Friday, July 17, 2009

Killswitch: The Elder Scrolls 4

So the first game that I'm going to talk about in this column is The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion. I will refer to the game as Oblivion from here on out. As a brief introduction I'm just going to explain the game and who makes it.

Oblivion is a game from way back in 2006 made by Bethesda studios. It is the fifth or sixth game in the Elder Scrolls series that Bethesda has been making for many years, perhaps longer than I have been alive. It is an RPG with a huge amount of customization in a sandbox world. There is magic and there are swords. It is set in a fictional world in the fictional kingdom of Tamriel. It is the mark of what a fantasy western RPG should be in many ways, and there aren't many surprises about that.

What attracted me to this game?

There were a lot of things that attracted me to this game: Open world, magic, swords, killing shit and savin' people. I was intrigued heavily by the idea that I could roam around in a huge open world and do pretty much anything I felt like. I could even be a cat-like creature! or a lizard! I had never played Morrowind (Elder Scrolls 3) because I wasn't into gaming that much when it came out. I also didn't own an Xbox. I wasn't really old enough to experience the Elder Scrolls games before Morrowind, so I had no idea what to expect or how things worked.

Why did I play it and what kept me from stopping?

I kept playing because I enjoyed it. I loved doing the quests and I loved just walking around. I had never played a game where I could just go anywhere and do anything at anytime I wanted to. There was also a lot of very interesting lore that was fun to read and listen to. There were cults and churches and all sorts of religious crap everywhere and it all felt real. The game looked beautifully and controlled like a dream as well.

There just wasn't anything wrong with it at all. I would walk around everywhere: I would walk around cities when I got there and I seldom used the quick travel so I walked the roads. Everywhere I went there was something new and exciting to do, I was never bored. Monsters were scattered throughout the dense forests and every so often you could spot a deer. There were plants to collect so that you could make potions. You could haggle with merchants, or be adventurous and steal. You could become part of a guild and gain benefits from that. In the end, I did everything I wanted in the order I wanted to and utterly forgot about the storyline. I loved it.

How long did I play and why did I stop?

I played for a LONG time. Probably months and I played for many hours every day. I loved Oblivion and I wanted to have it's children. I use Xfire (trazac is my name on Xfire) to record my gaming hours, but if I really had logged all of the hours that I have played in Oblivion, I would probably have more in that than I do in my current total. It became my life and I have a lot of knowledge about the game and it's story because of it and I will never give that up.

So, why did I stop? I'm not entirely sure. The NPCs are terrible, some of the quests are really bothersome and many of the mechanics aren't always on your side. None of this bothered me too much. I mean, like any gamer, I would stop playing after the tenth attempt to sneak past one guard and he seemed to have x-ray vision of some sort, but nothing ever stopped me from playing again and trying again. I think eventually I would start to feel that the world was too static for my taste: Nothing I did changed anyone else, and many things would always be the same. It wasn't as bad as an MMO, because once a quest was done, no one could step in and do it again. I just felt that I could never change things more than once. I couldn't make things better forever, or once I did, they would never change.

The city of Kvatch is always on fire and they never rebuild (mods fix that though), even years after it's destruction. There are many things like that, but I won't ruin them. I only talk about Kvatch because that is, quite literally, the second thing you have to do in the main quest (once you leave the sewers anyway). This turned me off a lot. I just didn't know what to think and eventually I just put the game down. Also, I had the best of the best everything and so the challenge of finding cool new things or being stronger no longer exist (mods also fixed that, but more on that later).

Did I ever play again?

Yeah, I did. For many of the same reasons I played it in the first place. I would normally play for a few days or a week, maybe two here and there, but I would always fall out again, for the same reasons as before. I never permanently played it like I had before... until I discovered something way more epic than the game itself: Mods.

I LOVE mods. I love the modding community, not just for Oblivion, for any game. They're always so inventive and creative, and they're the first thing I look for when I stop playing a game that I really liked. For Oblivion (as well as for Morrowwind) there is a huge modding community. There are always new things to look at, as well as thousands of already existing mods. To talk about the amount and what they do would be hard, but I'll give a description of the ones that brought me back:

  1. A mod that retextured the game
  2. Many, many mods that add new items, weapons and armour
  3. Mods that change/add shaders and effects to the game
  4. Mods that Overhaul the entire combat system
  5. Numerous other mods that do tiny things that I love
I currently have around 50 installed right now, excluding the official mods made by Bethesda(which I also have all of). The screen at the top of the post shows a few mods in action: The Lich King's Armour and The Frostmourne, a weapon effects mod that shows the enchantment(probably one of the most minor mods, but easily the coolest), and QTP3 Redimized.

What about now?

I still fall in and out of Oblivion like a yo-yo, and sometimes I do drop the yo-yo and don't pick it up for a month or two. With the amount of mods and the pure amount of awesome they give, I'm not sure if I'll ever really stop playing Oblivion forever. I'm sure that ten years from now, I'll still be playing Oblivion and hopefully it's sequels.

Post Script: I know I said 24 hours, but I lied. At least I STARTED this within 24 hours. I'm sorry, butt at least it's pretty long.

Post Script Script: If anyone ever wants any help with Oblivion and/or it's mods, I'll be more than willing to help you.

1 comment:

Wolfwood said...

Cool stuff. When do we get a new Killswitch?