Oblivion: Ending

By Shamus
on Jul 10, 2006
Filed under:
Game Reviews

I’ve hurried though Oblivion and reached the ending. The main campaign was actually quite short. I did it in bit and pieces between other quests, real life, and work, so I don’t have a solid picture of just how long it took. My guess is that it took around five hours to go through the core story. For a game with ~200 hours of gameplay, that’s a pretty small slice. The main campaign is a bit mundane, so I’m glad they didn’t stretch it out with a bunch of filler quests. (Morrowwind had this problem. The part where you got named Hortator of all of the great houses was a huge recursive mess of pointless sub-sub-sub quests.)

The story was nothing special, and the big bad guy wasn’t very interesting, although he could have been. For the curious, I came up with a rough summary. You don’t need to read this unless you’re curious. Just skip the boxed text to see my comments on the ending.

Here is the gist of the thing, as far as I was able to make out: (spoilers!)

There are these sixteen gods, (called Daedra) each with their own plane of existance / reality. Each one has his own plane of “Oblivion”. One of them – a Daedra named Mehrune Dagon – fell victim to a sort of mutany. His servants rebelled and booted him out of his own world. These nine rebels were lesser gods, but with Dagon gone, they were the most powerful beings left. Somehow the world changed and ended up nice and green, and filled with Elves, Dwarves, Humans, etc. These nine rebels set themselves up as the nine divines, the main dieties of this world, which was renamed Tamriel. This is like finding out that the Earth is just another plane of hell that’s been given a drastic facelift.

So all of the mortal inhabitants of Tamriel are, in fact, just squatters. The world is really just another plane of Oblivion, and the Nine Divines aren’t really as powerful as they make themselves out to be. In reality they are the Nine Usurpers, and the reason that they don’t interact with the world very often isn’t because they are mysterious, stand-offish gods, but because they don’t really have that much power. Of course nobody knows this. People accept the world and the Divines and just assume this is the way things should be.

The plot of the game is that one guy – Mankar Cameron – figures this out and starts taking steps to try to let Mehrune Dagon back in. He works to undo the safeguards that have been put in place that keep Dagon out. The Emperor and his bloodline are part of this spell or forcefield or whatever, so Mankar has to kill the Emperor (voiced by Patrick Stewart) and all his sons. He pulls it off, and the throne is empty – there is no rightful heir. The magic begins to unravel, and Oblivion gates open up here and there. Monsters start coming out and attacking the people. One of the major cities is sacked.

It turns out the Emperor had an Illegitimate son, Martin, years ago. He’s now grown and his true lineage was kept secret from nearly everyone, including Martin himself, who believes he is the son of a farmer. Most of the plot involves rescuing Martin (voiced by Sean Bean) and reestablishing the magic that has been keeping Dagon out of this world.

(Emperor Martin. Ha! That’s like Emperor Fred.)

Fine. Whatever. The Elder Scolls pantheon and mythos never really captured my attention. It’s big, complex, and hard to follow. It’s like reading the cliff notes from the Sillmarillion without Lord of the Rings to back it up. I’ve never learned more than I needed in order to make out the plot of whatever game I’m playing.

Anyway…

I finally reach Mankar Cameron so I can put a stop to his plans. I was really looking forward to talking to this guy. In Morrowwind, you get to have a nice long chat with the main bad guy at the end, and it ranks as one of the most satifying conversations I’ve ever had in a video game. Not so with Oblivion. Mankar Cameron monlogues for a while and explains most of the stuff I outlined above, but you never get that chance to sit down and chat with him. He never really tries to pursuade you or explain his cause to you. You just wait for him to shut up and then make with the fighting.

This could have been the highlight of the game. Once you meet Cameron you find him to be sadistic, a little crazy, and overconfident. It would have been far better if he’d given his reasons for what he was doing, and explained what he thought was going to happen if his plans worked out. It would have been great if – like the villian in Morrowwind – he had turned around and asked the player a few questions about what was motivating them to oppose him. He could have been deep and interesting, and instead he was just another cardboard bastard you have to put down on your way to the end of the game. More than all the technology flaws and bugs and gamebalance issues, this is my biggest lament about the game, because this is where the game could have really stood out as something interesting.

I’ve seen a mod for Oblivion that removes the main quest: No martin, no amulet, no Oblivion gates. You just appear in one of the coastal towns as a traveler and are free to enjoy the rest of the game. This actually sounds pretty fun, although the fact that someone saw a need for it at all illustrates how weak the campaign is compared to the rest of the game.

Ah well. At least it’s short.

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20828 comments. Hurry up and add yours before it becomes passé.

From the Archives:

  1. Cineris says:

    Strange. That seems like a very cool story, but you’re right — No motivation. Why shouldn’t you help this guy, after all? It sounds like, at least in a cosmic sense, he’s the good guy.

  2. I’ve seen a video of someone winning Morrowind in 7 minutes. Any idea whether that’s possible for Oblivion?

  3. Shamus says:

    I saw that one too. I thought it was brilliant.

    Let me think…

    Sadly, I don’t think so. I don’t know of any way to get to Mankar Cameron without jumping through the hoops, which could end up taking some time. It does help that you can now jump around the map at will between any two locations you’ve visited before, but that isn’t going to make up for all the cross-country hiking you’ll need to do.

    Morrowwind was so freeform you could run to the final dungeon (if you knew where it was) and dive into it. In Oblivion they tightened up the quests. It’s now much harder to break a quest, but the downside is that you can’t skip a quest. There are doors that don’t open until the plot requires you to go through them, and objects you cannot drop or sell until you’re done with them.

  4. RAZIEL VAMPYRIC KNIGHT says:

    APPARENTLY THE GAME DESIGNERS INTEND THIS FOR ALL THE GAMERS NEW TO THE ELDER SCROLLS FRANCHISE WHICH KIND OF PISSED ME OFF, YOU FIGURE THEY WOULD WANT TO TRY TO SATISFY THEIR MORE LOYAL, HARDCORE ES FANS BUT WHAT DO YOU KNOW THEIR A COMPANY WHOSE ONLY INTREST IS TO CASH IN ON THE FRESH CONSUMER

  5. wsd says:

    so when that fire dragon kills that four armed dude that is the end of the main story line????

  6. beef stew says:

    strange bug: I was able to keep Mankar Cameron from entering oblivion with the amulet of kings (when you solve the mythic dawn meeting place) I had umbra and 125% chamelion by this time but I doubt this had anything to do with the bug. Ohh and I had the blade of woe so they couldn’t take it from me to get inside. First I sneak attacked the dude who took everything from me (he goes down with one blow) then I was invisable again and wiped out all Mankar Cameron’s followers. Mankar then starts the magic and I started slicing him up too. he falls off the platform and goes unconciuse (he has a crown icon so thus cannot die)
    Anyway after killing him about twenty times I finaly just grabed the book on the alter, freed the argonion prisoner, and continued playing the game for a few more quests.
    Here is the bug: the next time I went to cloud ruler temple Mankar Cameron is standing there in the middle of the main hall right next to martin. Ohh and he’s frendly as hell, I talked with him till his dispositon was maxed out at 84 and then struck him down like the b!tch he was… the game then skips all other main story line quests up to the light the dragon fires quest.

    I’ll have to play some more to see if I can go strait to the empirial city or if I still have to let the three gates open in front of bruma to finnish.

  7. BroZef says:

    u probly dont have to let the obliv gates open because the only reason to do that quest is to get the great sigil stone to open camrons paradise to get the Amulet of Kings and the bug u said u had skiped to light the dragon fires so martin already has the amulet so the quest is probly gone, or it might be like breaking seige of kvatch where its a freeform and no point in doing.

  8. ShockWolF says:

    Having Read about beef stew’s bug I was so fascinated I just had to try it out myself and I have to say it’s got to be 1 in a million because it did not work for me at all. I had 124% Chameleon (close enough), Blade of Woe and Umbra (which is also a plot item that he couldn’t take from me). I also had the bag of carrying mod, which is also irremovable so I piled everything else into that and so I got it all back without having to kill the first guy. As soon as I start killing Mankar’s followers he immediately becomes immortal (can’t hit him at all), begins opening the portal and steps through it. Even if I try to kill Mankar directly he becomes invincible after the first hit and every swipe at him after that automatically misses and he continues to escape.

  9. My dad iz a betheda worker and now hes planning to make a game called Morrowind Dagoth so strong basically morrowind is tottaly destroyed and u start on ur own and lighning strucks dagoht ur shows his face in the sky and den u arise from red mountain and dagoth ur was asleep wen u destroyed the heart of lorkhan he actually used his magic powers to escape so dagoth ur watns u to join him 1 last time and u can but if u dont trus me this is scary he kills people from nowwhere basically if ur good u fight wiv every1 in the battle of red mountain were u can join morrowind and kill dagoth ur’s army or go wiv him and destroyed the people of morrowind millinons of people cum wiv u trus me elder scrolls 6 is birlliant

    • joop says:

      yeah sure and my father is the king of germany

    • jon says:

      This is easily the STUPIDEST thing ever. Out of all of the horrible twisted stuff I’ve seen or heard of; this tops it all. Not Jessica black’s Friday, not rap or country music, not 4chan. You sir take the cake.

      When I want somebody to lose brain cells without resorting to drugs or alcohol I’ll send them to you. Not only have you managed to utterly butcher the already convoluted English language, you have written a series of letters (well I hesitate to call them sentences) that could induce suicidal thoughts in any sentient or literate individual. If you were not lacking in these qualities yourself I find it unlikely that you would have been able to post it without having a fatal seizure on the spot.

      At the very least your sentences are men seeing as they have no periods.

  10. dudzy says:

    when i beat the main storyline i wasn’t sure if tht was the way it was supposed to end or if there was an alternate ending// (( you know like Martin gets there in time and he lights the dragon fires but still needs to defeat Dagon/ long story short Martin lives instead of dies)) Tht would be cool i guess// maybe?

  11. SporkMan says:

    I notice you didn’t mention being the slightest bit bothered by the fact that you never actually fight Mehrunes Dagon. NEVER. You run right past him, and then it’s over. Lame.

  12. Lingwei says:

    “One of them – a Daedra named Mehrune Dagon – fell victim to a sort of mutany. His servants rebelled and booted him out of his own world. These nine rebels were lesser gods, but with Dagon gone, they were the most powerful beings left. Somehow the world changed and ended up nice and green, and filled with Elves, Dwarves, Humans, etc. These nine rebels set themselves up as the nine divines, the main dieties of this world, which was renamed Tamriel.

    So all of the mortal inhabitants of Tamriel are, in fact, just squatters. The world is really just another plane of Oblivion, and the Nine Divines aren’t really as powerful as they make themselves out to be. In reality they are the Nine Usurpers, and the reason that they don’t interact with the world very often isn’t because they are mysterious, stand-offish gods, but because they don’t really have that much power.”

    The real story summarised:

    In the beginning there was Anu and Padomay. Anu was light, Padomay was darkness. The interplay of light and darkness created Nirn. Nirn and Anu fell in love. Padomay lusted after Nirn. Anu and Padomay fought. Anu beat Padomay and cast him out of time. Nirn gave birth to the twelve worlds of creation it was so hard that she died. Padomay returned and destroyed most of the worlds. Anu gathered what remained of the 12 worlds and made them into one – called Nirn (the continent of Tamriel is in this world, the world isn’t called Tamriel). He then fought Padomay again and this time they were both cast out of time forever.

    The blood of Anu became the eight Aedra. The first Empress of the Empire of Men combined the pantheons of men and elves in a political move to create the Eight Divines. The blood of Padomay became the 16 Daedra. Timber Septim the first emperor of the third era became a god and thus became the ninth Divine. The Aedra can only create things which is why they don’t interfere with the world. Since the Daedra are not a part of creation they can only change things. Mankar Camoran was a loony, Nirn was never a part of Oblivion and it was never Mehrunes Dagon’s realm.

    The only survivers of Padomay’s attack were the ancestors of men and elves from the world of Ehlnofey and the hist trees. A large part of Ehlnofey was kept together when it was added to Nirn. This became the continent of Tamriel and those living on it became the elves. The rest of the survivors ended up on the continents of Atmora, Yokuda, Pyandorea and Akavir and they became the men. The hist trees ended up on Tamriel but were mostly destroyed by wars between the men and elves. They now only exist in a small part of Tamriel called Black Marsh.

  13. Brendan says:

    With what linguai said, Lorkhan, the being who Mankar calls the daedric prince of Tamriel, is Padomay’s offspring – not a daedra at all.
    Also, Anu and Padomay aren’t representatives of light and darkness as it says in the Childrens Anuad but of Order and Chaos. The Nine Aedra don’t usually interfere because they keep the status quo – one of them, Akatosh does interfere at the end, but only because literal all hell would break loose if he didn’t.

    The Daedra for the most part AREN’T EVIL. the reason they are hated is because they are embodiments of change, and tend towards extremes. Mehrunes Dagon is the diabloesque Lord of Destruction – one of the few truly evil ones. Even Azura, the “good” one, who guided the Nerevarine through Morrowind, was quite happy cursing the dark elves with red eyes and greyish skin forever, because of the wrongdoings of the Tribunal, who were doing the right thing at the time.

    The mythology of the elder scrolls is fascinating (if you can get your haed around it), but the history is somewhat lacking. They talk of the second and third eras, and something about empires, but i don’t really see the whole picture. There are no books which say This happened, then this, and while this was happening, reforms were being made to this, to counter the threat of this.

    The closest we get is the Brief History of the Empire, which is a rambling piece of crap, which inefficiently tells the tale of the empire, while spending time discussing the habits of the minor emperors.

    Whew. Don’t get me started on the Elder scrolls. Ever.

  14. I think that Oblivion is the best game invented so far, although, it is sort of annoying sometimes but can you do that cool glich that multiplys your items? I can, I have over a thousand helm of the deep delvers!

  15. I know of a Main Quest short cut method. I already tried to explain it here, but I got a stupid error message when I tried to submit it. When I went back to fix it, the message was gone! Now I’m not going to rewrite all of that unless someone asks! If you care to know the shortcut, feel free to request it via e-mail. Thank you.

    • Shamus says:

      Behemoth: This isn’t one of the playpen forums at Gamespot. You don’t get to go around calling people a “bitch” just because they play a game differently, and you can’t call them “stupid” for having different tastes.

  16. aapjes says:

    The genesis of the Khajiit:

    On the origin of their species, the Khajiit believe that life originated with two litter-mates, Ahnurr and Fadomai, who gave birth to the first cat, Alkosh. To Alkosh was given the guardianship of time, and whose birth prompted Ahnurr and Fadomai to bring forth further life into the world, thus they created Khenarthi, guardian of the winds; Magrus, guardian of the sun; Mara, guardian of love; and S’rendarr, guardian of mercy. In time, Ahnurr and Fadomai wished to share the happiness they felt in life with further children, and so, Fadomai gave birth to Hermorah of the tides, Hircine of hunger, Merrunz of destruction, Mafala of the Clan Mothers, Sangiin of blood and life, Sheggorath of insanity, and many others.

    It was then that, seeing so many among them, Ahnurr decided that further children would only steal from them their own happiness, and thus decreed that he would give birth to no more. He was, however, thwarted in this by Fadomai, who was persuaded by Khenarthi – who had grown lonely in the realm of the winds – to give birth to further children, and this she did, bringing forth Nirni, the majestic sands and lush forests, and Azurah, the dusk and dawn, as well as the Moons and their Motions.

    It was at the time of her birthing that Fadomai was caught by Ahnurr who, angered at her trickery and disobedience, struck her. She, fearing for her life and children, fled with them to the Great Darkness and hid, giving birth to her final child, Lorkhaj. Having been born amidst the Great Darkness, the Khajiit believe that Lorkhaj’s heart was filled with such, and thus was the Great Darkness made aware of itself and then known as Namiira.

    There, amidst the darkness and surrounded by her children, Fadomai came to the realization that her death was near and set the moons, Jone and Jode, in the skies to guide her children and protect them from Ahnurr’s wrath. She gave also to Nirni her “greatest gift” proclaming that she would give birth to as many children as Fadomai had; at this, Nirni was pleased, for she saw that of all Fadomai’s children Azurah, with whom she bitterly fought from their first breath, had been left with nothing.

    Protected by the Lunar Lattice, the children of Fadomai left, save for Azurah. Into the silence and void their absence caused, Azurah approached her mother and was then given her gifts in the form of three secrets. She was told to take one of Nirni’s children and change them, making them the fastest, cleverest, and most beautiful of creatures, naming them the Khajiit; second, that they must be fashioned as the best climbers, to climb upon the winds of Khenarthi’s breath and set Masser and Secunda aright, lest they fail; lastly, that the Khajiit must be the best deceivers, able to hide their true nature from others. Then Fadomai died, and Azurah left to join her kin.

    With this knowledge Azurah watched as Nirni, eager to give birth to her children, approached Lorkhaj to whom she appealed to create for her children a dwelling; this he did, and yet the Great Darkness in his heart forced him to deceive his siblings so that they were trapped in the new place with Nirni. However, while many perished in this, many fled to become the stars, and those who remained punished Lorkhaj by tearing out his heart and hiding it deep within Nirni, so that he would be with her whom he had done the most harm to for all the ages to come.

    Thus amongst the new world of Lorkhaj’s creation, Nirni came to give birth to her children, who were many, but weeped bitter tears for her favorite – the forest people – who did not know their proper shape. It was at this time that Azurah came forth and comforted her, taking some of the forest people and placing them in the deserts and forests of Nirni. There she fashioned them in many forms, one for each purpose they might need, and having done so, named them the Khajiit, teaching them the secrets entrusted to her, and binding them to the Lunar Lattice.

    In speaking the secrets, the first was heard by Y’ffer, who told Nirni of Azurah’s deed. Nirni, in retribution for her changed, and now lost, children made the deserts hot and sands biting, and filled the forests with water and poison. Finally, to separate her beloved children from those of Azurah, she allowed Y’ffer to change those who remained so that they would always be of the mer, and never beasts, and named them Bosmer. From that moment forth, the two were eternally separated and, as with their makers, were bound in animosity one with the other.

    It is via this story, passed down by the Clan Mothers, that the Khajiit explain not only their origins, but their bind to the moons and strife with the Bosmer. While correllations with the gods of other religions may be drawn – most notably between the names associated with each (Azurah and Azura, Alkosh and Akatosh, Lorkhaj and Lorkan, etcetera), the Khajiit maintain their version of the world’s genesis as the only pure rendition.

    long…………
    And Nirn can be considered part of Oblivion, as it lies in between the Planes of Oblivion

  17. Sydney says:

    It’s far, far too late for me to comment on this post, but I’ll do it anyway. In one of my favorite books of all time (The Source of Magic, from the Xanth series by Piers Anthony), the main character looks for…well, the source of magic…and eventually stumbles upon a major Demon, whose radiant magic (like our radiant body heat) provides the magic that makes Xanth all magicky.

    The Demon is paralyzed, but conscious, and has been so since as far back as history goes. The main character (Bink) can free the Demon with no effort, just by saying “I free you” or whatever.

    Now, all along, the antagonist (the Brain Coral) has been attempting to stymie Bink, because it’s been using some kind of future-telling hoodoo and knows that Bink will eventually free the Demon – and in doing so, destroy the magic of Xanth. And instead of doing battle, the Coral inveigles Bink into a philosophical/ethical debate as to whether the Demon ought be freed at the cost of the bedrock of the lives of everyone in Xanth. The principle of “Freedom” versus the pragmatism of safeguarding the means by which the Xanthians (who, of course, don’t know how to live without their magic, rather as we real people don’t know how to live without our technology) go about their day-to-day life.

    It’s fascinating, and the best three or four pages of any book I’ve ever read. And this post reminds me of it very strongly – the rights (as we see them, remember!) of a vastly powerful entity, controlled by mere mortals, at their own risk. I agree with you – this could have been a great ending.

  18. Marcus says:

    I do not care how late this post is. What i liked about Morrowind (among other things) was, that there were so many different versions of historical events. Every group and race had their own version of the “truth”, and while some versions were more likly than others, there is no telling of what is the real story – if any of them is at all – especially when it comes to gods and demons.

    There were alone 4-5 versions of what happened between Dagoth Ur and the Tribunal.

    • rdemetri says:

      Also a late post….

      But I just have to say – I completely agree with you Marcus…. That was one of the things that made Morrowind so great – a multitude of beliefs and people and histories and cultures within cultures clashing….

      I actually had forgotten that as I was mentally comparing Oblivion and Morrowind in my mind. Kudos to you for reminding me.

  19. Fatass says:

    alright so if all this happened where the hell did that huge ass jyggalag thing come from

  20. Gamer says:

    I actually had the main quest glitch on me too. When Mancar Camoran
    (sp) was making his big evil speech in his big evil cave of evil, I causally walked behind him, turned invisible, the slashed him with the weapon I had at the time. He was dead while the game assumed he went to his paradise, so nothing strange happened until I went to paradise and no one was there at the end. I had to reload a previous save and never touch the main quest for the rest of that playthrough. It was weird.

  21. Nilkad says:

    Actually the revelation that Tamriel is Dagon’s plane of Oblivion and the Divines are usurpers is barely scratching the surface of TES’s bizarre metaphysics. Even the 16 planes of Oblivion are just a big metaphor inside some greater being’s dream. Vivec, who you may remember as being a Big Deal in Morrowind, derived his considerable reality-shaping powers from the fact that he perceived the truth, that the world is a dream; he essentially saw the Matrix, and depending on what path is taken through the game the player character can do this as well. This metaphysical screwery is mentioned all over Morrowind in books and such as well, some even go so far as to make veiled references to the player’s ability to save and reload game states.

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