I finished the original content of Borderlands last week and decided to give Elder’s Scroll IV: Oblivion another shot. I bought it during the big Steam Christmas sale of 2011 just as everybody else with 70 spare dollars was getting into Skyrim. But that’s the great thing about single-player games; who cares when you play them? Fortunately, I’ve got a new laptop from Malibal that runs the game better than it would have ever played on my 6 year-old Dell machine. Equally fortunately, the visuals are still really good. I’ve always had trouble with getting into the Elder’s Scrolls games, having tried repeatedly force myself to play Morrowind, but I think this one might pan out.
This time around, I’ve realized that with a game this non-linear, the problem comes when I don’t play games every day. When I skip a few days and I come back, I sit down and wonder, “Was I doing anything besides walking around for no reason fighting pirates and wolves all last week?” At that point, I’d go start a new game. I did do this a couple of time with Oblivion after downloading it. However, this past week, I did what I should have done to before, I created a character to resemble a girl that had a crush on me back in 8th-grade (…who ended up hating me by 9th). You see, if I can create an character that compels me to take interest, I’ll probably keep playing any RPG or MMORPG you put in front of me. I’ll have to get around to posting about how much I love deep, rich character creators and how important they are to “owning” the character you play in an RPG.
Anyway, I’m playing it. It’s gorgeous. It is more than I thought it would be. I own an empty castle.
I’m splitting up my first spate of questing between Imperial City and Bravil. I’ve gone into some mage’s dreams with an enchanted amulet. I’ve been chasing after a ghost on the beach. I’ve broken into a grave-robber’s house and hid in his basement for 12 hours. I’m talking to everybody that I run into, but unlike other old school RPGs, I don’t expect them to tell me anything interesting or give me a quest. I just want to play the Speechcraft mini-game. If someone brings that game out for iOS, I’d absolutely pay .99 cents for it.
One of the initial reactions that I had about Oblivion came about while I was listening to a podcaster (Outlandish!) years ago discuss how he was able to armor and decorate his horse. At the time, I thought, “So what? Nobody else on earth will see it.” Of course, I was in the throes of World of Warcraft addiction at the time. I could not appreciate what he was talking about. While I can say that I feel a strange attachment to my horse, I don’t care about how the Old Nag looks yet. I just want wolves to die when they attack her on the road.
I don’t plan on playing Oblivion for too long because I’m scheduled to get on the Diablo 3 train and I want to get through Mass Effect 2 before I do that. Yet, on some level, I feel that as an avid MMORPG’er, I really need to play through this game. I need to experience non-linear gameplay as an alternative to leveling a character up through a story. With Oblivion, I do actually feel like I could go exploring and find something cool to do without finding myself in an area that I shouldn’t be in yet. I don’t get the sense that I’m in a starting zone where the bad guys aren’t so angry and they don’t hit you too hard. Consequently, Oblivion is filling my days off.
For anyone else planning on getting into this game late like I have, you’ll want to download this patch because the game is a surprisingly buggy and crashy.