So that's the end of Oblivion. I'm not going to be playing through Shivering Isles, I've read through the "main" quests for the expansion and it involves murdering someone, which is not what Kerra is about. She's just not that sort of Khajiit. Besides, it makes transitioning into Skyrim that much more difficult if I have to somehow write about becoming a Daedric Prince while still managing to get captured by the Imperial Legion in Skyrim. It just makes no sense!
Oblivion took me roughly six months to blog through. The main quest of Oblivion is dumped on you right away and is presented as something that needs to be taken care of RIGHT NOW. I can hardly have Kerra cheerfully climb the ranks of the Mages Guild while Tamriel is being rent asunder by Daedra. That would just seem really weird and obvious that I was ignoring the main story to draw the game out more. So I didn't ignore the story, but finished the game much quicker than I anticipated.
Not only does the main quest begin when you click 'New Game' unlike Morrowind, but almost all of the tasks within the quest lead right into the next one. As a player, you can deliver a Great Welkynd Stone to Martin and then forget about him for the next two game weeks, but I found it much too difficult to justify that from an in-character perspective. Everything that needs to be done is presented as an utmost urgency. Great, thanks for the Welkynd Stone, but now we need a bigger Sigil Stone. Cue the biggest plot-hole in the game! I had to pretend Martin opened the Gate just to make sense of the incredible coincidence the Battle of Bruma really was.
Despite owning the game for many years I went into Oblivion nearly blind, previously only having played up to the part where you first arrive at Cloud Ruler Temple. It occurs pretty early in the main quest. While I knew generally how close to the end I was, I made sure not to spoil it for myself, figuring that would somehow make my writing a bit more believable. It's your decision as to whether or not that worked, but I was a bit surprised at how quickly I was done. I suspect a "straight" play-through of the main quest would result in a game of Oblivion two to three hours long.
What that caused, however, were instances where the plot moved along faster than I had anticipated, such as when you destroy Paradise and you come back to Martin only for him to immediately hightail it out of Cloud Ruler Temple and into the endgame. I thought there would have been a gap, but nope! If I had the option I would have spent a few days doing something else before going to the Imperial City, figuring in-character that our side was finally holding all the cards and therefore letting Kerra do...I dunno. Something new.
Speaking of the endgame, only the Battle for Bruma and the final battle within the Imperial City was anything remotely interesting for me. Everything else was either a fetch or escort quest, period. You're either finding an item or person at one location and making sure it or he arrives at another location. That's the entire storyline of Oblivion. The only time that isn't true is when you have to kill two Mythic Dawn "spies", but they're right outside the Cloud Ruler Temple where you receive the quest. It takes five seconds. The Main Quest is almost entirely "Go here, get that, give it to me". Thus the 'Champion of Cyrodiil' is born. They should have had one of the Black Horse couriers become the Champion.
The side-effect of such quests is that my progression of equipment barely progressed at all. I fought most of the game with a simple Silver long sword and only found my second most-used weapon, an Elvish short sword, close to the end of the game. It was just luck that the Great Gate outside of Bruma coughed up an Elvish long sword and I obviously did not have that for long. I spent most of the game unarmored until bandits started wearing Mithril, since blocking with my shield provided about as much protection as wearing leathers. I never saw better than Mithril and occasionally Orcish.
Did I have fun playing Oblivion? Not really. I thought I would. I figured the smoother "flow" of the game compared to the somewhat stuttering nature of playing Morrowind would make for a more entertaining experience, but it didn't. Morrowind let you define yourself before becoming involved with the main quest and kind of let you decide how you were going to handle it. Oblivion drops the main quest in your lap even before your character's creation is finalized and while you can intentionally ignore it and do other things your options are very limited. I know the Dark Brotherhood is lauded for being an excellent series of quests, but unless you were willing to stick with the game's predefined quest strings you were not going to have much to do. Exploring was pointless unless you really enjoyed caves and there were far fewer factions to join. Oblivion boasts a larger landmass than Morrowind, but Morrowind felt a whole lot bigger.
On to Skyrim I go. There is a far larger gap between Oblivion and Skyrim than Morrowind and Oblivion, but I think Kerra will just be trying to keep her head down and not stay in one place too long while the Empire crumbles. I'll think of how I want to write her "in-between" story and probably start on Skyrim next week, if not this Friday.