Will Oblivion fan remaster ‘Skyblivion’ release this year?


The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was one of the best role-playing games of the last decade, there’s no doubt about that. Nonetheless, it never was as popular as Bethesda’s last Elder Scrolls game, Skyrim.

This is because despite having been released almost 10 years ago, The Elder Scroll V: Skyrim remains a very popular video game. And this is not only because Skyrim is a vast open-world game which you can sink hundreds of hours into, but also because thousands of user mods have been released for the game since it came out in November 2011.

Some of these mods do little more than make the game prettier, while others add new quests, characters and items such as weapons to the game. Meanwhile, “total conversion” mods such as Enderal exist, which are whole games in their own right.

Thankfully, another total conversion mod for Skyrim is aiming to recreate its predecessor The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion inside Skyrim, enhancing the graphics and gameplay of Bethesda’s classic.

This will let those who are longing to relive Oblivion a chance to do so with updated graphics and gameplay thanks to the people behind the TES Renewal Project, who are recreating older Elder Scrolls games in new game engines.

The “Skyblivion” mod project has been in development since 2012, and at some point it seemed that it may never see the light of day, it apparently being stuck in development hell. The thing is, will this Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion fan remaster release anytime soon, maybe even this year?

A development video put out by the Skyblivion team earlier this year highlighted the challenges of the project and also how far along they’ve come in all this time. And judging by this video, it seems unlikely Skyblivion will be ready for a 2021 launch.

For starters, there’s the fact that Oblivion’s map is a third bigger than Skyrim’s (57 square kilometers according to the video), although the team claim that the “first pass” is to be completed for most of the map by year’s end, with “polish and additional details” remaining.

And indeed different sections of the map, for instance the snow-covered, steep Jerall Mountains close to the border with the province of Skyrim, and other areas such as the lush Nibenay region with its valleys and tall trees are looking great right now.

The team has apparently put in quite a bit of effort into reimagining Cyrodiil (the fantasy province where Oblivion takes place), and says that “they are inching closer and closer to completing the exterior world space every day”.

Regarding interiors in the game, there are more than 2600 interiors in Oblivion (which is not surprising taking into account this is a game of massive scope and size), with the video’s narrator pointing out that saying the team has “their work cut out for them” would be “and understatement”.

Also, while Oblivion’s original dungeons were based on a few templates, the Skyblivion team has embarked on the ambitious task of reworking every dungeon, cave and mine. This is based on for instance, descriptions made by NPCs or the specific quests that take place in them.

A gameplay video released recently shows off their work – the “exhausted mine” players have to enter to solve a quest is described by a character in the game as having lots of twists and turns and having been “infested by a goblin tribe”, and this is reflected in-game as seen in the video below.

The development video discussed before also covers the team’s progress on 3D objects, of which there are more than 8000 3D objects in Oblivion. The people behind Skyblivion are still looking for 3D artists to join the team and help work on redesigning all these in-game assets, suggesting this will take a while to finish yet.

All the 3D objects in the game from tables to vases will be different depending on the social class of the character they belong to as well, as was the case in the original game. Items found in the various palaces of counts and countesses across Cyrodiil will obviously be luxurious in appearance, and not so much those found in a farmer’s homestead.

Also, we get a glimpse of sword and armors, which are looking really good at this point, even if redesigning all these will be a mammoth task for the Skyblivion team too given how many variants there are in the original game, including the “Debaser” magical sword seen in the gameplay video above.

Additionally, work on Ayleid ruins began late last year, which are ancient elf ruins which dot the map in Oblivion. And it’s definitely a good thing that the team is giving “love and attention” to these, as raiding the Ayleid ruins was always one of the most fun aspects of playing Oblivion.

Hunting for the precious “welkynd stones” inside these ruins to sell to merchants in places such as the game’s Imperial City was always a fun diversion in Oblivion, and I’m definitely looking forward to doing so again in Skyblivion.

Regarding quests, the team has refined their “quest conversion tool” to convert the quests in Oblivion to the Skyrim engine, and finally put these in the game. According to the video, the tool the team has been working on since 2016 has saved them “years of work”.

Right now, most quests can be started in-game, but there are still minor and major issues to solve in most of these. The Skyblivion team might even have to introduce new “factions, scenes and scripts” to make certain quests work, taking into account the differences between Oblivion and Skyrim’s systems. The final part of implementing quests in Skyblivion is “not without its challenges” according to the video’s narrator.

And taking all this into account, a Skyblivion launch this year looks unlikely. But despite the fact the project has been going since 2012, the challenges of it, and the fact that remastering Oblivion is something Bethesda itself did not attempt back in the day due to the amount of work involved, Elder Scrolls fans looking to play Skyblivion should just be patient.

Sometime in 2022 is a good bet for a Skyblivion launch, then, although the people behind Skyblivion mention on the game’s official website that “currently there is no solid release date”.

Also, there’s Skywind, a similar project that aims to do to Morrowind what Skyblivion is doing to Oblivion, but is further away from release. Although it’s pretty obvious most of the volunteer team behind TES Renewal is working on Skyblivion right now.

Skyblivion will almost certainly see a release before The Elder Scrolls VI does though – part 6 of Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls series is still along way away from release, as the company is currently hard at work on its sci-fi RPG Starfield which won’t come out until late 2022.

But it likely won’t be long before people are once again exploring the fantasy world of Cyrodiil and hunting goblins in caves in Skyblivion, though.

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