff, totally uninteresting.
    Setting was ridiculous: It should have been the capital of an empire not some wizard tower (no bigger than an amok) lost in the middle of nowhere with a bandit each 100 meters, with undiscorvered ruin each 200meters and monsters each 10 meter, with 2 guards to guard a portal when that much.
    The entire country could be crossed in 10mn running E-W and 15 minutes running N-S, pathetic.
    The game is totally uninspired and quickly the portals become repetitive so boring. The only TES i uninstalled and re-sold, this since Arena.
    Relativelly poor quest, bad dialogs and population, ridiculously less people than morrowind island capital.