Exploring Influences: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

Oh boy, where to even begin with this one?

Oblivion and I have an interesting history. I mentioned previously that I didn’t have much interest in the game. It never looked like something I’d enjoy, but a large part of that is because the game’s coverage really only showed it in first-person.

Me and first-person games don’t get along. It might be something to do with my depth perception, or maybe just that I like the disconnect of being someone else when I’m playing a game, and the Elder Scrolls games didn’t seem to do that. That, of course, was a mistaken impression on my part. Once my husband told me there was a third-person view, I was willing to give it a shot.

The world presented to us in Oblivion, which is the fourth installment of the Elder Scrolls series, is huge. The game takes place in Cyrodiil, a country divided into several smaller provinces. Each province has its own stories, its own citizens, its own problems. And the world is developed so well that it’s easy to get lost in the lore.

The game offers a grand number of ruins, caverns and castles to explore, some tied to the numerous storylines that pepper the world, others nothing more than… well, a cave. But each character you encounter can teach you a little more about the world you’re playing in, and if you’re really lucky, you might stumble across a book.

Books, in a game. Real books! Books about the world’s history, books about armoring, multi-volume encyclopedias of the world’s flora and fauna. Not only that, but there’s a wide variety of fiction to choose from, as well. I couldn’t tell you how many hours I spent in that game, reading books that later found a permanent home on a bookshelf in my virtual house.

The Elder Scrolls games are well written and well developed, so that the visuals are matched by the grand storytelling that happens throughout. The world is vibrant, it feels like it could exist without you. And that’s an amazing thing. You aren’t in control of the situation, not really; You’re along for a very interesting ride, and that’s a wonderful example of what storytelling should be like.

In all honesty, Oblivion quickly became one of my favorite games of all time. Much of the world created by Bethesda shows me a reflection of the worlds I’ve created, but best of all, it gives me a great example of how to create a world right.

Whenever my fantasy novels are complete, I can only hope they live up to the kind of vision Oblivion has helped develop in my head.

Last week: The Legend of Zelda
Next week: Legend of Mana


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