It’s the 10 year anniversary of the release of today’s choice for Retro Corner and one of my favourite games of all time, the Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. Although the game wasn’t perfect, I sunk many many hours in to Oblivion and still return to the Cyrodill to take in the sights 10 years after its release.
The story begins six years after the events of Morrowind with you being trapped in a jail cell. You attempt to escape, and along the way are met by Emperor Uriel Septim VII who, guarded by the Blades is fleeing from assassins who have murdered three of his sons and are now after the emperor himself. Unfortunately the assassins catch up to the emperor, knowing his fate, he entrusts you with the Amulet of Kings which you are to take to Jauffre, the grandmaster of the Blades.. Thus your story begins as the hero destined to close the Oblivion gates that are springing up all over Cyrodill and save Tamriel from Mehrunes Dagon and his cult supporters
The gameplay in Oblivion is very open ended with many of us not getting as far as Jauffre for a long time after getting sidetracked by the amazing Imperial City and it’s many sidequests. Here you had the option of joining the thieves guild as well as solving some other disputes and gearing up a bit. For me it was the freedom to explore that I loved about the opening hours of the game. And lets face it… We all like to randomly walk in to houses and take things. It’s been a tendency of mine since the days of the first Baldur’s Gate. If I can mooch around a house without the guards getting called, I’ll do it.
At the start of a game you can choose seven skills as major skills, with the remainder termed minor. This dictates how you level up and is my biggest gripe with the game. If you are a purist and want to get the best stat boost at each level up, this will drive you insane. To the point where I had a spreadsheet for efficient levelling. The idea being that you’d pick skills you wouldn’t use a lot as major ones, level up your minor ones ten times, then when that was done level up your major until you increased an overall level. Finicky, and if not done you would level up too fast, Other than that, you had a lot of freedom where character builds are concerned and could make some really fun classes. My only other gripe with Oblivion was the actual Oblivion gates themselves. I hated closing gates. HATED IT! It’s a personal complaint though, as many people actually liked it (why?). Something needs to be said about the introduction of radiant AI to the series. It’s the first time NPCs had full day, night cycles and schedules. It made plundering people’s houses a lot easier for me
Visually Oblivion is still stunning to me. The development team used their own photos, nature books, and reference photos amongst other things to create the beautiful landscapes in the game. Oblivion gets some criticism for the same voices being used for multiple characters, and although it’s repetitive it has a fantastic cast and is well done. Voices in the game include those done by Patrick Stewart, Lynda Carter, Sean Bean, Terence Stamp, Ralph Cosham, and Wes Johnson. .
The soundtrack to the game was, of course done by Jeremy Soule and is still something I listen to while working, or even playing other games. In the Elder Scrolls series alone he composed the scores for Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim and the Elder Scrolls Online and received many nominations and awards for his work. If you are a fan of the game, just listening to some of these tracks really plunges you into a pool of nostalgia. I hope we have more Elder Scrolls score to look forward to from Soule.
If you haven’t already played Oblivion and are a fan of Skyrim I definitely recommend picking up the game of the year edition. It’s an RPG that should be experienced by fans of the genre and Bethesda alike. Have you any fond memories of Oblivion?