As you are undoubtedly aware, Oblivion is one of the most graphically
intensive games to be released in quite some time, and there are a certain
number of hardware "requirements" that you should meet before you attempt to
play this game. You should also be aware that there are many settings in the
game that can be tweaked in order to let you play with some pretty
ridiculously old machines assuming you don't mind having the game look like
Daggerfall. We'll begin with the basic manufacturer requirements.
512 MB System RAM
2 Ghz Intel Pentium Processor (or Equivalent)
128MB Direct3D Compatible Video Card DirectX 9.0 Compatible Driver
8x DVD ROM Drive
4.6 GB Free Hard Drive Space
DirectX 8.1 Compatible Sound Card
Windows XP (with Service Pack 2)
1 GB System RAM
3 Ghz Intel Pentium Processor (or Equivalent)
ATI X800 Series, Nvidia Geforce 6800 Series or Higher Video Card
8x DVD ROM Drive
4.6 GB Free Hard Drive Space
DirectX 8.1 Compatible Sound Card
When it comes to upgrading your system for performance (assuming you at least
meet the minimum requirements) then upgrading the video card will usually be
the best option for maximum performance and quality increase. Upgrading your
RAM will typically get your a decent performance and framerate increase to a
point while as long as you meet the recommended requirements for your
processor, you should be fine in that category. Now we'll assume that you
have the game and have it installed and want to start getting better quality,
with better performance. Believe it or not, even after you set the game up to
fit your computer, there are advanced tweaks you can do outside of the game's
video menu that can increase graphical quality AND performance if done right.
This means that for now, we'll look at changing the game's various in-game
settings for better performance while staying away from system files and mods
for the time being. I'll outline what each of the settings does and how it
affects performance so you'll have a better idea what to change to get your
game running well. We'll begin before you even go into the game. When you
click the desktop icon it will bring up a little mini menu with options like
"Play", "Data Files," "Elderscrolls.com," etc. There should be an option
there called "Options." Click that tab first before you play the game.
Click the "Reset to Defaults" button at the bottom which will automatically
detect the hardware you have installed, and change the game's defaults based
on that. For the typical player that will be enough, and they can play the
game using these default settings. These defaults however are far from
perfect and you can undoubtedly get the game working a lot better. The first
option "Adapter" shows your video card after auto-detecting. If that's not
your video card, or you have more than one, then select yours from the drop
down menu. If it's not there then it probably isn't installed correctly.
Resolution is arguably the most important setting when it comes to making the
game look nice. The higher the resolution, the more pixels are displayed and
therefore the more detail can be shown. For this reason it's also one of the
more performance intensive settings. TO be honest your should almost
certainly base this setting entirely around the monitor you are using unless
your hardware really sucks. If you think you can handle the game pretty well,
then match the resolution to your monitor's highest possible setting. You can
turn down other things later to get it to run well. If you have a widescreen
monitor make sure you select one of the widescreen resolutions. Usually the
maximum resolution option you see if based on your monitor's maximum, so if
you don't know your monitor's highest resolution then just click the biggest
one and give it a try. If it doesn't work, then scale it down a little.
Antialiasing is another important one, especially for people with lower
resolutions. It works as follows (here's a bit of a technical lesson to help
you understand, feel free to skip to the next paragraph.) The idea is that
sometimes on a pixel-sized level there is some overlap between objects as to
what colour to display on a pixel. Usually it will decide between one or the
other and display that colour. Antialiasing means that rather than making
this decision, it blends the two colours and then displays it giving
everything a more detailed and less jagged look. To put it less technically,
the more antialiasing you have the less jagged edges you have.
Turning antialiasing up higher will smooth the edges between objects and give
everything a nicer, smoother look. I recommend antialiasing for people who
have good hardware systems, but crappy monitors that can only support lower
resolutions. Since lower resolutions cannot display unique colours in smaller
areas as well as higher resolutions, blending becomes a better option. For
example, my monitor handles up to 1680 x 1050 resolution which is extremely
detailed, and the minor difference antialiasing makes does not make up for its
hit to performance, so I keep it turned off. For someone with a powerful
video card who is only able to handle 1024x768, or 1280x1024 then antialiasing
will be a good choice for them. Just note that it is extremely performance
intensive (compared to other settings) and I don't recommend anyone,
regardless of system set it any higher than 4x. You don't need any more.
Next we have windowed and full screen which is pretty self explanatory.
People with weak systems who have to play on lower resolutions might prefer
windowed mode so that it isn't stretched (but probably not). The V.Sync
option is a very important one below those two. V. Sync is used to sync up
refresh rates between your system and your monitor. Its purpose is to prevent
"tearing", which is what happens when pieces of two different frames are
displayed at the same time. Whether you should turn this on or off depends on
the hardware you are running. Personally I don't experience tearing whether
the option is on or off, but since I take a minor performance hit when I turn
it on, I keep the option off. As I said you should try playing with this
option on and off to see which works best for you, and if you start to see
glitches with the frame display, it means you'll probably need this on.
Screen effects is an interesting one. For a lot of people the option for HDR
won't even be selectable. This is because HDR (which stands for High Dynamic
Range) is a feature only available on newer video cards. It's basically a
type of (arguably) more realistic lighting that is pretty performance
intensive. Bloom is another type of lighting that sort of emulates a
realistic lighting effect, but less intensively. Don't be too disappointed if
you can't use HDR, there are a lot of people out there with massive video
cards that prefer the look of Bloom light to HDR. One drawback of HDR is that
you cannot use it at the same time you're using antialiasing, so if you want
AA then you are forced to stick with Bloom lighting for your game.
Distant rendering is pretty self-explanatory. Turning on distant landscapes
will eliminate the fogging effect that doesn't show distant terrains and
actually show them (but not nearly as well rendered as the near stuff). You
can choose to show these landscapes but without any trees or building using
the buttons below it (but not vice versa of course.) This about does it for
the out-of-game setting changes. There are a lot of settings that you can't
change in game without restarting so try to get them right here so that you
don't have to keep quitting and restarting. Some of them can only be changed
in game however. These include texture size, antialiasing, HDR/Bloom
lighting, resolution, and possibly one or two others I'm forgetting.
Press Esc to open up the options menu and select video. Here is where the
mid-range tweaking begins. We'll go through each setting one by one and
determine how it should be changed to give best performance.
Resolution -------- As I mentioned before, resolution is one of the main
settings that you should change to get the game to
look better. Check "Out-of-game" settings to figure
out what you should set your resolution to.
Brightness -------- Only applies if you are playing the game in full screen
as opposed to windowed mode (windowed mode will default
the brightness to whatever your desktop brightness is at.
This will not affect performance in any way and depending
on what your have your monitor set to, I typically like to
set it about 75% across so that you can actually see where
you're going in dark dungeons (still usually need a
Texture Size ------ A very important one, and not "too" performance intensive
compared to other ones. Lower end machines will still
want to turn this down. You do get quite a bit of bang
for your buck though. What I mean is that it will make
the game look a LOT better when maxed out. All you have
to do is head to any town, or look down at the ground
below you. If there's a sign hanging out front of a shop
it probably says "Bob's Weapons" when textures are high,
and "Blurry Smudge" if textures are low. Higher textures
are more detailed with fewer edges blurring together. Set
this to large if you can handle it.
Tree Fade --------- One of the numerous options relating to draw distance,
specifically for trees. Slide this all the way to the
right and you will see miles of trees ahead of you. Slide
it all the way to the left and they'll be popping up
directly in front of you every two seconds. Even for low
end machines you'll want to slide this a little to the
right. It does have a pretty heavy effect on performance.
Actor Fade -------- I'm not entirely positive, but I believe it has to do with
NPC characters and creatures and how far it will render
them before they disappear. Has a minimal effect in the
outside world and a makes a difference mainly when you're
in towns. You can probably set it around the middle on
low-end machines, and max it out on high-end.
Item Fade --------- A relatively unimportant one that just judges how far in
the distance to render items and such. It's directly
related to the next setting so you probably shouldn't
really change this one much at all, just the next one.
Object Face ------- Determines how far ahead to render objects like rocks,
flowers, buildings, and more. Directly ties to the
previous setting, when you turn this down then Item Fade
goes down automatically as well. It's not heavily
performance intensive, slide it all the way right for
high-end machines, otherwise make a judgment call.
Grass Distance ---- One of the most important settings in the game, period.
In Oblivion, rather than using green textures everywhere,
the developers have opted to place tall grass all over the
place which is rendered in full 3D and makes everything
look that much more beautiful. It's also one of the most
performance intensive options you can select. People with
weak machines should slide this down to almost 0 (left) if
not all the way. If you can live without the grass (the
ground textures still look quite good) then you will have
an extraordinary performance boost. There are actually
people out there with high-end machines who slide it all
the way left for one of two reasons: to get a huge
performance boost since it still looks really good, and
second (to a lesser extent) because sometimes items and
objects get lost in the tall grass.
Make sure you select the right option to match your
computer with the grass. You can slide it pretty far left
and get a lot of grass pop-up, but if you kind of look
down while you run it's not all that bad for lower-end
machines. You should be aware that in the advanced
tweaking section, I'll tell you how to change an option so
that the grass is still there but not quite as dense (in a
path of five grass stalks, it might only display three)
but still render it for the same distance.
View Distance ----- An important one for most people because turning it all
the way down really uglifies the game, but increases
performance. If you have a mid to high range PC then I
would recommend maxing this out. Only turn it down if
you're desperate for better performance. The options
below it only apply if you have it maxed. You don't
necessarily have to show that poorly rendered distant land
if you don't want to by turning these off. Some people
think it makes the game look more realistic (foggy
distance rather than blocky green hills). I don't agree
personally, but to each his own. Be aware that there are
settings in the advanced tweaking section that allow you
to increase the amount of rendering on distant textures
(to add realism) at a minor performance hit, so you might
want to check those out.
Int. Shadows ------ I'm not too familiar with the various shadow effects in
these games, but I do believe this is the setting for
interior shadow detail (shadows indoors.) Turning it up
should increase either the shadow detail, number of
shadows or both. Personally I don't find it makes much of
a difference and even on a high-end machines I keep it low
to increase performance.
Ext. Shadows ------ The external shadows this time, a little more important
than the previous setting but still not too important.
I'd set it around the same setting as you used for Int.
Shadows which can be as low as just a little right of the
Self Shadows ------ You'll have to forgive me for not being a big shadow
expert. To be honest I can't really see much of a
difference at all when this is on. Some people actually
claim it makes the game look worse (just a rumour). I
have a high-end machine, but I leave it off.
It was poitned out to me recently that self-shadows means:
shadows cast on an object, by an object. To use a
character for example, self-shadows would display shadows
cast by his / her body, on his / her body. Supposedly
this option is actually a little glitched at the moment,
weird shadows being cast where they shouldn't, so you
should almost certainly turn it off for now and wait to
see if maybe a patch is released.
Shadows on Grass -- This setting is only for the most powerful computers out
there who just like to max everything. It is totally
unnecessary to show shadows on grass, you take a
performance hit, and you'll barely notice it. Turn this
Tree Canopy Shadows One of the few really important shadow settings, this
actually makes a big difference. You'll get a pretty
heavy performance hit for this one so I only recommend it
for high-end cards, but I think it looks quite a bit
better and a lot more realistic. What it means basically
is that trees will cast shadows on the ground. Turn this
off and they won't. Go into a forest and turn it on
there, you'll definitely see a difference.
Specular Dist ----- We're out of shadows now and into lighting effects. From
what I'm told (though I don't see a huge difference) this
increases the crispness of light on objects (or the
"shine") which is already pretty high with HDR by default.
A lot of users won't notice a difference when they turn
this on. I recommend you find something shiny (like a
suit of armour) and look at it with this setting on min
and max, then judge where you want it. If you don't
notice a difference, you're probably not alone. In many
cases I'd say just dump this all the way left.
HDR Lighting ------ This was covered fully in the "Out-of-Game Settings"
in the section above. Look there for more info.
Bloom Lighting ---- This was covered fully in the "Out-of-Game Settings"
in the section above. Look there for more info.
Water Detail ------ A judgment call here. 95% of the time you're playing you
probably won't be looking at water, but there are nice
rivers, streams and lakes here and there that will
probably look better if you turn this on high for a minor
performance hit. Unless your hardware is really weak, I'd
say leave it on high. No big difference, and there isn't
a low setting anyway.
Water Reflections - Again, I don't notice much of a performance hit and it
does look a fair bit better with this on than off. I
would say turn it on if you're using anything but a low-
Water Ripples ----- Even with this setting off the water kind of still
ripples, but this will make it ripplier. Barely
noticeable quality difference, barely noticeable
performance difference. Whatever.
Window Reflections I've made it a point to try and remember to look in a
window sometime to see this setting in action, but still
haven't done it. Same as above. Makes very little
difference either way.
Blood Decals ------ These make virtually no performance difference at all,
it's more of a "censoring" thing. If you want blood all
over your hands after you bludgeon a wolf to death, then
turn this on. It takes no computing power at all.
Anti-aliasing ----- Covered above in the "Out-of-game" settings.
Here we will go beyond the limits of the in-game graphics menu and start
changing some settings that we "may or may" not be changing. I'll begin with
a few important points to note before we get started. We're going to be
editing an INI file, which stores various different game configuration
settings (a hell of a lot of them), but since we're going to be editing this
file and we want to make sure we don't screw up, we'll need to make a backup.
Here's what to do before proceeding at all with this section of the guide:
Open up My Documents\My Games\Oblivion folder on your computer. If you don't
know how to do that then you're in way over your head already and you
shouldn't try any of this under any circumstance. See a file there called
"Oblivion.ini"? Well you had better. Make a new folder called "Backup file"
then copy and paste Oblivion.ini and put it in that folder. Now anytime you
screw something up you can replace the file you edit with that backup.
Also note that while I did just tell you to make a backup, and there's
virtually no way you can screw anything up that can't be fixed in two seconds
by replacing it with the backup, I'm still going to point out that I am in no
way responsible if you completely fuck something up. Remember that's it's
pretty much impossible to do that in this case, I'm just saying is all. Some
people do crazy stuff to their computer sometimes, and it's not my problem.
The worst thing that can happen with the following tweaks is that your game
performance starts lagging or glitching. Replacing Oblivion.ini with your
backup will ALWAYS fix that and put you back where you started. Lastly I
would like to say that most of these tweaks are a combination of, and my own
personal interpretation of, a lot of word-of-mouth suggestions, forum posts,
rumours, and other wacky stuff. For a list of the base sources and where you
can find more information, check out the credits section of the guide.
Here's how you do it: open up Oblivion.ini in Notepad and you will see a whole
lot of weird settings with equals signs and numbers beside them. This is
where it all begins. I'm going to outline as many different changes you can
make as I can, it's up to you to decide which ones are best for you. DO NOT
CHANGE ALL OF THEM THAT I LIST. Read the description first and then decide
for yourself. I also recommend making only one or two changes at a time, then
running the game and seeing if you like the results.
The best way to test the results of a tweak is to judge framerate (how fast
and smooth the game runs.) While playing the game press the ~ button (usually
above Tab) and type in "tdt" and press enter. This will bring up the little
debug information window which shows how many frames per second you are
getting. Anything above 20 is good, above 30 is great, more is fantastic.
Finally, before we go into any of the INI tweaks there are a couple
miscellaneous things that most people recommend you do to increase
performance. After installing Oblivion which has quite a few extremely large
files, it is recommended that you defragment your hard drive (Start -> All
Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> Disk Defragmenter.) The second
thing is that you upgrade all the drivers for your graphics card. For example
if you're using an ATI X800 (or higher) then don't user the drivers that come
on the CD with it, go to www.ati.com and click on the "Drivers & Software"
tab. Download the drivers from there to get better game performance.
So open the file My Documents\My Games\Oblivion\Oblivion.ini right now and get
ready to tweak! Use Ctrl + f to find each one rather than manual searching.
Also, reader Kang has pointed out that the lower case letter in front of most
options refers to what type of input it takes. For example "bAllow30Shaders"
the b stands for Boolen, true/false, 0 or 1. "i" stands for integer, "f" for
float, "u" for unsigned number, and "s" for String.
This is a pretty harmless one if you've got the hardware to support it. Newer
video cards will have support for 3.0 Shaders, just check the specs. If yours
does then changing this from 0 to 1 will give better performance with no hit
at all whatever to graphical quality.
This is a controversial one going around right now that seems to help some
people a lot, and others not at all. It's a real "trial and error" setting.
Make sure you test the game after changing this one. As far as I know it
changes the amount of system memory Oblivion can use to preload stuff for you.
The higher RAM you have, the higher you set it. It defaults to 26214400 (the
value in bytes). If you have 512 MB of RAM then leave it there. If you have
a gig you might want to boost it to 100000000. 2 gigs to 200000000. As I
said some people love it, and others (myself included) see no difference.
This can increase the amount of time it takes to load an area, but while in
that area it should ideally give you smoother play and better framerate.
ooooo o o o A very important one with a very real effect on performance.
ooooo -> o o o I mention this in the basic tweaking section as well. It
ooooo o o o determines the density of the grass (not the grass stalks),
but rather how dense grass patches. The diagram on the left
illustrates the difference. Imagine each letter O is a patch of grass. The
ground on the left would be with it set to the default, 80. The one on the
right would look more like a setting of 150. Changing this setting allows
users to still have grass, but not so much so that they don't take as big of a
performance hit. It also lets people set huge grass draw distances (another
setting listed below) but make it so you don't have to render as much. This
is an important one for people with low-end computers who like having grass.
Grass looks the exact same with 1 type (default 2) and you get a performance
boost from it. Lower this setting down to 1.
As far as I know this will cache some of the textures and whatnot onto your
hard drive from the game disk so that in the future when you load an area, it
should go faster and performance should be increased. More of a "long run"
kind of thing than something you'd notice, but it's harmless to turn on. It
defaults to 0 (which means off) so set it to 1.
This has a direct effect on how detailed distant textures are. About as much
of a performance hit as you'd expect from something like this. Nothing too
heavy. It defaults to 5. If you want more detail then set it to 7, and if
you want a lot more detail then set it to 9. No higher.
Similar to the previous one, it increases detail in the distance. Basically
the more you turn it up, the more of a performance hit you take.
The same as "Tree Fade" in the game settings, except here you aren't limited
by the slider. Set it as high as you want based on your hardware.
The same as the grass draw distance in the in-game video settings, except once
again you can set it a lot higher. Even on max in-game you still get grass
pop up in the distance, turn this up to get rid of that.
Supposedly sets the distance at which grass starts to fade out. I'm not quite
sure how it's any different from the previous one. Most people turn this up
as well when they turn up the end distance, so it's a judgment call.
More realistic grass lighting if you set it to 1. Not really necessary but if
you have the hardware to back it up, it will look better.
More detailed shadows. Higher for quality, lower for performance.
One of those settings that's kind of up in the air right now. Some people say
you get better performance if you change it from 3 to 10. Others say it makes
absolutely no difference. It's up to you.
One of those settings that's kind of up in the air right now. Some people say
you get better performance if you change it from 10 to 20. Others say it
makes absolutely no difference. It's up to you.
This is a good one. LOD stands for "level of detail" which forces the game to
show maximum detail on nearby objects. Barely any hit to performance and it
should make things look a little better overall. Edit: It has been suggested
that this will actually force the game to load more than is necessary, and
perhaps should not actually be turned on.
uExterior Cell Buffer
What does this setting do? Who knows. Why do people suggest changing it from
36 to 72 or 128? Still don't know, but feel free to try it.
Supposedly it will force the game to play at whatever frames per second you
set it to. The game will slow down in order to meet that requirement. If you
seem to be able to play the game at a stable 25 FPS, changing this to 25 might
actually give you an even more stable framerate. Try it out.
Some say that along with the iThreads tweaks mentioned just above, these one
being set to the values I listed will also help overall performance. This one
is a real toss up, save before you change these.
This is only for people whose graphics cards suck ten kinds of ass, and
they're desperate for a way to play this game no matter how it looks. Change
all three of those values to zero and your game will look like crap, but
you'll get an enormous increase in performance.
This is a pretty popular one out there right now. Supposedly it makes water
look a lot better than it does by default. I've seen comparison screenshots
that would seem to suggest these people are right. Minor performance hit.
Here's a neat one. By default it equals a whole bunch of crazy stuff. Delete
all that stuff and set it equal to nothing "SIntroSequence=" and now when you
boot up the game it will go directly to the main menu, skipping the opening.
Just like it sounds, gives shadows to torches and has pretty much no effect
whatsoever on framerate or anything like that.
Shows a typical health bar. Want to see health bars? Set it to 1.
The water transparency value. Experiment with it and set it to your liking.
Changes the game speed. Make it higher to speed things up to crazy amounts,
make it lower to play the game in slow motion.
Basically sets the curve of grass. A value of 1 gives you straight grass
while a value of 10 would give you slightly curved grass.
Change this to 1 and every time you get a level up, you should be able to
distribute stats right there without having to rest.
This one is neat. If it's set to 1 then whenever an important character dies
then you get game over so that it never becomes impossible to progress.
The violence setting! The first two determine how long each splatter of blood
lasts on an object, and how many splatters there can be at once respectively.
No performance issues with this at all. The last one supposedly (I haven't
tried it) determines the amount of blood you get. Raise it from one to
something like four or five to get a hell of a lot more blood. Hooray!
Field of Vision
This isn't an INI tweak but it doesn't really belong anywhere else. Press the
~ key while playing and type "fov (number)" to change your view degrees. A
maximum of 180 shows everything in 180 degrees from you and skews the world to
hell. FOV 90 is actually half decent. FOV 30 is hilarious, everything seems
so... significant. I find it oddly more immersive in a way.
The following tweaks were contributed via email by David:
is a good thing to mention changing to 1, so people can take pictures of their
is a silly little bit of thing... You can
squeeze some extra performance out of the game by turning this off,
-HOWEVER-, the eyes in every face may look somewhat odd.
Think things run too slow or too fast? You can tweak this and change the flow
of time. Be aware that this changes _ALL_ time, not just how quickly time
passes. Everything will move slower or faster, combat will change speed, etc.
Ever been sad that an Autosave erased another Autosave that you realize
you really wanted? The game normally keeps -ONE- backup autosave, however,
if you need more, increase this.
Want the world to keep moving while you're in the menu? Change
bStaticMenuBackground to 0.
One of the best performance enhancers out there is exclusive to Nvidia users.
Supposedly this tweak can almost double your framerate with absolutely no
graphical hit whatsoever. Easily one of the best tweaks available.
Personally I don't have an Nvidia card so I can't use it, but the steps aren't
too difficult. Make sure your video card drivers are up to date, then search
Google for the Coolbits registry tweak. Once you have it installed on your
system then go to Control Panel, Display, Settings, Advanced, then click on
your video card in there. Under "Performance & Quality" settings there should
be an option "Additional Direct3D Settings".
Under this heading is where you will find what you are looking for. The
ultimate tweak is right there: "Max Frames to Render Ahead." Change that from
3 to 0 and bam, apply it and you're set. Hopefully the actual results you get
on your card live up to the hype created by this particular tweak.
While the general design of Oblivion does allow for all types of characters
can be played, the world does seem to reward those players with an ability to
destroy everything in their path. Combat can be separated into three types
based on the three types of character classes, those three types are melee
combat, magic combat, and ranged combat. Each are discussed in detail below:
For the warrior in all of use who choose a physically powerful class, this is
where it's at. Skills like Blade, Blunt and Hand-to-Hand comprise the melee
combat category. Your weapon should reflect what type you are specializing
in. For example, a character skilled in Blade would want to be using either a
one or two handed sword, while a Blunt specialist would prefer a club, and a
Hand-to-Hand specialist would wield no weapon at all. Oftentimes you will
find enemies who are strong against a particular type of melee combat and weak
against others, that's just the way the game is designed. The basics of
combat are quite simple. When you have your weapon equipped, click the left
mouse button to attack with your weapon while aiming
at the target.
More applicable to the mage classes, the school of magic associated primarily
with combat is Destruction, but skills like Conjuration could also apply.
Destruction magic is cast by pressing the C button by default. If you're
playing a solely magic character, I find that mapping the casting button to
right mouse button works better since you don't block nearly as much as a
mage. To learn new spells all you have to do is go to a Mage Guild in
virtually any town. They will teach you new spells and sell them like
equipment. Different cities have different kinds of spells for you to learn
so make sure you do lots of exploring.
The practice of attacking with stealth from a distance, with the hope of
catching your enemy by surprise and avoiding damage yourself. Even a ranged
attacker should have some specialization in melee combat as the enemies they
attack will often come charging. That first shot is almost always the most
important. As a Marksman increases his skill, his arrows will have a better
effect on the target often paralyzing them. Keep in mind however that you
must keep a reserve stock of arrows at all times, and you don't have an
infinite number of those.
The opposite of combat is of course verbal interaction. There are hundreds of
NPCs to interact with around the world, and with over 50 hours of dialogue
recorded for the game (which incidentally fills half the game DVD) they've
probably got quite a bit to say. When you speak to someone you'll usually get
a number of options to ask them about. Only relevant topics will appear so
usually if you can ask about something, it means they probably have something
to say about that topic (unlike other similar games where you can ask about
everything, and always get the same generic response every time.)
Options which have been grayed out means you have already asked about them.
The "Rumors" option which often appears is an important one which will often
yield new information or locations on your map from people who have heard this
or that from so-and-so. When you speak to someone about something but the
option does not get grayed out, it means they're holding something back and
that's when the persuasion option comes in handy. To learn more about this
option and how to get people to talk, scroll down to the section that covers
all the skills in detail and look up the skill "Speechcraft."
In such an open ended game, there is no end to the amount of things you can do
just for the sake of... doing them. With a completely non-linear storyline
that allows you to do whatever, whenever you feel like it, then sometimes
those feelings are bound to manifest themselves in a way that's less than...
legal. But we'll get to that. Let us first discuss the various choices you
have that don't involve breaking the law (and of course, being punished.)
There is a "main quest" so to speak and the game will guide you along it from
right when you exit the sewer. What happens if you decide to ignore the main
quest and go exploring for hours? Not besides whatever you find on your
adventure. You could come across a woman who lost her cat, find it for her,
and the same man you're supposed to speak to will still be waiting for you
back in his house with his arms crossed. Doesn't matter how long it takes.
But what happens if you happen to kill the man who is waiting for you, to tell
you where you need to go next? Well as both raders Lassie and Veritas have
reminded me, I made the error of stating that these people could be killed
making it impossible to progress with the main story. The fact is that in
reaity, the worst that you can ever do is knock them unconscious (from which
they will eventually wake.) It is not physically possible to do enough damage
to kill these characters, this way they make sure that you cannot get yourself
in permanent trouble. There are still some characters of some importance that
can be killed, but not if it hinders your main quest progress.
Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. In this game you have
the power to sneak into an old woman's house and take her spoon. You also
have the power to kill her. There has to be some kind of punishment for this
right? Well there is, and I'll explain how it works in this section. Each
crime has a certain "value" to it if you will depending on its severity. The
severity of these crimes is approximately ranked as follows: entering a
restricted area, stealing, violence, and murder. Let's look at each one:
Entering a restricted area means unlocking a door when the crosshairs is red.
This means the lock is one the door for a reason. In a dungeon you might find
a locked door, and no one cares if you open it or not. When you're in
someone's house and a the door to their bedroom is locked, breaking the lock
is going to get your in a bit of trouble. Sometimes you can even find
yourself in a restricted area without braking locks, but you'll usually be
told to leave and only get in trouble if you don't.
Stealing means one of two things, taking items that someone owns from their
dwelling, or their person (pickpocketing.) Stealing from someone's house or
business is easy, just hover your crosshairs over and item and press the space
bar to take it. If the hand symbol is red, this means the item belongs to
someone else and if you take it you're going to get in trouble. TO pickpocket
someone you need to activate sneak mode, and then come up on them without
being seen. Instead of talking to them you'll pick their pocket and have a
chance of being caught based on your sneak skill. Stealing is slightly more
illegal than entering a restricted area, but not as illegal as...
Violence! Run up to someone and punch them in the face? Suddenly you're the
bad guy in this situation. Fortunately there are some ground rules here since
violence can occur accidentally sometimes. If you attack someone by accident,
try holding the block button constantly and sometimes they will realize your
pacifist nature. While you are in combat with friendly NPCs helping you, you
can usually hit them once, or twice, or thrice and they'll call out angrily,
but not hold it against you unless you just don't stop. This is more of a
crime than either of the aforementioned ones, but not even close to...
Murder. When you kill an innocent person, and it's not out of self defense
then you are a murderer. No doubt about it. Run up to someone in their house
and punch them, that's violence. Keep punching and punching and don't stop
until they are a bloody heap on the floor, that's murder and you're going away
for a long time. Top of the crime chain right there. Now that we've looked
at all the various crimes, we'll see how the punishment system works.
First I really want to stress this fact, it's only a crime if you get caught.
There are issues with stolen items and vendors who won't buy them, but other
than that you're pretty clean. It's when you do get caught that the law comes
into play and they're pretty relentless. Being caught for a crime will
trigger one thing: the person who witnessed it (or was victimized by it) will
report it immediately to a nearby guard. This isn't a completely scripted
happenstance, depending on what kind of person they are they may be more or
less likely to report you, but for the most part you'll be getting in trouble.
Especially for shop owners, they love to really stick it to you.
Once a guard has been made aware of your crime, he or she will hunt you down
relentlessly. When they finally catch up, you'll have three options: Go to
jail, resist arrest, or pay a fine. Resisting arrest means the guard will
attack you, and a whole lot of other guards, and no matter what level you are
guards are always at a higher level. It's basically the "kill me" option.
Going to jail is an interesting, albeit non-preferable option. All of your
things will be confiscated when you are taken for the, the one exception being
a single lockpick if you have one. You have two options when in jail, waiting
it out or breaking out. To wait it out simply examine the bed and choose to
do so. You will have to wait one day for every 100 gold of bounty on your
head (bounty is discussed in the next paragraph) and for each one of these
days one skill will be decreased (tells you which ones after you get out.)
The exception to this rule are sneak and security which will get increased if
chosen, but since it's random it's a lot more likely to decrease something.
If you use your one lockpick to break out of jail, you'll have to sneak past
the many guards and find your equipment in the evidence chest. Breaking out
of jail will increase the bounty on your head as well. Not a good idea.
Finally you have the best option (aside from not committing a crime at all)
and that is to pay a fine if you can afford it. Nothing bad will happen if
you do this besides having the stuff you stole taken back. The amount you
have to pay is based on your bounty, which is approximately equal to the value
of the item you stole, based on the level of the person you attacked, and 1000
or more gold if you actually do kill someone. If you can't back away from a
crime this is the best option you have for making up for it.
Like most open-ended RPGs, Oblivion uses a quest-based gameplay system to
allow users to complete the game at their leisure. There are quests that fall
under various categories like "main game" and some that are simply
miscellaneous, while others are guild quests. Quests usually take the form of
"this needs to be done" and a location is marked on your compass. You go
there, do whatever needs to be done and come back for your reward and next
quest. Many of these quests progress the main story and many do not.
They're like factions, or groups of similar people who come together with a
common interest. There are three main guilds in this game that you can join,
but are not necessarily connected to the main story and they are: The Fighters
Guild, The Mage Guild and The Thieves Guild. Most guilds have locations in
each of the cities, with the Thieves Guild being the exception to that rule.
Typically to join a guild you simply enter the guild headquarters and ask to
become a member. The exceptions to this rule are the Thieves Guild, and the
Dark Brotherhood which I have no yet me