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The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

Developer: Bethesda Game Studios Publisher: 2K Games
20 March 2006
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - cover art
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2,107 Ratings / 7 Reviews
#539 All-time
#19 for 2006
In the closing years of the Third Era, the empire is struck by a succession crisis after a mysterious cult called the Mythic Dawn assassinates Emperor Uriel Septim VII's heirs and eventually the emperor himself in order to break open the gates of Oblivion and bring the Daedric prince of ambition, Mehrunes Dagon, back to the plane of Mundus. A prisoner who encounters the emperor and witnessed his botched escape attempt in an underground passage is then tasked to bring the Amulet of Kings to his last surviving heir and save Mundus from destruction in the hands of Dagon.
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2006 Bethesda 2K  
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The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Collector's Edition
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The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Game of the Year Edition
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The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Game of the Year Edition
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The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Spiel des Jahres Edition
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The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Game of the Year Edition
2007 Bethesda 2K  
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The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Game of the Year Edition Deluxe
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The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 5th Anniversary Edition
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AU 0 093155 143685
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 5th Anniversary Edition
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The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 5th Anniversary Edition
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Poorly executed, but thoroughly lovable
To put it bluntly--and as reductively as possible--Oblivion is very, very unpolished and demonstrates little in the way of virtuous game development. Animations are stiff and often lack transitions, there are no animations for diagonal movement, HDR and bloom are blurry and blinding, water looks horrid even by the standards of the time, every character looks like a potato, the outfits are gaudy, the voice acting is C-list at best, the dialogue is very cheesy, and the main story is easily the most terrible of any game I have ever played.

It remains, however, one of the best games I have ever played. See, nothing really quite manages to draw me in like Oblivion did so many years ago, and even to this day, I can endlessly replay it without boredom. There is always something new to discover, some hidden quest I passed by in my previous playthroughs, items to collect, characters to meet, and curious locations to explore. And of course, it has most likely the best side quests of any game I have played next to The Witcher 3.

Truly, if Oblivion is to be applauded for anything, it must be the absolute ingenuity of its quest design and writing. Ranging from hilarious and off-the-cuff comedies to dark and macabre tragedies, each one acts as a little self-contained narrative filled with drama and just the right amount of irony. The vibe I get from this game's dialogue in general is similar to, perhaps, a Shakespeare play or an opera. It's whimsical and aloof, but grounded when necessary. All the while, juxtaposition is carried out gracefully--even the most evil and secretive of societies like to have fun, after all.

The game has aged terribly--but that only adds to the experience. Oblivion's implementation of Havok physics is rudimentary and results in objects either slowly falling to the ground--as if Nirn had the gravitational pull of the moon--or flying across the room at dangerous velocities like they were launched from the Hadron Collider. Ragdolls will shake uncontrollably when they get caught in a closing door, objects can be used to phase through walls, paintbrushes inexplicably float in the air when dropped, allowing the player to make impromptu staircases to exit the bounds of accessible areas (this is an integral part of a speedrun strategy that can take you right to the end of the game!)

On top of the physics-based jank, there are the trappings of an AI simulation that is a bit too big for Oblivion's breeches. This can result in hilarious and unexpected outcomes, like a certain beggar in Bravil being slaughtered by guards for stealing a loaf of bread, or NPCs mentioning how much they hate an NPC right to that NPC's face, which results in absolutely no backlash. The best part of this system is that it gives NPCs routines and needs, which can be abused by an unscrupulous player in many ways. For example, at some point in the Dark Brotherhood questline the player receives poisoned apples that can be used to furtively assasinate NPCs. To use them, the player needs to remove all the food in an area, then drop the poisoned apples. NPCs will eat the apples when they are scheduled to eat, which causes them to humorously groan as they eat, until their body pops up into the air and floats gently back down. It's actually ridiculously funny and I could do it for hours.

Another great/cruel trick revolves around enchanted rings. If you create a custom enchantment on a ring that deals constant damage to the wearer, you can pickpocket it into NPCs' pockets, and they will wear it, causing them to burn/electrocute/freeze to death. Although this AI system is nowhere near as advanced as it was in its initial implementation, it's still very fun to mess around with.

Similarly, this game has bugs. Lots of them. While some are gamebreaking and prevent the player from completing quests, others are simply funny or exploitable. Players can use scrolls to infinitely duplicate items, or use quicksaves to travel around the game quickly while retaining their quest progress and inventory. In that sense, the bugs don't actually detract from the experience--they ARE the experience.

It may perhaps sound like Oblivion is great for the same reason Tommy Wisseau's The Room was a "great" movie; but I assure you that isn't the case, at least not entirely. There is some true merit in the game, like the aforementioned quests, but also the game's open world itself. The environments are veritable theme parks, ranging from the snowy Skyrim-esque Jerall mountains to the dank and alien swamps near Leyawiin. Each is fun to explore and contains no shortage of dungeons to delve into, unmarked easter eggs to come across, and other little curiosities.

The weakest part of exploration, however, is easily the dungeon design. Apparently only one developer was tasked with making them, because they are all typically quite small and take place in only a single loading zone. Unlike in Skyrim, the dungeons almost never loop back around to the beginning, so once you clear it out, you have to trek back through all the way to the entrance, which can take several minutes in more lengthy dungeons. Assets and prefabs are chronically overused, and you will encounter the same traps, puzzles, and layouts over and over again. Enemies are typically always goblins, bandits, renamed bandits, necromancers, or bandits; but, you might come across certain dungeons that actually have fairly interesting enemies belonging to our common conception of high fantasy, like will 'o the wisps, ogres, trolls, ghosts, undead skeletons, or conjurers. Compared to Skyrim, enemy variety in Oblivion is actually quite high, and each one feels at least somewhat unique to fight against. It's fun to actually encounter something other than Falmer or Draugr, after all.

The highlight of Oblivion, apart from the quests, is easily the spellcrafting and enchanting systems. With enough gold and magicka, it's possible to create completely overpowered spells that make the game trivial, like fireballs that span the width of rooms, instantly obliterating enemies and sending them flying. Swords can be enchanted to paralyze foes, meaning that they get stuck in whatever animation they held when you struck them and amusingly fall to the floor like statues, allowing you to wail on them forever until they die. Armor can be enchanted to allow movement speeds faster than even the speediest horses, and on top of that, you can enhance your jumping ability too, allowing you to shoot up about three or four stories into the air.

While I'm at it, I might as well mention Skooma, a magical drug and hallucinogen that greatly enhances the user's speed and strength at the cost of cognitive ability. In Oblivion, unlike Skyrim, Skooma actually does something--and it's glorious. The speed-enhancing effect stacks infinitely, and if the player consumes enough, he can run faster than the game's zone loading can keep up. It's a testament to how great this game's relaxation of balance really is.

I would be amiss if I didn't say that Oblivion is deeply flawed. Level scaling is done very poorly and axes any feeling of progression (provided you aren't using exploits to turn yourself into a god) by constantly beefing up enemy health and damage as you level up. The level scaling keeps even lowly bandits a constant threat, and considering that it will eventually cause them to equip the best armor in the game once you reach a certain level, suspends a certain amount of logic and immersion. Daedric armor is supposed to be extremely rare, given that it's made from an elusive material that has been modified by a literal demonic pact, and yet bandits will eventually wear it en masse.

Additionally, if you make poor decisions while building your class and playing the game, you can find your own power level outpaced by the progression of enemies. For example, if you choose Alchemy and Athletics as major skills, you will gain progress toward leveling up each time those skills are leveled, even if your other combat skills don't increase. As a result, if you make a ton of potions and run around the map, your player's level will be high, but your combat skills too low to put up much of a fight against level-scaled enemies. This game design oversight has, I'm sure, frustrated many players.

In the end, Oblivion occupies a very special place in my heart. It was my first introduction to open world RPGs as a genre, and easily the most accessible one at the time. Despite its flaws and the obvious inexperience of the Bethesda crew, it remains one of the best RPGs of all time simply because it got so much right in the first place. In fact, the flaws themselves have a bit of charm about them that hasn't diminished with time. If you haven't played Oblivion, I urge you to pick up a copy right now and give it a go--you won't regret it.
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DarkDong69 2017-07-27T16:33:39Z
2017-07-27T16:33:39Z
4.5
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Oblivion and GTA 4 are the two greatest games ever made
Don't believe the fans and critics, this still remains the only Bethesda game that stood the test of time.
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kentasuzuki 2023-03-16T10:07:30Z
2023-03-16T10:07:30Z
5.0
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Bring Out Your Dead!
I first played Oblivion around the time it launched back in 2006 and I will never forget the experience. I’d just escaped the Imperial Sewers and was exploring the ruins nearby when the ATI Radeon 9800 in my Dell desktop decided to crap out on me. The computer kept working, somehow, but refused to ever run another game, and so thereafter was relegated to writing college papers and piping tunes into my tiny apartment. A few years later when I replaced the graphics card the entire rig was well past its prime.

Perhaps it’s fitting, then, that when I finally got around to playing Oblivion again this year, the most memorable moments revolved around corpses.

Yes. Corpses.

If we consider my GPU to be the first corpse, than the second would be that of poor Prior Maborel. He died early in my playthrough and forever after lay prone before Wenyon Priory’s front door. I’d converted one of the priory’s many chests into a storage spot for my loot, and every time I visited to organize my gear, Prior Maborel was there to greet me with his lifeless eyes. More alarming still was the way his fellow clergymen walked past him, oblivious to his existence. Perhaps they felt that if they avoided acknowledging his death, he would never truly be gone.

Then there was my encounter with Else God-Hater, an unfortunate lass whose life was ruined by love of the drink. Late in my quest to save Tamriel, as I was seeking room and board in Skingrad, Ms. God-Hater drew her blade and violently lashed out at me. With assistance from the inn’s many patrons I soon subdued her, at which point she fell to her knees beside the bar, one arm splayed across the counter. In that moment, she was the splitting image of a lush who’d imbibed a few pints too many. Was she really a Mythic Dawn agent, or just a raging alcoholic, venting her emotions before the stupor hit?

If only I could’ve checked her pulse.
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toadhjo 2023-03-03T04:13:42Z
2023-03-03T04:13:42Z
4.0
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My favorite game ever
I'll start by saying that, years before I ever played this game, Skyrim was my favorite game. This game does almost everything that Skyrim does but better. The main story isn't even the best part of the game, almost every faction has a more interesting story of its own with the most unexpected twists and adventures. Sure, the NPCs are dumb as rocks, but that's part of the game's charm and has given me many hilarious moments worth recording/screenshotting. Some of the character deaths/betrayals genuinely sadden me in this game and I actually become emotionally attached to some of the important characters. Though, downloadable content is limited, the Sheogarath DLC has to be my favorite DLC ever, and Sheogorath is probably my favorite fictional character. Playing this after Skyrim is basically like an Elder Scrolls history lesson, and it's so awesome that you get to be apart of that history. You literally save the world like multiple times, who can get enough of that? I don't know if any scene in video game history is cooler than the finale to this game.
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It is not morrowind. However it still shines
Let me start by saying i like the elder scrolls games, however by far my favourite single player game of all time is morrowind. That being said skyrim, oblivion or daggerfall for that matter have a lot of pressure trying to triumph a game i cherish a ton. And that can be very difficult to achive and whilst i dont think oblivion succeded with a lot of my expectations, it is still a fantastic game and a great edition too the elder scrolls series.

This sequel is far better than how bethesda handled fallout 3. Story wise that game is maybe the worst ive seen ever however in oblivion the story holds up quite well and the overall main quest is very fun and in some ways not as annyoing as in morrowind.

One of the biggest problems id say with oblivion however is the balancing system. I am not a fan whatsoever of having to level to find better items in the world and i dont like how they changed the training system so its super hard to get +5 stats when you level. The magicka system is watered down beyond belief, when i first tried to create an echanted item i bought the most expensive ring i could only to find out you could use bronze rings that cost like 1 gold and it would have the same effect. The more expensive a clothing item in morrowind the more enchantment it can hold and in that game you had free reign to create OP items you wanted but here its been ruined. The merchant system has been remodeled so no more creeper or mudcrab atleast not from what i found and the overall haggle system is meh.

When it comes to the combat, it is definitely hit or miss but personally as someone who played morrowind for over 200 hours its very easy to workaround the fatigue. You could create enchanted items so you always hit your targets in morrowind however here i seem to miss and get knocked back every battle i fight which gets really annoying. Thats one of the reasons why i decided to play with bow and arrow for most of the game since you avoid all hand to hand with blades and remove that aspect. I had a problem with the combat system since there was no way to workaround the animations & knockback systems unless you grind for 10 hours or something which is not fun and there should have been some better way you could deal damage since most of the game is basically fighting now.

Overall this is definitely a more watered down and commercial friendly morrowind which i dont have any problems with really. I enjoyed the experience and most of the quests and the story was not as terrible as fallout 3 so compliments with the writing is saying a lot from a bethesda game. I found it fun.
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GUD77 2022-10-22T15:54:52Z
2022-10-22T15:54:52Z
4.0
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A thoroughly loveable mess
Preface: I have not played Morrowind. I own it, I've probably put a few hours into it, but it hasn't stuck yet. That doesn't mean I won't give it another go next time I have the time to put 100s of hours into a game, but this is a Morrowind-blind review.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was my first wide open world RPG. I got it on a physical disc at a formative age, popped it into the Xbox 360, and started playing. I don't remember what my character build was when I first played Oblivion, but it probably wasn't great, considering that by level 10 I was absolutely struggling, and I think I put the game down after about 30 hours.

The first time I played this game, I spent probably 10 hours just in the area around the Imperial City, because I didn't even realize that the game was bigger than that. That area felt huge to me! Of course, once I realized that this was only maybe 4% of the whole world, my mind was blown. I remember killing Shady Sam and feeling kind of bad about it, but hey, Cyrodiil is a cutthroat place.

I don't remember a whole lot about my first "playthrough" (in quotes as I certainly did not finish it), but I do remember some things. I remember playing through the Dark Brotherhood questline and the whole thing felt VERY evil. I got to the last quest of the Thieves Guild and could not complete it, as my sneak skill wasn't high enough. I got to the Bruma Oblivion gate and kept dying because I didn't level my character very well. I didn't bother with the Fighters' or Mages' Guilds.

I came back to it this year, cosmetically and QOL modded (Oblivion Character Overhaul, Scaling Unf*cked, and a skill-distribution-based leveling mod), after playing Fallout 3, New Vegas, Skyrim, and Fallout 4, and I found a charming, very dated, but very fun game.

If you're playing this game now, please for the love of GOD mod it to fix the level scaling and leveling systems. The game is so much better when it's modded, it is nuts.

I can barely give this game above a 3.5 in good conscience, but given how I've sank about 150 hours into it, it's a solid 4 for me, and maybe a 4.25 when you mod it.
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Catalog

Duckerz The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 2023-03-23T07:02:31Z
2023-03-23T07:02:31Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
hamiltdy The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 2023-03-22T03:16:54Z
2023-03-22T03:16:54Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
VNSalesman The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 2023-03-21T16:46:50Z
2023-03-21T16:46:50Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
indietrash The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 2023-03-21T08:34:23Z
2023-03-21T08:34:23Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
supersnipa The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 2023-03-21T05:38:33Z
2023-03-21T05:38:33Z
5.0
4
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
dusanreverse The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 2023-03-20T01:26:46Z
2023-03-20T01:26:46Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Vanchamp The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 2023-03-19T20:09:59Z
2023-03-19T20:09:59Z
4.5
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Its_Yassine The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 2023-03-18T23:07:01Z
2023-03-18T23:07:01Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
kotomi The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 2023-03-18T14:19:46Z
2023-03-18T14:19:46Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Twingobox The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 2023-03-18T00:15:56Z
2023-03-18T00:15:56Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
King_Kruleee The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 2023-03-17T15:08:12Z
2023-03-17T15:08:12Z
4.5
2
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Bobek The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 2023-03-17T13:10:22Z
2023-03-17T13:10:22Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  

Comments

Rules for comments
  • Be respectful! All the community rules apply here.
  • Keep your comments focused on the game. Don't post randomness/off-topic comments. Jokes are fine, but don't post tactless/inappropriate ones.
  • Don't get in arguments with people here, or start long discussions. Use the boards for extended discussion.
  • Don't use this space to complain about the average rating, chart position, genre voting, others' reviews or ratings, or errors on the page.
  • Don't comment just to troll/provoke. Likewise, don't respond to trollish comments; just report them and ignore them.
  • Any spoilers should be placed in spoiler tags as such: [spoiler](spoiler goes here)[/spoiler]
Note: Unlike reviews, comments are considered temporary and may be deleted/purged without notice.
  • Previous comments (54) Loading...
  • Zaphyra 2022-10-01 18:32:24.733355+00
    Not as good as Morrowind or Skyrim.
    reply
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  • acjd_shmacjd 2022-10-22 22:44:08.638039+00
    good god this game is frustrating. there's so, so many things i love about it but there's just as many if not more things that are just infuriating
    reply
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  • acjd_shmacjd 2022-10-26 18:46:20.848084+00
    cliff racers were the bane of morrowind but i would take twice as many cliff racers in this game as there are clannfears if it meant that clannfears were erased from this game im being so serious
    reply
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  • Samarama 2022-12-28 05:30:13.488161+00
    havent played this yet but why does it have the occult tag lol
    reply
    • acjd_shmacjd 2022-12-31 18:51:04.951275+00
      because of the occult elements in the game
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • Ulaan 2022-12-28 09:41:41.054341+00
    Broken to the point of perfection
    reply
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  • aminstrel 2023-02-12 00:31:26.276215+00
    the kvatch sequence feels very 9/11
    reply
    • Ulaan 2023-03-07 11:30:22.75065+00
      "sir, a second oblivion gate has opened"
    • aminstrel 2023-03-17 11:56:07.195889+00
      basically, cyrodiil deserved kvatch
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • longestseason 2023-02-18 18:52:21.286974+00
    as someone who didn't play this when it came out, i enjoyed my first unmodded playthrough a lot. that being said, once im done with the expansions, im gonna start a new playthrough with mods, there's no way im playing this game unmodded ever again
    reply
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  • renegadexavier06 2023-02-27 10:12:31.922839+00
    They really ported a ps2 game onto next gen hardware and thought no one would notice💀
    reply
    • Ulaan 2023-03-07 11:32:36.902173+00
      I guess you don't remember when this was released and acclaimed as one of the quintessential "next gen" games
    • Helio_etc 2023-03-09 07:54:29.175445+00
      What Ulaan said. I remember playing this when it came out and at the time it defined next gen and blew me and my friends minds.
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