Oblivion vs Skyrim – Which is a Better Quest Game?

Oblivion vs Skyrim – Which is a Better Quest Game?

Oblivion vs Skyrim, Daedra vs dragons, it’s an argument that has been raging in the TES forums for years now. Skyrim is the fifth game in the Elder Scrolls series developed by Bethesda Softworks, and while it vastly improves aspects like combat and action, it lacks sufficient information about its lore and backstory like you’d see in the fourth elder scrolls game, Oblivion. Although Skyrim offers some lore from the previous series scattered in the books and dialogue, this information lacks a frame of reference. So, it can be difficult to match the events with dates.

Anytime a topic like this comes up, it usually brings up some form of an argument between enthusiasts of the games in question. Instantly, a group of fans would jump to the defense of each game, and probably rightfully so. Every game has good and bad aspects – even if the only good feature is just how hilariously bad it is.

Unfortunately, the love/hate debate isn’t as easy for Skyrim and Oblivion. Both games have strengths and weaknesses, and equally strong fan bases. Instead of simply saying one is better than the other, it makes more sense to compare to whom and why the game appeals. So now that we gear up for the release of Skyrim Anniversary Edition and we await  Elder Scrolls VI, there is no time like the present to compare these two gaming juggernauts.

Main Differences Between Oblivion vs Skyrim

The main differences between Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion vs Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim are:

  • Oblivion comes with more outdated graphics but with better and more interesting quest lines, not to mention a far superior main storyline. whereas Skyrim has great graphics but boring questlines.
  • Oblivion has simple mechanics and one-note combat. Whereas Skyrim has more nuanced, action-packed gameplay overall.
  • Skyrim has a much more modern and accessible leveling and character-building system. Whereas Oblivion sticks to a very RPG-heavy, DnD style setup.

A detailed comparison between Oblivion and Skyrim

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Attributes

In Skyrim, Strength, Speed, and the other six primary attributes from previous games no longer exist—there are only three attributes now: Health, Magicka, and Stamina. All races start with 100 in each attribute, with the exception of Altmer, who start with 150 Magicka.

Oblivion, on the other hand, used a system where the player would pick two key attributes from a batch of seven. Then they would select five minor attributes that they would like to focus on. This would determine the build/class of the character.

Enemy Scaling

In Skyrim, most enemies have a level range, restricting their leveling to a minimum and maximum levels. Whereas Oblivion has an enemy scaling system that grows in tandem with the player, which works in the early and mid-stages of the game but leads to excessively tanky foes in the latter stages of the game which can be frustrating.

Armor and Weapon Condition

In Skyrim, armor and weapons do not degrade or break but can be improved. Whereas in Oblivion, there is a weapon health condition stat which will lower with use of each weapon. This is a much more realistic and immersive aspect of this TES game, and it also avoids the annoying trope in other titles which renders weapons useless when they reach 0%. We are looking at you Breath of the Wild. Plus, weapons will do less and less damage as they degrade in condition. 

Lycanthropy

In Oblivion, you cannot become a werewolf.

Necromancy

In Skyrim, undead can for the most part only be created by reanimating dead NPCs or creatures. In Oblivion, in addition to summoning undead from nothing, you can also reanimate dead NPCs (but not creatures) as undead minions.

Staffs

In Skyrim, staffs are one-handed (though they do not count as one-handed weapons) meaning they can be paired with either spell, other staff, shields, or other weapons.

In addition, they affect and are affected by their matching magic skill and perks (Staffs that shoot Fireballs are affected by destruction, while staffs that summon/banish dremora are affected by conjuration, etc.).

Major and Minor Skills 

In Skyrim, there are no major or minor skills; however, each race will have primary and secondary skills that start higher. All skills when raised add XP which will contribute to raising your overall level. However, when choosing your skills, the player has the freedom to choose what attributes and perks they raise and take. 

In Oblivion, your character has 7 major skills. Your level is dependent on these. Then you have minor skills which all act as a subcategory of these seven major skills. You raise your minor skill attributes over time through doing actions within that skill set. For example, you can raise athletics simply by running around. Then when you raise enough minor skills, you gain the opportunity to level up your main stats. The minor stats you have raised will determine the buffs on offer to you when you level up by sleeping.

Skill Perks 

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In Skyrim, as you level up, you earn perk points that are spent in trees corresponding to each skill. In Oblivion, each skill automatically receives perks at levels 25, 50, 75 and 100.

Smithing

In Skyrim, the smithing skill can be used to create weapons, armor, and jewelry. In Oblivion, the smithing skill does not exist. You cannot create your own weapons or armor; only repair existing ones.

Lockpicking

In Skyrim, lockpicking is based entirely on a mini-game, the difficulty of which is determined by your Lockpicking skill and the difficulty of the lock. 

In Oblivion, you can either let the game randomly determine lockpicking success based on your agility, security level, luck, and the difficulty of the lock, or you can play a lockpicking mini-game to manually pick the lock.

Being Over-Encumbered

In Skyrim, when over-encumbered, you may walk (very slowly) and jump (a short distance), but cannot run, sprint, or fast travel. In Oblivion, you cannot move at all while over-encumbered,

Altars

In Oblivion Altars can be used for free, though a large number of them require that you have visited a wayshrine for that deity. If your Infamy is greater than your Fame, you cannot use altars, except for some found in the official downloads.

In Skyrim, Altars can be used for free, but bonuses from multiple altars no longer stack. Furthermore, since Skyrim abandons the “fame/infamy” system of Oblivion, you are not limited in your ability to use altars in this way. Survival Mode requires a payment of gold to receive a blessing from an altar.

Birthsigns

In Oblivion, You choose a birthsign at character creation that gives your character special abilities. This cannot be changed. In addition, you may use a birthsign stone to grant an additional power, similar to the birthsign abilities, which can be changed but you may only have the power of one birthsign stone at a time.

In Skyrim, Standing stones replace traditional birthsigns and grant corresponding powers, which you may change at any time. With the Aetherial Crown (DG), two powers can be active at once.

Owning property

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In Oblivion you can buy houses of your own in Oblivion. Some houses require completion of a quest to become available. With larger houses, you may buy furnishings for each room after the initial purchase of the house.

Whereas in Skyrim. You can buy houses of your own in Skyrim. NPCs who have a high disposition for you will often allow you to take some of their less valuable items and even sleep in their beds.

Upon marrying someone, you will share ownership on all of your spouse’s property. With the Hearthfire DLC installed, you can build your own home and customize it with numerous furnishing options.

NPC Protection

Oblivion Essential NPCs cannot be killed but can be knocked unconscious. Essential NPCs have a crown for a talk icon. There are also respawning NPCs, most of whom are generic but several of whom are named.

Skyrim There are two levels of protection neither can be easily spotted. Essential NPCs cannot be killed, but can be knocked down (temporarily limp/crawl on their knees). Protected NPCs, upon losing a large amount of health, will kneel down and all enemies will disengage combat with them; they can only be killed by you.

All followers are Protected when following you. Some NPCs respawn, most of which are generic, but carriage drivers and a few others are named. Children cannot be harmed at all.

Moving objects

Oblivions Items can be freely moved and manipulated outside of your inventory using an allocated button. Moving an object that is owned counts as a crime if the act is witnessed. Inanimate object placement may change when you leave and return to the area.

In Skyrim there is no longer a dedicated key button for moving items, instead, items are moved by holding the button used to pick up items. Moving an owned object no longer counts as a crime.

Item scaling

Most loot in the Oblivion game is leveled, including a large amount of unique items and artifacts. Once acquired, the higher-level variants can not be obtained. Don’t expect to see the best stuff until you are at a high level.

Most unique items are no longer leveled, with some exceptions. Most non-unique loot is still leveled. Additionally, some items placed in the world can spawn as leveled items.

Fatigue

Your fatigue no longer drains while you are running in Oblivion. Running only slows the rate at which fatigue regenerates. Fatigue also no longer influences the effectiveness of spellcasting, etc..

In Skyrim Jumping, running, and standard attacks will not drain your stamina, but sprinting, using power attacks, and blocking will. Your stamina has no effect on spellcasting or combat chances.

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Diseases

In Oblivion there is only one class of disease, so one type of potion or a spell can cure all the diseases you may contract. The exception is Vampirism, which can only be cured through a lengthy quest. You can only contract Vampirism once—if you are cured of it, you can never become a vampire again

In Skyrim there is also only one class of disease, so one type of potion can cure all the diseases you may contract. The exceptions are Vampirism and Lycanthropy, the latter of which can only be cured through a lengthy process.

You have a limited number of times that you can become a werewolf again after being cured, so be careful when curing lycanthropy. This is changed with the Dawnguard add-on. (DG) You can become a vampire as often as you want.

Cursed Items

In Oblivion, the term “cursed items” refers to items that you can reverse-pickpocket onto NPCs and cause damage to them. The term also applies to the Staff of the Everscamp, but technically it is a quest item.

In Skyrim, the only cursed item is the Cursed Ring of Hircine, which automatically equips itself and forces you to randomly transform if you are a werewolf

Alchemy

In Oblivion, You can only make potions if you have two or more ingredients with matching effects. Only revealed effects will work. Creation failure is not possible at all. In Skyrim, so long as you know the recipes, you cannot fail to make a potion.

You can experiment with ingredients, but if none of their effects match, you will fail to make the potion, and the ingredients are consumed.

Detrimental potions

In Oblivion, a potion with only negative effects is a poison and can be applied to a weapon to give it extra effects. Any positive effects in the mix will prevent creating a poison. You cannot drink poison. Potions can be made at any time, anywhere, provided you have at least a Mortar and Pestle. The quality of your various alchemy apparatus determines the strength of the potion in addition to your skill and attributes.

Potion strength is determined by your Alchemy skill and, to some extent, your Luck. Fortify Alchemy effects can be found and created in-game, but are ineffective due to a bug.

For Skyrim, whether a mix creates a potion or a poison is determined by the most powerful effect. Potions may contain negative effects, or poisons positive ones. You cannot drink poison. There is a perk available to remove detrimental effects from potions, and positive effects from poisons, freeing up more combinations for use without side-effects.

Potions must be made at designated Alchemy Labs. There is no other equipment, and potion/poison strength is determined solely by your skills, perks, and enchantments. Potion strength is determined by your Alchemy skill, Fortify Alchemy enchantments and Alchemy perks

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Attack types

In Oblivion, there is only one type of attack initially, but other “power attacks” are learned as a player’s skill with a type of weapon increases. In Skyrim, normal attacks and “power attacks” are open to everyone, and certain perks unlock special power attacks. Also, in Skyrim, the player has the option to make use of dual wielding mechanics.

Blocking

The block button in oblivion triggers blocking. Blocking may be performed with shield, hands, or a weapon. In Skyrim, holding down the off-hand button triggers blocking if holding a shield, a two-handed weapon, or a single one-handed weapon. Attacking while blocking with a shield allows you to perform a bashing attack that staggers enemies.

Sets of armor 

In Oblivion, A full set of armor comprises six pieces: boots, greaves, cuirass, gauntlets, helmet, and shield. Clothing cannot be worn with armor on the same body part. Shields can be “equipped” with a two-handed weapon but will be useless, besides any enchantments.

In Skyrim, a full set of armor comprises five pieces: helmet, boots, a set of gauntlets, armor, and shield. Clothing cannot be worn with armor on the same body part. Using both hands for other purposes will unequip a shield.

Commerce

In Oblivion, Merchants can only buy individual items for less than or equal to that amount of gold they have shown available. Characters with high enough mercantile may invest extra money in the store so merchants have more gold. However, a merchant’s gold will go up or down relative to the amount you have allowed them to purchase or sell to you until you leave.

In Skyrim, A merchant’s gold goes up and down when you buy and sell, respectively, and resets every 48 hours. There are two perks to increase a merchant’s total gold.

Price haggling

Instead of changing the total cost or total earned during a transaction In Oblivion, you haggle to determine what percentage of an item’s value you buy and sell consistently. This hagging stat is affected by the disposition of the NPC towards the player. 

In Skyrim, The haggle percentage is predetermined and is based on your disposition with the merchant, your Speech level, as well as any Fortify Barter effects.

Crime

In Oblivion, Stolen items may not be sold to regular merchants (they will not appear in the trade menu). You must find fences from the Thieves Guild in order to sell stolen goods. The exceptions to this are Manheim Maulhand, a Dark Brotherhood Murderer, and Raven Biter (with the Shivering Isles expansion).

In Skyrim, Stolen goods may be sold to fences for Thieves Guild members, and regular merchants if you’ve invested in them and have the Fence perk.

Guards reaction

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In Oblivion, Guards will always attempt to arrest you if you break the law, and you can always be forgiven for your crimes through the proper channels. If your disposition with a guard is high enough they can forgive you for your crime without a fine.

In Skyrim, Guards will almost always attempt to arrest you. If you have a bounty of over a thousand gold, they will attack on-sight. If they witness you commit a minor crime such as petty thievery, and their disposition towards you is high enough, you can talk your way out of it.

If you are Thane of the hold, you can eliminate the charges, but you can only use this option one time per hold. If you are in the Thieves Guild, an option is sometimes present where you can bribe the guard to drop the charges

Jail

In Oblivion, When you choose to go to jail, you can try to pick the cell door lock and escape, but that will add to your bounty. You will always be equipped with one lockpick when placed in a cell and you can retrieve your items from the ‘Evidence chest’ within the prison. In the Shivering Isles, escaping your cell is a legitimate way of serving your sentence.

Most jails are the same as in Oblivion, except that they have a secret exit that not only leads you out but also leads you to or past the chest containing your belongings. There is one jail where escape is impossible, except during one quest.

Factions

In Oblivion, you can belong to all joinable factions at the same time. In Skyrim, belonging to either the Stormcloaks or the Imperial Legion prevents you from joining the other, though a small number of quests can be done for both factions at the same time.

Once you reach a certain point in the main questline, you must choose between rejoining the Blades or staying with the Greybeards. In the Dawn guard DLC, you must choose between the Dawnguard and Volkihar vampires. All other factions can be freely joined without conflicting with another.

Magic

In Oblivion, You must possess the required skill level in a particular magic school before you can cast more powerful spells of that type. Magic cannot be cast on the fly with a weapon out and must be selected in lieu of a weapon. Spells fail to cast if the magicka cost is higher than the magicka required to cast the spell.

In Skyrim, Any spell can be cast by any character with enough magicka, although merchants will not offer Adept-level or higher spell tomes to players with insufficient skill in that magic school.

There are skill perks to reduce the magicka cost of different levels of spells. Spells must be assigned to one or both hands and can be dual cast for greater effect with the use of a perk. Skill affects Damage, Duration, and/or other effects.

Shouts

Skyrim introduces shouts, which are special powers that only the dragonborn can use. These are learned by absorbing dragon souls when you defeat them. Plus, you must learn the ancient words to shout as well. These are usually found in dungeons or through completing specific quests. 

Daedric Quests

In Oblivion, As before, All Daedric Quests start at a shrine. An offering is required to start a daedric quest. All 17 Daedric Princes have Daedric Quests minus Mehrunes Dagon on account of being the background antagonist of the game.

In Skyrim, Daedric Quests are no longer started at their shrines, and no offering is required. Instead, Daedric Quests start more naturally and may not become apparent as Daedric quests to first time players until the middle or end of the quest. Mehrunes Dagon once again has a quest.

Journal organization

In Oblivion, the journal is organized by quest title. You can view all of the entries for your active quest in reverse chronological order. You can also view a shortened list of all of your current or completed quests. You cannot look up conversation topics.

In Skyrim, The journal is organized chronologically, with more recent quests at the top. Completed quests are listed, in order of completion, on the bottom half of the journal. A single “Miscellaneous” tab contains all info on any miscellaneous quests. You cannot look up conversation topics

Travel

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In Oblivion, Your compass points out nearby locations—discovered or not—and quest targets. You can fast travel to any location that you have previously discovered. In addition, you can fast travel to certain locations in the major towns and cities without having discovered them.

Horses help to speed up regular on-foot travel as well as fast-travel. The type of horse affects how fast it can walk or run. You cannot mount a horse while over-encumbered, but can fast travel while on a horse even if you later become over-encumbered (usually due to a magical effect wearing off).

In Skyrim, when over-encumbered, you may walk (very slowly) and jump (a short distance), but cannot run, sprint, or fast travel (except when riding a horse). Your compass points out nearby locations—discovered or not—and quest targets. It also shows enemies as red dots. You can fast travel to any location that you have previously discovered.

Horses help to speed up regular on-foot travel but not fast-travel. The type of horse does not affect how fast it can walk or run. You can fast travel if you mount a horse, even if over-encumbered.

Storyline: 

In Oblivion, the story revolves around Uriel Septim and his estranged son, Brother martin Septim. You escape from the Imperial Prison and witness the assassination of the ruler of Cyrodill. Before his death, the emperor entursts the player to track down Martin and close shut the jaws of oblivion. This leads to a compelling storyline involving Mehrunes Dagon, the cult known as the Mythic Dawn, oblivion gates scattered across the in-game world and much more. 

Whereas in Skyrim, the main storyline focuses on the return of the dragons to Skyrim and equally, the return of you, the dragonborn. This leads to a questline that brings back The Blades, allows you to take on dragon foes, learn ancient shouts which are magical dragon powers with various abilities and put an end to the World-Eater himself, Alduin.

Oblivion VS Skyrim: Which is the better game?

Oblivion had, compared to Skyrim at least, a much more varied and interesting quest line-up. More backstories, objectives, and just sheer personality – that makes it appealing to genre-fans that like to get as immersed in a game world as possible.

Side missions and monsters had a little more variety as well, not to mention the map itself. Oblivion tried to do much more than Skyrim in terms of sheer world-building and for many that had huge appeal.

If Graphics is Important to You

Now, Skyrim definitely has better graphics. Oblivion was first released in 2006, Skyrim in 2011. No surprise there. For gamers that favor graphics, Skyrim would be the better game choice in that regard. In a direct comparison, Oblivion can’t hold a candle to Skyrim which is an issue for many who want to be visually immersed in a world. This especially applies to newer gamers.

Skyrim makes for a lovely entry into the world of RPGs, with a wide sprawling world that really feels alive. It is comparatively easy to play and grasp, while also offering activities that suit almost any player type so a great way to get started.

That being said, the many, many dungeon options of Skyrim tend to fall into one of two categories: Nord gave site or Dwemer dungeon. With few exceptions, they all feel the same after a while, despite the puzzles involved in solving them.

If you Like Quests

If you play mostly for the quests, Oblivion would be a great game for you. Particularly when it comes to faction quests, like the mages college in Skyrim. Oblivion had more variation to these storylines, as well as filling the world with interesting places.

Towns, in particular, are not fleshed out very well in Skyrim. This is in part explained due to the cold and inhospitable nature of the place, but that still doesn’t make it any more fun to play.

Oblivion had properly populated towns with dozens of NPCs going about their business. Just the Imperial City had more going on than pretty much all of Skyrim’s capitals combined.

Many of those can be described with ’15 buildings within a fence’, even if the town is supposed to be a major trading hub, like Whiterun or Morthal. The lack of l general activity and variety means that many Skyrim towns just feel flat in comparison to the rest of the world.

If You are New to Games

When it comes to actual gameplay though, Skyrim has the upper hand: Controls, combat, and freedom of movement are greatly improved compared to Oblivion.

This, again, makes it more appealing to newbies and casual gamers. Tough controls aren’t really appealing to most people, and most people expect modern games to have learned from past mistakes.

The same improvement level goes for the skill trees. With the expansion packs and the vampire skill tree, the system got a little more complicated in Skyrim; however, the simplicity of actually applying points, coupled with the possible variety of skills made the system near revolutionary.

That being said, no real strategy was required here to build a good character. The skill trees are all perks and abilities, and the only actual stats are health, magicka, and endurance. It’s almost impossible to put stat points into the wrong place, but as a result, do the choices don’t really have a lot of overall impacts.

Early on in Oblivion though, players could found that they would profit strongly from a +5 in endurance. However, if they stacked points in just one stat alone, further down the line they would end up with nearly unbeatable difficulty. It required thought and planning to build a viable character that could survive and see better quests through to the end.

Classes were also better balanced in Oblivion. None were overpowered compared to the others, although many players have at least one archer. A mage or warrior was a personal choice, rather than a massive advantage one way or the other. Skyrim saw the rise of stealth-based characters, who could one-shot most threats before the action took off.

Oblivion has, as mentioned, the advantage in all things quest related. From a better main quest-line to appropriate faction quests that don’t involve thieves clobbering Draugr. Skyrim’s have better quests that seem to consist mainly of fetch-quests – at least that’s what it feels like to most. Many elements of Skyrim were designed to appeal to a broader audience. It worked, but it didn’t make everyone in the Elder Scrolls fan base very happy.

Speaking of fans of TES games, many will probably point out that Morrowind (released in 2002) was a great TES game as well. Despite it being 15 years old, it still has many dedicated fans. With graphic Skyrim mods its outdated feel can be changed to something most players can still enjoy. Or you could go even further back to previous Elder Scrolls games like Daggerfall or Arena.

Morrowind incorporates more of the ‘typical’ RPG experience than either Oblivion or Skyrim, both of which are more action focussed. One thing is sure though: Both Oblivion and Skyrim easily beat Morrowind when it comes to combat!

Or perhaps you could try the other flagship Bethesda games, Fallout 3, and Fallout 4.

FAQ’s About Oblivion vs Skyrim

Question: Does Skyrim take place after Oblivion?

Answer: Yes, Oblivion took place a mere 34 years after the first Elder Scrolls game, 1994’s Arena. (Conveniently, Tamriel’s fourth age started when the Oblivion Crisis ended, so years in Skyrim are counted from the end of the Oblivion.)

Question: Which is bigger Skyrim or Oblivion?

Answer: Cyrodil’s square footage is slightly larger than Skyrim’s, but seems much larger because it tends to be more empty, and it’s also larger than Morrowind’s, but seems smaller because of the ability to fast travel. I always felt that Morrowind was the largest. Then Skyrim and last Oblivion.

Question: Is Skyrim easier than oblivion?

Answer: Oblivion had, compared to Skyrim at least, a much more varied and interesting quest line-up. Oblivion tried to do much more than Skyrim in terms of sheer world-building and for many that had huge appeal. Now, Skyrim definitely has better graphics. Oblivion was first released in 2006, Skyrim in 2011.

Question: Can you marry in Oblivion?

Answer: You can now have a spouse in Oblivion. You can marry any race or gender. To get an Amulet Of Mara to talk to Berilus Mona at the Bravil Chapel Of Mara and Bravil is where the wedding will be held. Only certain quest-related NPCs can be married and you must complete the quest and complete it correctly to marry the NPC.

Question: What is an Oblivion Gate?

Answer: An Oblivion Gate is a gateway portal that allows you to travel between the Mundus and Oblivion planes. You can find them by following the strange humming noise they emit.

Question: How do you start the thieves guild quest?

Answer: To start the Thieves Guild questline, you have to travel to Riften to meet with Brynjolf. He can be found at the market stalls when it’s daytime and the Bee and Barb tavern at night.

What Other Games Might I Enjoy Like These TES Games?

here are some other great games that you might enjoy:

– Mass Effect
– Fallout 3
– Fallout New Vegas
– Prey
– Thief
– Dragon Age

What Platforms are These Games Available on?

Both of these games are available on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC. Then Skyrim thanks to various re-releases such as Skyrim Special Edition and the upcoming Skyrim Anniversary Edition, is available on Playstation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, and Nintendo Switch.

Final Verdict

So, is Oblivion better than Skyrim? Hard to say.

Did we like it better? Absolutely.

Further Comparisons

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