Reasons why The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion is Still a Favorite Pastime of Mine

Anybody who knows me knows that I love the Elder Scrolls game series. I have spent hours of my adult life playing and replaying these games and I continue to do so while looking forward to additional game installments of the franchise.

Choices, choices and more choices!

You can pick your birth sign, your class and which quests to finish after the opening scene. That’s just the beginning. There are hundreds of quests you can do throughout the world.

On top of that you can be as good or evil as you want. Considering a lot of games expect you to play the hero it can be refreshing to have a choice in morality now and again. This morality choice includes the guilds you can join and participate in.

The choices you make can affect your gameplay later at that. If you decide to go around murdering entire towns of NPCs, you may find that you cannot complete a quest to get a really cool item because one of those NPCs from your early game massacre was a needed source of information.

There’s also that choices will affect who does and does not like you at certain points which can make it impossible to get on the person’s good side.

The DLC is vast and varied.

The most famous of the DLC for Oblivion is likely the Shivering Isles. Sheogorath, the Daedric god of madness, is a memorable character — voiced by the wonderful, dynamic Wes Johnson and the randomness and weirdness of the Shivering Isles is a departure from your expected do quest get gold or item.

Aside from the Shivering Isles DLC, there is DLC to let you become a different hero of legend complete with heroic plate armor, DLC for getting a coveted Daedric artifact, various homes down to armoring your horse.

If you tire of doing the main quest and even side quests that you’ve found time and again doing some of the DLC content will give you a very different experience for several hours.

The lore is immersive

While a lot of lore in games and story-telling mediums is staple fantasy (a pantheon of certain gods, borrowed from Greece, Rome, Japan or Norse mythology with some serial numbers scratched off with a few prophecies here and there) the Elder Scrolls lore feels vastly different and deeper than borrowed and recycled ideas.

The Daedra have backstories — and despite the first brush with them, they’re not all evil — and some of the Daedra hate each other, not just the divine that is the opposite of their domain. Hircine loves that things can instantly change during a hunt and the hunter can become the hunted — he respects this. Sheogorath is quirky, silly and humorous. Sanguine loves pranks and messing with mortals who are uptight — he’s all about fun. This is just a few of the Daedra summarized.

One of Dibella’s artifacts is the advent of an interesting side quest in Cheydinhal. The divines watch your deeds and they do not let the wicked so easily repent and use their shrines. The Elder Scrolls themselves play a role in the story and are not your average prophecy.

There is so much to experience with the lore alone that the game easily pulls the player in and keeps their interest for hours.

There are Easter eggs you’ll miss your first few playthroughs.

One thing Bethesda likes doing is adding giant versions of enemies to the games. There are several giant and difficult to slay beasties waiting in particular dungeons — and you may miss them. I’ve done the Thieves’ Guild questline dozens of times and I have never found the Giant Slaughterfish despite knowing where it is thanks to the internet.

There is a ton of homework and backstory done for quests that you may never even know about unless you go looking. The first quest you’re given by the Dark Brotherhood can be proven. The man who Lucien spoke to who took out the contract is in jail and the evidence of the Black Sacrament is still in his basement, untouched.

There are secret passageways, things that can only be uncovered or discovered by doing quests for particular NPCs and choices that will result in a different outcome for a quest depending on your choices — alright highlighted this above!

The characters are memorable.

While many characters are 2-dimensional, generics of their race — this isn’t a complaint! Bethesda is a very small company and they do great work with the team they have — the characters you interact with for the main story and guild quests are often layered and interesting to get to know.

Even though the game is more than ten years old I do not like spoiling everything about the characters, their backstory and so on so I’ll be talking generally about these details. The Grey Fox’s backstory and the lore behind him are wonderful and you have to do the Thieves’ Guild to get these details. Lucien Lachance is a card-carrying villain who develops a deep trust and love — his words, not me exaggerating — for the player character despite evil being what ties them together. Martin’s character development is heart wrenching. The Grey Prince’s morality and character depth run deep. These are only some of the named characters and the players who have played through enough of each storyline knew exactly what I meant without me spelling it out.

This is why in my free time you can find me playing Oblivion despite it being a very old game and newer installments in the Elder Scroll franchise coming to be. All of these points and so much more that resonate deeply with me as a storyteller and a gamer.

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