So I was talking with my fellow losers the other day, and we found ourselves in a debate over which Elder Scrolls game was better: Oblivion or Skyrim. So of course as always, the best place to sort out an argument is on the internet. Here, I’m sure people will discuss the comparison with fair and impartial conversations while being entirely polite the whole time…pfffffft.
When it comes to story arc and narrative depth, I think Oblivion takes the cake (lie or not). The storyline in various quests of Oblivion are just a lot more in depth and generally longer than many in Skyrim. I’m afraid that in the latest game there was more effort put into making it look good than having great story telling.
Look at the Dark Brotherhood, for example. In Oblivion, the Assassin’s Guild stretched well over twenty separate missions, each unique and challenging in an exceptional way, before spiralling into an epic story of intrigue, betrayal and the supernatural. When Lucien Lachance (SPOILERS) was killed, my surprise was genuine, I had not seen it coming, and I actually felt upset for him. When a gamer feels such things as these for fictional virtual characters and their tales, you know that the narrative had to have been good. And, let’s face it “Whodunit” was the best mission ever. In comparison to Skyrim’s Assassin’s Guild tale, it was much greater.
In Skyrim, I couldn’t remember the names of my brothers as their characters were little more than forgettable. There was no passion in the story to drive me on and I knew the end well before it happened. And while Cicero was an interesting character of sorts, I was never scared of the madman and I saw right through him. It was nothing compared to creeping through the rotting basement of Mathieu Bellamont, and reading that creepy diary beside the severed head of his slain mother. The first time I played that mission I had to have someone stay in the room with me – now that’s an effective story.
Skyrim: 0 | Oblivion: 1
As far as main missions go though, Skyrim and Oblivion were pretty equal. In Skyrim, the best part of the story is obviously the flying lizards. Dragons are just damned cool. Killing them is challenging and epic. Killing dragons also gives you the mission of collecting dragon bones and souls, for your Dragonborn shouts and for armour; everyone loves a bit of pain for gain.
Oblivon started out equally as epic, I’d say, but after your fourth or fifth closing of a gate, it gets tedious. I get it, okay? Find the orb and save the city. I’ve done it ten times now I don’t want to do it again! There may have been a lot of dragons, but at least they’re quick and simple; closing Oblivion gates could sometimes take hours! In variety of story and mission in the main quest, Skyrim kept it interesting and avoided tedium very well, in a way that Oblivion teetered on rather dangerously.
Skyrim: 1 | Oblivion: 1
Gameplay wise, Skyrim remains king. I don’t know if it comes with the new technology or bigger budget, but in the sense of combat and game depth, Skyrim was miraculous. The two handed aspect was immensely entertaining and a great yet simple addition, and there is just so much more you can do with your player. Not to mention all the new elements of blacksmithing and alchemy and spell-weaving that added so many rewarding layers to the game there was almost too much for you to do! It gives Skyrim and endless feeling to it, something which Oblivion could not quite maintain.
Skyrim: 2 | Oblivion: 1
Personally, I love Oblivion. It is, sadly, more from bias affection than reason, for it was one of the first games that truly dragged me into the world of what is now my favourite genre. I also know the game so well after playing it non-stop for so many years, that I feel like an expert when playing – and who doesn’t want that! But, aside from my own opinion, I also felt that the realm of Cyrodil is more expansive and enjoyable than that of Skyrim. Skyrim is snowy, grey and dim in most areas, and visual beauty in open world games can be very important, yet they ignored it for gritty realism. Cyrodil in Oblivion however, is green, colourful, with a bounty of foliage and landscapes to explore, all of which are pleasing to the gamer’s eye. A small issue, but it makes a difference.
Skyrim: 2 | Oblivion: 3
And, notably, The Shivering Isles and the Knights of the Nine were ten times better than Dawnguard or Hearthfire. The Shivering Isles were unique in story and also gives you the chance to rule your own land. The Knights of The Nine, while painfully slow at the beginning, becomes worth it in the end. The knight’s armour is amazing, in looks and stats, and gains you renown and affection throughout the realm, and dozens of followers to filter through. Dawnguard was also good, but vampires? Really? Pretty mainstream. Nothing new. I’ve seen it too many times now – they might as well have added a zombie apocalypse. And Hearthfire was barely a DLC, I can get better mods than that for free on Steam.
Skyrim: 3 | Oblivion: 3
But, if you happen to have the PC version of Skyrim, there are thousands of incredible mods to download that potentially make the game beyond brilliant. These mods can get you new spells, new weapons, new armour, even quests, towns and enemies. Each one adds on another puzzle piece to the endless artwork that is Skyrim, and expands it beyond belief. This way, the game could truly go on forever, and should you find the right mods it would never grow old. Oblivion, however, has less mods available. Oh no, 3 all.
I know I’ve failed at deciding which is better, but I have good news! You don’t have to choose because you can have both! Hail Sithis!
But which is better! What do you reckon?