The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion E3 2005 Preshow Report

We've got the early details on this jaw-dropping role-playing game.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion quickly became one of the hottest topics around earlier this year when early screenshots of it were released, along with word that they represented what the game would look like running on a next-generation console. Well, developer and copublisher Bethesda Software, along with copublisher 2K Games, is showing off the game for the first time, and the Xbox 360 version looks just as good as the PC version, judging from the latest screens.

Remember to leave a trail of breadcrumbs when you enter this forest.

According to the preshow press materials, Oblivion is set after the mysterious and untimely death of the Tamriel emperor. Apparently, that's one of the signs of the apocalypse in the world of the Elder Scrolls, because the gates of Oblivion have been flung open and demons are laying waste to the land. It's up to you to find the lost heir to the throne so that you can put the demons back in their place. You can create any character you'd like, from warrior to magic user, as you explore and adventure in this magical world.

If you played an Elder Scrolls game before, you know that one of the hallmarks of the series is that it creates a completely believable world that you can explore in. The sense of immersion is amazing, and it looks to be even more so in Oblivion, thanks to the jaw-dropping, next-generation graphics. Bethesda uses the latest shader effects to create lifelike towns, dungeons, and outdoor areas, and the graphics should definitely shine on a PC monitor or a high-definition television. What's more, Bethesda promises lifelike characters with facial animation, lip-synching, and full speech. There are more than 1,000 non-player characters in the game, and they'll even have unscripted conversations with each other.

Oblivion will also feature what Bethesda touts is a "groundbreaking" artificial intelligence system. Each character in the game has a 24-hour schedule, and they have the ability to make choices based on the world around them. They'll eat, sleep, and go about their daily tasks as best as they can. Basically, the game looks good, and we're looking forward to what Bethesda will show at E3. Fans of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind will recall that it was the first major role-playing game on the first Xbox. With a scheduled ship date later this year, it's safe to say that its successor could very well be the first major role-playing game on the Xbox 360.

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