Posted by: Chris | July 30, 2011

Lost in Oblivion (a bleg)

So, I got an Xbox, a new copy of Oblivion, and my old save with the hopes of finally completing the game.  However, after about an hour of playing I remembered why I had originally given up on the game.  Thanks to utterly shoddy game design and misleading in-game text (as well as some serious lack of forethought on my behalf), my current character is deeply underpowered for his level, which makes many fights nigh unwinnable wars of attrition.  So I decided to restart and play smart this time, but the past two hours trolling the Oblivion wiki trying to chart a course through the shoals that wrecked me the first time have been fairly soul-crushing.  I am not looking forward to grinding out spells non-stop for hours at end just to trick some faulty leveling scheme into working properly.*

So I ask those Lurers much more familiar with the game, is it worth the investment to restart, if I mostly just want to finish the Dark Brotherhood/Theives Guild,  find the remaining errant interesting quests and locales, and maybe poke about some more?  If so, how can I go about creating and maintaining an enjoyable character with as minimal of mental and menial investment as possible?  I also have an extreme disrelish for the spell-creation and alchemy portions of the game and would rather find a build that avoids those sorts of things as best as possible.

*BTW, I cannot comprehend how people can praise Oblivion to the skies when its character creation and leveling systems simply do not function as intended.  These are the bread-and-butter of any RPG and basically all other developers can execute them competently (even Bethesda, as Fallout 3 attests).  So why do the Elder Scrolls games get a pass in this regard?  I really hope Skyrim is not this inherently frustrating.



  1. Sure, I can be of assistance. This is a game played, not in real life, but on the computer. Hope that helps!

  2. Basically how hard you find the game is going to depend on three things.
    1. How efficiently you’ve been leveling your stats as you increase level (which is where Oblivion’s terrible leveling system really bites, and why I can’t play it any more without some major gameplay mods). There’s unfortunately not much you can do about it without restarting. You can try to adopt some of the stuff talked about here:
    But I find that stuff really tedious and boring, and suspect you do as well. Hence my fanatic devotion to the KCAS mod.
    2. Your style of play. Generally, characters that don’t get hit find it easier. Ranged attackers find it easier than melee; stealth easier than up-front brawlers; speedy characters easier than slow. Just don’t rely on magic for your damage! You can increase speed by boosting Athletics, Acrobatics, and Light Armor, and/or wearing equipment that boosts Speed. So try to get Acrobatics and Light Armor to start off at a very low level (to make it easier to increase), then boost those skills for your first few levels. Also, trainers can be useful here, as all three of those skills are a bitch to raise above 40 or so.
    3. Your equipment. Enchantments are potentially game-breaking in Oblivion.

    All that said… if I couldn’t install any mods to Oblivion, I don’t know that I’d have the patience to play all the way through. The gameplay mechanics are simply bad in many ways. Unfortunately, I think you’re wrong about why – the creation and leveling systems are working exactly as the developers intended (the objectionable ones are extremely similar to those of Morrowind, about which the exact same complaints had long been raised). Fortunately, the devs. for Skyrim have said that they’re planning a leveling system very similar to Fallout 3, and specifically contrasted that with the leveling system of Oblivion, although they’ve said there will be requirements for perks (e.g., to get a perk that boosts sword skills, you will need to actually use a sword for a while before leveling up). I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt for now.

  3. Looking back I did spend an absurd amount of time mixing potions. I didn’t have too hard of a time in the fight department, but I played a ranged archer type character, so I rarely had to get in the thick of things.

    Tangential – have any of y’all played Beyond Good and Evil? I played the demo of the HD remake and it really seems quite good.

    • Beyond Good and Evil! Great game. I may actually give it another play-through at some point in the near future. It has two major strengths – the first is the charming artwork, level design, and overall style. The second is variety in game mechanics. Stealth, straight-up fighting, platforming, boat-racing, boat combat, exploration, puzzle-solving, some optional minigames, and more. And nothing is done poorly enough to be objectionable, while most if it is very well done indeed. Definitely a game I’d recommend, although I’m a little cautious because I haven’t played it in a while, and it also is definitely a game which leaves the same sort of endearing after-glow as Wind Waker (which can cause memory to gloss over any negative attributes).

  4. Nick, though I have not encountered it myself, BGE gets very high marks amongst the “in-the-know” crowd.

    For those who care, I restarted and I think have a better handle on how to level properly this time. Thanks for the assistence.

  5. One more Oblivion update: it is pretty unbelievable how much better Oblivion is when you:

    a) play an archer and
    b) game the leveling system properly

    Unlike the melee combat, the bow and arrow works (for the most part) and my current playthrough has me greatly re-evaluating the quality of the game.

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