Oblivion’s Soundtrack Is Perfect For Adventuring

Image: Bethesda / MobyGames / Kotaku
Morning MusicMorning MusicSet your dial to Morning Music to enjoy friendly chat and great game music with other early risers. Coffee optional!

Welcome to Morning Music, Kotaku’s daily hangout for folks who love video games and the cool-ass sounds they make. Today we return to the adventurous world and epic soundtrack of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (playlist / longplay / VGMdb) was a big deal when it came out in March of 2006. The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind enjoyed tremendous success on Xbox, catapulting the series into the limelight. People were excited to play the next huge Elder Scrolls game, and it was going to be on the just-released Xbox 360. I was extremely excited to play the game, and finally got my hands on it a few months after release. I was blown away by the experience. And before I even started playing its soundtrack kicked in.

Let’s listen:

Bethesda / HipHopWithAMeanings (YouTube)

Seriously, that opening track is incredible. Holy shit. Even today, hearing that song makes me want to stop everything, pick up a controller, and start exploring the virtual world of Cyrodiil. The soundtrack to Oblivion was composed by a shitbag, so let’s move on and instead talk about the music. A lot of other folks were involved in creating Oblivion’s soundtrack, and their work is great. For example, let’s listen to “Sunrise of Flutes,” one of my favorite tracks.

Bethesda / HipHopWithAMeaning (YouTube)

This is music for exploring and adventuring. What’s wild is I haven’t played Oblivion in over six years and I still remember specific moments that happened while these various songs were playing in the background. For example, I remember trying to find some Nirnroot, a rare plant, to “Sunrise of Flutes.”. I also remember how the battle music would kick in at the slightest provocation, even if just a lowly mudcrab crept up on you:

Bethesda / HipHopWithAMeaning (YouTube)

Yeah, it was a silly example of the dynamic music failing, but it also added to the game’s charm. Plus, when these battle tunes played during big, dangerous fights involving demons, it proved how effective these songs could be at conveying that sense of epic fantasy. To play us out, let’s take a listen to one more song I love, “Harvest Dawn.”

Bethesda / HipHopWithAMeaning (YouTube)

Later Bethesda games have had fantastic and memorable soundtracks too, and I expect that I’ll get around to writing about some of them in the future. But none of them occupy the same space in my brain as Oblivion’s mix of playful flutes, somber harps, and heavy drums. Oblivion the game might have been a bit generic compared to Morrowind or even Skyrim, but its soundtrack really did make you feel like you had been dropped right in the middle of some high-fantasy novel, and I’ll always appreciate that.

That’s it for today’s Morning Music! I may be downloading Skyrim and Oblivion even as you read these words. Listening to either game’s soundtrack does that to me. Anyway, have a chat down below about this soundtrack or anything else. See you tomorrow!

Kotaku Weekend Editor | Zack Zwiezen is a writer living in Kansas. He has written for GameCritics, USgamer, Kill Screen & Entertainment Fuse.

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In 2006, I spent $1500 of my hard-earned money on a tricked-out Dell XPS 410, and while it wasn’t super-duper-absolute-top-of-the-line-everything great, it was $1500 in 2006 great, and that was good enough to get a consistent framerate on any AAA title I could throw at it.

The first one? Oblivion, a game I played to death and then through an entire goddamn afterlife—I didn’t get my Steam account until 2009 (Empire: Total War saw to that), so Oblivion was on disc, but if I’d had Steam, that game would probably to this day rank top 3 if not number 1 all time for hours played.

And the music NEVER, not once, got old. That soundtrack was a masterpiece, Jeremy Soule earning himself a place on the game music composers’ Mount Rushmore as the only Westerner next to Nobuo Uematsu, Yasunori Mitsuda, and Koji Kondo.