The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is the fourth installment in Bethesda Softworks's Elder Scrolls series of Computer Role-Playing Games (CRPGs). According to the developers, the game is one "where you could be whoever you wanted and do whatever you wanted".
The game takes place on the fictional planet of Nirn, in the Imperial province of Cyrodiil, the capital of the Empire of Tamriel. The interactive environment is made up of fantastical creatures, magic, medieval-style combat, and endless adventure and exploration. No particular role is forced on the player; rather, it is up to him or her to decide whether to become a virtuous hero, an evil overlord, or anything in between. The player character's reputation is determined by his or her actions, behavior, and dialogue choices throughout the game.
The main story begins with the player character locked up in the Imperial prison. The player learns that the Emperor - Uriel Septim VII - is the target of a powerful group of cultist assassins. As the Emperor rushes to escape the city with his guards, he enters the player's cell and uses a secret passage located within. The assassins follow and manage to murder the Emperor. With his dying breath, the Emperor pardons the player's unknown crimes and gives him/her his amulet - which can only be worn by his heir - and a task: to "close shut the jaws of Oblivion". The player character is now free, but not without some disheartening knowledge: the gates of Oblivion will open, and chaos and destruction will spread across Cyrodiil unless they can stop it.
The player can also choose to join multiple factions separate from the main storyline, specifically the Fighters Guild, the Mages Guild, the Thieves Guild, and the Dark Brotherhood of Assassins. Each faction offers board, services, and other useful benefits to its members, and by performing quests for a faction, the player can rise in its ranks, even becoming the leader of that faction.
Countless quests send the player across a vast, richly detailed landmass complete with cities, villages, harbors, ruins, dungeons, and a variety of wilderness locales in between.
One of the more enticing features of Oblivion is that, even after all quests have been completed in all ways possible, and everything has been explored (which can be expected to take around 300 hours), gameplay can be extended with expansion "mods". Bethesda has released nine official plug-ins and one full expansion pack for Oblivion. In addition, PC players have access to countless third-party mods created by other Elder Scrolls fans. The game's Construction Set allows anyone to expand the game world with new lands and quests and the creation of new items and characters.
The game was originally released on March 20, 2006 for two platforms: PC and Xbox 360. A year later, on March 20, 2007, it was also released for the PS3. Gameplay on all three platforms is fundamentally similar: the quests, places, items, and characters are the same. Most information on this site is equally applicable to anyone playing the game. The main differences are in add-ons to the game:
- The PC provides access to a Console and Construction Set that allow gameplay to be modified, and also allows the installation of third-party mods; neither the Xbox 360 nor PS3 versions of the game have access to these features.
- The PS3 version of the game comes with Knights of the Nine already included; Xbox 360 and PC players will have to purchase that plug-in separately.
- The other eight official plug-ins are not available on PS3, but are all available on both Xbox 360 and PC.
- The Shivering Isles expansion is available on all three platforms.
The game was originally rated T (Teen, 13+) by ESRB. However, on May 3, 2006, it was re-rated to M (Mature, 17+) due to various factors, including nudity that could be exposed using third-party mods. Other than the box cover, there is no difference between the original T and the subsequent M version of the game.
The version number of the original game was 1.0.228. Two main patches were subsequently released to fix issues, including game-crashing bugs and exploitable glitches: version 1.1.511 (version 1.1) was released on June 6, 2006; Version 1.2.0214 (version 1.2) was released on March 23, 2007. The discovery of the Reference Bug necessitated a final patch to fix that one issue, Version 1.2.0416 (version 1.2.1) released on April 30, 2007. The full-length version names are those displayed on the PC whereas the shorter names are those displayed on Xbox 360.
A Game of the Year (GotY) edition of Oblivion was released on September 10, 2007 (for PC and Xbox 360; October 16 2007 for PS3). The GotY version of the game is the equivalent of the original, patched to version 1.2.1 with the addition of the Knights of the Nine plug-in and the Shivering Isles expansion. The other eight official plug-ins are not included in the GotY edition.
The Fifth Anniversary Edition was released on June 12, 2011. Only 200,000 copies were made available. This version comes with a Game of the Year edition of the game, a map of Cyrodiil and the Shivering Isles, a "Making of Oblivion" DVD (the same DVD included with the Collector's Edition with an added Skyrim trailer), and, in the North American edition, a coupon to buy Skyrim slightly cheaper.
Development on Oblivion started shortly after Morrowind's release in 2002. The release date was originally set for the holidays 2005. Bethesda Softworks delayed the release of the game until early 2006 in order to fix minor bugs and polish the game. It was shipped on March 20, 2006.