Randomly started playing Oblivion yesterday. I thought I had played it semi-recently, but it turns out I haven’t played it since I got my current Xbox 360 (which was years ago). I was kinda bummed at first, because this meant that not only did I have to start from the beginning, but I had also lost access the character I had put so many weeks (months) into on my old save. Over it now though.

It’s been surprisingly enjoyable starting from scratch, actually. There’s something quite motivating about being able to get achievements for everything – which is an experience I don’t get too often with Skyrim these days. It’s also interesting because it’s been long enough since I last played that I’ve forgotten a lot of things – meaning most of the quests feel quite fresh.

I was always a little bit critical of the Elder Scrolls series’ “realistic” (read: brown) visuals and generic fantasy setting, preferring to play JRPGs like Grandia, Final Fantasy and the Tales series. Recently, however, I’ve come to respect Western RPGs a lot more, as while their character development and visual creativity are often lacking, their immersive qualities are far superior. It also helps that I’m a bit of a Dungeons & Dragons fan – and am slowly beginning to see the increased similarities these games have to traditional tabletop role playing games, when compared to their eastern counterparts.

Contrary to what my game collection might suggest, I’m not actually a huge fan of action/hack & slash games. So, whilst I adored the Action RPG genre for creating a more streamlined role playing experience, I was a little annoyed at how the subgenre basically stuffed all the non-combat elements in the fridge. Games like Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance (lets remember, I’m a console gamer here) tried to emulate the Dungeons & Dragons experience as much as they could, but important (to me, at least) elements such as stealth and diplomacy, were nowhere to be found.

The Elder Scrolls and Fallout series contained some of the first games I’ve played that could allow, and encourage, a brains over brawn aspect to problem-solving; with skills such as lock-picking and smithing allowing players to approach their objectives in a greater variety of ways. And that, combined with the expansive settings and mythologies of the two series, has allowed me to look past their lack of flash and spectacle, and enjoy them for what they are.

Come to think of it, I think I play these games partially to make up for the lack of actual Dungeons & Dragons in my life. Because they can kind of feel like a single player tabletop rpg… just one with a very detailed GUI. And a controller.

Anyhoo… I’m playing like a thief-mage hybrid kinda character. Which is pretty revolutionary for me, considering I usually play a mage-thief kinda character  in games of this type. Or, y’know, whatever keeps me as far from melee combat as possible.


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