Just so that you know, I’m still playing Oblivion quite obsessively. I do make breaks for other games from time to time (in fact tomorrow I will post a review of a new funky indy game I played), but it is still my main game at the moment. To reflect that, I have at least 2 more Oblivion related posts in the queue (excluding this one). If you are bored to tears by my Oblivion ranting, I apologize, but since I’m playing it so much, I sort of need an outlet.
Today I wanted to revisit Oblivion Mods. I know I mentioned this subject once before but that was when I was just starting my adventure with the game. Since then, I got a good feel for how the thing plays, and what it lacks and was able to come up with a new list of interesting and worthwhile mods for you. One or two of these might have been mentioned in the other threads, but I’m including them here for sake of completeness.
All the mods mentioned here are compatible with each other and also with the mods I described in the previous post (excluding Open Cities which I haven’t tested again after it bugged out on me) unless noted otherwise.
- Harvesting flora
In vanilla oblivion when you pick up a mushroom or a flower it stays in place – you just can’t click it anymore, until it grows back few weeks later. From afar there is virtually no difference between a plant that was harvested and one that was not. You pretty much have to try clicking on it to see if it regenerated or not. Harvesting flora fixes this problem, and changes the appearance of plants you harvest so you can see at a glance whether or not you picked them up already or not. No clue why this feature was not in vanilla. Must have – especially if you want to play with Alchemy.
- Ren’s Beauty Pack
Default hair in Oblivion kinda sucks – especially when you are trying to play a female character. There is just no variety, and the existing hair styles are either plain, ugly or badly rendered. Ren’s Beauty pack fixes this by adding some nice, distinctive hair styles. It also ships with a custom race Mystic Elves or something like that which I really don’t care for. Fortunately the hair mod can be downloaded separately so if you don’t need to bother with the race stuff if you don’t want to.
- Natural Faces
I don’t know what is it with Oblivion and the wrinkle generation algorithm – it’s atrocious. Some of the NPC’s in the game look like they just crawled out of Uncanny Valley. The Emperror for example looks like a fleshy prune. This mod tries to smooth over the overly wrinkled faces and make them look more “human” like.
- Female Eye Candy Body Replacer
This mod might not be for everyone – it replaces the female body model in the game with a one that is more proportional, and removes the permanent underwear condition. So, for example if you want to go skinny dipping in a river, or streaking through the streets of Imperial City you totally can. Personally, I like it cause it makes the game a bit more realistic, but it really depends on ones tastes. I figured I put it up here just in case someone would want to try it out. Apparently this mod only replaces the female model so dudes still wear perma-underpants.
- The NPC’s Revamped
This is one of my favorite mods, and one that had stunning amount of work put into it. It replaces faces of few hundred of more prominent NPC’s who previously had generic features with very distinctive, hand crafted new visages. I especially like what these folks did with Khajit and Aragornian faces. It always bothered me that there are only like 2-3 facial models for each of the beast races, making all the NPC’s look exactly the same. Same goes for Orcs – their generic faces were very similar to each other. As a result, you could hardly tell two Orcs or Khajit apart. TNR changes that and includes some very memorable faces among these races. For example S’Krivva from the Thieves Guild now looks more like a house cat. It also makes the prominent NPC vampires (like the count of Skingrad) look less ugly. It really livens up the game and adds flavor to it. I’m considering this a must-have mod.
- Chameleon NoRefraction
Removes the refraction effect from the Chameleon spell which makes it virtually impossible to see your weapon and shield during combat. I always found it very annoying, since it made it incredibly difficult to figure out whether or not you are in range and forced me to remove the Chameleon effect each time I got into close combat. The mod makes it work the way it used to in Morrowind – instead of being invisible, you become partially see-through making close combat while under Chameleon effect more practical
- Magic Tweaks
Magic in Oblivion is a bit unbalanced. Most of the buff spells you can buy or learn have almost no duration. For example, let’s say you want to cast Night Eye, Shield and Resist Frost on yourself – something that you could potentially need in a tough dungeon fight or Oblivion Gate. Sad part is that by the time you cast the last spell, your first buff is over. Not to mention that most of the standard buff effects end before you can even run up to you opponent and hit them. This makes buffing virtually useless in combat – you cant do it before the fight, because the effects are to short. You should not do it during a fight because you will likely get hit while casting. This mod tries to re-balance magic by extending the durations of most buff spells and making some other small tweaks. For example it makes Heal Minor/Major Woulds spell add health over time (5 sec?) and cost more magicka. This means you no longer have to spam 20 minor heals in a row to replenish your health bar – now it takes only 3-4, but the magicka usage is roughly the same.
This is by far the most conservative magic re-balancing mod. Most of the other ones added new spells, new disciplines and a whole slew of new crazy stuff, which is not exactly what I wanted. This mod seemed a perfect fit. So far I haven’t really noticed to many problems with it but keep in mind that it does change duration, costs and energy requirements of some common spells.
This is all I have for now. Please feel free to add your favorite mods in the comments. I think we have covered a pretty decent range between this and previous mod post. I might have another Oblivion related post next week, and then another one much further down the road. Tomorrow, I’ll be talking about an entirely different game, so quit whining.