Thursday, July 25, 2024

The Elder Scrolls Series: Skyrim vs. Oblivion – Which Game Had the Better Factions?

( In Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, what groups did you align with? Sure, you had the Imperials and the Stormcloaks who comprised of the main story’s primary forces—and usually I picked Stormcloaks because of the armor—but what other groups did you join?

The obvious answer is “All of them” since you could join them all and the benefits were pretty good. One thing I hated was that your character simply assumed power in every organization. It’s a thing that goes back to Oblivion as well and that brings us to which of the game was more enjoyable when it came to groups or guilds: Elder Scrolls IV or Elder Scrolls V?

Let’s find out in a five group battle!

The Thieves Guild

We’re going to start off blazing hot with one of my two favorite guilds in the ES games: the Thieves Guild. In Oblivion, the Thieves Guild was in healthy shape in Cyrodiil with a thriving network of fences and some big money missions. Meanwhile, in Skyrim, the Guild had fallen on hard times decades later.

Actually, they were down horrendous. Connections weren’t showing the Guild respect, making deals with the competition, not paying their loans off, and questioning if the Thieves Guild was still sturdy or not. The disrespect.

As someone who always goes Thieves Guild first, I felt that I had to show them what the business was each time—even though I’ve play through the questline for both Thieves Guilds multiple times over the past 15 years.

Of the two, I’m giving Skyrim the win on this one. The questline to rebuild the Guild and the rebirth of the Nightingales was extremely fun to play through. It felt more like you were invested in the Thieves Guild’s revival—even though the other main thieves like Devon and Viper never bothered to get active after you put the Guild back on the map.

They just continue to hang around the Ragged Flagon doing nothing but telling you what to do—and you’re the leader. As for Oblivion, the Thieves Guild missions were fun but the questline just felt like you were going to work as thief. Sure, you did big heists but since there was no grave risk of the Guild collapsing or being wiped out: meh.

Regardless of which game you enjoyed the Thieves Guild in, I think we can all agree that this Guild keeps you with a steady stream of cash that was fun to obtain. Sneaking around, swiping stuff that doesn’t belong to you, hoping you don’t hear “You’re not supposed to be here” or “Leave” because you got caught–the Thieves Guild was a true thrill.

The Elder Scrolls Series: Skyrim vs. Oblivion

WINNER: Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim 1-0

The Arcane University vs. The College of Winterhold

I’ve never been big on using magic in the Elder Scrolls games but some forms of magic are extremely useful for my usual skullduggery and skeever tactics. Enchantment is the main magic I utilize but there are some other forms worth learning in the series.

Which magic school was better–the Arcane University in Oblivion or the Mage’s College in Skyrim–seems like it also answers the question of which game did magic better. However, I actually enjoy Skyrim’s magic progression over Oblivion’s. With that said, while I found the questlines and progression at the Mage’s College to be a ton of fun, the Arcane University was more enjoyable and more rewarding to me.

Also, it was like the Thieves Guild above. The Arcane University is thriving and there are even guild halls in major cities to bolster your journey in the arcane arts. Their main problem is dealing with these necromancers after everyone agreed that necromancy has to go and weeding out the mages who aren’t upholding the values of magic research and application.

Yes, I am in fact, a graduate of the Arcane University and the College of Winterhold…triple major in Destruction magic, Enchantment, and Conjuration.

In the Skyrim region, the citizens really aren’t big on magic at all following the Great Collapse. Also, the Mage’s College is far, far away in a town that…isn’t even a town. Imagine a strip mall or shopping center in your city except the only businesses are a Chinese restaurant, a nail salon possibly owned by whomever owns the restaurant, and a for-profit school.  There might be a studio apartment above the nail salon.

That’s the Mage’s College in Winterhold. The quests coming from the College and the instructors and students are all well written and worth traveling to Winterhold to check out but I found the Arcane University to be the better magic school…as it should be since it’s the heart of the Mage’s College.

WINNER: Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 1-1 ~ TIED

The Fighters Guild vs. The Companions

In Oblivion, the Fighters Guild existed to deal with bandits, beasts, demons, monster, and just anything that threatened the citizens. Their Guild halls were in different cities close to wide stretches of wilderness, so that allowed for some great adventures and close calls if you weren’t a warrior-type class or someone who could offload damage quickly.

The Companions in Skyrim were basically the Fighters Guild only with several differences. It had an actual history behind it unlike the Fighters Guild but people had forgotten the glory days of their deeds. As a result, there’s just the core guild hall instead of Companions halls throughout Skyrim. Also, those in the upper reaches can turn into werewolves which is pretty rad.

More important than all of that, the Companions had—the SKYFORGE, SKYFORGE, SKYFOOOOOORGE! Yes, you must yell it at respectable volumes as an echo. It’s just that badass of a forge to craft your armor and weapons.

With that said, which was better? I’m giving this to the Companions. It’s not purely on the back of the SKYFORGE, SKYFORGE, SKYFOOOOORGE but again, fun NPCs go a long way in the enjoyment of a faction. Also, the missions in Skyrim didn’t just seem like busy work. It actually seemed like you were a Companion and working your way up.

The main problem in both games with all of the factions is that not only did you have to become the chief or leader, you also did it in record time. Your character isn’t just the Dragonborne or the Chosen One, they’re an absolute supernova, folks.

WINNER: Skyrim 2-1

The Dark Brotherhood

This is my favorite faction to join in any Elder Scrolls game. I’m primarily a stealth/melee build player and the Thieves Guild and the Dark Brotherhood are usually the first two guilds I get involved with. The Dark Brotherhood is basically the Thieves Guild with better drip, darker, more murder, and just more atmosphere.

In both games, the Brotherhood is made up of this weird family of assassins who should 100-percent be either killed or put underneath the prison. That’s not the only similarity as both of the original Brotherhood dens you join are raided by the Empire and most of the members are wiped out.

Yeah, I should’ve said “spoiler alert” but the games have been out since 2006 and 2011 respectively. I feel nothing about spoiling that.

Which version of the faction holds up? This is a hard one because both end up having the exact same fates midway through their questlines. I found the Dark Brotherhood in Skyrim to be more fun because the writing and voice acting had gotten better in that five-year period between the games, so the NPCs were memorable.

The jobs from both versions were pretty much the same as you’d expect for a stealth-heavy faction. Both betrayal and rebirth of the Brotherhood questlines are a blast to play through but I enjoyed Skyrim’s more.

WINNER: Skyrim 3-1

There it is, folks. I was going to include playing as a vampire as one of showdowns but if you got the Dawnguard expansion for Skyrim and joined the vampires, Oblivion’s vampires get blown away. Which versions of the featured factions did you enjoy more? Let us know down below!

Staff Writer; M. Swift

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.

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