Classic Game Spotlight #1 – The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

Here at TechReviewFeed, we like to mix our favorite games from past generations into our backlists so that we can re-live the good old days. So when intern Greg pitched the idea of doing a series of articles about our favorites, we jumped at the bit. We all have our own tastes when it comes to video games, but its hard not to appreciate what these games have done to usher in the more refined experiences of the current generation.

To kick off our Classic Game Spotlight series, we couldn’t think of a game more innovative than The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Oblivion has brought many technological advancements to the RPG genre of games, paving the way for critically acclaimed titles such as Fallout 3 and Skyrim. By making use of the dated but certainly still relevant Gamebryo engine, Oblivion kickstarted the hype behind current-generation role-playing games.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was released back in 2006 for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Windows operating system. The game was originally released under a Teen ESRB rating, but due to a mod that allowed players to access nude game models on the PC version, the ESRB re-assessed the game, giving it a Mature rating. While Oblivion should have probably been rated Mature in the first place due to scenes of extreme gore and implied sexual themes, the ESRB concluded that Bethesda Softworks failed to report the inappropriate content included in the game.

Much like its predecessor, Morrowind, Oblivion thrusts players into a densely populated fantasy world chock full of quests, explorable locations, seemingly endless variations of weaponry, a revamped dialogue system, and loads of random events that convey Tamriel as a living, breathing world. Never before has a video game offered so many features that allow a player to tackle the world’s endeavours in any way they see fit. Any visible landmark is accessible to the player, and there is no set order in which objectives must be completed. This means that players can pause what they are doing at any time and begin doing something else, returning to their primary objective at their leisure.

Questlines
Oblivion is the host of multiple questlines that task players with themed quests that all come together to tell a story. While some are better than others, each questline is unique, and their twists and turns keep players interested and engaged in what is going on. Without giving away too much, one questline has you managing a society of assassins while searching for a traitor within the organization. The tasks given to the player range from murdering a house full of people to assassinating targets in clever ways. Each quest leaves players wanting more, making Oblivion a game that players can truly lose themselves in.

Keeping track of quests is easy with the new journal layout

Hundreds of Locations
Oblivion also features hundreds of locations that players can explore. From ancient ruins to large cathedrals to hidden caves, each location offers something unique, be it a fight against monsters, a new quest, or hidden treasure protected by a puzzle. You never quite know what you are getting into by entering an undiscovered location, making the surprise of exploring all the more worthwhile. Not only does the exploration reward players with valuable experience and items, but it also keeps the gameplay fresh. The quests are fun, but nothing beats diving head first into an underwater cave to steal loot from a group of raiders.

Good luck trying to achieve 100%

Huge Arsenal of Weapons
The world of Tamriel is full of enemies, meaning you’ll be doing a lot of fighting. Luckily, the game contains thousands of weapons and pieces of armor that upgrade as you do, keeping combat fun and fresh. There are hundreds of unique items that have special enchantments. Attacks feel powerful, and enemies react to attacks thanks to implementation of the Havok physics engine. This makes it feel like you are doing serious damage to enemies.

Each rank of weapons has a unique look and set of attributes

Large List of Magic Spells
Sure, there are a lot of melee and ranged weapons, but Oblivion also has an extensive magic system. Spells unlock at vendors as you level up in the schools of magic, and magic altars can be used to combine spells and make your own. This makes magic an extremely powerful asset to use against enemies you face.

Having fire at your fingertips is pretty useful

Terrifying Oblivion Gates
While a majority of Tamriel’s population will try to kill you, you will still be relatively safe. The Oblivion Gates spread across the land are the real danger. Enemies pour out of mysterious gigantic dimensional rifts, and a main objective of Oblivion is to go inside and close them. It isn’t easy though. Demonic enemies guard the Sigil Stone, which is needed to close the gate. You will need to be well armed and leveled up before braving the otherworld.

Oblivion Gates used to scare the crap out of me

10 Returning Races
Similar to Morrowind, Oblivion has ten races to choose from. Options include Altmer (High Elf), Argonian, Bosmer (Wood Elf), Breton, Dunmer (Dark Elf), Imperial, Khajiit, Nord, Orc, and Redguard. Each race has a unique set of attribute modifiers depending on what that race specializes in. For example, Orcs start with low Intelligence but have extra Strength stats, making them dumber but more adept at fighting.

All of the races from Morrowind in glorious high-definition.

Ownable Homes
For the first time in an Elder Scrolls game can the player own their own house. This option is given after you have completed certain quests and are often sold by a city official. It allows you to store unneeded items and gives you a bed to call your own. There are eight houses that can be bought in the base game, and downloadable content offers another five. Each is fitted with at the very least a bed and a non-respawning chest.

This is one of thirteen ownable houses in Oblivion

Skill-Based Guilds
Much like its predecessor, Oblivion has guilds that pertain to specific skills, each with their own (usually long) questlines. The Fighters Guild is focused on melee combat and acts as a legal muscle-for-hire group. The Thieves Guild focuses on becoming a master thief in pursuit of the elusive Gray Fox. Lastly, the Mages Guild focuses on the various schools of magic and features a lengthy questline.

Not only do you become a part of a super cool club, but you also get a super cool clubhouse.

Knights of the Nine
Knights of the Nine is one of several official DLC add-ons released by Bethesda. The DLC contains a brand new questline revolving around the titular order as they attempt to recover lost relics. Spanning across eleven quests, players must progress through the ranks of the Knights of the Nine, starting at the title Knight Errant and progressing to Divine Crusader. To fully complete Knights of the Nine, you can expect to spend around twelve or so hours, as a lot of content is jam packed into the small 155MB file size.

It’s a fun DLC! Plus, you get some pretty awesome armor for your troubles.

Shivering Isles
Shivering Isles is another DLC pack for Oblivion. However, it is completely different from all other questlines. To put it bluntly, it’s wacky. Shivering Isles has players roaming an entirely new map: Sheogorath. Spanning fourteen quests and thirty hours of content, Shivering Isles is probably the best DLC to date. Like Morrowind’s DLC add-ons, Shivering Isles is practically a brand new game.

The sheer size of Shivering Isles is astonishing

Community Mods and the Construction Set
What would The Elder Scrolls be without modding? With the recent surge in community mods being produced for Skyrim, the modding scene is bigger than ever. However, it all started with Morrowind and faced a huge boom with Oblivion. Bethesda released a complete toolkit to allow the community to add locations, create quests, and add new items.

Bethesda practically released the tools they used to make Oblivion

Glitches
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is notorious for its glitches. While most of the known glitches are problems with the Gamebryo Engine itself, there are still lots of random bugs that can be experienced at any time. While many gamers will whine and moan about the number of glitches present, true fans of the series find them laughable and contribute to the overall silliness of the game. Many glitches are harmless, and only a select few are game-breaking. For these reasons, I tend to play the unpatched version of the game, leaving all of the patched bugs in-tact.

Umm…

Conclusion
Oblivion is a great game. It really is. It is a huge technological leap from its predecessor, Morrowind. The best part? It offers endless gameplay value. I have saves with an upwards of 300 hours recorded, and there is still more to do. It was a great value at the time of release, and it is even moreso now. For fans of role-playing games: don’t pass up an opportunity to play Oblivion. It is currently less than $20 on many major online retailers. If you have an opening in your gaming backlog, consider picking it up. I can guarantee that you will not regret it!