Before I kick off into an article which I’m sure will ruffle a few feathers, let me start off by saying that I love Skyrim. In fact, Skyrim is one of my faovirte games, like, ever. It’s in the top five, for sure. So I am incredibly excited for Bethesda’s remaster, which I’m sure will be every bit as epic as the original.
All of that being said, it’s not my favorite Bethesda game – no sir. For all of its sprawling forrests, icy tundras, snowy mountains, fearsome dragons and Fus Ro Dah’rn good action – Skyrim still wasn’t as good as Oblivion.
I know! A game that won countless awards, destroyed the competition and cemented itself as one of the best games on the last generation of consoles, still isn’t my favorite game. And, despite how well polished it was, still is and will be, Oblivion offered a more rounded experience. Below are my five reasons for feeling that Oblivion was the better gaming experience and, thus, deserves to be remastered over its younger sibling.
5) The Arena
What’s not to love?! The opportunity to fight your opponents to the death in a colloseum type arena? The glory of a Gladiator when you defeat your opponent? The accolades that are thrown upon you when you become the ultimate fighter? The fact that a small child will worship you like a God once you’ve completed all of the fights? I’m not seeing any negatives here… other than the potential safeguarding issues that come with a child blindly following you around a strange city. In all, the Arena was one of my favorite parts of Oblivion. It was completely different to the rest of the game, but added a new dimension to both how you played it, and how the NPCs reacted to you around the world. I was no longer just the “Champion of Cyrodiil” but had also become “Dragonheart”, the title I picked for myself after defeating the Grand Champion in the Arena, and would thus be greeted as by NPCs across Cyrodiil. As far as I can remember, or have discovered, Skyrim didn’t really have anything like that – and I longed for a similar experience.
4) The story
A lot of people have panned Oblivion for its story – but I thought it was fantastic. Who doesn’t want to become the right hand-wo/man of a future Emperor, voiced by the ever wonderful Sean Bean, in his quest to restore the empire and close the gates of Oblivion? It’s got everything – reluctant heroes, demonic beasts, portals to alternate dimensions… Sean Bean AND Sir Patrick Stewart. I mean, what did Skyrim have? Dragons? Well, yeah, that was pretty cool. Still, I felt that the gates of Oblivion were a far greater threat, one worthy of a hero’s time – not that becoming the Dragonborn and defeating the greater evil wasn’t a noble quest, of course.
3) The DLC
Yes, Skyrim’s DLC was good. But Oblivion’s DLC was great. The Knights of the Nine and the Shivering Isles were absolute masterpieces. Plus, the Shivering Isles introduced one of my favorite characters to ever grace a video-game – Sheogorath, the Deadric God of Madness. And he was well and truly mad. Not only that, but he gives you Wabbjack – a staff that can turn enemies into random creatures, from chickens to Deadric monsters.
2) The plains of Oblivion
The Oblivion gates, and the relentless quest to close them, was probably one of my favorite parts of the game (other than the Arena, of course). I loved being transported to that barren, hostile world – and it made you feel like a real hero, stepping into the unknown whilst most stood back and watched. But, the great thing about the plains of Oblivion was that there were different items to collect, creatures to kill and plants to harvest. It truly was a separate world within the game.
1) The guilds and their quests
The guilds of Cyrodiil felt fresh, and exciting (for me at least). But they felt a little shallow in Skyrim. Oblivion was the last Elder Scrolls title to use the ‘conventional’ guilds – Thieves, Mages, Fighters and The Dark Brotherhood. These do make an appearance in Skyrim, in some shape or description, but the way that you progress through them is entirely different. Oblivion was characterised by hierarchies, and as you progressed through the missions, you progressed through those hierarchies – that’s the same for the Thieves Guild all the way through to the Arena. I liked that. In Skyrim, though, everything was less clear-cut. You progressed, but weren’t necessarily awarded new titles to show for it, and I missed the sense of achievement that you got as you worked your way to the top. Not only that, but I felt that the stories behind the guild quests in Oblivion were far stronger – particularly the Thieve Guild’s, based around The Gray Fox.
So there you have it. My five reasons for feeling that Oblivion would have been the best game to remaster. Now, I know that practically, Skyrim would be far easier to remaster. It’s newer, it’s probably more popular, and it’ll have far less that needs to be done in the back end. But does a game being more polished mean that it’s better? I don’t think so, but maybe you do (or maybe you feel that Morrowind is a better candidate!). Let me know in the comments below.