Oblivion’s Soundtrack Is Perfect For Adventuring

Image: Bethesda / MobyGames / Kotaku

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.


Faux Bravo

I’m about to wrap up Skyrim this afternoon (I saved last night as I entered Sovngarde. I could have probably finished, but it was late and I had to get up this morning), and I was thinking of playing Oblivion as a potential next option, as I never got too far into it back in the day. The music sounds like about what I’d expect for this kind of game, though these tracks do make me feel like I’m playing and adventuring even when I’m just listening to them here.

Of course, as I installed Oblivion recently, knowing I might play it soon, they had to release news that that Skyrim mod is... almost done? So now I don’t know if I wait to experience the game with better graphics, or just have at it with the standard engine.

Reign of the Septims actually makes me feel like I should be on a boat. Maybe ES 6 will be pirate-y. Why are there so few pirate games?