Credit: Bethesda SoftworksBethesda Softworks released the latest instalment in the Elder Scrolls series, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, in November 2011. Its predecessor in the series, Oblivion, is still worth playing, even though Oblivion was released in 2006. The age of the game means that, even if it is bought new, it can still be fairly cheap.
Oblivion is a fantasy action role-playing game set in the land of Tamriel, the setting for Morrowind and other Elder Scrolls games. A lot of the gameplay is freeform, so that how the player acts in a situation will affect future situations. Although there is a main plot, this can be completely ignored if desired.
Game of the Year Edition
When looking for a copy of Oblivion to buy, you want to be purchasing at least the Game of the Year Edition, as this includes The Shivering Isles and Knights of the Nine expansions. The 5th Anniversary Edition also includes these expansions.
Non Player Characters (NPCs)
Credit: Bethesda SoftworksThere are a large number of NPCs in the game. Some are just there to kill, such as monsters, but many are people with schedules and routines. You can't just turn up somewhere and expect that the NPC will always be there. If it's the wrong time of day, they won't be.
Most NPCs feature voice acting, notably Patrick Stewart as Uriel Septim VII, Sean Bean (Silent Hill: Revelation 3D, Mirror, Mirror) as Martin Septim, Terence Stamp as Mankar Camoran with many female voices being provided by Lynda Carter (from the 70s Wonder Woman series), although the amount of variety of random conversation and actual actors is somewhat limited, due to voice files taking up substantial amounts of disk space.
Monsters and foes are usually "levelled." This means that as a character becomes more powerful, so do the enemies fought. Low level monsters can become high level monsters, and NPCs will be of a higher level. Consequently, there will be very few fights that can be simply won through the use of sheer power.
Quests are a major part of Oblivion. Although some of these are small, the larger series in particular are actually comprised of many related quests, each of which is part of the whole. The player can have many quests started at the same time, although only one can actually be active at any point. The currently active quest can be switched from the list of all unfinished quests as desired.
The Main Quest
Credit: Bethesda SoftworksThis is the main theme of the game, although you can spend many days playing with the rest of the content without actually progressing anywhere in the main quest. This is where the game starts though, and comprises the character creation and introduction to the gameplay.
Mythic Dawn cultists of the Daedric lord Mehrunes Dagon have killed Emperor Uriel Septim VII's sons, and will, in the introduction, kill him also. Your task throughout the main quest series is to find the remaining heir to the throne and help him defeat the cultists and Dagon, a short summation of something that requires many separate quests and hours of gameplay to complete.
The Faction Quests
There are various factions in the game that the player can join, or be invited into, and then advance through the faction to eventually lead it. These are also interlinking quest series.
The Fighters Guild
This quest series revolves around various fighter quests, and the defeat of their rivals, the Blackwood Company. Some dangerous combat, but little magic.
The Mages Guild
The Mages Guild quest series is based around the defeat of a faction of Necromancers. The quest to join the guild itself is not an easy one. Lots of magic in this series.
The Thieves Guild
Joining the Thieves Guild provides an outlet for selling any goods you may have stolen, as normal shopkeepers have no interest in buying them. Lots of sneaking and stealing.
The Dark Brotherhood
The Dark Brotherhood are assassins. Joining the guild will require to go around murdering people for money. Murdering an NPC will trigger an invite to join the guild.
Mostly set within the Arena in the Imperial City, much of this is just straight up Arena fights, in order to become the Grand Champion of the Arena. Some other quests will help you in this.
The Daedric Quests
Credit: Bethesda SoftworksThere are 15 Daedric quests to complete. Although not on the scale of the main or faction quests, some of these will also require several separate quests to complete. The reward for success is a Daedric artefact specific to the relevant Daedric lord or lady. The quests cannot all be done immediately; there are varying level requirements for the quests. A Daedric quest will need to be completed as part of the main quest series.
As well as the various larger quest series, there are a number of smaller quests that can be done around Tamriel, available in cities and settlements around the map.
Master Training Quests
In order to train skills to the maximum level of 100 outside of actually using them, there is a high level trainer available for each of the 21 skills. The trainers will usually require a player to do something for them in order to receive training.
A number of the following will be visited to do with major and minor quests, but some of these have no relation to any official content. This doesn't count locations added in expansions. The types are defined by their symbols on the game map, if they have symbols. As you find or are told of new locations, a marker will appear on the map for them.
Credit: Bethesda SoftworksAyleid Ruins, Forts, Mines and Caves come in a number of different sizes.
Ayleid Ruins: There are 50 Ayleid ruins scattered around, many having importance in quests. The Ayleids were a race of elves who established the first empire in Tamriel. There are usually surface ruins, often with creatures inhabiting them, as well as larger underground areas.
Ayleid Wells: Each of the 35 Ayleid Wells will restore and fortify Magicka when activated, although you'll need to wait before they can be reused. These are not shown on the map.
Campsites: Often infested with bandits, there are 32 campsites around the map. These are typically just small groupings of tents and bedrolls.
Caves: Underground cave systems are another favourite monster abode, and there are a total of 90 of them.
Cities: There are seven cities, excluding the ruins of Kvatch, and the Imperial City, which is composed of eight districts, the Arcane University and the Imperial Prison.
Daedra Shrines: There are 15 Daedra shrines, each dedicated to a separate Daedra lord (or lady), and these are used in the various Daedric quests.
Doomstones: There are 21 Doomstones, of two different types, 13 Birthsign Stones, related to the constellations, and 8 Heaven Stones, related to other celestial bodies. Each stone will grant a different power. The Doomstones are not marked on the map.
Forts: The majority of the 50 Forts are ruined Imperial forts with monster infested dungeons underneath.
Gates to Oblivion: As well as the specific 9 gates related to the Main Quest that go to fixed Oblivion planes, there are dozens of other possible locations where gates to randomly created Oblivion planes can open.
Inns and Stables: There are 16 inns and stables available outside of the cities.
Mines: There are 25 mines around Tamriel, usually infested with monsters. Some also have ore-bearing rocks that can be mined.
Natural Landmarks: There are 9 landmarks, which can be a simple ruin or something bigger.
Runestones: There are 24 Runestones of three types that can be found, which provide different types of bound weapons and armour.
Settlements and Missions: There are 31 settlements and missions around Tamriel, ranging from farms and estates to small villages.
Wayshrines: There are a number of Wayshrines, each dedicated to a different one of the Nine deities. Wayshrines do not show up on the map, and are a circle of white columns. Activating them gives a bonus, and the shrines are used in the Knights of the Nine expansion.
There are many other items of interest in Oblivion; chests scattered around the map, lots of reading material from scraps of paper to books, some of which will increase a skill when read, houses that can be purchased and furnished in every city except Kvatch, various wandering NPCs, other adventurers and plants that can be harvested for Alchemy ingredients, as well as all the trainable skills.
Two expansion packs were released for Obivion. These are included in the Game of the Year and 5th Anniversary Editions, but can also be bought from the Xbox store for Xbox players. There currently doesn't seem to be a means for PC players to purchase these outside of the Game of the Year and Anniversary editions.
The Knights of the Nine
Credit: Bethesda SoftworksThe Knights of the Nine is a major quest series based around the player refounding the Knights of the Nine faction and defeating the sorcerer-king Umaril. They can also now join the Nine Divines faction. The quest adds a number of new places to visit, as well as the new faction and various items.
The Shivering Isles
Credit: Bethesda SoftworksThe Shivering Isles is an enormous addition, adding new Alchemical ingredients and new monsters, a major quest series and numerous minor quests, all set in a new realm, the Shivering Isles, the realm of the mad Daedric lord Sheogorath. Many NPCs in this land are somewhat on the strange side.
The main Shivering Isles quest itself compares to the Main Quest in size. Sheogorath requires a hero to save his realm, and the player is that hero.
There are many new places added in this plane; the capital of New Sheoth, consisting of three sections, 7 settlements, 6 landmarks (including the portal back to Cyrodil), 14 ruins, 12 caves, 15 camps and assorted other places.
Downloadable Content (DLC)
This is official extra game content supplied by Bethesda, and can be obtained from the Xbox store for Xbox users. Unfortunately, the DLC for PC users seems to be currently unobtainable from Bethesda, as their store is down, although all except Fighter's Stronghold should be available with the Knights of the Nine expansion.
The content is all purchasable, although it does not cost much.
Credit: Bethesda SoftworksThis adds Frostcrag Spire to the game, a wizard's tower up in the Jerall Mountains. Initially, there's very little present, but, with a fair chunk of money, players can upgrade it to add a host of spell and alchemy related items.
Dunbarrow Cove below Castle Anvil is a hideout aimed at the thief. There are a number of creatures that are needed to be killed before you can start upgrading, but after doing so, you can spend another chunk of cash fitting the Cove out with various thief-related items and trainers.
The Vile Lair
Deepscorn Hollow is an evil lair on an island in Topal Bay. Again, it is vacant until you spend money doing the place up. Once done, there are a number of additions to the place, aimed towards the more infamous character.
Battlehorn Castle is in the Colovian Highlands, and is aimed at the fighter types. The Castle is under attack, so the attackers need to be beaten before you can upgrade it. This again requires the expenditure of a sizable amount of money.
The Orrery is off the lobby of the Arch-mages Tower in the Mages Guild in the Imperial City. Without this content, it cannot be entered. With it, it still can't be entered initially, but you'll have a new quest which requires you to retrieve various Dwarven artefacts that need to be used to repair the Orrery.
Once repaired, you can invoke the Orrery once per day to get a temporary bonus based on the phases of the moons.
Horse Armour Pack
Credit: Bethesda SoftworksHorse armour, available from Snak gra-Bura at the Chestnut Handy stables outside the Imperial City, allows you to protect your horse. Horses are a vital, and often expensive, means of getting around without using fast travel, as they enable you to outrun enemies, so protecting your horse is a good idea.
Horse armour is available in both steel and elven, and once equipped for the first time, Snak gra-Bura will equip any legally owned horse with either armour for 500gp.
The Daedric Quests in the main game don't include one for Mehrunes Dagon. Given that he is the main enemy and behind all the troubles in the main quest series, this is less than surprising. This expansion fills that gap with a reasonably substantial quest to acquire another Daedric artefact belonging to Mehrunes Dagon himself, the aforementioned Mehrunes' Razor.
This adds 280 Spell Tomes, which have a chance to turn up in various loot from either dead enemies or from containers. Reading these books will give you the option to learn the spell in the book. A cheap way of acquiring new spells, some of which aren't available to buy anywhere, but the Tomes aren't that common.
User Created Content
One reason why there is always something new to do in Oblivion is because users are always creating new content. The content is created using the Elder Scrolls Construction Kit, and includes unofficial game patches, for problems the official ones don't fix, minor and major modifications of upgrades in the game, to new spells, houses, NPCs and quests to name a few. Many user created quests will add new locations to visit also.
User created quests can vary in size from small and easily finished to huge ones such as The Lost Spires, which adds a new faction, the Archaeology Guild, and a complete associated quest series for advancing in the Guild, similar to the official Faction Quests.
With the amount of user content available, even a player who has completed every official quest and story and cleared out every dungeon and cave will still find at many hours of further entertainment.
Hours of Gameplay
Oblivion has hours, if not hundreds of hours, of gameplay, if you consider all the quests, expansions and downloadable content, and that's before user created content is even considered. This is only a brief overview of all the content available in the game. Although Skyrim is newer, and therefore improved upon, many users of Oblivion have altered and improved pretty much every aspect of the game. Oblivion may be six years old, but it is still definitely worth buying and playing if you haven't already done so.
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