Irregular Oblivioning: The Essentials

The Elder Scrolls IV - Oblivion

I’ve been a fan of the Elder Scrolls series since the Arena days and apart from the action adventure Redguard I’ve played them all (never did finish Arena or Daggerfall though, pesky bugs…).

The series really took off with Morrowind. While the main quest was OK, if a bit formulaic, the excellent plugins feature and the Construction Set were what really made the game shine, and almost instantly a huge community sprung up around Morrowind modding.

Oblivion continued the fine tradition of extensibility. I started playing it earlier this year, as I did not have a PC capable of running it. I did not even bother to finish the main quest, as I did with Morrowind before downloading and using user-created mods.

I’ll be writing about a series of posts about the Oblivion mods I’m using mostly for my future reference, but I’m hoping somebody else will find them useful too.

And remember, whatever you want to change in-game, somebody’s probably already done it.

In this first post, I’ll be doing through files that I consider musts for every Oblivion on PC player (Xbox 360 and PS3 Oblivion can’t use user-created content, sorry).

Before everything else, make sure you have the last official patch (v1.2.0416 at the time of writing). You should ideally get the Shivering Isles expansion, as it adds a few scripting functions. Well, you should get it anyway, as the quest is actually more interesting than the Main Quest.

First up, you want, nay, need Timeslip’s Oblivion Mod Manager. As its name imples, it manages your mods. But more than that, it handles OMOD files, which are specially packed mods. This utility can easily add or remove mods, warn of file conflicts and most importantly, mod authors can provide an installation script which allows one to, say, install optional parts of the mod. Always prefer OMOD if that option is available from the author or perhaps a third party, and it’s usually worth it to make your own OMOD if not. And for the mod authors who are not yet providing OMODs officially, what are you waiting for? Get to it. Follow the instructions!

Even fully patched up, Oblivion has bugs. Modders to the rescue though. Grab the Unofficial Oblivion Patch. You will want the Shivering Isles and Official Mods patches too if you have them. Bethsoft should be paying these guys for what they do. OMODs are available.

You will want one of the UI mods too. Out of the box, Oblivion looks like a console game. Everything’s just so… big. And clumsy. Modders to the rescue, again. BTmod was the gold standard for a long time, but it’s been superseded by the excellent DarNified UI. It’s what Oblivion PC should have been. Personally, I’m using DarkUI’d DarN. Both DarN UIs comes in delectable OMODs.

Now grab the Better Oblivion Sorting Software, formerly known as the FCOMhelper. Official description: ‘A simple program for mod users to quickly optimise load ordering of ESP/ESM files in their Oblivion load-order.’ MS Visual C++ Runtime 2008 is a requirement.

With these mods, you will still be getting the Vanilla Oblivion experience. Next up, foundations.

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