The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion
Following in the celebrated footsteps of Arena, Daggerfall and Morrowind comes Oblivion, the fourth full-scale instalment in Bethesda Softworks' long-running Elder Scrolls series, and the developer s most ambitious project to date.
Set in the Imperial heartland of Cyrodiil rather than a backwoods colonial province like Morrowind, the game's plot concerns the assassination of an Emperor, an amulet of great power and the opening of a dimensional portal to Oblivion, the titular underworld of Tamriel and home to legions of nasty beasties. The gateway unbolted, these demonic denizens are free to pour forth into the real world and cause all manner of mischief. With a release date still some way off, the developers are reluctant to reveal any more of the storyline, although it's clear that you will be ventunng into the hellish realm of Oblivion at some point and that (as with all Elder Scrolls games) you'll be starting the game as a prisoner.
Leap Of Faith
Bethesda is hoping to build upon the massive success of 2002's Morrowind by fine-tuning, tweaking and ultimately perfecting the open-ended RPG style that has become the series' trademark. So, while you'll still be role-playing, brawling, spellcasting and thieving your way across a gigantic game world, you can expect a sackful of new and improved features when the release date finally rolls around. In fact, in the words of Bethesda big cheese Todd Howard, You can look at the changes we made from Daggerfall to Morrowind and expect a similar jump from Morrowind to Oblivion.''
For starters, Morrowind's unrefined, click-heavy combat is out, with the development team working on a far more thrilling system based on accurately timed attacks, the use of skill-based special moves and the addition of satisfymgly visceral consequences like accurate blood spray and bone-crunching sound effects. Behind-the-scenes dice rolling is kept to a minimum in this new action-packed approach, which might upset the RPG purists a touch, but they can take some comfort in the fact that your character's stats will come into play when calculating damage.
Apiece Of The Faction
The rather rudimentary Al in Morrowind is being replaced with the far more dynamic Radiant system (see 'You're Looking Radiant Today, below), while Bethesda also promises that an improved journal. NPC hints and maps will help you keep on track when it comes to completing missions. Of course, as with other Elder Scrolls titles, you are free to take a laid back approach to the main quest should you wish, and there will be plenty of things to get up to on the side. Like Morrowind, there are several guilds and factions operating in Oblivion; these will include the Thieves Guild, Mages Guild, Fighters Guild and the shadowy hired killers known as the Dark Brotherhood. You can join all of these," says Howard. Our game is about becoming this other character in this fantasy world, and the factions almost act as an entire game unto themselves for each character archetype to play in. We're trying to make each faction have its own story, perks and rewards for finishing."
But what about the physical size of the world that you'll actually be living in? Morrowind boasted a play area so big that getting yourself lost in the wilds became a real possibility. Oblivion's big." says Howard. In some areas it's bigger than Morrowind, in some it's not. I think scale is hard to describe. It seems that there will be less NPCs wandering the land - some 1,000 to Morrowind's 2,500 - but that they will have more interesting stuff to say and do. "Our tools allow us to create so much content that size isn't our concern," Todd continues. The game always ends up too big! We're more focused on the quality of the interactions we're building.
If you've already feasted your eyes on the accompanying screenshots, then you'll know that Oblivion is shaping up to be one of the finest-looking titles ever to grace the PC. Just like Morrowind before it. Oblivion will make liberal use of pixel-shading wizardry, but this time it'll be lavished on almost every surface rather than just the odd bit of water.
Give Us Wood(S)
All the shots you see here are in-game, and Bethesda claims the final product will look even lovelier, courtesy of a number of yet to be added visual V v effects. The screenshots also suggest that the developer is shunning the widespread brownness associated with Morrowind's environments and embracing a more green and pleasant land' feel for Cyrodiil. Technical jiggery-pokery should also allow for the rendering of immense view distances and huge forests; the latter is something that's never really been done well in a 3D game (unsurprising given the sheer processing power required to draw hundreds of thousands of leaves), so we await the results eagerly.
In fact, although the game is still a fair old way from completion, we can hardly wait to cast off our everyday trappings and head off into the wonderful world of Tamriel once more. Keep your eyes glued here for further details.
You're Looking Radiant Today...
And I'll Help Myself To Some Of That, Thank You
Great as it was, Morrowind wasn't above criticism, and one chief moan was the lifelessness of the NPCs. Day or night, rain or shine, the game's inhabitants would simply be stood in the same place all the time, reacting to nothing except the player and the odd wandering monster. Bethesda has addressed this in the sequel with the rather nifty-sounding Radiant Al system, which invests Cyrodiil's citizens with daily cycles (sleeping, working etc.) as well as wants and needs.
If an NPC feels peckish, for instance, then he'll go looking for a bite to eat If he sees you wandering by, he doesn't like you much, and he's the violent type, well... he may well try and obtain some of your grub. Using something pointy.
Providing Bethesda can pull it off property, it might just be the ideal way to breathe real life into Oblivion's gorgeous environments.
Processor: PC compatible,
OS: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game Features:Single game mode