Oh, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, what words should I use to describe thee? As I've mentioned before, this game is my favorite of the Elder Scrolls franchise by a long way. While it may not have the weird edge of Morrowind, or the more impressive graphics and better voice acting of Skyrim, it has something else. What it is I find hard to put my finger on, but I've got a couple hundred words here to try. The game created an immersive world like none of the other games in the franchise have been able to. It made a world that you actually kind of wanted to live in. The graphics have aged, but they're still gorgeous, and exploring the sun-dappled meadows, or the seedy underbelly of Bruma is still exceptionally immersive.
It had quests that never felt like you were just going from A to B. Instead, they were lovingly crafted, as with almost every Elder Scrolls game, I let the main quest go hang while I ran off in the world doing mad stuff. I joined the Dark Brotherhood after attacking a man for no reason other than I wanted his sword. I stole from the high and the low of society. I plundered every dungeon I could, and became fat from the profits. However, there are some parts that I definitely missed, including some on this list. Which of these have you not yet discovered? Excuse me, I'm just going to go reinstall it.
30 The Painting That Transports You To Another World
In Cheydinal, you’ll find the quest “A Brush With Death.” It’s not an important quest, and is exceptionally easy to miss. Should you follow it, you’re in for a treat. A woman’s artist husband is missing, and she has no idea where he’s gone. Approaching his painting, you’ll find all is far from it seems. Touch the painting, and you’ll be teleported into it. Do battle with painted trolls using turpentine, and you’ll eventually be able to free the artist.
29 A Unicorn You Can Ride
Want to ride a unicorn? Of course, you do. Make your way to the Inn of Ill Omen near Bravil, and head north-east. Eventually, you’ll stumble upon the Harcane Grove, containing the game’s only unicorn. Approach with your weapon sheathed, else it will turn hostile and end you with ease. Also, beware: the grove contains a trio of minotaurs who can also end you with a single swat as though you were a fly. Oh, and you can't keep the unicorn: once you get off it, it'll be on its merry way. It is a fantastic easter egg, though.
28 The Bloated Float
This unassuming looking inn is based in a ship on the Waterfront of the Imperial City. Assumptions however, can be deceiving. Sleep in the inn, and you’ll be awoken to find you’re far out to sea. The ship has been hijacked by pirates, and you’ll need to take care of them, then get this ship/inn back to port. Complete the quest, and you’ll be rewarded with a great cutlass, the Blackwater Blade, as well as a big bag of gold for taking care of their leader, Selene.
27 The Troll's Good-Bye
This is kind of tragic, really. Between Cheydinhal and Leyawiin, you’ll find a troll face down in the water, complete with a note. The note, described as "poorly scrawled," is heartbreaking. The troll describes himself as "wurst troll evur," and is haunted by the fact that nobody pays his toll. He believes he isn't scary enough, and decided to end it. Poor guy, someone should make a mod where you give him some counseling and turn things around with him.
26 A Hidden Fight Club
So, you want to join a fight club, do you? Well, you won't find Brad Pitt or Edward Norton here, just some butt ugly potato-faced NPCs beating the snot out of each other. Go to Anvil docks around midnight, and you’ll encounter a bunch of NPCs duking it out. Why it's there, I'm not entirely sure, since it's not involved with a quest. You can’t join in, sadly, and if you try to, you'll incur some serious pain. Oh, and very obviously, don’t tell anyone about it.
25 The Ghost Of A Mudcrab
In a very late quest in Oblivion's main story, you head to the severely-misnamed Paradise, the realm of the Dremora Mankar Camoran. When you're working through this place, you may spot a remote island. There’s no quest objective about swimming out to it, so most players simply ignore it. If you decide to make the journey, you’ll encounter the ghost of a mudcrab. It’ll attack you like every other mudcrab, and can be ended. I imagine ghost meat is a delicacy in some part of Tamriel.
24 All Things Alchemical's Original Store
All Things Alchemical is located in Skingrad, as every keen Oblivion player knows. However, this wasn’t Falanu Hlaalu’s first store. You can discover the original store near Memorial Cave, southeast of the Imperial City, on the shores of Lake Rumare. These ruins contain a whole heap of potions and ingredients, very useful for the heroes out there. What caused Falanu to have to move on is unknown, but judging from the state of the stall, it must have been something dramatic.
23 Border Watch And Its Apocalypse
Do Sheogorath’s daedric quest and you’ll be able to kick off the end of the world early in a town called Border Watch. This involves...well. A lot of things really. Firstly, you have to steal a prize cheese collection (well, it would make me think the world is ending too), cause a plague of rats, and eliminate livestock. Sheogorath takes care of the rest, and it's clear he has a flair for the dramatic. Why? Well, he makes it rain flaming dogs. What else would be fit for a god of madness?
22 The Testinghall
Have you ever looked up into the sky and pondered on what lies beyond? Had the inhabitants of Cyrodiil done that, they may be surprised at the answer. Located high in the sky is the Testinghall. Accessed through the "coc testinghall" console command, this place contains a bounty of goods, by which I mean, literally everything in Cyrodiil. A library of every book in the game, an armory with every weapon and bit of gear, every single creature, and grounds to test lockpicking, AI, and lighting, among other things.
21 A Body With An Amazing Helmet
How would you like a helmet that gives you the ability to breathe underwater, see in the dark, and detect life? You’d like that a lot, right? The helmet is called Fin Gleam, and it’s located on a skeleton hidden on the western side of an island to the west of Anvil! You will need a potion of nighteye and some way of breathing underwater to find it. It’s so easy to miss, but is well worth finding, even if for no other reason than it being worth 2401 septims.
20 A Landlocked Ship In Black Rock Caverns
Black Rock Caverns are located northwest of Chorrol. There’s no real reason to go here, but it contains one of the coolest secrets in the game. Make your way through the caverns, and you’ll make your way to a pirate ship floating in knee deep water in this landlocked cave. It was sealed in following a cave collapse but getting there is well worth it. Fight the ghostly pirates and their captain, and you’ll find a huge amount of gold on their corpses, as well as a chest containing some excellent loot.
19 A Powerful Bow And Mace
In the Deadrealms, you can find a tower that’s been destroyed, and inside, a game-breakingly powerful enchanted bow and mace. You have to jump through lava to make it, but the reward is well worth it. The mace is somewhat similar to the hammer Volendrung, which you can get as a reward from the daedric lord Malacath, in return for completing his quest. These weapons are, as I said, exceptionally powerful, and the fact that they're just hidden away in plain sight is something I love about Oblivion.
18 Crucible’s Hidden Loot
In The Shivering Isles, there’s an unmarked quest called “The Paranoid Roof Watcher.” In this quest, you have to gain access to the town's roofs, where you'll find a note and a key. The note recounts the story of a deranged person living on the town's roofs, spying on its inhabitants. While you're skipping around the roofs, however, keep your eyes open. For those with good observation skills, there is a sizable amount of gold and other loot stashed away up there.
17 Exploring The Dreamworld
"Through A Nightmare, Darkly" is a quest quite unlike any others in the game. In it, you're tasked with exploring the dreams of Henatier, who is trapped in a terrible slumber. Through the course of this quest, you have to complete various challenges, including the claustrophobic Test of Courage, where you must swim through a narrow, waterlogged passage, the Test of Resolve, where you need to off a pair of Minotaurs, and the Test of Patience, which is a walking puzzle. It's exceptionally well-designed, varied, and you need to play it.
16 Skooma Drop
Around its release, a big deal was made of Oblivion's Radiant AI, which gave every NPC their own schedule. Sure, it may not seem like a big deal now, but back then, it truly was. Their implementation continues to be compelling to this day, however. The crime syndicate, the Camonna Tong, has affiliates across Cyrodiil. One of these is the Orum gang, run by a pair of Orcs of the same name, who own a barrel in the Imperial City's Waterfront district. They actually make drug drops to it fairly regularly. Why not intercept it and sell it on yourself?
15 The Isolated House
This house is located north of the T in the “West” of “West Weald” on the map, halfway between Bravil and Skingrad. You’ll find the house at the end of a ramshackle dirt road. There’s nothing here, or so it seems. Once you’ve completed the Priory quest, if you come back here, you’ll find an Oblivion Gate has spawned atop the house. It can even spawn while you’re exiting the house, giving you a shock. Bandits can respawn here, so it's likely being used as a hideout.
14 Lost Boy Cavern
Despite the name, this place has nothing to do with Peter Pan. It is however, well worth your time to investigate. The quest here doesn't appear in your journal, and you need to be pretty powerful to stand a chance to complete it. If you decide to head inside, you'll gradually unravel a fascinating story. It seems that a necromancer called Erandur, who was expelled from the Mages' Guild, made his way here, and got turned into a lich. There's no coming back from this, so you've got to rid the world of him for once and for all.
13 The Hill Of Good-Byes
When you're heading here, you know you're not going to find a bunch of puppies bathing in the light of rainbows. Its found in the Shivering Isles DLC, and upon heading there, you'll discover a set of ghosts. It's up to you to free their souls from eternal unrest, but how you need to do it isn't pretty. You have to retrieve their skulls from their body. Do this for all of the ghosts, and you'll get a power that allows you to reanimate bodies, keeping it alive for a whole 60 seconds.
This is one of my personal favorite quests in all of Elder Scrolls history. A fairly late Dark Brotherhood quest, it takes place in Summitmist Manor in Skingrad, where you’re locked in to a party with a host of other guests with one job: end them all. Sure, you can just run in with all axes flailing, but you can also manipulate the other guests into doing your job for you. Work it well, and you can make the last two fight to the death before eliminating the victor.
11 Fort Grief
Have you ever read The Most Dangerous Game? If you have, you'll know where the Oblivion quest "Caught In The Hunt" is going. The quest begins with you having to track down a woman's missing husband, but following various directions, you end up at Fort Grief. Here, you find that a local ne'er-do-well likes to lure people to the island to hunt them for sport. Now, that's no way for a hero to go, is it? Survive the hunt, and you're tasked with the job of telling the local woman how her husband passed. Out of the frying pan, etc.
10 Odiil Farm
9 Shetcombe Farm
This is another farm that looks like nothing from the outside. Unlike Odiil, however, there's no goblins to get got here. Instead, this place hosts the quest "The Sunken One." As the name implies, it's got a few Lovecraftian angles up its sleeves. It turns out that the farm's owner, Slythe Siringi, worships a being known as The Sunken One. He believes that the Oblivion gates are opening because said one is angry at mankind. Work your way through this quest, and you'll be told a creepy, surprising, and downright interesting story.
8 Pale Pass
Pale Pass is a fort hidden away in the Jeralls, which once paid host to an Akaviri invasion force. In more ways than one, their legacy remains in this place. You're sent to this place to recover an artefact, but you get more than you bargained for once it turns out that the ghosts of the Akaviri are still lurking here. Ultimately, you're required to fight the ghost of the brilliant tactician Mishaxhi, who is a tough foe and no mistake. Once you've done so, his spirit will finally be at rest.
7 Roland’s House
I know that may not seem like the most exciting place name, but this place has a few secrets. Most importantly, it's an important place for the vampire hunting crew, The Order Of The Virtuous Blood. See, they think that Roland is a vampire, and need you to search his house for clues. However, this is a story with a lot of twists in the tail, and neither Roland nor the questgiver, Seridur, may be what they seem. Regardless, you're in for a treat with this quest.
You’ll likely only venture to Hackdirt as part of a quest to rescue an Argonian called Dar-Ma. Breaking into the room she rented at the town’s Inn, you’ll be able to find her journal. This leads you to the caves under the town, inhabited by villagers with huge eyes and a hatred of outsiders. These guys and gals worship a group of mysterious gods called The Deep Ones, who have all kinds of Lovecraftian qualities. The worship went underground following a crushing oppression by the Empire, but it can still be felt all too sharply in this town.
5 The Burnt-Down Tower
4 Fort Magia
It’s very likely that you’ve never encountered this fort. You have no reason to go there whatsoever (though you can find a bottle of Shadowbanish Wine there for the “A Venerable Vintage” quest). Located in the Waterfront region, it contains an undead boss and two boss chests, as well as a LOT of water. What does said water contain? Slaughterfish. Thousands of ‘em. Should you fight your way through, however, you’ll be in for some excellent loot. Just remember to bring a silver weapon for fighting the boss.
3 The Only Master Marksman
Want to train your way up to master level from expert? You’re going to have a problem. See, the only trainer for this level is Alawen, who you’ll often find at Troll Candle Camp. She won’t even mention training you until you’re at expert level, making her even easier to miss. When you reach that level, she won’t train you unless you have an elven bow. Oh, and she can be ended. That’s right. So make sure to be carrying an elven bow when you’re heading there to meet her!
2 The Sewers Of The Imperial City
Ah, the Imperial City's sewers. Your foul smelling escape route from prison at the start of the game, many probably never return after they stumble out, blinking and in a daze, at the start of the game. That's a shame. Why? Well, you can use them to travel about literally every part of the city. This is exceptionally useful for certain characters, like thieves, who want to evade guards, or vampires, who need to avoid sunlight at all costs. Give it a go! It may not smell good, but you'll be surprised where you can go.
You know what people say about village life? That it's nice because everyone knows everyone? That may be an issue here in Aleswell. See, everyone is invisible. So are their animals. No one really knows why, but understandably, the villagers believe this to be quite the predicament. They have their suspicions, however — there's a strange wizard located in Fort Caractacus who may have something to do with it. I'll say no more, but it's a cool quest, with a cool reward in the shape of free stays at the village's inn.