Sunday, September 1, 2013

Why Oblivion Is Better Than Skyrim

I’ve decided to try to stick to a bi-weekly release schedule, which means I'm late. While there’s a number of things I could review (Divekick, You’re Next, Now You See Me, Stoker, Kick-Ass 2, Jeff Who Lives at Home, Visitor Q), I just don’t feel like it. So I figured I’d try something else and see how it goes.

Before I go into why it is that Oblivion is superior to Skyrim, I think it’s important to establish how I feel about the Elder Scrolls series as a whole. Theoretically, I’d say The Elder Scrolls is the most appealing, ambitious, awe-inspiring idea in games (that's not to say it's the most creative or interesting or anything else that actually deserves acclaim). I’d say we can all agree that what we ultimately want from The Elder Scrolls is a perfect simulation of life in a fantasy realm. I’d say we can also all agree that none of the Elder Scrolls games have come even remotely close to achieving this. Of course, it would be unreasonable to expect such a thing with the extremely limited technology of today. We would need computers a hundred thousand times stronger than those we currently use to be able to run such a game. If we ever do get this game, it would be more than just a game, it would be another reality. Because it would be another reality, we wouldn't want it to adhere to game design philosophies because we wouldn't want to notice the fact that it was artificially created. Unfortunately, we don’t have that game, so we'll have to make do with The Elder Scrolls as we currently know it. And while it is a game, it should approach its gameyness cautiously. It should strive for immersion, but not realism. Realism is hard to do. Perhaps it should not try to create an illusory living, breathing world, but instead create a world that functions as a vessel for good gameplay.

I'd also like to say I'm not going to address the many, many flaws with the Elder Scrolls franchise. That's not what I'm writing about.

Let's begin. 

If I were to put my reasons for liking Oblivion more than Skyrim into one word, it would be “smooth”. That’s it, really. Oblivion is damn smooth. It’s really the only smooth Bethesda game.