The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion released 15 years ago to the day on March 20th, 2006. Oblivion was one of the most critically celebrated games of all time when it released. Critics and fans alike raved about the games deep role-playing systems as well as its ease of play and overall ambition. The game was a commercial success as well, selling 3 million copies by January 2007.
Oblivion released during the Xbox 360 launch window and was the second game in The Elder Scrolls series to arrive on an Xbox console. Oblivion eventually landed on the PS3 a year after the 360 version and even sported improved graphics in addition to more content, but it always felt like an “Xbox game” (from a consoles players point of view at least)
The game felt specifically built with the 360 in mind, and Todd Howard even wrote about the 360/Oblivion days after the Xbox-Bethesda acquisition. Oblivion was one of the best selling Xbox games of all time and became one of the games you had to own. Morrowind, the previous entry in the series, arrived on the original Xbox on June 6, 2002 and was exclusive to the Xbox console, and was that first baby step in the growing partnership between Xbox and Bethesda.
Oblivion was an incredible game and ended up being one of the defining early games of that generation. It was mind-blowingly ambitious on release and was an amazing example of Xbox 360 hardware capability. It really wasn’t until Fallout 3 released two years later that the ambitions of Oblivion would be matched.
Personally, Oblivion was a defining moment in my journey as a video game fan. I didn’t come to the game when it launched, mainly because I didn’t own a 360 at the time, but I was introduced to the game a few years later. During the 360 years, my main game of choice was Halo. It took a special game to take my attention away from the Master Chief and his adventures; Oblivion just happened to be that game.
I distinctly remember being blown away by just how big the game felt. I had never played a game with a scope as massive, a world so rich with a myriad of details, with an engaging story to hold it up. It truly felt like I was playing a “next generation” game. Oblivion was able to capture that bit of magic that only video games can capture. It might feel a little clunky compared to most modern RPG’s nowadays, but it paved the way for those games to exist, and it’ll always be special to me for that.
15 years later, and we haven’t seen a single player focused Elder Scrolls game since 2011’s Skyrim. This of course, was also an enormous commercial success, releasing on…well – everything – and selling millions of copies.
In 2018, Bethesda announced Elder Scrolls VI was in development, and that’s all we’ve heard so far. While it was an exciting moment for Elder Scrolls fans, it showed frustratingly little. Lush green valleys and distant moutains and is that the ruin of a settlement of sorts I spy? It’s not been confirmed as of yet exactly where in the in-game universe this new saga is set, and fans have plenty of theories.
2021 is now firmly underway, and Bethesda are now exclusive to Xbox (aside from the odd contractual commitment here and there) and the Elder Scrolls VI will be coming to Game Pass on day one. Starfield, Bethesda’s next mysterious adventure and first all new franchise in two decades, is rumored to be releasing as soon as this year, though this has yet to be officially confirmed. While I legitimately believe that Starfield could do for the Xbox Series S|X what Oblivion did for the Xbox 360, the world of The Elder Scrolls is the one I’m most keen to return to.
Bethesda are one of the very few studios that create a sense of magic with their games and the games on the horizon seem to be no exception. I for one, can’t wait to experience the magic all over again. Show me mountains, Todd.