Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - 12/20 hours

Wow, time sure flies. I barely noticed the last four hours pass, so enthralled was I by the world of Cyrodil.

So, what was I doing that was so diverting? Walking, mostly. I also finished three quests, and raised to level 2. If that seems like a slow pace, well, I can't disagree, but I think it's intentional. I'm pretty sure Oscuro's Oblivion Overhaul does more than just make the game more difficult, I think it also puts the breaks on a lot of your normal Oblivion activities.

For example, in the normal game, in order to advance in the Thieves' Guild, you have to do a certain amount of "independent thievery." You can't get the first quest until you fence 50 gp worth of stuff and you can't get the second until you sell 100 gp of stolen goods. In the modded game, those values are increased to 100 and 500 gp, respectively.

It's a subtle change, one I would not have noticed if I hadn't been looking for it, but it alters the character of the challenge considerably. I have not yet noticed any differences in the Mage Guild quests, but that may be because, with the initial fast-travel points disabled, this already onerous quest line (you have to do a favor for the Guild in each of Cyrodil's major cities) didn't need additional padding.

In other mod news, I also unlocked the first of my Midas spells. To do so, I had to track down five bottles of Skooma, buy a gold nugget from Midas, and put them all into some kind of magical doohickey. That created an edible ingredient that taught me a spell (Midas' Greater Magic Missile) when I ate it.

The spell was kind of neat - a hefty destruction attack with a unique animation - but that's not why I chose it. Each of the spells in the mod has its own formula (requiring various gems, alchemical ingredients, and sigil stones, as well as the occasional odd ingredient like calipers), and the Magic Missile series was the easiest to get.

As an idea for an alternate magic system, it's kind of neat. You travel the land, unlocking occult secrets by gathering rare materials to fuel your magic, which rewards exploration and is nicely mysterious besides. However, from a utility standpoint, it has to compete with the standard magic system, and even though the Midas spells are pretty powerful, that power doesn't mean much when you can just buy or create a less powerful spell. I'd highly recommend it for when you feel like making Oblivion a lifestyle, but for a casual game, you'd probably stop playing before you even scratched the surface of the mod.

On the balance, I feel like the mods are creating a fuller and richer world, one which is meant to be chewed and digested at a more leisurely pace, and generally, I approve, but it's kind of an inconvenient time for me to discover this aspect of the game. I wouldn't necessarily put too much stock in my deadline, but I'm playing Skyrim after this, so I am planning on stopping at 20 hours, and as a result, the mods won't really have time to breathe.

It's a bit of a shame, but hey, I modded Skyrim too.

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