So Oblivion is not a game I'm just experiencing for the first time. Oblivion was the whole reason I bought an Xbox 360 back in the day, since it was cheaper than buying a whole new computer (Since the one I had at the time honestly had some issues running Morrowind). For a long time it held the distinction of being the only game I'd ever 100% completed in terms of achievements. But it was also a game that I did everything in and then just...put down. I'd bought it on PC ages ago and always intended to settle back down with it, but I never really have. I think it was a combination of doggedly trying to finish Skyrim and afraid to damage the memories of the game I had in my head that convinced me Oblivion was a great overall experience, but I'd done everything once already and there was no reason to open that book again. (Despite the fact several books in my library have had to be replaced due to me wearing out their spines through repeating readings. Why should a video game be any different?)
Well today, in a combination of boredom and the right combination of YouTube videos serving as background noise, I decided to venture back to the Third Era of Tamriel and back into Oblivion. The automatic hardware settings recommended Medium...I laughed and boosted that up to High Ultra. While my new rig might be getting a smidge long in the tooth(Four years old now, I bought it for Fallout 4), I don't think it'll have any difficulty with Oblivion. Worth noting I'm playing this unmodded - I want the actual experience.
So I've wrapped up the tutorial thus far and...it's actually impressing me. The potato people are whatever, but the clothing and armor has some really intricate detailing, the Zombies are legitimately disgusting, there's legitimate fur textures (Not great ones mind, but I was surprised that the rats and the Emperor's mantle were actually textures, not simply decals applied to a model). And this was the first game that had an actual, in-game physics engine and Bethesda made sure to show that off in fun ways. It may not seem like much to shoot an arrow into a bucket dangling over a disused well, but I understood what Bethesda was showing off with it and it is satisfying to have the world react to your actions when the combat very much doesn't. There's no weight behind the strikes and it made me realize how much better at combat Skyrim ultimately got since you don't get much in the way of feedback - either from hits or being hit - with Oblivion. It's by no means a deal breaker and didn't stop me enjoying myself, but I'd be doing a disservice if I didn't point out that it exists.
The story starts out better than I think Skyrim's does and the Mythic Dawn's custom bound armor remains classic. I missed the decisions of picking a birth sign and I'd forgotten Baraus recommends a class based on your combat style during the tutorial (It gave me Rogue, which I've decided to go with because why not?). The Sewer section was a lot shorter than I remember it being but that's hardly a negative. Had to stop about four times to drop stuff in my Inventory because the encumbrance system is a lot less forgiving than Skyrim or even Morrowind and for a tutorial dungeon they give a LOT of good crap.
Now I'm standing outside the Imperial City Prison contemplating poking my head inside a place I was so recently incarcerated in or going into the city proper to unload my spoils and head off to Chorrol for the main quest.
The potato models of the people aside, Oblivion's visuals have aged surprisingly well. When I got out of the sewers the landscape has a watercolor dream look to it (and yes, I remember Oblivion's watercolor world quest) that makes it feel like a painting come to life. It's obviously far less detailed than what Skyrim's world would be and doesn't feel as real-if-alien as Morrowind's environments conveyed with its graphics but it contrasts with the setting in a way I rather enjoy.
The Emperor's just been murdered. Hell is going to come to Earth soon...but standing on the shores of the Imperial Isle, it'd be easy for a character to dismiss it as an odd fever dream, were it not for the Amulet of Kings in their pocket. Next time I'm in the game, I'll grab some screenshots but Oblivion's design choices are one that I now, 10+ years after originally playing the game, really appreciate.
More to come, because my ultimate hope is I get through all of Oblivion as I tried to do with Morrowind last year (I failed on that front, due to mod-conflicts rendering the game broken beyond repair. Hence my no-mods run here).
Edited by Rust, 14 April 2019 - 05:15 PM.