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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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3.71 / 5.0
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1,833 Ratings / 5 Reviews
#517 All-time
#16 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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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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Title
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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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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Oblivion got a lot of mileage out of the gee-whiz factor of its graphics at the dawn of the HD era, and as usual with Bethesda games, it's nice place to explore for a while. But as is also usual with Bethesda games, once the novelty wears off, it's an incredibly bland game. There's a ton of content here, almost all of it dull. The main story questline is stupefyingly dull. Most of the side questlines are dull. The dialog is dull, the writing devoid of flavor or wit, and it doesn't help that it's delivered by handful of voice actors shared between the hundreds of utterly forgettable characters in this game. The minor sidequests are almost invariably a huge waste of time. There's countless dungeons made of copy+pasted tilesets in Oblivion's world, but most have nothing interesting within. Oblivion lacks the more distinct visual worldbuilding flair of the earlier Morrowind or later Skyrim, its world is strictly generic medieval fantasy and all the more bland for it.

As a piece of game design, it's also questionable. The combat and core gameplay is sound, but not particularly deep. It's not very polished, and I ran into my share of scripting bugs along the way. All the enemies in this world scale to your level (never mind which abilities you're leveling up), which seriously undermines any sense of progression and nerfs any sense of danger you might have exploring the world. Get far enough in the game, and all the random road bandits start wearing the same kind of fabulously rare and expensive armor you are. How does that make any sense?

There's a handful of bits that rise above the insipid beige lameness of the game at large, like the Dark Brotherhood questline and some of the Daedra quests, but they feel like small islets of goodness in a vast featureless ocean of dull. The Shivering Isles expansion pack is also considerably more inspired than the game proper. But taken as a whole, Oblivion is a mediocre game composed largely of filler.
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blargh4 2022-01-26T04:28:59Z
2022-01-26T04:28:59Z
3.5
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so bad, so good
been playing through this recently and decided i needed to bump up it's rating (had it at a 3/5 previously). incredibly unique and, in a lot of ways, contradictory game. it's the worst of the three "important" elder scrolls games, and it's probably the glitchiest too. it also has what is probably the stupidest leveling system in any game ever, to the point where it punishes you for leveling up too quickly. but, it accomplishes the most important goal of a video game: be fun. this game is fun as fuck.
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EarOfButter 2021-10-04T22:47:14Z
2021-10-04T22:47:14Z
3.5
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A decent successor to TES III: Morrowind
Decent story
Nice gameplay
Funny secondary quests
Good arsenal of weapons and spells
Well structured guild quests
But hommie, that leveling system is completely garbage
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JazFer57 2021-06-28T20:58:33Z
2021-06-28T20:58:33Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Still don't understand why they added so many add-ons (half of them very simple and boring imo)
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Oblivion brings back a lot of nostalgia, the Summer break between my Freshman and Sophomore years in high school my parents finally allowed me to get rated M games, and this was a game I heard a lot about, so after playing Resistance Fall of Man I immediately jumped into this. I fell in love pretty much right away, I just never played an RPG before this, it was incredible having a character I could level up anyway I wanted, a big open World to explore, 100+ hours worth of side quests, exploration, and character interactions. Looking back, I probably was more impressed due to it being the first game of this type I ever played, and it being my first Elder Scrolls game, but looking back, I still will defend giving this game a good score and saying it does more good than bad. I'll even go as far as say its the best Elder Scrolls and made huge improvements over Morrowind, while not dumbing down enough to be on par with Skyrim.

Oblivion is a pretty basic Western RPG, you level up skills by using them more, and you can choose different builds from the start, if you want to be a nimble thief, a tanky warrior, a full blown mage, the game game you options, although I typically chose to play as a sword-wielder. Then you have the typical quests, where the game had different guilds you could do quests for and NPCs who gave you side quests, which you could select in the menu then the game would mark the location on your map. Oblivion has a few towns that all had their own unique design and feel and different terrains with different enemies, and also a good variety of weapons and magic spells.

I think the World is what drew me most to the game, it has such a beautiful World with tons of variety, and the enemies you would encounter while roaming the World were unique enough and stood out. I also really enjoyed the quests. The main quest in this game kind of sucks, it was pretty short and generic, but the side quests and especially guild quests were pretty memorable and top notch. The Dark Brotherhood questline in this just felt so engaging and had a ton of complexity and interesting twists. Its probably been 10 years almost since I last played this but I still remember the quest where you go into a guys dream and fight monsters in a coliseum, the quest where you have to kill of the guests at a mansion party one by one without anyone noticing, the quest where you have to clear out a haunted house after you buy it.

Now I won't deny, the game does have some glaring flaws. The gameplay is a bit awkward, the combat is very basic and often feels awkward. The game is a bit on the hard side, at least with the difficulty slider in the middle, and of course the most hated aspect is the leveling system where enemies level up with you so you don't actually feel like you are getting stronger. On top of this you have the caves, which I never enjoyed. The caves in this game all look the same and are so boring to explore, and there are so many of them. Also I guess there are some small complaints like the silly dialog persuasion wheel and the story could have been a bit stronger. But to be honest, the game just had such an engaging World, and tons of great quests and enemies that I could ignore most of these flaws. Sure some of them did frustrate me, but at the end of the day I just wanted a nice fantasy World, with decent enough gameplay to get lost in and it had a good soundtrack too with some of the best ambient music I've heard. Yeah Skyrim might have a bigger World and prettier graphics, but Skyrim just didn't have as well of a designed map, it felt even more dumbed down and the quests and story were terrible compared to this. 10 years later and I still remember a good chunk of the towns, enemies, and quests from this game. Where its only been 6 years since I last played Skyrim and I can barely remember more than a single quest, NPC, or song. Not to mention it didn't feel as tedious as Morrowind, you had full voice acting, fast travel, and the combat was smoother. Its a game I played a lot when I was in high school and completed all the quests, and I dumped 100+ hours into it that Summer. I just got lost in the open World and multiple quests. Sure Oblivion has some glaring flaws and playing it for the first time today might be a bit rough, especially since the gameplay is a bit rough, but if you can get used to the clunky combat, its a fun RPG with a good variety of ways to play and it has tons of memorable quests and characters. Its one of the games I have the fondest memories playing through
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jweber14 2017-07-21T21:20:32Z
2017-07-21T21:20:32Z
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Catalog

Coins95 The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 2022-08-15T19:14:56Z
2022-08-15T19:14:56Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
mozuynuk The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 2022-08-15T13:21:06Z
2022-08-15T13:21:06Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
pc
Big_Village The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 2022-08-14T22:12:18Z
2022-08-14T22:12:18Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
CoolestManOnTheBlock The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 2022-08-13T15:13:03Z
2022-08-13T15:13:03Z
2.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
man19572160 The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 2022-08-13T01:59:34Z
2022-08-13T01:59:34Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
revivalcamp The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 2022-08-13T01:06:54Z
2022-08-13T01:06:54Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
lmaobox The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 2022-08-12T16:44:25Z
2022-08-12T16:44:25Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
littleworldeater The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 2022-08-11T16:45:50Z
2022-08-11T16:45:50Z
4.5
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Favorites XB360 Atmosphere
Slight86 The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 2022-08-10T21:29:05Z
2022-08-10T21:29:05Z
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
aisatsana102 The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 2022-08-10T21:11:21Z
Windows
2022-08-10T21:11:21Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Flayven The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 2022-08-09T09:13:52Z
2022-08-09T09:13:52Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Brock5575 The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 2022-08-07T15:35:22Z
2022-08-07T15:35:22Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  

Comments

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Note: Unlike reviews, comments are considered temporary and may be deleted/purged without notice.
  • Previous comments (45) Loading...
  • fade_away 2022-03-13 04:02:08.149828+00
    I went back to this for the first time in years not too long ago expecting it to have aged poorly for me especially since I find Skyrim unengaging but I actually had a blast
    reply
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  • gabemusicrva 2022-04-07 00:08:06.14292+00
    waitaminuteletmedothatoneagain
    reply
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  • TheRealJimMorrison 2022-05-21 06:25:53.90258+00
    Let's get to bashing butts, as well as deez nuts
    reply
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  • davidraccoon 2022-05-30 10:40:11.330893+00
    Play this one without mods. I dare you.
    reply
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  • Helio_etc 2022-06-02 19:23:29.359962+00
    That's the only way I've ever played it and it's one of my favorite games of all time.
    reply
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  • Ulaan 2022-06-03 21:03:11.290601+00
    That's the only way I've ever played it and it's one of my favorite games of all time. [2]
    reply
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  • Arinisonfire 2022-08-02 14:31:28.587409+00
    "How goes it?"
    "Oh its you...hi.."
    "Any news from the other provinces?"
    "Nothing I'd like to talk about."
    "Take care."
    "Stop talking!"
    reply
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