After all of the hype and delays and waiting and worrying, Bethesda has delivered The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. In a rare feat for a game of this magnitude, it not only lives up to expectations but also surpasses them to create an experience that everyone can enjoy and not just the nerdy, dice rolling, RPG-elite. Oblivion is one of the best games available right now and is well worth the $60 investment.
The first thing you need to know about Oblivion is that it is absolutely massive. You can freely roam around miles upon miles of wilderness that is filled with animals and enemies and caves and tombs or you can explore one of the many cities. A nice thing about the wilderness is that the terrain is rather different from one area to the next and youll find different plants and animals along the way. Each city is also filled with unique architecture and characters and the hundreds of NPCs all live out their own lives, which really makes the world feel alive and not like it is just filled with script following robots. You can buy a house and fill it with furniture (or looted goods
). You can buy and sell weapons and armor and potions and plants and even invest in the shops. There are several guilds you can join and each one has unique quests to go along with all of the main storyline quests and other missions that the people you meet send you on. There are also 16 horrible, frightening, demonic Oblivion gates you have to find and close. Simply put, there is a ton of stuff to do in this game and I havent really even scratched the surface.
Character Creation and Maintenance
Character creation is a huge part of the experience because what you choose at the beginning of the game has a dramatic effect on how youll play later. There are a number of different races to choose from and each one has unique abilities. You also choose a class (warrior, thief, mage, etc.) to play as or you can create your own by selecting specific skills.
The ingenious part of Oblivion is how you level up your character once you have created it. You have seven major skills that you have to improve in order to level up your character. You need 10 level gains spread between the 7 skills in any way you choose. The way you level them up is by using that particular skill. For example, my character has blunt, blade, light armor, and marksman as some of my main skills so to level up I have to go out and fight a lot. Conversely, a mage just has to use magic a lot. In addition to the major skills, you also have a number of minor skills to level up and improving these skills earn you extra bonuses you can apply when your character levels up.
It sounds sort of complicated, but as long as you play to your characters specific strengths leveling up is easy and surprisingly fun because it is so seamlessly implemented.
Another major aspect of the Oblivion experience is combat and it is handled perfectly. You have a choice of playing the game in first or third-person, but I recommend playing in first-person because it looks better, seems a bit easier, and seeing everything up close and personal is a thrill. This is easily the best first-person melee combat ever. You shoot your bow or swing your sword with the right trigger and block with the left trigger. Unlike Morrowind which used dice rolls to determine whether you hit anything or not, when you swing at an enemy in Oblivion you will hit them every time which is way more fun and satisfying. You can also use magic with the right bumper. Combining all of the different weapons and magic as well as knowing how and when to block effectively make combat a pretty fun experience. You look forward to fights because they are so darn fun. Earning new weapons and armor and being able to deal out more and more damage is the appeal here and it is entirely addictive. When you add enchanting (adding magical powers to weapons and armor) to the mix the game gets that much deeper and more fun.
Quests and Guilds
Tying all of this together are the quests and different guilds you can join. The main questline follows the death of the Emperor and the spawning of demonic Oblivion gates across the world, which can only be truly closed by crowning a new Emperor. The story is long and pretty interesting and definitely keeps you coming back for more. In addition to main storyline quests you will also receive quests from townspeople. In addition to all of that, you can also join the Mages, Thieves, Fighters, and Dark Brotherhood guilds that all have long and unique questlines. All told there are hundreds of quests to complete.
What is so great about all of this is the incredible variety of the quests youll get. Exploring specific tombs at specific times, killing people in specific ways, stealing items, delivering items, exploring new areas You do a ton of different things throughout the course of the game and all if it is very enjoyable.
You can also just go do your own thing, which is just as worthwhile as actual quests. Sneaking around and stealing, killing random NPCs, or just setting off into the wilderness to see what you can see is a ton of fun. You have complete freedom in Oblivion and it is wonderful.
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