Not many games manage to stay relevant for over a decade, but Bethesda’s RPG classic, Oblivion, managed to do just that. The Game of the Year winner offered a unique experience at the time, and one that still puts up a fight as one of the best role playing games ever made 11 years after its release.
Oblivion sets the player on a journey to become the sole savior of Cyrodiil, a land where dungeons, assassins and mages are nothing but a common sight. Starting off with the blessing of the Emperor himself, the player first steps out to a world so massive that truly gives a feeling of uniqueness to the adventures about to unfold.
The game is incredibly immersive and allows players to fully customize their character at the start of a save. Each race not only varies in looks, but their traits are different as well. Whether you choose to play as a water-breathing Argonian or a magician Dark Elf, your options will be almost unlimited when deciding which approach to take in order to save a land haunted by creatures that emerge from Oblivion itself.
Once the player starts their journey, they’ll be faced with countless decisions that influence the skillset of their character. The game offers countless customization options and strongly supports free decision making, even with a main storyline in place.
The player might choose to completely ignore the main quests at first and head on to face the different foes found in Cyrodiil’s dungeons, a very appealing aspect and crucial to every good RPG title. Oblivion offers a one-of-a-kind experience still unmatched a decade after its release, even by its worthy successor, Skyrim.
The towns, cities, caves and background stories are incredibly rich and make the player feel completely immersed in the game. There are guilds which the player can join; each one completely unique and with magnificent storylines that leave the player wanting for more after finishing each quest.
Mastering each guild storyline allows the main character to become an almighty unstoppable force, capable of doing almost anything a Mage, a Thief, an Assassin or even a Gladiator can do. The possibilities are endless and the prospect of sticking to a single play style and finishing the game multiple times is probably one of the main reasons this game has stayed relevant even after the release of Skyrim.
The combat in Oblivion is also a perfect fit for the game. The fast paced and fully controllable action makes putting an end to your enemies feel incredibly refreshing. Players are also allowed to toggle between PoV’s, in or out of combat. It’s very important for the balance of an RPG that combat permits each different skill to be a viable option, and Bethesda manages to do just that with this title. Arrows, spells and swords are all incredibly strong when mastered by the bearer or caster.
The variety of weapons and different effects that each one offers is magnificent as well, and the game even allows the player to craft weapons out of scratch, emphasizing even more just how incredibly customizable the game is.
The map is gigantic, but the player rarely feels lost given how well the moving mechanics work. Whenever a new location is discovered, it is instantly saved to the player’s log, enabling fast travel from any open space on the map. This makes the game appealing for all types of players and turns exploring into an unparalleled satisfying experience of discovery.
Every character feels alive as well – even the most insignificant of NPC’s have houses and beggars have impromptu beds where they sleep at night. The level of detail that the game offers is absurd, the side quests often feel as entertaining as the main storyline and the expansions are true works of art.
The game has its fair share of flaws, but they are so insignificant for such a huge title that they don’t affect gameplay whatsoever. For example, whenever the player engages in conversation with any NPC character, time just freezes and nothing else moves. Details like that could sometimes make an immersed gamer phase out of character, but it can be forgiven as the game offers so much original content.
The expansion packs aren’t nothing short of masterpieces as well. Knights of the Nine tells the story of a lost guild of knights that fought in the name of the nine gods of the realm, going into deeper detail about the religious lore of the game, which plays a very important part as the story unfolds, bringing a sense of understanding towards certain actions that NPC’s take throughout the course of the campaign.
The Knights of the Nine are clearly a reference to the Crusader knights that fought in the name of Christ many centuries ago, a cool little detail that dares to cross the thin line between game and reality.
This depth also makes room for the second expansion pack, The Shivering Isles – a realm controlled by the mad god Sheogorath and one of the most brilliant tales ever told in an RPG game. It offers everything from comedy, to sorrow, to lunatic suicidal maniacs. It is definitely a must-try for anyone that enjoyed the base game.
Our thoughts on the game
Oblivion is a widely popular game even ten years after its release, and the reason goes far beyond nostalgia. The game is addicting, the story is incredible and the graphics don’t feel clunky at all. The Elder Scrolls saga definitely has one game that stands out from the rest, and although Skyrim was really good, Oblivion takes the gold medal.