The first Elder Scrolls title I played was Skyrim, and after a few hours of running around, picking up flowers, talking to crisp packets and slaying my very first dragon, I promptly stopped playing altogether.
I’m not saying Skyrim was a bad game. In fact, from what I’ve seen and tried to play if it since my first toe-dipping, it’s freakin’ fantastic. It’s not difficult to see what all the fuss (ro dah) was about. It was just too big for me. My concentration never managed to latch appropriately onto the game. Maybe I just didn’t feel like an RPG at the time.
About a week ago, I decided to play some Oblivion, which I’d had similar experiences with since abandoning Skyrim. I’m not sure what was different, but something clicked. Suddenly, I was fireballing rats and failing to protect the Emperor like nobody’s business. Wolves live in fear of me. NPCs cower at the thought of coming off as rude and being callously cut down, before hastily returning to life in the quicksave prior.
I’m a bit of a cheater. One thing I’ve never liked about the Elder Scrolls games – more so in Oblivion than Skyrim – is the limitations of carry weight. So I maaaaybe downloaded a mod which extended my carry weight from 210 to somewhere along the lines of 37,000. I’m a magical Pak Yak masquerading as an Argonian, and it’s goddamn spectacular. That being said, I don’t pick up everything I see. If I’m aware that I have a Dremora Mace in my inventory, I don’t typically pick up one of the other thirty thousand laying around the place. If it’s light, like the good old Deadric Heart, then I’ll probably shove more than a fair share in my endlessly expanding pockets. (I’m quite a sight when I rock up to the Imperial City with my pockets trailing behind me like Santa’s sack.)
I also turned the difficulty down, because I’m an awful gamer. It was default up until the siege of Kvatch, where I was met with a stretch of maybe 15 demons and nowhere to replenish resources. I turned the difficulty down just a smidgen, just a little tiny bit, and I was suddenly dispatching scamps in two swings instead of twelve. I’m not entirely sure what kind of scaling that is, but I’m not going to question it. I’ve been able to experience much more of the game in a shorter span of time due to it.
All jokes aside, I actually find myself interacting with the story and paying attention to characters and plot, far more so than I did in Skyrim. I don’t have the best attention span as a gamer, so this is a rare treat. Oblivion’s gameplay is tugging at me to try out Skyrim again, which I know harbors many improvements in niche, quality-of-life areas. But I’m forcing myself to stay with Oblivion for now, maybe to the extent of finding a quiet corner and reading through the fifty books I picked up to learn a little more about this world which I so ceaselessly charge through without much of a second thought.