The Oblivion Paradox

Monday, April 10th 2006

(1 comment)

Elder Scrolls 4: OblivionOver the past week, I've been playing Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and I've been struggling against my obsession. Part of me wants to quit my job, lock myself in some basement where no one will ever find me, and play the game 24/7 until I expire of exhaustion. In other words, it's a good game.

But I find the leveling scheme in the game to be a bit paradoxical. While in most RPGs, you want to increase your character's level to gain power as quickly, Oblivion's system encourages slow leveling. I'm about to go into detail on the game's mechanics here, so if you don't play Oblivion you may just want to stop reading now.

When you increase any combination of your seven major skills by a total of ten points, you level up. If in that time you haven't raised minor skills by the maximum of five, you miss out on ever adding those points. And although you must rest to gain the actual benefits of leveling, the cutoff point happens as soon as that tenth point is gained and you receive the message indicating that you should "rest to meditate on what you've learned".

So although you can in theory raise a major skill ten points over the course of a level whereas you can only raise a minor skill by five points, you can only raise one major skill by ten points. So it would seem best to take skills you never plan to use and never plan to raise as your major skills. Now that is paradoxical.

I think my next character will be a fighter who uses a bit of magic. His major skills will be light armor, security, sneak, illusion, hand-to-hand, conjuration and blunt. If I could take basketweaving, I would. He will never wear light armor or fight with fists. He will very rarely pick locks, sneak, or use illusion or conjuration. He will usually raise his blunt skill by nine or ten points each level. And he will always raise his blade, block, armorer, heavy armor, alchemy, destruction, athletics, and marksman skills five points each level. This should also give me skill adds of five points per level. It may seem weird, but it apparently is the best way to level up in Oblivion.

Comments on The Oblivion Paradox
Comment Friday, April 28th 2006 by Brian Keller
I agree - it's definitely a weird system and it's a shame since it detracts from this otherwise perfect game IMO. One thing you may not have noticed is that most of the creatures in the world spawn based on your level. I realized this when my girlfriend (who is something like a level 4 or 5 right now) was playing the same quests I was but encountered enemies who were far weaker than the enemies I encounter as a level 23. What's up with that? There's really no incentive for me to level up!
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