Oblivion is a good game, sure. But it can be so much better! Oblivion has one of the strongest modding communities for any game, and the /v/'s Recommended Games Wiki is here to help you benefit.
You may or may not wish to play through Oblivion without any mods first, but it's probably a good idea. If you can't stand the original Oblivion, like many people, go ahead and jump right into modding it.
A good companion resource can be found here: http://cs.elderscrolls.com/constwiki/index.php/Oblivion_Mods_FAQ
Modifying Oblivion 101
- Vanilla means original, how the game would be if you had no mods.
- Mods can conflict. If you have two mods that modify the same things, then you have a problem.
- Because of this, the order in which mods are loaded is important. The mod that is loaded last has its modifications applied last, and therefore will be what you see during the game.
- Don't install 50 mods at once. Play the game (at least load the engine) in between installing mods, so you know what caused the problem when something goes wrong.
Basic Instructions For Installing A Mod
- Read the instructions that come with the mod. Really.
- Put the .esp, .esm, or .bsa files into C:\Program Files\Bethesda Softworks\Oblivion\Data
- Open up the Oblivion Mod Manager.
- Put a checkmark next to the mod in the pane on the right.
- If you have BOSS, run it. Click BOSS.bat and it will order your mods correctly.
- If you ran BOSS, scan through the mod list it gave you. If there are any comments read them and obey.
- If you ran BOSS, if any conflicts were detected, go back into OBMM and disable the conflicting mods.
- Start the game.
Slightly More Complicated Instructions For Installing A Mod
Sometimes, you want to be able to uninstall a mod, or see if you'll have conflicts before installing it. This is where OBMM comes in handy
- Extract the mod to a folder and make sure that the files are all in the right places.
- Open up OBMM and click 'Create'. Enter in the title of the mod, and other information if you want.
- Click 'Add Folder', and browse to the folder where the files that would go in the Oblivion\Data folder are.
- Click 'Create OMOD'. The files will be added to an OMOD archive stored in your Oblivion folder.
- Double-click on the OMOD in the list to the right. A green box means the OMOD is present but not installed, a blue box means it is installed, and a red box means there are potential conflicts.
Running Oblivion in High-Detail on Low-End Computers
Step 1 : The Programs
What does this do? Sorts your mods out into the correct loading order so your game doesn't get messed up. Make sure you also download the updated master-list as well. Dump it into your Data folder in your Oblivion installation directory and don't touch it for now.
This is the Oblivion Mod Manager, straightforward enough for most people. It also offers a feature to make your own OMOD files as well as install them.
This is a straightforward installation as it comes in .exe form so you shouldn't make any mistakes with it.
Oblivion Script Extender, this is needed for some of the optimization mods. Once you've downloaded it shove it into your Oblivion directory. OMM will launch OBSE if it's installed, so as long as you have a shortcut to that, you're good. But if for some reason you don't, then go ahead and replace the shortcut you have with the .exe in OBSE.
Download the latest build here:
Step 2 : The Mods
If you've never installed Oblivion mods before they usually come in one of two ways. The majority of the time they are manual install, which basically just means pasting the extracted files directly into your data folder (located in your Oblivion directory). The minority of the time they appear as OMOD files; to install, you just double-click them, as long as you already have OBM installed. To enable OMOD files, make sure that the check-boxes within the right of Oblivion Mod Manager are blue and not green.
Unofficial Oblivion Patch:
This is the patch Bethesda should have made, it fixes a lot of CTD issues and overall improves gameplay throughout. If you also have Shivering Isles be sure to download the Unofficial patch for that as well:
Shivering Isle: http://www.nexusmods.com/oblivion/mods/10739
Low Poly Grass:
This mod significantly improves frame-rate dramatically by cutting down on the polygons used on the grass models. It comes in 3 modes, Low Poly Grass, Low-low Poly Grass and Alt Low Poly Grass. If you have Shivering Isle just download the SI Low Poly Grass version.
Short Grass v3:
Decreases the size of grass, once again improving fps. Doesn't conflict with the above mod.
Optimised Distant Land MAX:
This changes the distant land meshes to be less complex. It comes in two versions: 50% optimized, or 75%.
Quiet Feet MAX:
Reduces the sound file used for walking/running/horse galloping sound effects. The default sounds can lag some older systems.
This mod removes the parallax/displacement shader from about 500 different .nif files used in Oblivion. It replaces it with the standard diffuse shader that nearly everything else in the game uses. Why? Performance! On my machine, I gain an average of 5 FPS when playing in areas that use parallax shading with this modification. Also, movement in parallax-disabled areas now seems smoother to me. However, the trade-off is that these surfaces now appear very flat, and lose a bit of their previous shininess. But, this is the nature of performance tweaking.
Oblivion PolyGone Overhaul:
Oblivion PolyGone Overhaul (OPO) is an ambitious project to reduce Bethesda overly generous use of polygons on in-game objects with little to no loss in quality.
Oblivion Script Optimization:
This mods goal is to give a better performance by optimizing the scripts found in the game. Every frame hundreds sometimes thousands of scripts run in the background, this requires a lot of CPU processing power. Using this mod the CPU will be able to run them with less calculations, yet accomplishing the same goal.
Purge Cell Buffers:
A simple little mod that will purge the cell buffers, and what does purging the cell buffers mean? It means cleaning out all the cached data that is no longer being used. It comes in two versions, purging after loading screen and during cell changes. Recommenced to use loading screens option due to the cell change option can interrupt npcs talking.
The aim of this mod it to improve performance (FPS) without quality loss by optimizing large meshes used through out the game. Comes as a .exe for easy neck-beard access.
CaptNKILLs NonTiling Texture Mod:
Oblivion uses a lot of tiled textures in game, this mod removes them and replaces it with one big texture instead of thousands of smaller textures.
Reduces loading and increases frame-rate.
Step 3: Changing values in your .ini file
The Oblivion.ini file is located within My Documents/My Games/Oblivion
Before we start, I suggest making a backup of the Oblivion INI file
Change these to 1: bUseThreadedBlood
Change this to 5:
Set these to 9 and 10:
Now, for 1 gig of ram change these to 6 and 72; for 2 gigs or more, 16 and 102:
uInterior Cell Buffer
uExterior Cell Buffer
Change this one to 52428800:
And change all of these to 1:
This variable is default at 40. It controls how many clusters of grass there are in grassy areas. The higher the number, the less dense the clumps, and a greater FPS. The suggested change is to 120, but I put mine up to 200, and my FPS jumped by 5 FPS:
Step 4: Tying up the loose ends.
Well done if you made it this far you're pretty much done. The very last step you will need to do now is go to your data folder and hit the Boss.exe and Boss.bat file, these will sort your mods into correct loading order so your game doesn't crash. Now one last mod to install and you're done.
Download it and run it, this will remove the need to update your Archive Invalidation manually so your .BSA files will all be working correctly.
Now all that's done open up Oblivion Mod Manager make sure all your files are checked the ones on the left and right.
NOW YOU CAN PLAY!
That's it. If the game still doesn't run smoothly in high detail after all this, you probably need newer hardware.
How to Make Oblivion Playable
Do this first
- Install the game. (Just checking.)
- Install the expansion pack, Shivering Isles. A lot of mods are dependent on Shivering Isles, so having it will make things simpler. Whether you do or not is up to you, but it's important that you must know whether you have it installed or not.
- If you do have Shivering Isles, install the Official Shivering Isles Patch only. If you do not have Shivering Isles install, install the Official Oblivion Patch only. Do not install both patches.
- Install any official DLC that you want (ex: Wizard's Tower, Knights of the Nine, etc).
- Run Oblivion. Start a new game, skip the cutscene, make it to the character creation screen, then close your game. The purpose of this is because the game will only generate a lot of the information in the .ini once you load up the game the first time.
- Install the Oblivion Script Extender: . Put all the files directly in your Oblivion directory. By default, this should probably be C:\Program Files\Bethesda Softworks\Oblivion. Make sure they are not inside a subfolder. You'll know you did this right if you added a "src" folder and a bunch of files beginning with "obse" directly in the Oblivion directory.
- Install the Oblivion Mod Manager: . This is a crucial tool for sorting your mods and files.
- Install the BOSS (Better Oblivion Sorting Software). This sorts your mods and DLC in the right order so stuff doesn't get messed up when you play your game. Again, crucial.
- Install the Unofficial Oblivion Patch: .
- If you have Shivering Isles, install the Unofficial Shivering Isles Patch: .
- If you have any official DLC from Bethesda, install the Unofficial Official Mods Patch: .
- Install the Unofficial Oblivion Patch Supplementals. This is included in Unofficial Patches. No longer needed to install separately.
- Install any mods that you want.
- Once any mods and scripts that you want are installed, run BOSS (make sure to check the masterlist before letting it sort the order). From here, you must start your game via the obse_loader.exe file or through the mod manager if you wish to use any mods and scripts that rely on OBSE. This includes, but is not limited to, FastExit (which you will need after you install the patch supplementals), Oblivion XP, Animated Window Lighting System, Keychain, Crash Prevention scripts, Oblivion Stuter Remover, MenuQue (which you will need for Oblivion XP) and much more.
Installing scripts requires you to simply place certain files in certain folders for OBSE to use. There will almost always be a readme or guide for this, but it's not hard. OBSE is not technically an "essential tool" as a lot of mods don't rely on it, but there's a good chance that at least one of your mods will use it, so you'll need to get it anyway.
For mods, you will usually use Oblivion Mod Manager. There are different ways to do this, but most of the time it involves using the "create omod" button, then adding the archive of whatever mod you downloaded. If this doesn't work, often extracting the archive file and running the file will install the mod in OBMM (one example of this is DarNified UI). OBMM can also sync plugins with saves and use Archive Invalidation BSA tools to prevent troublesome errors (which you should do once in a while). It's easy to use and critical for mods.
Other tools exist, such as Wrye Bash and TES4 Edit cleaning. Wrye Bash is helpful for syncing a lot of things together, however it's not technically needed and there are many reports of people not being able to set it up / install it. And by many, I mean many. TES4 Edit cleaning also requires extensive knowledge on what dirty edits you're actually cleaning. Most mods don't have dirty edits, and the only real popular ones that do are the Official DLC. But for the edits that you do need to clean, it requires a lot of knowledge of what you're doing, so most people just ignore this.
You're free to experiment with whatever you want, but the best way to handle things is to install mods and scripts one by one; that is, installing them, then checking if your game loads correctly. If you don't know what you're doing, then there's a good chance that some mods might crash your game randomly. If you installed everything possible and then your game's crashing, you're now in deep trouble trying to figure out what the problem is. Some mods just don't work on certain computers for no explicable reason, so it's good to take things slow to figure out what works and what doesn't.
- Better Oblivion Sorting Software: 
- In a perfect world, this would erase any need to worry about load order. Unfortunately, it does make the occasional mistake if you have a very long mod list.
- Wrye Bash 
- Wrye Bash requires Python
- If you're reading this you probably won't know what to do with Wrye Bash; that's alright. Just leave it in your Oblivion directory, it is practically guaranteed that you will need it eventually. I'd suggest using the Oblivion Mod Manager over Wrye Bash to organize your mods.
- Streamline: 
- Quest Popup Remover: 
- Follow the instructions in the readme. Make sure the quest_added.xml file falls in C:\Program Files\Bethesda Softworks\Oblivion\data\menus\generic
- Quest Reward Leveler: 
- Map Marker Overhaul: 
- This mod is in OMOD-ready format. Open up OBMM, click Create, click Add Archive, select the zipped file you downloaded. Click yes, yes, Create omod. Click on Map Marker Overhaul in the right pane, and select the settings you want, though the default settings should work best.
- No Psychic Guards: 
- Modify your INI: C:\Documents and Settings\[username]\My Documents\My Games\Oblivion
- Find bBorderRegionsEnabled and set it to 0 to remove invisible walls at the borders of the world.
- Find SIntroSequence and remove all values to remove the Bethesda Softworks and 2K Games logo videos at startup.
- Read the advanced tweaking section of this guide, especially if you have a dual core processor: http://www.tweakguides.com/Oblivion_1.html
Place these in C:\Program Files\Bethesda Softworks\Oblivion\Data\OBSE\Plugins and they will automatically take effect.
- Windom Earle_s Oblivion Crash Prevention System: 
- Fast Exit: 
- Elys' Universal Silent Voice: 
- Elys' Uncapper: 
You'll want one UI mod. DarNified UI is the most popular.
- DarNified UI: http://www.nexusmods.com/oblivion/mods/10763
- DarkUId DarN: http://www.nexusmods.com/oblivion/mods/11280
- Phinix Immersive DarkUI: http://www.nexusmods.com/oblivion/mods/7698
- BTmod: http://btmod.beider.org/
You also might want this mod, which adds a minimap to the UI. It works with DarNified UI and DarkUI'd DarN: http://www.nexusmods.com/oblivion/mods/26220
There are many different overhauls for Oblivion: OOO, MMM, Warcry, Francesco's, TIE, etc. But /v/ doesn't use just one. /v/ uses all of them.
"FCOM: Convergence shatters previous barriers in the Oblivion mod community by letting you play four of the largest Oblivion "overhaul" mods at the same time -- Oscuro's Oblivion Overhaul, Martigen's Monster Mod, Oblivion WarCry, and Francesco's Leveled Creatures-Items. It also seeks to show how new item and/or creature expansion mods can be added directly to this environment, and thus includes optional support for Bob's Armory, Loth's Blunt Weapons for Npcs, Cobl, Tamrielic Ingredients, Knights of the Nine, Tamriel Travelers, and many other popular mods." 
Supposedly, FCOM is extremely hard to install successfully. However, it actually is pretty simple at this point. Installing FCOM is extremely well documented. A step by step guide is provided here. Where it says "Check in Wrye Bash", you will instead want to check it in the Oblivion Mod Manager; It makes no difference, and OBMM is simpler. You'll still need to use the Bashed Patch though. I suggest also using TIE In, which is listed in the plugins section of that guide, and any other plugins you want to use.
GraphicsAn excellent reference for improving graphics is http://devnull.sweetdanger.net/obliviontextureoverhaul.html
- Qarl's Texture Pack 3
- This is a truly massive mod that replaces a great number of the in-game textures with higher quality textures, though at a performance hit. Those with less powerful graphics cards can try QTP3: Redimized for not-as-high-but-still-better-than-vanilla textures.
- Bomret's Texture Pack: Shivering Isles
- The same sort of texture update, done for the Shivering Isles expansion.
- Bomret's Detailed Normal Maps for Vanilla
- If your computer can only pull off vanilla Oblivion's textures, then this mod is best. It uses normal maps the same size as the originals, but more detailed. The improvement isn't as drastic, but there should be no performance hit.
- Better Cities: http://www.nexusmods.com/oblivion/mods/16513
- Unique Landscapes: http://www.nexusmods.com/oblivion/mods/19370
- Natural Environments: http://www.nexusmods.com/oblivion/mods/2536
- Deadly Reflex: http://www.nexusmods.com/oblivion/mods/8273
- Better Music System: http://www.bethsoft.com/bgsforums/index.php?showtopic=1062801
- Oblivion XP seamlessly replaces the skill-use based leveling system of Vanilla Oblivion with a more typical experience based system. Experience is gained from most actions: http://www.nexusmods.com/oblivion/mods/35333
- Vaults of Cyrodill: http://www.nexusmods.com/oblivion/mods/9357
- This mod adds hidden and locked vaults filled with treasure to each city, all very difficult to break into.
- If you're using better cities, this mod is not necessary as it is built in to the omod.
- Elsweyr: http://www.nexusmods.com/oblivion/mods/16657
- This mod adds an entire new area of the world, Elsweyr, including three cities and new quests.
The definitive reference for Oblivion quest mods is dev_akm's TOQL: http://web.archive.org/web/20111210211106/http://devnull.sweetdanger.net:80/quests.html. However, many of the links have succumbed to link rot.
These mods start the game from a different location than the prison.
- Alternative Start Arrive by Ship: http://www.nexusmods.com/oblivion/mods/11495
- Imperial City, Anvil, Leyawiin(if better cities is installed)
- Can assign social status, wealth, etc before playing. Give yourself a ton of money at the start.
- Modular Oblivion Enhanced: http://www.nexusmods.com/oblivion/mods/7902
- Anvil only.
- Also includes a bunch of other mods.
- Alternate Start Revamped: http://planetelderscrolls.gamespy.com/View.php?view=oblivionmods.detail&id=822 or http://www.nexusmods.com/oblivion/mods/3973
- Nearly every city.
- Can choose wealth level and also get a free sword.
Note: crashes when creating a custom class, choose the default and read the book "All About Me" to create your class.Disregard that, got fixed.