Bethseda Softworks has revealed new story and gameplay details on its upcoming title, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. "Since starting this project two years ago, our goal has been to create the quintessential RPG of the next generation," said series executive producer Todd Howard. "We looked back at what we had done with the series, and then looked ahead to what the future of video games could be, and we think this is it."
Oblivion is a single-player game taking place in Cyrodiil, the capital province of Tamriel. The Emperor has been killed by an unknown assassin; with the throne vacant, the gates to Oblivion (Tamriel's equivalent of hell) open, and demons begin to invade the province and attack its people and towns. The player is tasked with finding the lost heir to the throne.
In keeping with Elder Scrolls tradition, players can experience the main quest at their own pace, with many opportunities to explore the world. The player can join numerous factions, such as the thieves or mages guilds; each contains its own complete storyline, with the chance to rise to the head of the faction and reap further rewards.
Oblivion features a new AI system called Radiant AI, which gives NPCs the ability to make their own choices based on the world around them. They'll decide where to eat or who to talk to and what they'll say. They'll sleep, go to church, and even steal items, all based on their individual characteristics. All NPCs will feature full facial animations and lip synching, combined with full speech for all dialogue. "With Oblivion, we're taking the idea of a virtual fantasy world as far as it will go," Howard said.
No release date has been announced for the title. For more information, see The Elder Scrolls website.