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Review RPG Codex Retrospective Review: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (2006)

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Tags: Bethesda Softworks; Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

After finishing his critically acclaimed review of Morrowind, Deuce Traveler wasted no time before plunging into the depths of its 2006 sequel, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Back in 2006, Oblivion was the searing edge of next-gen dumbed down consolization. The rage that it provoked played a huge role in the formation of RPG Codex culture as we know it. But how does look it now, a decade later? Well, for the most part, not so different:

You see, in Morrowind even fast leveling with minimal attribute gain was still a positive thing due to the maximum hit point and mana increases. However, once you introduce level scaling you now have an incentive not to level. Yes, Oblivion is a bizarro world RPG where you want to avoid leveling up. It may be the only RPG that has ever caused min-maxers to play with the intent of dragging out level ups. It works like this. You can choose seven skills as your major class skills. I typically lean upon Blade, Marksman, Security, Heavy Armor, and Stealth skills, with various magic skills for backup. I hardly ever use Mercantile, Hand-to-Hand, Armorer, Alchemy, Blunt, Destruction and Speechcraft. So of course I choose the latter as my major skills, and take the hit of poor starting scores for the skills I will actually depend upon in practice. Now I can almost completely control when I level up, and will likely be able to increase my desired attributes by five points each time I do. Enemies remain relatively weak while my character grows more powerful than the game anticipated. Thus a min-maxer can still game the system despite all the effort made by the developers to maintain difficulty throughout. Way to go!

[...] Honestly, I can't really get too upset with all of this streamlining, even if it dumbed down the game (100% casting success rates), took away roleplaying options (quest-related chests can't be opened by lockpicking), and broke any semblance of the world being governed by reality (omniscient guards). Oblivion isn't really much of a game anyway - I see it as more of an adventure construction toolset with nice presentation than as an actual roleplaying experience. The game world itself is so dull compared to what we saw in previous games. In Daggerfall, the various regions of the map were distinct from one another in architecture, terrain and mode of dress. In Morrowind even more so. Oblivion's version of Tamriel, in comparison, is incredibly bland. Except for a few Norse villages, the majority of the cities and towns look as if the art team took photos of Disney castles and stills from the movie Gladiator and used them as a template to build a squeaky clean civilization of white marble and bloom effects that don't make any sense in a world that still depends on burning wood and coal for heat. The actual daedric realm of Oblivion is even more disappointing, after the first ten minutes of initial terror. In Battlespire, Oblivion is described as an odd realm that is a sort of hell which the daedra fall into when 'killed'. It is a chaotic place that even they fear. This description is completely retconned in the game Oblivion - the realm is now highly organized and populated with enemy forces prepared to invade Tamriel. You gradually realize that it looks the same no matter where you decide to explore, with no surprises to be found after your first visit. There is only so much dark crimson and orange a player can take before it loses its charm. Which leads us to the topic of the game's main quest and the reason for entering the Oblivion gates in the first place.

[...] Oblivion starts off with your character in prison, a common theme in the Elder Scrolls series, before once again becoming entangled in a secret mission assigned to you by the Emperor. However, this is the last time he's going to get you involved in one of his schemes, as he is assassinated by daedra worshippers in front of your eyes. These cultists murder the Emperor because of his never-before-seen daedra-stopping magical powers, and now there's an invasion that only the last surviving descendant of the Emperor can stop with his magical bloodline powers. Note: You are not the Emperor's last surviving descendant, but rather his chosen fetch quest participant. While the last descendant is hanging out and training (which should totally have been shown as an 80s-style training montage), your character has to ensure that all of the actual work gets done for his final confrontation with the daedra leader. It's a generic, lazy, and forgettable plot, with only a few bright spots that stand out like jewels in dust.
What bright spots, you ask? Read the full article to find out: RPG Codex Retrospective Review: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (2006)
 

Deuce Traveler

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Grab the Codex by the pussy Divinity: Original Sin Torment: Tides of Numenera Shadorwun: Hong Kong Pathfinder: Kingmaker Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag. Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture
Yay! Glad to see my review up!

mysnooop2.gif


I hope you folks like it even better than the Morrowind one I did.
 

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King Crispy

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RPG Codex, where we literally take decades to review RPG's.
 

deuxhero

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The game mechnics are crap
The action is crap
The exploration is crap
The graphics are crap
The writing outside those quests is crap
The moddability is worse than Morrowind and therefore is crap
The mechanics are crap
The minigames those mechanics are based on are even more crap

Outside of some guild quests having cool ideas (which don't execute nearly as well as they should thanks to crap mechanics), there isn't a single good feature in Oblivion. I'm someone who can overlook a game being crap in all other areas if it has some really good points (In ToEE the combat is amazing and it's combat focused, which is enough to ignore pretty much everything else being crap and consider it a great game.) so I mean it when I say Oblivion has no redeeming factors.
 

Spectacle

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Hmm, reading this retrospective makes Oblivion seem better than I remember. Maybe it's time for another playthrough?
 

Xzylvador

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Divinity: Original Sin 2 Bubbles In Memoria A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pathfinder: Kingmaker Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag. Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture
Someone managed to get to the ending of this game?
Wow, such heroic sacrifice made for a retrospective review (which I can only hope is a april fools joke I somehow don't get).

Why not release Darth Roxor's review of our 2015 GOTY on this day? It'll be funny on so many levels.
(Quick! Get to writing!)
 
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It's a mod-kit to play Nehrim.
 

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What I like about this review is that when you reach the point where it goes bonkers, you begin to wonder just how much of everything that came before that was mods too.
 

rohand

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This will quickly sink into oblivion.
 

Black

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Will this be the new official review?
 

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Codex 2013 Codex 2014 Make the Codex Great Again! Strap Yourselves In Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker
LoL at codex culture being defined by this game! :salute: Pete & Todd (Podd? Tete?) won in the end...

Onto the review: gaming the skills was well in place in Morrowind to some extent. I remember setting my most used skills to be minor skills so I could massacre some mudcrabs and put +5 into my strength during level up (or something like that - it's been a while). Also, for Norse villages I presume you mean houses. :smug:

Good read as ever. I assume Skyrim is next, but that's still fresh in the cultural memory. Oblivion-with-guns would be the logical next target.

Edit: I was a latecomer to Morrowind so moved straight on to Oblivion once I'd played that game. I played it for what seemed like years trying to get my Morrowind fix but even though I had a lot of fun even I had to admit that it was disappointing.

Edit2: Okay, you got me - it's an April Fule. I'll have to read it again to see exactly where truth becomes mutable.
 
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NotAGolfer

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Morrowind was a huge game, which meant that the main quest could become quite easy if you spent lots of time completing all of the side quests and exploring all of the dungeons. I didn't mind this, as I felt it was a just reward for those players that had engaged deeply with everything the open world had to offer.
:hahano:
Sure, it is rewarding in theory. But how on earth can you still say that with a straight face when you know that this game gets completely broken midway through and you still have 20 or so hours of mindlessly slaughtering enemies before you?
Stop defending shit design! :argh:
Sure, Oblivion didn't solve that problem and Skyrim's toned down levelscaling is still way too much, but there are other solutions like giving the game a chapter structure (Gothics, the gameworld changes with major events unfolding, unleashing more and more difficult enemies) or a less open world with increasingly difficult areas to explore (also Gothics, Twitcher games, most ARPGs ever). But the thing that would have helped the most even if you keep the world wide open is a flat level progression curve where you can't become that uber (doesn't fit Morrowind's story, sure... then change the fucking story or don't make it open world). Or maybe restrict self buffs so the player char can become as powerful as a god but also still die easily if he isn't careful.
Rock paper scissors design where it's more about acquiring/learning all the different elemetary and other damage dealing methods and ways to avoid said damage than about raw power would help a lot too. And not in the retarded percentage way this and many other games use, full immunity or gtfo. It's too easy to not give a shit about it and just chop away at their health bar instead of paying attention to the mechanic...
But then again if they kept the char vulnerable all the way through then maybe percentages were good enough.

In any case for me Morrowind was just as big a letdown as Oblivion. This is just another game that requires you to focus on the mainstory and ignore the world built around it so it doesn't get ridiculously easy and mind-numbingly boring. An open world that forces a certain playstyle (that's not compatible to the way I approach games) on you to not break the game.

Didn't read this review in full btw, but the comment on Estrus made me
:what:
So this whole thing is supposed to be an april fool's joke?
Lame.
 
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NotAGolfer

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Didn't read this review in full btw, but the comment on Estrus made me
:what:

So the part about Viconia and the Nerevarine Conspiracy to take over the empire was just fine?

But at least you noticed that: http://www.gamebanshee.com/news/117032-the-elder-scrolls-iv-oblivion-retrospective-review.html :P
Viconia? :lol:
Ok, I admit it, after the stuff I quoted I just scrolled down and looked at the pictures, mang. And the Estrus one made me read the text below it.
:kingcomrade:
 
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