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Role Playing (Games)

Living In Oblivion 296

The Elder Scrolls series is well known among PC gamers as the high water mark for an open-ended RPG experience. The series, set in the world of Tamriel, has a staggering breadth and depth thanks to the exacting standards of the team at Bethesda Softworks. The newest title in the line brings Tamriel to life in a manner that is renewing the faith of even the most jaded CRPG player. Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion may not be the perfect game for everyone. For those willing to give it a shot, Oblivion treats gamers with a level of respect that is unique, uplifting, and (hopefully) inspirational for game developers in all genres. Read on for my impressions of a truly unique game.
  • Title: Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
  • Developer: Bethesda Softworks
  • Publisher: 2K
  • System:PC (360)
The Computer Roleplaying Game (CRPG) genre consists of two poorly-wed sub-genres. These genres were forced together at gunpoint simply because of some passing similarities. On one hand, you have Japanese RPGs. These linear, turn-based titles are typified by the extremely popular Final Fantasy series. On the other hand you have Western RPGs, which can trace their roots to titles like Wizardry or the 'gold box' SSI games. More recent examples of this genre include the incredibly popular Bioware titles Neverwinter Nights and Knights of the Old Republic.

This latter category of CRPG is, regrettably, on the wane. The type of gamer who enjoys this genre has been drawn away by the promise of multiplayer interaction, either in MUDS or MOOs or in their more graphically advanced MMORPG offspring. Since the days of Baldur's Gate and Planescape: Torment fewer and fewer of these non-linear titles, with an emphasis on creating an actual role to play, have been lining shelves. The grandaddy of this genre is the previous chapter in the Elder Scrolls saga. Morrowind let you loose on an island nation with little more than a race, astrological symbol, and some skills. Once you were in the game there wasn't a single constraint on your actions. An advanced world editor ensured that a player who tired of the hundreds of hours of potential gameplay in the shipped title could download content from his fellow gamers. From the smallest item all the way to entire additional continents, this content has kept dedicated players busy since the game's launch in 2002.

These players can move on, finally, as Oblivion steps ably into its older brother's very big shoes. The level of polish this game displays is such that it is hard not to wander into hyperbole when describing what they got right. In point of fact, it's hard to nail down something they got wrong when keeping the genre as a whole in mind. There are, however, some big obstacles to enjoying the game. The most daunting can be a simple question of technology. A lot of game impressions seem to be based on the Xbox 360 version of the title, and for good reason. The 'recommended specs' on the side of the PC box could make anyone pause. A three gig processor, at least a gig of memory, and (if you're using Nvidia as your yardstick) a 6800 or better graphics card are what they suggest. I'll be honest, I don't reach the recommended specs. I've got a 2 gig processor and a 6600 card. Anticipating the game, I did upgrade to 2 gigs of memory as a stopgap measure, and I really noticed that purchase in the lightning-fast load times. Graphically, though, I know I'm not seeing the full experience. Unless you have a high-end rig, you're probably going to want to go with the 360 version. I'm told it has noticeable load times and some occasional control frustrations, but if your computer can't handle the title at least you can play the game.

The second roadblock potential players might encounter is one of the game's biggest strengths: the open-ended gameplay. Once you've finished the tutorial dungeon you're let loose with absolutely no strings attached. Tamriel is your world to explore, and you can do it however you wish. There is about 100x more direction in Oblivion than there was in Morrowind, and various gameplay elements make it much easier to get where you're going and know what you're doing. Just the same, if you like having a clear goal the freedom of Oblivon may throw you. The entrants in the Final Fantasy series look like barely interactive movies in comparison.

Finally, an aspect of the title that's throwing even dedicated players may prove to be the final straw for folks new to the series. There's no other way to say it: Oblivion is harsh. With freedom comes consequences, and for a certain kind of player Elder Scrolls IV may be a very frustrating experience. The best example of this philosophy is in character creation. It's entirely possible to create a useless character if you make the wrong choices. They give you an array of pre-generated character roles to choose from, and it's hard to go completely wrong if you pick one of those. If you so choose, however, you can roll your own class. If you really want to, you can set off into Tamriel with little or no experience in wielding a weapon. Oblivion is far more than your usual hack-and-slash, but there is still a lot of combat in the game, and such a character will probably have a very hard time of it. That combat, too, can be brutally unforgiving. Enemies throughout the land scale as you gain in strength, so the hope is that you won't ever come up against an opponent that's completely out of your league. Within your 'league', though, you can come up against enemies that are almost impossible to defeat. That can depend on the character just as much as the enemies involved, and either way the game isn't going to sit there and hold your hand.

With those caveats out of the way, I'll engage in just a little bit of hyperbole. Oblivion is the most engaging RPG I have ever played. It captures the essence of what makes tabletop roleplaying so enjoyable, and allows you as the player access to a sprawling and beautifully realized world of possibilities.

From the first moment you enter the world, the occupant of a dank jail cell, you'll be struck by the depth of the experience. A fellow prisoner makes rude comments to you from across the hallway, and the guards which appear at your door make no bones about their willingness to kill you. They're there guarding the emperor, who is fleeing an assassination attempt. Your tutorial for the game has you following the emperor (voiced by Patrick Stewart), and exploring a small cave system beneath the Imperial prison. Game elements are well explained, with numerous opportunities to practice combat tactics, stealth, and spellcasting. By the time you leave the cavern, you'll have chosen your race and class and borne witness to the death of the empire's leader. Blinking in the sudden light, on a grass-covered hill outside the Prison walls, you have a quest in your journal and a million options open before you.

This sense of freedom is Oblivion's most engaging quality. While the emperor asked with his dying breath that you travel to a Priory in the north and find his illegitimate son, you are under no obligation to do so. Ever. There is enough to do in the world of Tamriel that if you so choose you can spend the rest of your play experience happily ignoring the looming threat implied by the main quest. The main quest is well-written, and if you follow through with the line's goals you'll be rewarded through fame and fortune. Unlike other titles with the implication of 'freedom', Oblivion really does offer far more than just the central script. Just walking down a street in one of the many cities of the empire will allow you to overhear the possibility of adventure. The Non-Player Characters (NPCs) of Oblivion are wonderfully written, and all have their own very specific needs. Their AI puts them through a normal routine every in-game day, and causes the characters to interact in very realistic ways. While a peasant's normal day might involve working in a farm outside the city, stopping at a tavern for a meal, and then heading home for bed, it's possible that could be disrupted by the actions of another character. If it is, you can bet that there's a quest waiting for you.

This level of depth is supported by the game's many conveniences. The number of quests the citizens of Tamriel will throw your way would make it impossible to handle if you didn't have a good level of support. The game offers a featureful quest journal, which not only shows what quests you're on, but quests that you've completed and prior steps to ongoing quests. Quest goals are clearly marked on your world map, ensuring that even if you are unsure of what exactly to do you can always know where you're supposed to go. The game features a 'fast travel' system that can take some of the tedium of overland riding out of the game. If you do choose to travel overland, you'll encounter new adventure locales and opportunities for questing, but the option of moving quickly from place to place is really nice.

What you actually do on quest is extremely varied. While there are some quests that fit into the usual 'kill the x for me' or 'deliver this to so-and-so', a surprising number of them substantially differ from the norm. There are diplomatic missions, like the request from the invisible people of Aleswell. An entire village turned translucent by a thoughtless wizard wants you to go talk him into turning them back. The Thieves Guild quests primarily revolve around entering private areas and coming away clean with an item or items. One involved quest line I explored had me following around a merchant, who turned out to be purchasing his wares from a graverobber. While the quest line did end in a confrontation with the scoundrel, there was far more to the quest than simply 'go here and kill the bad guy'. Quests in Oblivion are deeply satisfying in a way that many RPGs (especially MMOGs) can't even approach.

All that said, if you're not in the mood for considered action there's always monster hunting to lighten the mood. Ruins are scattered liberally across the empire, and exploring them will lead you into numerous combat situations. Combat in Oblivion shares the same first-person melee setup that Morrowind used. You hack and slash at your foes from behind your character's eyes, resulting in an immediacy to combat that raises the blood pressure quite effectively. There are several ways to fight, each with its own distinct 'feel'. Melee combat has a great kinesthetic feel, with your character swaying and moving in time to the action. Slashing your weapon across your field of view is enormously satisfying, and creatures bleed profusely when poked. Melee skills have been simplified a great deal, with 'Blade', 'Blunt', and 'Hand-to-Hand' constituting the three main options you have in this field. If ranged combat is your preference, 'Marksman' is the skill you'll want. Drawing an arrow on a bow conveys a real sense of power, and the whistling sound that accompanies a flying projectile imparts your shots with a deadly beauty. Ranged combat is most useful, I've found, to use when stealthing. Entering 'stealth' mode allows you to move quietly and unseen through the halls of the dungeon. If you can get off a shot with your bow or blade while remaining undetected, your initial blow will do far more damage. You'll be doing a lot of combat throughout your adventuring career, so the fact that they just nailed the feel of chaotic encounters makes it hard to get bored while exploring the depths.

Every system, in fact, has the mark of quality stamped upon it. Magic is just as engaging as the combat elements, with different schools covering a wide variety of spell effects. Spells are broken out into separate schools, which don't directly tie together. You can choose, for example, to improve your ability to cast healing spells and ignore other spellcasting elements. If you want to broaden your scope, the different schools can be used in synergy to create excellent effects. Magic schools, sneaking, bladework, and shield blocking are all covered by skills which improve as you use them. 'Leveling up' occurs when you've crossed a certain threshold of skills points acquired. Your increase in power (both via level and skill increase) is visible and enjoyable, with benefits to your prowess in battle immediately apparent during gameplay. There are also non-combat skills, which are just as well thought out as the more violent sort. Lockpicking and Speechcraft are mini-games, and both allow access to secrets you might not otherwise ever see. You can repair your armor or brew potions, as you'd like. You can leap from rooftop to rooftop to improve your Acrobatics, and haggle with merchants to improve Mercantile. The tapestry of skills works so well because not only do they hang well separately, they mesh together into a cohesive whole. Your character, as your window into Tamriel, manages to be just as interesting as the NPCs around you. You can actually find that you surprise yourself with what you can do, a truly rare treat for any game.

All of these well-crafted systems would be fun even if the game only looked 'okay.' What makes Oblivion so easy to lose yourself in, though, is the visual quality and audio presence the designers have lovingly applied to the entire experience. NPCs look at you with expressive eyes and delicate features. Enemy creatures attack with movement appropriate to their style of combat, and light winds stir the grasses around you while you sit and stare up at the beautiful sky. Tamriel is a gorgeous world, and the visual experience completes the powerful force pulling you into the gameworld. There are a lot of 'wow' moments, but what I enjoyed most about the graphical presentation is that after a time you just stop noticing it. Everything looks just right, and makes it easy to slip into your alternate persona.

There's just so much right about this game, it makes me actually a little sad. The strong statements made by the developers are entirely admirable: a harsh and open world where the player is empowered. Those same statements will put off a lot of gamers because we are just not taught to expect much of ourselves when we game. The power, beauty, and depth of this gameworld should be experienced by as many people as possible, and because of the bad lessons taught by other games there are a lot of people that are going to say 'that's not for me'. Oblivion is a game that forces you to make decisions with real consequences, a game that plays out those consequences on the world, and teaches you as the player to think fast and play for keeps. It's real life, packaged into a fantasy format and with a handy quest journal that I constantly find myself missing as I do chores around the house. It does what other games are afraid to do: it respects you. The finest compliment for a game that allows you to fill a role is to find yourself actually believing the role, and Bethesda has given you every tool you need to go off and be your very own hero. In an escapist niche of an escapist hobby, there's not much more you can ask for than that.
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Living In Oblivion

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  • Truly Great (Score:4, Informative)

    by XMilkProject ( 935232 ) on Friday March 31, 2006 @03:48PM (#15036327) Homepage
    A truly great game. I've been playing an awful lot since it came out a few days ago. I think the reviewer was spot on when he said that the player is given respect in the game. Theres no other way to describe it.

    Oh, and this wouldn't be a game review without some tips!

    Go find Dorian's house in the Tolas district of Imperial City. Kill him, and you can take an unlimited supply of money off of him. As much as your willing to take at 8gp per button press.
  • by Nightspirit ( 846159 ) on Friday March 31, 2006 @03:51PM (#15036345)
    Before buying the game, see if there is a demo available. Right now the game has a decent amount of bugs, and it has problems running on alot of systems, including xbox360s. Some people with cutting edge hardware are having low fps issues whilesome people with lower end video cards are running fine. The xbox360 is having harddrive cache problems, ruining saved games, while alot of people on PCs are crashing to desktop.

    I'm enjoying the game, but it is frustrating. however, I would advise others to wait for a patch, unless you can't restrain yourselves.

    Here is the technical board for those interested:
    http://www.elderscrolls.com/forums/index.php?s=9df 99cc632d35dd16ee09edf8a56b38a&showforum=23 [elderscrolls.com]
  • Before you Buy! (Score:5, Informative)

    by bahwi ( 43111 ) on Friday March 31, 2006 @03:52PM (#15036355)
    Before you buy, check the forums(which are completely negative with people convined no one ever, anywhere, has gotten the game to work, ignore thoses posts). Look for stuff on your video card. What runs Doom3 in High may only run Oblivion on Low, and what runs Doom3 on med may not even run it(or it may). My ATI 9800 Pro was nothing to it, barely ran, slowly, and very low framerate. I should have bought a 360 and the game on 360 but I want to be avail for plugins. Now I'm sli geforce 6800gs w/ 1gb ram and it runs high quality, but just barely, and slows down sometimes. But, it's incredibly beautiful, and very worth it. I think the 360 version will do plugins with the hard drive though, but I'm not sure, and I'm not much of a console gamer to begin with.

    So, check your stuff out, but it's completely worth it. It requires Shader 3, so half life w/ HDR doesn't mean Oblivion w/ HDR. It's an intensive game, well worth it, but intensive. Your once top of the line comp is obsoleted by this next generation game.

    And I hear GeForce FX series support is bad, ultra-low quality, etc... So 6000/7000 series, ATI 9500 or up to run, but my 9800 Pro was low quality, so be prepared.

    But definately worth it. Man, pushes the limits of gaming.
  • by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Friday March 31, 2006 @03:59PM (#15036414)
    One thing Zonk didn't mention is that as you go through the initial dungeon, your character is "classless". At the end, the game suggests in a clever fashion what class might be well-suited for you based on your actions up to that point. I've only played through the starting dungeon once, but it guessed closely enough that I went ahead and took its suggestion. You can choose a different class or create a custom class, though, just like in Morrowind.

    Another thing Zonk didn't mention is that the official forums are rife with reports of crash bugs. While the gameplay is relatively low on bugs, the game itself is prone to dropping some people to the desktop, apparently dependent on other unrelated software they may have installed, such as third-party codec collections or certain printer drivers (though in some cases, it's nigh impossible to track down the problem). One hopes that Bethesda is diligently working to resolve these issues, but they've been notably silent on the situation so far.

  • by quantax ( 12175 ) on Friday March 31, 2006 @04:07PM (#15036487) Homepage
    I bought this the day it arrived in stores without hesitation, being a major fan of Morrowind and its expansions and have not stopped playing it since. There is one, MAJOR thing the author forgot in his piece: mods. While the Xbox360 version will ensure that you can play the game smoothly at high graphical settings, the PC version will ensure that you can play the game the way you prefer through mods, which is something pretty major. A couple things I do not like about Oblivion:

    1. Interface is gigantic (as it was made for both console & PC but no effort was made to make a smaller interface for PC) and the world map forces you to view it through a keyhole.
    2. Magic users imo get too little mana to work with, this is especially fustrating in combat situations
    3. Wild life attacks you for no reason; when you (IRL) walk through the forest, rats do not attack you unless theyre rabid or some shit. Same for crabs and such. In Oblivion, all animals harbor an extreme hatred towards people apparently and attack on sight regardless of their place on the food chain. Kinda dumb.

    You know whats great about these annoyances? The game has been out for almost 2 weeks and mods have fixed each of these annoyances; theres a mod that makes the interface a nice size for PCs as well as making the map fullscreen, makes wild life act like real animals, and I personally made a mod that gives characters more mana per levels of intelligence (the games mana equation works as such: mana = Intelligence x 2, my mod just changes that multiplier; its a simple fix until I can make a script that involves the actual character level). And these are mostly just tweaks, give it another six months to a year and we'll have some original user content as well; quests, new lands, you name it. This is what made Morrowind go from a game I played for a month to a game I played for atleast 6 months, since I could go online and find new ways to enhance the game when I got bored.

    This is a great game and it will only get better with time.

    For those looking for mods, the two main sites I know of right now are:
    Tes Source [tessource.net]
    PlanetElderscrolls [gamespy.com]
  • Re:Truly Great (Score:3, Informative)

    by Cheapy ( 809643 ) on Friday March 31, 2006 @04:11PM (#15036511)
    That's not a 'tip', that's a cheat.

    A tip would be how to join the Thieve's Guild for those who can't figure it out, or where to find Welkynd stones.
  • Re:Fatally flawed (Score:4, Informative)

    by nastilon ( 525562 ) on Friday March 31, 2006 @04:29PM (#15036696)
    Basically, there are two scenarios -

    1) Outdoor combat - These creatures/monsters are by default the same level as your person. That is, after you hit level 20 the likelihood of finding a troll (lvl 12 or so) out in the wilderness is 0. Therefore, after a certain point in the game you no longer find ANY low to mid-game creatures other than basic rats and crabs which do not progress.

        - There is a modder who has reintroduced all varieties of npcs to the game in outdoor regions, and made multiples spawn. Which means, you have a larger range of critters you will encounter now. This should have been in the game in the first place.

    2) Indoor combat - These, so far, are all scaled to your level. So if you go in a dungeon, it is always going to be your same level. This begs the question, what if I go in a dungeon, find it too hard, can I come back later and try that dungeon and clear it out? No, if you come back, the monsters have accordingly been scaled to your level again. So, the dungeons are static, but the critters are always dynamic for dungeons. This means that you are "supposed" to get better skillz in the game to take down those creatures, instead of levelling.

        - There is no point to levelling then, because the traditional view of "What is a level?" means your character grows stronger, gains new abilities, etc. You may gain new abilities, but since the enemy strength always will be the same as your own, there is no notion of advancement, it is entirely constant.

        - There are mods to improve indoor and outdoor combat indirectly, which modify the armor that npcs wear. This means that non-monster types will not be wearing the most uber gear. However, the top tiered enemies in other monster groups will always level with you, and chances are they do not wear armor. What the equipment mods do do though is make sure that there aren't poor villages equipped with the phat loot that should have been impossible for them to get. You go to a village in the north, you expect people to be wearing fur armor, etc. Instead they are wearing heavy daedric (enchanted plate) armor, yea that is cool.

  • Re:Truly Great (Score:3, Informative)

    by snuf23 ( 182335 ) on Friday March 31, 2006 @04:37PM (#15036781)
    David Marcus: "He cheated."

    Kirk: "I changed the conditions of the test. I got a commendation for original thinking. I don't like to lose"
  • Re:Worst part: (Score:2, Informative)

    by taracta ( 217357 ) on Friday March 31, 2006 @04:50PM (#15036903)
    So do you think that the bandits and other just sit there and wait for you to come back at your leisure to kill them? Or do they also go about their business while you go about yours and learn where to get better stuff and get their levels up just as you do? They are intelligent too! Too much of the old methods of dragons that are smarter than you, bigger than you, stronger than you, wiser than you, getting defeated by you because you went away and level up. That did never make sense to me and I was glad when D20 changed this perception for tabletop games. Now that Orc that you left to go level up has also gained level because he lives in the wild and untamed wilderness so it would be smart of him to do so. I think what they have done in Oblivion is the right thing and if you are having difficulty just change the level of difficulty and vice-versa. If you are too lazy to do that, then please continue to be lazy and not post gripes about easily correctible "features" and keep it to yourself. Most of the gripes I am seeing are either game option correctable or a misunderstanding of what is required by the game to do what it does. People will upgrade their computer with graphics cards, memory, etc. for Doom, Quake, HL, Fear, etc. which are mostly in enclosed environments but think it hard to upgrade for Oblivion with the same or better graphics but has a massive outdoor environment wherein which you can see the actual mountains, building, etc. that are miles away but still expect it to render flawlessly on their weak graphics cards. Get real people, this game is most likely the most graphically intensive game there is in terms of vectors and shaders and they pulled it off. I have nothing but praise for their skills and choices.
  • by Grip3n ( 470031 ) on Friday March 31, 2006 @05:04PM (#15037060) Homepage
    I would certainly echo the sentiments made by several users here. If you're planning to run this on your PC, you might want to take some inventory as to what you've got. I personally am running on a AMD Athlon 3500+ with an ATI 9700 at 1024 x 768 resolution. Yes, it needs to be that low. The game still looks phenominal, but I would sure love to be able to crank it a little higher. I used to run at 1152 x 864, but close combat yielded around 4 FPS - not the greatest time for slowdowns.

    However, there are a number of little tweaks you can do to get the game running a bit better. The following is a link to 5 pages of optimization techniques specifically for Oblivion, and largely revolve around editing an .ini file the game uses for its settings. They're quite simple, and yield good results.

    http://www.atomicmpc.com.au/article.asp?CIID=36222 [atomicmpc.com.au]
  • Re:Fatally flawed (Score:2, Informative)

    by nastilon ( 525562 ) on Friday March 31, 2006 @05:23PM (#15037225)
    Sure, there is one mod by Winterborne that does the outside animal/monster spawns, there is another that handles equipment rarity, by PlasticFoamMan or TomServo. All of these can be found on tessource.net I believe in the gameplay file section.

    So far I have just been using the outdoor mod, the equipment rarity one, and the one that lowers alchemy appartus weight. I have not had any crashes while using any of those mods, and I have heavily twinked my ini file for graphics performance as well, so I think they are probably fine.

    TomServo's mod
    http://www.elderscrolls.com/forums/index.php?showt opic=311609&hl=plasticfoam [elderscrolls.com]

    PlasticFoamMan's mod
    http://www.elderscrolls.com/forums/index.php?showt opic=321340 [elderscrolls.com]

    - Only use one of those mods, not both, find out which one has the features you like best and use it.

    WinterborneTE's mod
    http://www.elderscrolls.com/forums/index.php?showt opic=307955 [elderscrolls.com]

    There is also a mod that makes steel more powerful as it is the normal type of armor that everybody should be using. I am not sure on who makes that or the link.

  • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Friday March 31, 2006 @05:34PM (#15037336) Journal
    "ome people with cutting edge hardware are having low fps issues whilesome people with lower end video cards are running fine."

    As someone who actually has Oblivion and a pretty high end system, including a 7800 GTX, I can also tell you why: because us with high-end bastards pull the graphics details sliders to the max, while those low-end guys know how to be sane and tweak it.

    Yeah, I've had performance problems too, because of too much grass. "Auugh! The game stutters on my high-end system! It must be buggy!" Not so. It was just that my settings made it draw half a million grass sprites, with transparency anti-aliasing at that, 16x aniso, and v-sync. Turning grass off made the game play smooth as silk even at maximum visual settings otherwise, and as an added bonus, it also made alchemy plants easier to spot.

    And the funny thing is, I could swear that it actually looks better this way. All the flowers and rocks and mushrooms and fallen logs, actually look better and more diverse than a fairly uniform sea of grass.

    So basically, the hint is: even if you have a top-end system, do take the time to experiment with the quality settings. Most games nowadays allow for detail levels that would need at least top-end SLI, the latest Athlon 64 FX and 2-4 GB RAM. But just because it's there, doesn't mean you _must_ use it. Unless you actually have that kind of overkill hardware, well, settle for something more suitable to what you actually have. Chances are it won't look that much worse anyway.
  • Re:Truly Great (Score:2, Informative)

    by hayden_l ( 703045 ) on Friday March 31, 2006 @05:52PM (#15037493)
    You can bump the 8gp upwards of 300gp if you use the persuasion mini-game to force your rep down then bribe it back up. I was able to get him to have 473gp a button press.
  • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Saturday April 01, 2006 @02:43AM (#15040479) Journal
    It took me two days to realize the obvious, so I'm posting it here, in case it helps someone else: you can also scroll down in the video options page for more options, such as grass density.

    Basically while editing the INI file is more flexible indeed, one doesn't even have to go that far to turn off grass. A quick scroll down to that slider is something any gamer can do, if they feel intimidated by editing INI files.
  • by falconx7 ( 447933 ) on Saturday April 01, 2006 @12:55PM (#15042103)
    You apparently haven't played the game because it doesn't work like this. Those rodents of unusual size become trivial later in the game. One hit kills, or maybe some fun for a skill you usually don't use like hand-to-hand. Then there's some mobs that are like your dragons and are damn near impossible at low levels like Umbra.

    The only difference is that they aren't completely impossible, you always have some sort of chance, its just when something is 5 levels above you and you're level 1-5, that guys massively more powerful than you. When you're level 20 though, he's only 25% more powerful. He's still a challenge but nowhere near as much as he used to be. After 80 hours of gameplay, i'm pretty satisfied with this end of things, it's not perfect but its pretty well done. It certainly doesn't suck like morrowind, I never got far in that game because the combat annoyed me.

"The C Programming Language -- A language which combines the flexibility of assembly language with the power of assembly language."