356th played so far

The_Elder_Scrolls_IV_Oblivion_coverGenre: Role-Playing
Platform: PC/Xbox 360/PS3
Year of Release: 2006
Developer: Bethseda Game Studios
Publisher: 2k Games/Bethseda Softworks

Yeah, we played Morrowind fairly recently. To be honest, it was long overdue we played it and we just wanted to go ahead and play these – in part because Peter can’t play Morrowind on his console. Oblivion it is then! It’s also because this way I get to try out Skyrim sooner.

Our Thoughts

It’s difficult to see where to start with this game. There are some obvious missteps – one of which, level ups and monster scaling, is probably worth explaining. Leveling up depends on going up in your primary skills. These skills can be combat useful, such as swords and armor, or utility, like crafting and athletics. Enemies scale up based on your level. This means that if your primary skills are not combat focused – speechcraft, acrobatics, mercantile – you level up without necessarily gaining combat power. Oh, and enemies scale based on your level. You’ve not gained your combat skills? Too bad. It means that, unfortunately, on character creation, you have to change your skill selection to not suddenly cripple you partway through the game. Rather unfortunate if nothing else.

After getting past this initial hiccup – and the lengthy tutorial that comes with it – it becomes more bearable. The game becomes more beautiful – while the engine is obviously a bit older than Fallout 3, the more varied and colourful environments, with plenty of grass and trees, making for some gorgeous vistas. With that, the way the cities are built up, with some really nice architecture in places, the game is nice to just wander through.

The towns and quests are as interesting as its predecessor, and not as good as Fallout – a franchise more focused on plot and options. Everyone is voice acted, which is mostly a nice touch, with the downside that conversations are shortened a lot and less topics are open. Still, if anything, it probably keeps characters a bit more focused and makes it easier to get the information you need.

An addition that comes up here and elsewhere are additional minigames, used when you’re trying to use certain skills, such as lockpicking or (from before) speechcraft. It’s a tricky subject – it moves some part of character skill to player skill, which seems wrong for an RPG, but it does keep it more involved, and in keeping with the required accuracy when fighting and dodging.

Unlike plot focused staples like Bioware’s Mass Effect or Jade Empire, the Elder Scrolls games rely on world building and creating an environment you want to explore – find the nooks and crannies and whatever is hiding there. And when you adjust to those expectations, the game succeeds miraculously and becomes a brilliant game. Thanks to that, too, every playthrough will find you something new, and that makes things just as much fun.

Final Thoughts

There are some games that we know are going to turn into extended playthroughs before we start playing them; as you can guess this was one of them. This playthrough is impeded, however, by the enemies being levelled compared to you. As someone who usually does better with ranged characters this is something that I have had to adapt to after a lot of deaths, restarts and annoyances.

However, there is something rather addictive about this game and the prospect of exploring the world (no matter what direction you choose to wander off in) in a way that few games offer is just intoxicating. There will probably be a bit more of an update when we get to out 351-400 post so keep on reading!

  1. […] sheer number of options of interacting with it is amazing. In a way it feels like a more defined Elder Scrolls […]