A quick and basic Elder Scrolls: Oblivion “install and optimise”:
Updated November 2014 — all links repaired.
There’s very little wrestling with compatibility issues here, or with fiendishly complex installs that require cleaning/combining mods — but my tutorial still manages to get you to a point where most of the main/core issues in a plain vanilla retail Oblivion have been dealt with. I’m also paying special attention to enhancing the eye-candy in the outdoors environment in strict keeping with Bethesda’s original vision.
You’re going to need about 15Gb of space on your hard-drive. Install in this order…
1. Install Oblivion, then the 1.2.0416 patch (or the Shivering Isles retail expansion disc, which has the same effect — but I’m assuming you don’t want to wrestle with Shivering Isles compatibility problems here), and then the Unofficial Oblivion Patch with the QTP3 UOP350 Compatibility Patch.
2. Install the other “official downloadable content” mods, if you own them.
INSTALL THE UTILITIES:
3. Install OBSE (the Oblivion script extender) 0018 or higher. Several of the following mods require it. From now on you use a desktop shortcut to obse_loader.exe to launch Oblivion. Test that it works in loading the game, and that Oblivion then exits without crashing.
4. Install the Oblivion Mod Manager, and then tell Windows to always open OMOD files with it. This will save you time and effort in installing the remaining mods.
INSTALL THE ADDITIONAL LANDSCAPES:
5. Install the Unique Landscapes OMOD. All the Unique Landscapes (at least, those released up to Christmas 2013), in one handy installer! And any compatibility patches you may plan on needing (see the patch for the next item, for instance).
6. Install the wonderful Lost Spires (a great “first quest” if you’re coming to the game after finishing Morrowind) + the Lost Spires / Unique Landscapes: Dark Forest compatibility patch.
INSTALL THE FAMOUS GAME RE-BALANCER:
7. Install OOO 1.3.5 complete setup (major re-balancing and other desirable changes)
INSTALL THE TEXTURES:
8. Install Qarl’s Texture Pack 3 – Redimized (1.3Gb) and then the patch (mmm, highly optimized hi-res textures!). For this, you should have already installed the QTP3 UOP350 Compatibility Patch in Step 1 (see above).
9. Then install Landscape LOD Textures by Xerus (better distant land textures, improving on Qarl’s LODs)
FIX THE LIGHTS, WEATHER AND WATER REFLECTIONS:
11. Enhanced Weather and its hi-res texture pack. If you have Streamline, this conflicts with the Streamline in-game ‘optimiser’ mod, since Streamline will try to remove weather effects “on the fly” in order to maintain framerate.
12. Natural Environments (but not its optional weather mod, since we’re already using the excellent Enhanced Weather mod) + Water Reflection Blur 0.3 (reliably and elegantly blurs the crude blocky/pixelated reflections seen on far-distance water, and it works well with the Natural Water mod that’s part of Natural Environments).
13. The 50% darker nights mod found in Enhanced Weather (above) + Illumination Within – Revived (glowing windows on a script) + Real Night Sky v2.0. Illumination Within requires two simple Oblivion .ini edits using Notepad. Find fLightLOD in your Oblivion_default.ini and change to…
… to get the full effect of glowing windows at night.
FIX THE NPCs:
NPCs were originally, in my opinion, one of the worst aspects of Oblivion. Poor walk-paths, jerky animations, their repeating street-chatter, and just the way they looked unconvincing during player-conversations. The accents were also wildly variable — Nord women who sounded like they were from Texas, for instance. Thankfully mods and tweaks can now cure a lot of the main problems.
14. While you’re in the .ini file (see above), you may want to fix the zoom during NPC conversations. This can be done quite simply, and I find it makes the NPCs more convincing. Just edit fDlgFocus=2.1000 to either 5.000 or 6.000, to pull the camera back during conversations. You can then use mods such as Talk With Your Hands to unlock hidden NPC conversational animations.
The huge ‘Tamriel NPCs Revamped’ mod seems at first glance like an alternative large NPC face-makover mod. But it makes really radical wholesale changes to some races, and apparently has problems working with the major OOO mod — so I don’t recommend it.
FIX THE USER INTERFACE:
15. Install Dark UI
16. Then install Immersive Interface.
FIX THE GRASS:
17. No glow grass
18. LowPolyGrass OMOD (fast frame-rates with reduced-polygon grass)
FIX SOME VERY BASIC ANNOYANCES:
19. Get a Bag of holding
20. Renners Guard Overhaul
21. Less NPC Conversations (but still get all the information you need)
22. Zumbs Lockpicking mod (lockpicking like it was in Morrowind, no mini-game).
If you haven’t already done so, you will now want to open the Mod Manager and change the load-order of your mods. It’s easy to move the mods up and down on OBMM. If a mod doesn’t seem to be having an effect, it probably needs to go lower (lower mods load later, and thus take precedence over earlier ones) . Major mods such as OOO probably need to load later than others.
You will also need to use OBMM’s “Utilities” button to reach its Archive Invalidation page, and set this to…
… this is a requirement of Qarl’s Texture Pack 3 – Redimized. Don’t forget to press “Update now” and let OBMM do its stuff. Then exit.
The game is a few years old now and it should all run smoothly for you at 1920 x 1200px, on a proper desktop PC with a modern branded (NVidia etc) dedicated graphics card. But if not… then try lowering the usual in-game graphics settings.
If you have a “bright purple soil” problem, simply change the Video settings in-game, via pressing ‘Esc’ to bring up the Options. Flick the Texture Quality setting up from whatever lower quality the game wants to set it at, up to High. This should instantly cure the problem, on returning to the game.
Praise Fargoth! So there are guars in vanilla Oblivion! But why do they look worse than they did in Morrowind? And will they be in Skyrim?
* You may also be interested in my very detailed full beginner’s guide to reinstalling Morrowind with mods and my new guide to installing Skyrim on older PCs.
Want to donate? Please consider buying my new sequel to The Time Machine, for the Amazon Kindle!