Lush green forests, physics, horseback riding, action combat, quest markers: Oblivion took major steps in almost every way from its predecessor Morrowind. It might be difficult to imagine that those steps were revolutionary back then, but that is because The Elder Scrolls IV is 10 years old today.
Never had I been so hyped for a game as I was for the fourth instalment in The Elder Scrolls series. I ordered the collectors edition: the first and only collector’s edition I own to this day. I watched screenshots of the horses I could ride and watched a video of a wolf rolling down a hill over and over again.
Physics and horses in games are not that big a deal, even back then. However, they were huge improvements on Morrowind, that had no physics and only through a mod was horseback riding a very ugly option.
Oblivion took the RPG to the next level and was the first Elder Scrolls game that reached the mainstream audience. That last part came with a cost. Where Morrowind had more dept and options than its predecessors combined, Oblivion took a step back in terms of gameplay.
Medium armour was removed, you no longer had separate shoulder pieces, enchanting and magic spells were limited and we had to say farewell to spears and pole arms. TES IV was easily forgiven though, because it came with the most epic Elder Scrolls main-story to this date. Also: you could shoot a bucket with an arrow and it would move. Move, by actual physics!
10 years later we have been completely spoiled by Skyrim, but Oblivion holds up really well against its successor. You will have to overlook the outdated combat system and put a helmet over the ugly characters models, but if you can do that you will a colourful game with the best storytelling Bethesda has ever produced.
Happy 10 year anniversary to all the heroes of Kvatch!