A lot of people have published a “my favourite mods for game X” list. I’m being innovative by, uh, not really doing anything particularly interesting in addition. This is, simply put, just a bunch of really mods for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. For some of the initial footwork, I have to thank Pelit magazine, but I basically picked my favourite ones and looked at some latter mods. Besides, they specifically excluded mods that just improve the graphics — games that strive to be experiences, graphics are important. This post is primarily a “list of Cool Stuff I’ve downloaded, in case I need to remember all that again” - so it could be later supplemented…
What platform was this game on, again?
The PC version of Oblivion has been made with XBox360 in mind, so the screen display is “big” and “legible”. Perhaps a bit too big and legible for people whose ancient machines have problems getting decent framerate at 800x600. BTmod fixes this by making menu texts much smaller; inventory and container lists can have tons more items in them. Maps become more usable when you can see more. And so on, and so forth. The game looks like a good, proper PC game after this mod!
Oblivion is not Thief II, but clearly, thieving stuff is pretty important for rogue characters. I still need to find a “populate the land with bazillion houses with about five gillion worth of loot” mod (I’ve heard there are such things), but these mods make guards and other vile creatures work a bit more logically. Attack and Hide makes sneaking around a large bit more fun: Instead of magically coming to get you, the creatures can’t necessarily figure out where the heck you are, so if they lose track of you, you can keep yourself hidden and still trust your epic Sneak Attacks. Guard Overhaul makes guards a bit more interesting - they work a bit more on their own initiative, pay attention to people who are sneaking around, etc etc… and best of all, you get cool disguises. A thief’s got to have disguises, right?
Let there be light
A mod to make some of the people hold torches in the outside. Nightly citylife gets a bit of a new character thanks to this little addition…
The default character models in Oblivion don’t really look very appealing - males aren’t very male (except maybe for Chuck Norris the Nord, whose maleness is not in question, ever, as the video shows) and females aren’t very female. The pack by Exnem and others corrects this for female characters: Lots of different body types that look about bazillion times better than the stock body model. If I want my lithe rogue of mine to look like a lithe rogue, it’s right here. If you want a busty warrior goddess of doom, it’s right here too. …yeah, and it also works for OMG Nudie Woman Characterz, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Ren’s beauty pack would have also made the cut, at least based on screenshots, but with 60 hours of play time, I think I first desperately need to figure out how to mess with character’s looks without starting over…
Clothing/Armor Replacer adds quite a few female armor models. The rogue outfit is… well, certainly not practical, but definitely, er, rogue-y.
Sometimes, the simplest of mod ideas can also be the most interesting.
Oblivion has a ton of books. Most houses you can buy have bookshelves of some sort. Stock book covers are boring. So, the simple route to make the game more interesting is to give each book an individual, brand new cover… and add some spells to make dealing with Oblivion’s sometimes clumsy grab system simpler, by locking the books in various positions while they’re moved.
Oblivion was an innovative game in that Forests Actually Look Like Forests, Damn It, but Natural Environments has made all the wonders of nature even more beautiful. Wonderful skies! Wondeful forestlands as far as eye can see! Amazing sunsets! And best of all, you can actually see underwater! (And if you couldn’t, it would probably be rendered in all of its muddy glory instead of the bleak water we have in this game! =) Natural Wildlife makes forestland animals behave a bit more rationally - for example, the deer flee from you.
We’re Goofy, We’re Buggy
One notable lack in Oblivion is that you can, basically, only do the stuff that you need to do. But Oblivion is so much more: Half of the fun is doing stuff that does nothing to further your goals. (I wouldn’t be writing this blog post unless I knew this profound truth!) You can spend umpteen hours trying to place the item on the shelf in your home just right, and it’s not just the crappy grab UI that has that effect.
So here’s one mod to further that goal, to make up for an obvious omission: You can’t just wave at people, or whatever, because that accomplishes nothing in the game. So here’s gestures! Here’s sleeping animations! Here’s general goofing! You can mock-kick too! And there’s a bunch of dance moves!
Regrettably, these moves may not work at all given some obscure conditions, and they only have a chance working in third-person mode. And they’re not looped or anything. Annoying engine limitations, I wager…
And where I stash my magic hat is where my home is
If you place your stuff in a random chest, it can get stolen. The solution is to buy a home, or spend about 10 minutes in TESCS to create an Unlootable Uberchest of Doom, which is the boring solution. Or, you can take the stylish and, for certain characters, quite appropriate route by hiding your stuff in a safe place behind a loose brick in the Imperial City.
Of other city and house mods, I’ve seen commendations of the Hoarfrost Castle and Kvatch Rebuilt; I’ve only seen Hoarfrost briefly and I’ve not yet seen the rebuilt Kvatch at all, so these have to be commented upon later.