05 March 2012

Playing Oblivion Day 2 part 4: Caves of Loot

 This is part of an ongoing series. If you want to start at the beginning, go here.

It's early 2012 and I'm playing The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Why? Because I (finally) can. Join me on my path to glory and the stabilization of the status quo in almost-Tolkien-land.

The winged creature I had spotted fires off a spell at Martor as he goes in to attack. Luckily the creature doesn’t realize that the man attacking it isn’t very proficient at using his bow. It could just fly up and pepper Martor with majick but instead it hovers a few feet above the ground and doesn’t even retreat to a safe distance when being rushed and subsequently murdered with a long, sharp blade. It had been guarding a door in the hillside that probably represents the entrance to another dungeon. Not quite fully loaded with loot, Martor decides to go look what’s to be found in there. After all, the flying creature was just labeled “Kobold”, not “Winged Demon” or some such thing, so it doesn’t seem too dangerous…

The door leads to a load-screen, culminating in a series of caves. They appear to be natural caves but what I find in them makes even less sense than the tribe of goblins living in the capital’s sewers. Each room of the caves, which are partially flooded, contains stalagmites and stalactites, between one and three of the kobold-creatures, and usually a treasure-chest and maybe one or two barrels. This is spaced so regularly that Martor feels a slight déjà-vu with every new room he enters and I feel like the level-designers of these caves were lazier than the ones of the last dungeon I was in and definitely copy/pasted a lot more than the team of that one (or, to give them the benefit of doubt, had a lot less time to do this. For all I know all of these dungeons are by the same people). To be fair, there are some interesting architectonic features, like a bridge leading across another area that you get to later but the regularity of D3 Kobolds and D3 treasures per cave reminds me more of a simple roguelike than of an AAA graphical RPG. The situation quickly gets grindy.

But the treasure keeps Martor going. There are magical artifacts up the you-know-what in here, Martor is soon forced to drop the less valuable loot in order to keep moving forward and collect more and more mystical stones, enchanted axes and whatnot. The grindy nature and the fact that every room after the first one forces me to dump another item or two really makes me wish this place had an end but it goes on ever deeper. Slightly annoyed at the game I have no intend to ever return into this cave again so I will only take out what I can carry. Also, does stuff I leave here stay here indefinitely? I have no idea so I can only move on, slay Kobolds, loot chests, drop least valuable/heaviest items, then rinse and repeat.

After I finally make it to the end of the place, I have probably looted a small shop’s worth of magic-items, all of which I intend to sell as Martor is no wizard and I have no intention of getting involved in the alchemy-system of the game, which has sometimes shimmered below the surface of books full of recipes, collectible plants and weird equipment found and seen in stores. All of this is lost to Martor who just sees the gold this stuff is going to earn him. Might get a fancy magic weapon or something like that to kill the next ghost we run into with something we’re actually good at. I leave the caves, fully loaded up with treasures, leaving behind a small fortune of mundane items.

It’s gotten dark outside to I get into the saddle and start riding. Should there be any more dungeons along the road, I decide to ignore them as I’m already fully loaded up with stuff and I currently don’t feel like doing any more grinding anyways. The night on the road seems rather dangerous, Kobolds firing spells at Martor as he rides past, a bandit giving a short chase on foot and some wolves being even more relentless in their pursuit but in the end we finally get to Skingrad, which reminds me of what people foreign to Europe must imagine remote castles in the forests of Europe to look like. Martor checks in the first best guesthouse he finds for the night and collapses on the bed after a long day of fighting and riding. The loading screen tells me something about a nightmare Martor is having but he hasn’t shown me enough own personality to care about his dreams so I click it away without reading it too closely.

continued here

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