As with most RPGs, Oblivion has the player trying to save the world. The threat this time is from an invasion of demonic creatures called daedra from the dimension of Oblivion. Without spoiling the plot, very early on in the main story the player character can trigger the Oblivion event where gates to this hellish dimension start infesting the game world. The effect is quite impressive, with a few residents of Oblivion guarding the gate and the player being able to enter and shut it down by sneaking and assaulting his way through to the main tower inside Oblivion which binds that gate to the world. Except for a few quest instances, fighting in Oblivion isn’t mandatory but it’s a great way of picking up loot for trade, improving your combat skills and gathering rare ingredients for alchemy.
To be honest, however, we didn’t progress too far along our main quest – rather being sidelined by the Thieves Guild and Assassins Guild experience. Both provide more opportunities for sneaking, and theft, with the Assassins adding an unhealthy dose of murder and intrigue in the bargain. The setups for some quests between the two guilds are similar – the player in both instances has to involve himself with dealing with a traitor in the guild. The Thieves take a witty, Robin Hood-like approach to it. Our friendly neighborhood assassins, by contrast… well… they have a bloody solution like you might expect, but the scale of bloodshed is remarkable. Assassin missions also have a very dark sense of humor and hints of irony surrounding them. One mission in particular will be very satisfying to those who were annoyed by a certain character at the very start of the game.
The game world generally acknowledges the player’s change in status though not how he might like. After completing the Thieves Guild quests, for example, you’ll acquire a certain daedric artifact that was stolen from the daedra lord by a thief. Yet if you run into the followers of this cult and commune with the daedra himself through his statue, there’s no mention of it even if you’re wearing the item in question. Also, by joining the Assassins, the player becomes rather notorious and most characters do not like him from the get-go, just based off his reputation. You can compensate for this by playing the speech mini-game and trying to get others to like you, but it’s disappointing to see that a town you just saved from an Oblivion gate will acknowledge the fact in speech, yet still not change its actual attitudes towards you.
Of course, like with the rest of the issues with the game – it’s all the open possibilities that make this problem appear. There’s just no reasonable way to compensate for everything the player is going to do. In general however, the writing and presentation are quite good, with some moments of brilliance and others being a bit lacking, but the game definitely delivers the story well.