Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Bethesda Software
Release Date: March 20, 2006
Chad "Wudi" Crawford: With over 200 hours of gameplay and 16 square miles to be explored in the world of Tamriel, Oblivion is practically an alternate reality that gamers will live in for hours at a time. Plus, there's the Radiant AI, which allows NPCs to respond to the world around them like a real person would, adding to the immersion. Character's skills grow stronger the more they're used, which should make it that no two characters are ever alike. Throw together the game world, character development, and loads of quests, and we could very well have a game with near limitless replay value, something which I'll gladly pay $60 for. Oh, and for the record, I'm all about buying my horse armor that matches mine.
Keith Durocher: The Elder Scrolls franchise has been setting new standards ever since its first incarnation, but it was Morrowind that really blew minds. The unbelievably open-ended play mechanics, coupled with some of the deepest lore ever written for an RPG, made for one of the single most immersive games ever made. More than anything, I look forward to seeing if Oblivion can even match, much less exceed, the magic of its predecessor. The glorious screenshots we've been treated to hint at a visual feast, too.
Hugh McHarg: The delay of Elder Scrolls: Oblivion was among the greatest disappointments of 2005. On the other hand, it also made the Xbox 360 shortage easier to swallow for those of us so crazed with enthusiasm for Morrowind's follow-up that we didn't have the good sense to pre-order a box to play it on. So enamored was I of the blighted world of Morrowind that I actually enjoyed the lengthy strolls from city to city. As no other Xbox RPG ever matched the expansive Morrowind experience, I'm ready to return to the Elder Scrolls universe for more of the same in Oblivion and to see how Bethesda's refined the combat system that had even the most ardent fans complaining about the comically stiff swordplay. And if anyone has lingering wounds from the delay, take another look at the screenshots to see just how far this game's going to go to fix your hurt feelings.
Tim "The Rabbit" Mithee: It's been a long time since Bethesda put the oomph back in adventure with Morrowind and its expansions. While that old horse has finally found a pasture to hang out in, displaced by the rise of MMORPGs and competitors, Oblivion looks to pack enough punch of its own to remind those wanna-bes who started this whole thing in the first place, 12 years ago. Even if it weren't visually amazing, Oblivion is set to show off a new, more immersive combat system, a huge world to clobber your way through, and the same pseudo-freeform gaming we enjoyed in 2001.
David Nadler: Elder Scrolls games have always intrigued me by being games that seems like they could be fantastic but without ever really living up to their potential. The concept is there, but the implementation has always felt lacking. Perhaps with Oblivion, they will get it right and finally provide players with the ability to explore a vast world and do what they want, while still playing the pivotal role in an overlying story arc. It's almost like playing an MMORPG (by yourself, of course) that centers around you.
Corey Owen: If ever there were a game that needed no introduction, it would be this one. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion probably sold more Xbox 360s than any of the launch titles, and that's saying something. More ambitious than its predecessor in every facet, Oblivion will sweep you off your feet if you even remotely enjoyed Morrowind. The graphics look tremendous with little touches everywhere to bring the world alive, and the physics look amazing and look to play a huge role in combat. The thing I'm most excited about though is the new radiant A.I. system that governs the actions of all of the NPCs. This could be a hallmark in gaming, as unscripted behavior for entire cities is truly unprecedented.