Oblivion is a huge game. It has a smart main quest, hundreds of side quests, and plenty of stuff to do. It’s also a gorgeous game, even 12 years after its release.
Whether you’re talking your way out of trouble or fighting toe-to-toe in a dungeon, the world around you looks amazing. And that’s on beefy Xbox hardware.
It’s a role-playing game
After the success of Morrowind, Bethesda decided to go bigger with Oblivion. This fourth installment in the Elder Scrolls series takes place in Cyrodiil, the heart of Tamriel. The game opens with the player entering a sewer system filled with grime and scuttling rats. Once the player escapes, he or she can choose to be in any one of the 10 races and can play as a warrior, mage, or thief.
The plot revolves around the Daedric Prince Mehrunes Dagon, who rules the Deadlands of Oblivion and attempts to open the gates to engulf Cyrodiil and all of Tamriel. The player must find the illegitimate son of Emperor Uriel Septim VII and destroy the Amulet of Kings, which is needed to block the gates.
Despite its age, the gameplay of Oblivion is still solid. Many of its features, such as the ability to level up skills and the physics engine that allows for the plopping sound of throwing objects into lava, are now standard in PC RPGs.
It’s a fantasy
Oblivion is a fantasy game set in the fictional continent of Tamriel. Its setting combines pre-medieval real-world elements with high fantasy medieval themes like magic, limited technology, and anthropomorphic animal races. The game’s main conflict is a struggle between the immortal dragon god Akatosh and the mortal demon lord Mehrunes Dagon. The Amulet of Kings keeps the forces of Oblivion from attacking the mortal realm, but it was given to St. Alessia and is now wielded by the player character.
The game’s world is a gorgeous place to explore. Whether it’s the gloomy streets of Cyrodiil or the bright fields of Summerset, the game’s world is rich in detail. The physics are impressive, as well. It’s even possible to shoot arrows into store signs and see them dangle back and forth. But the world of Oblivion is not without its faults. The game’s lip-synching is sometimes infuriating, and the NPC faces often twist into horrifying grimaces.
It’s a big game
When you start playing Oblivion, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the game’s size and scope. The game features a huge province (Cyrodiil), nine major cities, hundreds of creatures, and dozens of dungeons. It is a world that can be explored in weeks or months, and there is plenty to do.
The main quest is solid and tries to put a fresh spin on the generic “chosen one” cliché. It also focuses on Mehrunes Dagon, the Daedric Prince of Destruction and Ambition, who plots to invade Cyrodiil through hellish rifts or gates that can be closed throughout the game.
The graphics are stunning, and the world is full of life and detail. The townspeople and NPCs are well-developed, and their dialog is rich. This is especially true of the NPCs in Cyrodiil, where every person has something unique to say and does things differently from everyone else. This is an accomplishment that many modern games struggle with.
It’s a good game
One of the few games that manages to truly capture the majesty and beauty of its environment, the world of Tamriel is a feast for the eyes. The immaculate towns, windswept fields, and cobweb-shrouded dungeons are gorgeously rendered and packed with life. But the game isn’t without its flaws. It has some of the worst voice acting I’ve ever experienced, with hammy over-delivery that wouldn’t be out of place on a children’s TV show.
Its main quest puts a fresh spin on the old “chosen one” cliché by giving you the power to decide whether the Emperor’s son, Martin Septim, survives after his father is assassinated. But it often takes a back seat to series after series of quests, many of which are combat-intensive. The combat system is one of the most impressive parts of the game, with visceral toe-to-toe melee battles that require careful exploitation of your enemies’ weaknesses. In addition, the blocking mechanics make combat less mindless than in Morrowind, where it was possible to whiff attacks ad nauseam.