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ADVENTURING IN THE NUMBER 39 SPOT…
Yes, that is correct. Before the days of that horrific knee injury involving an arrow and the origin story of the new style of thievery The Ultimate Gamer is dubbing “Basket Ganking”, (where you place baskets on shopkeepers heads so you can steal everything without them seeing it, because that would, like, totally work you guys), There was The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
BEFORE THE ARROW…
If you ask your average Elder Scrolls fan what the high point of the series is, there’s a really good chance they’ll say Oblivion. Whether they’re right or not, well, that could be argued over for hours. But would they have a strong case? Hell yes, they would. Oblivion had terrific mechanics, (although she could be a tad glitchy at times), beautiful graphics, and it was the first TES game to feature fully voiced NPCs. No longer were there arguments on how to pronounce ‘Talos’ within your group of friends. …Oh, you and your friends don’t argue about that stuff? Uh, me neither. Swear. Anyway,in the wide territory of Cyrodiil the player must avenge the king, find the heir to the throne, stop the Oblivion Crisis (basically hell descending on the lands of men), laugh at The Horse Armor DLC, secretly buy The Horse Armor DLC without telling anyone because you must own it damn it, and then continue with the random thievery as well as ranking up in the plethora of factions you’re able to join. So, quite a bit to do, even if most of it is pretty well-traveled ground in the epic fantasy RPG space.
YOU’VE VIOLATED THE LAW!
I mentioned before that this was the first Elder Scrolls title that featured fully-voiced NPCs. Notice how I didn’t say whether or not that was a good thing? Yeah, the NPCs had a laughable track record of horrible lines and, even worse, emphasis at all the hilariously wrong times. Seriously, even Patrick Stewart wasn’t able to make this stuff sound good. Yeesh. There were a couple of other issues; while the combat was leaps and bounds ahead of Morrowind, it could get repetitive at times. The graphics at the time were great, but people in the world still had an odd look to them that kind of kept me up at night. What I’m really saying is that Oblivion has no huge issues objectively, but because of my personal preferences some of these flaws stuck out to me more than they might to you. These are minor issues when you look at the game as a whole.
Oblivion didn’t just set the stage for the insanely successful Skyrim, it raised the bar for fantasy RPGs and open-world games in general. It’s not a coincidence that everyone started making open-world games right after The Elder Scrolls franchise started moving millions of copies, folks. Like the previous entries in the series, Oblivion had hours upon hours of content for the player to devour, and had the feeling of being epic yet accessible. Sure, things could still devolve into cave-diving sometimes, but that’s ultimately forgivable considering everything else you were getting. If you haven’t played this game, do. Oblivion really opened the eyes of the world to what next-gen epic fantasy could be, and paved the way for the monster hit that was Skyrim. Plus, you can’t say you’re a TES fan without playing Oblivion. 5 out of 5.