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-   -   Revisiting Oblivion (https://www.rpgwatch.com/forums/showthread.php?t=18325)

Fluent October 14th, 2012 22:59

Revisiting Oblivion
Hello. Recently I was looking for a new RPG to play. I was going to start a new character in Skyrim and complete Dawnguard, but I decided that Skyrim was still too fresh in my mind to fully appreciate a 2nd run through so soon. So I decided to fire up the Xbox 360 and find an RPG that I haven't played in awhile. I decided to go with Oblivion. And my, what a great choice that was!

As soon as the game started up I was falling in love all over again. The music, the atmosphere, the immersion into the world of Tamriel. It was all fantastic. My dad (who is 52 and a gamer, mostly RPGs) came into the room while I was playing and the first thing he said was, "I forgot how cool this game was". He couldn't have summed up my feelings any better. I had completely forgotten how great Oblivion was/is.

In fact, it was like I was playing a brand new Elder Scrolls game. I remembered some small things here and there, but most of the details I had completely forgotten about, so the game was very fresh and new. Even 15 hours in I'm just barely scratching the surface of this enormous game. I'm only level 5 and I'm having a blast playing as a Redguard Scout. I joined the Thieve's Guild and started breaking into houses at night. It's so cool breaking into a house and trying to pilfer everything that isn't tied down before the person comes home or wakes up. It's great fun.

I'm trying to limit my fast travel and keep my roleplaying as my main priority. Trying not to be the most efficient gamer ever, but just enjoy the experience and play as organically as possible. I even started dabbling in alchemy, which is something I never really bothered with in Elder Scrolls games. It's a lot of fun crafting potions that become very useful to my character.

Yes, the game does have some problems. It's kind of disappointing that the game world levels up with you, and some of the Radiant A.I. is a little weird, but for the most part I'm able to look past those flaws and see the totality of the experience. Flaws and all it's still a wonderfully immersive game. So I would highly recommend anyone looking for something else to play when they are done with Skyrim, go back to Oblivion and give it a shot. You might be pleasantly surprised like I was to find that it's still an amazing game!

What are your thoughts on Oblivion? Have you played it recently? Does it still stand up for you?

badmofo October 15th, 2012 00:33

Great post and yes what an excellent game. My memories of it on release are that it wouldn't run very well on my crappy hardware. I spent a year on and off battling to get a decent frame rate out of it and it kinda spoiled the mood.

I couple of years ago I decided to play a modded up version and spent days researching and testing, and that processes descended into a frustrating loop of "hey I wonder if you can…"

The next time I play it I'm going to do as you've done - play the vanilla version and enjoy the gameplay.

Frozen Fireball October 15th, 2012 01:01

Oblivion was one of my first RPGs. ( I'm 18, don't blame me. ) I remember when it was released, it had a very positive and well written review in a local Persian magazine and I was mad to get it. We searched local game shops a lot with my father to find it until we did. I installed the game with lots of hope and then all the hopes were shattered because the game had a very poor frame rate ( like 5 FPS ) on my weak PC and it was nearly unplayable. Sad and despondent, I uninstalled it. After a while, I decided to install and play it again, not caring about the frame rate. But it looked like the DVD was damaged and I got CRC error during the installation. So we made another trip to get the game, this time it was harder to find it, but at least we did in the place we would least expect. So I installed it again and started my adventure. Frame rate was so poor even with the lowest settings, I had to look at sky or ground when I was walking. But I was enjoying every minute of it. So many hours I put into that game. But after like 100 hours, the more I played it, more I hated it. It was like falling in love with someone and slowly realizing that he/she isn't what he/she looks like. Especially since during my play-through, I played other high profile RPGs like Fallout and KOTOR and my idea of what a real RPG is was getting clearer. Now the game is still installed and I can't even get myself to finish Shivering Isles. Playing it right now makes me bored to tears even though I don't have the frame rate issues anymore. It's kinda sad how passing of the time changed my opinion so much about something that I had so much passion for, but because of all those fun moments I had with it once, I still have respect for the game and never bash it anywhere like some other people do. Even though I think there are some elements in the game ( level scaling, boring character progression ) that need some serious bashing.

figment October 15th, 2012 01:25

I would venture that 95% of the watch has played oblivion to some degree. I honestly never completed the game myself. I think I completed the mage guild quests and I seem to recall doing the first oblivion gate but I spent probably a year making mods and tools for modders.

I've picked it up again this weekend actually but have started descending into modding hell again as there is just so much I want to correct or add after picking it up. I told myself that it would just be the UI/face/npc non-gameplay mods but even with intimate knowledge and mastery of niftools, Wrye Bash, TES4EDIT, … it starts to become work again. I applaud those that can play it without tweaking (but don't you just have to have Darn's menus/fonts at least on the PC?). The other reason to retry Oblivion is since its been out for so long that if you are willing to add mods there is a plethora of high quality add-on content available for it.

I still rank Oblivion below Morrowind and Skyrim in total experience but still very good in on its own.

JDR13 October 15th, 2012 07:51

I wouldn't even dream of playing Oblivion without mods. At the very least, I need something to make the UI less console-centric and something to get rid of the hand-holding pop-ups and quest markers.

coaster October 15th, 2012 10:01

Yeah I never even attempted Oblivion unmodded. I played with lots of mods - the main ones were Franscesco's (which I think was a better compromise between the original "levelled enemy" system and a more static system like OOO), enhanced (or possibly living) economy, unofficial patch, and a bunch of quest mods of varying quality. I recently got hold of Battlespire & Redguard so at some point I want to run through the lot, from Arena onwards (I know Battlespire/Redguard aren't part of the main series but I'd like to play through them anyway).

crpgnut October 15th, 2012 16:50

I'm slowly sinking into a Bethesda gaming orgy. I've been trying to resist Skyrim, so I started Fallout 3 instead. I'm sure that I'll end up playing FNV, Skrim, and Oblivion again too. I've never played Morrowind all the way through.

I've never been able to wrap my mind around Bash. My brain just doesn't get it, so I miss out on mods that require bash patches, etc.

Fluent October 15th, 2012 17:30

Thanks for the comments fellas.


Originally Posted by JDR13 (Post 1061165564)
I wouldn't even dream of playing Oblivion without mods. At the very least, I need something to make the UI less console-centric and something to get rid of the hand-holding pop-ups and quest markers.

I used to think that the hand-holding pop-ups and quest markers were shitty. I even got to a point where I started hating on Oblivion for stuff like that. But after playing it again, I barely notice them. The quest pop-ups at times do get a little funny though. For example, I just did a quest where I had to visit a cave, and the moment I walked in a quest pop-up said, "This cave is now being used as a vampire den, I should proceed cautiously". And I thought, how the heck does he know it's a vampire den, he just walked in and all that was in front of him was a dark corridor? :) But whatever, it's definitely not game breaking, just a little silly at times.

I also barely notice the quest markers except when I need them. I'm 20 hours in and I've only needed them a few times. Most of the time I can get by just with what gets written in the quest log and what the NPCs tell you. I'm a fan of the quest log, it's quite nice and easy to use. It makes sense from a roleplaying perspective as well, at least I think it does, because your character writes in his journal his thoughts on the current quest, and those thoughts happen to be what you have to do next. It's hand-holding in a way, but it also makes sense from a logical point of view, at least most of the time.

__________________________________________________ ______________

crpgnut, I too am sinking into Bethesda games pretty hard. I plan on replaying Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas at some point in the future. I just love Bethesda's first-person open-world RPGs. They're all amazing games.

figment, I personally can't choose which Elder Scrolls game is the best out of Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim. They are all equal to me. Trying to pick a favorite is like trying to pick a favorite child of yours or something. It's impossible for me to do that.

As for mods, I can only imagine how awesome they would make the game. I'm sure they add a ton of interesting new content to the game as well as spice up some things already present in the game. It would be great to have a PC capable of playing Oblivion with a million mods, but at the moment I'm strictly a console gamer (which is why I'm somewhat out of place here on the Watch :) ). Being a console gamer though, I'm able to play the game the way it was intended by the developers to be played, so I'm grateful for that.

Mods would be amazing, but I'm content with just playing the game without them. It's still a fantastic game out of the box. Add in Shivering Isles and Knights of the Nine and you already have a ton of content to get through.

Jaz October 15th, 2012 19:03

Oh, funny that you mention it, but after the Hearthfire content of Skyrim started to give me ideas (for an ES fanfic, nothing # more), I fired up Oblivion again… only yesterday.
I primarily did this to meet some of the old NPCs again, taste the drama and get a feel in how those games differed, but once again I was sucked into one of those Oblivion gates, and once again, I'm really having a blast, being lost in the fairy tale world of Cyrodiil …

It's been a while since I played it for the last time (Morrowind and Oblivion actually never left my HDD), and while I bemoaned its generic High Fantasy graphics back then, playing it between Morrowind and Skyrim, I now noticed how close the Oblivion graphics are to those of Daggerfall and Arena (minus the partial nudity, of course).

My favorite out of these three ES games?

I'm undecided. Morrowind impressed me the most when I fired it up for the first time, and I still enjoy playing it - the huge, strange, sandbox of Vvardenfell. I just love how it's possible to occupy and redecorate any house to my heart's content. I tried several mods in Morrowind, especially those that made people 'prettier', but I uninstalled those rather quickly: for me, they just spoilt the feel of Morrowind. Yes, Morrowind with both addons actually was the one game that spoiled me with its visuals.

Oblivion, on the other hand, had those fine career quests (Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood come to mind) and several NPCs I learned to love … and my favorite addon of them all: The Shivering Isles! Not only did this one manage to use the cotton candy visuals to its best effect, it also had great NPCs and a very fun story. The only huge drawback of Oblivion (for me) was the inability to (or rather, huge difficulty of) redecorat/e (ing) homes. I used several smaller mods: one that fixed the (rather horrible) translation errors of my local version, one that did away with the province's borders and one that added horses in different colors, but I don't use the latter anymore. While I didn't hate the creature auto-levelling all that much, I didn't like those tiny, uniform caves and Ayleid ruins, either.

Skyrim. Now, Skyrim is far less fairy tale then Oblivion, yet very much LotR (doesn't Whiterun look exactly like the movie Edoras?). I would go so far as to say that Skyrim's visuals are a perfect blend between the gripping ugly beauty of Morrowind and the fairy tale softness of Oblivion.
I really love the land, its inhabitants, the backstory, some sidequests, that you can actually marry, and, with the Hearthfire content, build homes and adopt children. But I'm not very fond of dragons - so much for the main story. The civil war, on the other hand, now that's a tad different … I'm a sucker for all things military.

Now let's say some nice things about Daggerfall and Arena: Daggerfall was the first game that occupied me for seven months straight, bugs or not. After all, those bugs serve well to explain the vanishing of the Dwemer race …
I still remember the fear that coursed through my veins when hearing that roar of a vampire in the bowels of some huge random dungeon … and it was the only ES game where one could meet centaurs IIRC, if not on the best of terms.

Arena captured me for its simple, yet increadibly effective use of magic. My favorite combination of spells? Fireball, Invisibility, Destroy Wall. My invisible bomber could reach any goal, circumvent any trap or monster just by tunneling her way through the castle walls.

What about Battlespire and Redguard?

Battlespire - despite its shortness, minimal degree of freedom and bugs- had a unique atmosphere, fun dialogs and nicely designed NPCs.
Redguard's atmosphere was pure magic. Seeing the sun set over Stros M'kai gave us a taste of what was to come with Morrowind. I wasn't too fond of the third person view, however, and it was too easy to ruin the whole game by making the wrong decision at the wrong moment.

Fluent October 18th, 2012 03:02

Good stuff there Jaz.

Morrowind is my next target once I'm done with Oblivion. I have the Game of the Year edition on the original Xbox, so once I've played enough of Oblivion it will be time to fire up the Xbox and play some of the game that got me hooked on Bethesda games in the first place.

I just cleared out the Forsaken Mine in Oblivion. Wow. What a dungeon crawl. I must have spent a good hour in that place, killing rats, but worst of all, taking on Savage Trolls, sometimes 2 at a time. It was vicious. I'm only level 11 and had to burn up all my healing potions just to try to survive. It was really tough. But I came out of it alive and managed to take a nice haul back to the shop, including a warhammer that sold for 700 gold. That's quite a bit of gold at my level, so I'm happy. Now time to buy some training in Security and Sneak to get my thief skills up a little higher, and I'll be good to go :).

This game is damn good. I just love going off the beaten path and exploring. Very rewarding experience. Long live Bethesda :)

CrazyIrish October 18th, 2012 04:33

I enjoyed Oblivion when it came out, but it captured my attention for a much shorter period of time than any of the other elder scrolls titles. In retrospect, I think everything it does well, one of the other titles does better. I don't see myself reinstalling it. I have been contemplating setting up Arena on my cell phone ;)

Fluent October 18th, 2012 17:14

CrazyIrish, I kind of had the same experience in terms of play time. I played Skyrim for about 200 hours (so far, plan on playing it for much more in the future), Morrowind for who knows how many hours (tons!), and Oblivion, if I recall, for only about 100 hours. I still have an old save file from when I first played Oblivion that is only 100 hours long. However, after picking the game up recently, I can see myself playing it for an additional 100+ hours, easily. It really is that good.

Maybe you should give it another shot like I have. You may be pleasantly surprised. Like I said in the original post, picking the game back up these years later made it feel like it was a brand new game. It's basically like playing Oblivion for the first time all over again. It's just a great experience overall.

Jaz October 18th, 2012 18:57

Ah, hours 'wasted' playing a game …

As for Oblivion, that's a bit difficult as I lost the data of my first playthrough to a hardware meltdown. Anway, let's try to calculate game duration nevertheless:
My first playthrough through vanilla Oblivion was one where I did the main quest and the Thieves' Guild questline. A very conservative estimate would place this at ~120 hours.
Now for the other saves (which I still have):
Mage character ~53 hours
Assassin character ~50 hours
New Thief character ~7 hours
The I had an Orc warrior with whom I played through the Knights of the Nine quests - ~40 hours.
And finally, another fighter whom I created solely to best the Shivering Isles: ~70 hours.
So we have roughly 230 hours for vanilla Oblivion and 340 hours for Oblivion/w addons.

The main reason for this is that Oblivion was, indeed, short. I'm not talking about shooter-short where it's possible to blaze through, let's say, RtCW in 6 hours, but sandbox-short, or rather, small. I tend to crawl under every stone in these types of game, and, well, 230 hours is not overly much then. I mean, I sunk around 450 hours into Skyrim so far, with one main character and 5 minor characters - and just four hours of those went into Hearthfire. Yet. And I don't own the vampire addon, whatever the name.
I don't have hours for the other ES games, unfortunately, but back in the days when I could afford to game for a minimum of 3 hours/day I spent 7 months on Daggerfall - with my first playthrough. I played it twice after that but didn't take so long then because I know here to look for what. Well, with those estimated 3 hours/day I - oh, for Heaven's sake, let's make that 2 … - I would have had 420 hours under my belt. Morrowind and both expansions took me roughly 18 months with four characters, and I'm too lazy to calculate that now.

So, where was I yet again? Oh, okay. Oblivion is a short game playing in a small world :p. But I still love to go back there.

PS: I spent roughly 70 more hours with the Nehrim total conversion for Oblivion. But I won't count those.

Fluent October 18th, 2012 20:51

I'm surprised someone would say Oblivion is small, or a short game. From what I've recently played, it seems enormous. The map is simply huge to me, and exploration uncovers a ton of locations. Some of those locations I could easily spend an hour or 2 in just crawling through. But I guess everyone's mileage may vary. It probably makes the world seem bigger for me being that I don't really use fast travel much. I try to limit my fast travel and plot my course more realistically. It seems to make the game feel much bigger that way.

Jaz October 18th, 2012 22:14

Oh, Oblivion is short/small when compared to its ES brothers and sisters. I wouldn't consider it to be an s/s game when comparing it to most shooters, strategy games, point&click adventures and even others that qualify as cRPGs - online games don't qualify.

As for fast travelling, I didn't use that half as much in Oblivion as in Arena and Daggerfall, and I'm not using it much in Skyrim, either. Must be the beautiful landscape that prevents me from fast travelling in the first place. Now Arena and Daggerfall were unmanageable if you didn't fast travel, and Morrowind … didn't have it. Okay, Morrowind had the Flea Public Transportation System, and it had teleportation, but even then braving the Ashlands was a tad, um, unnerving at times*.

In Oblivion I, too, turn and evaluate every stone as well as the bugs underneath, so real time travel takes its time. When you wrote

Originally Posted by Fluent
Trying not to be the most efficient gamer ever, but just enjoy the experience and play as organically as possible.

I thought, yes! I'm not a powergamer, either. Well, once in a while I travel to cities in Oblivion just to meet old acquaintances again … no matter if they have anything to say or not :).

Do you perchance own the Shivering Isles addon?

*I very well remember my encounter with a Dremora in some ashland ruins when I was but level five. He hounded me across the desert for five days and nights straight before he finally lost interest. I had wished for instatravel then, believe me. It's just that it wouldn't have done me any good, wouldn't it - fast travel and trackers just don't harmonize.

Fluent October 18th, 2012 23:01

I am playing the Game of the Year Edition which includes Shivering Isles and Knights of the Nine. However, for some odd reason, neither of those DLCs has properly triggered in my game. They are both on my Xbox 360's hard drive, and they appear when I check the storage, but in the game they just haven't appeared. Not sure what to do about that really. Going to attempt a re-install and see what happens.

I prefer Morrowind's style of travel to be honest. Oblivion kind of dropped the ball in that regard. Yes, I can suspend disbelief by using Oblivion's fast travel, simply by pretending that my character walked that distance, but it would just make me feel better in my nerd glory if there was some formal form of travel using lore-based attributes. A carriage system in Oblivion would have been wonderful. Or teleportation via Mage's Guild. Anything would have been welcome really. I'm very glad Skyrim brought back the carriages which added another element for the role-players. In future games I would like to see this expanded for us nerds who don't like to just point and click, but would rather go a little extra step for roleplaying purposes.

That said, in Oblivion I use my trusty horse and I'm good to go :)


The tricky level scaling is starting to show. I figured I wouldn't mind it much, but traveling on the road from Bravil to Leyawiin, which used to be pretty safe, sans the occasional wolf, mudcrab or black bear, has now turned extremely deadly. Will-O-Wisps, Spriggans, groups of bandits, etc, terrorize me as I try to simply walk between cities. To be honest, it's a little frustrating, because it seems like the game went from easy to hard overnight. It was literally wolves and crabs not too long ago, now it's killer beasts. I don't mind a challenge but when I have to drink 8 health potions to kill one Will-O-Wisp, that's a little bothersome.

I guess I'll just have to play it smart and pick and choose my battles from now on. I'm hoping as I level up I gain enough strength to be able to deal with these foes. I just hope it stays at Will-O-Wisps and Spriggans for awhile and gives me time to catch up. If the Will-O-Wisps and Spriggans turn into Dragons and T-Rex's, we're going to have a problem :) .

xSamhainx October 19th, 2012 00:05

I can pick up the game locally for under ten bucks for xbox360, but it would be the first time I'd be playing an Elder Scrolls game on console.
but then again, playing an ES game w/ no way to modify it, I dunno. I cant help but want to play Oblivion on the television w/ my feet up and a controller, but still… no mods, that's a tall order.

Half the fun is tweaking the damn game in the first place!

Fluent October 19th, 2012 00:37


Originally Posted by xSamhainx (Post 1061166497)
I can pick up the game locally for under ten bucks for xbox360, but it would be the first time I'd be playing an Elder Scrolls game on console.
but then again, playing an ES game w/ no way to modify it, I dunno. I cant help but want to play Oblivion on the television w/ my feet up and a controller, but still… no mods, that's a tall order.

Half the fun is tweaking the damn game in the first place!

Honestly, playing Oblivion on a console is great. I have a 42" LCD screen and it looks amazing, but it's also great to just delve into this game while relaxing in my couch/bed. It's wonderful.

And if you can pick it up for less than $10, that's a steal really. Make sure you get the Game of the Year edition though, that includes the 2 DLCs for it. You really want Shivering Isles. Haven't played enough Knights of the Nine but from the little I remember of it, it's also quality.

There is something to be said about playing on consoles. It's much simpler. Tweaking a game with mods sounds fun, but in the end, I'd rather just play the game and not have to worry about how my mods are reacting, are they compatible, what bugs are they introducing, etc etc. I'd rather just play on a console and not have to worry about anything and just enjoy the game for what it is.

Mods can help tailor a game to your liking, but it's also fun to just play the game the way the developers intended.

So I would say grab it for the console and don't look back :) . I'm having a blast with it.

Drithius October 19th, 2012 20:25

I played about 20 hours of Oblivion but never went any further. It was just so boring :( I've considered trying again with mods, but I think I'm simply fatigued by traditional fantasy settings like that; I haven't even finished Nehrim and, from what I gather, that *is* deserving of a full playthrough.

Fluent October 20th, 2012 00:56

One could say that all Elder Scrolls games are pretty boring. Many would just call them hiking simulators. I am drawn to that type of slow-paced role-playing though, and I really like it. I'll admit these types of games are not for everyone though.

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