Reflections on Oblivion; Hopes for Skyrim

Because I found kjptx1998’s post on Bethesda’s Oblivion to be sadly lacking in content (although full of potential), I decided I would hijack his/her idea and manipulate it -- hopefully -- for the better. What follows is a collection of ideas that I would like to see implemented in Skyrim and a reflection on Oblivion -- a veteran action-RPG which has selflessly served the gaming community for around five years.

Above: Purdy

In anticipation of Skyrim, the next game in the ever-popular Elder Scrolls series due for release in November, I decided to revisit the expansive world of Cyrodiil in the role of a nostalgic wayfaring pilgrim to inventory the maddening design flaws and miscellaneous gameplay issues that I would love to see fixed or ousted before Skyrim releases on the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the eleventh year of the… 21st century.

Above: I don't even have to write a caption for this one! Oh, wait...

It pains me to attack Oblivion -- a game so old it can’t really be attacked, a game so old that attacking it feels like I’m attacking my grandmother -- for its graphical shortcomings, but it has to be said that Oblivion is not the best-looking game on the market. Frankly, in 2006, when the game was released, Oblivion was not the best-looking game on the market. I’m not a graphics whore by any means, but the graphical quality of Oblivion was and is inarguably awful and the game contained hilarious bugs such as the infamous ‘paintbrush glitch‘ which, bewilderingly, allowed the player to construct his/her very own Staircase to Heaven from paintbrushes. The game featured a host of issues, such as ugly, 2-dimensional grass which had no place even in a 2006 game and the unsettlingly smooth, unblemished faces of Cyrodiil’s inhabitants, which haunted my dreams for weeks after my first experience with Oblivion. One hallucinogenic side effect I noted after playing Oblivion for long enough in one sitting was that the game seemed to adopt a strangely cartoon-ish look which initially convinced me that I was finally going insane at the relatively young age of 15. However, things are definitely looking up with Bethesda’s replacement of the geriatric Gamebryo engine with a brand new powerhouse which promises to appease the hordes of graphics whores who moaned about Oblivion’s less than luscious looks and numerous graphical oddities. Hopefully this time Bethesda will pull out all the stops and release a glitch-free game -- although a return of the paintbrush glitch would be a welcome addition.

Oblivion’s combat definitely needs to be updated to contend with some of 2011’s heavy hitters. Sword fights -- a basic feature which most fantasy RPGs handle without many problems -- in Oblivion often descended into chaotic meleés which would generally see the player attacking an ally by accident and subsequently being apprehended later by one of those pesky Imperial guards. Stealth classes skilled in the arcane art of archery faced little or no challenge when skulking around in the darkness with a powerful bow, firing arrows into the backs of unsuspecting foes from the shadows. The pretty pyrotechnics that the mage-type class afforded were ridiculously over-powered, even at lower levels, and hordes of enemies could be dispatched relatively easily with a few well-aimed fireball spells.

In addition, Oblivion was never hugely difficult in any respect. Due to the fact that the enemies in-game levelled with the player, I -- at least -- never felt challenged or out of my depth because Oblivion’s in-game foes were as inept as I was at lower levels but somehow nowhere near as adept as I was at higher levels. However, I’ve been told that Bethesda has phased out this well-intentioned but unnecessary system and has replaced it with…dragons, which should provide a welcome challenge if these scaly beasts are pumped with enough pure, undiluted badassery to make them a force to be fearful of.

Oblivion’s AI, while serviceable, didn’t provide any surprises. On the whole, currently-engaged enemies charged blindly at the player, making for laughably easy, horrifically one-sided battles which ended disappointingly quickly leaving a bitter taste in the mouth. The simplistic AI is something that absolutely must be updated - this is 2011, and the gaming public has come to expect more from its games than 2006-era gamers did. I would really love to see Bethesda engineer enemies capable of more than simply running straight at the player swinging a blade in the air. A talented developer like Bethesda is definitely capable of such a feat, and updated AI could potentially be the element to catapult Skyrim to the greatness and long-lasting fame that Oblivion enjoys.

However, Oblivion had an overwhelming number of positives in face of its few crippling negatives. Cyrodiil was such a huge, immersive world; a world which really felt alive. Hell, the game itself was huge -- I have poured hundreds of hours into that game and haven’t yet finished the main campaign. Oblivion featured hundreds of different characters, each with their own personalities and most of them with their own involving backstories which led to the sort of addictive little side quests which kept distracting me from completing the campaign. I know I’ve moaned at length about Oblivion’s graphical shortcomings, but the game also had moments of beauty. The snowy mountain ranges Oblivion featured were stunning when viewed from the right perspective, and I adored the picturesque city of Bruma and its arctic air. In short, Oblivion is one of the best action-RPGs ever made for a reason -- many reasons, in fact.

Happy 5th birthday, Oblivion!
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Lord Death of Murder Mountain   
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About Lord Death of Murder Mountainone of us since 2:06 PM on 03.18.2011

I’m Oran, a fifteen year-old gamer and Scottish native. I’ve been gaming for as long as I can remember and my love for the pastime has grown exponentially (HELL YEAH) since early childhood, back when I was allowed to crap in my pants and I wasn‘t mocked for my love of the Pokémon games. The golden days.

I’m a thoroughly ‘modern’ gamer, and I’m a little ashamed of that. I am most comfortable with games from this generation and the previous, but I’ve played games from past generations, such as Super Mario 64, Mario Kart 64 and a few of the Castlevania games.

I discovered Destructoid after purchasing Deadly Premonition, the cover of which boasts a 10/10 rating from Jim Sterling. I visited the website to check out the review, and accidentally stumbled upon the Community Blogs. Previously, I had been experimenting with GameSpot’s blogging feature but I quickly tired of that and, thusly, the Community Blogs presented a perfect alternative.

I’m hoping to break into gaemz jarnalizm. I feel I have a serviceable command of the English language and I realise that I have plenty of time to hone my mad skillz, blud. I follow the gaming industry with avid interest and I have the ability to formulate convincing arguments; arguments which I take care to support with fact. I’m going to stop whoring myself out now, but if you know of anywhere a budding writer can test his skills -- other than Destructoid itself, of course -- then please let me know. I will love you eternally.

Obligatory list of favourite games (in no particular order):


Virtually every Pokémon game

PC (thanks, bbain!)

Chzo Mythos
L'Abbaye Des Morts
Digital -- A Love Story


Burnout 2
Downhill Domination
Resident Evil 4
Resident Evil -- Code Veronica X


Destroy All Humans!
Destroy All Humans! 2
Deus Ex: Invisible War
Evil Dead: Regeneration
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Hitman: Blood Money
Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction
The Suffering
Thief: Deadly Shadows
TimeSplitters 2
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell

Xbox 360

Alan Wake
Armored Core 4
Assassin's Creed
Blue Dragon
Condemned: Criminal Origins
Dead Rising
Dead Space
Deadly Premonition
Eternal Sonata
Fable II
Fallout 3
Fallout: New Vegas
Gears of War
Gears of War 2
Grand Theft Auto IV
Half-Life 2
Just Cause 2
Left 4 Dead
Lost Planet
Mirror’s Edge
Project Sylpheed
Saints Row 2
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion