I first got into Oblivion modding relatively late in the game (just a couple of months ago). I played that game until the disc wore out on the Xbox 360, and it wasn’t until then that I got the itch to pick it up again.
As you might expect, there are quite a few stellar mods for Oblivion. However, it’s a bit more unstable than some of Bethesda’s later offerings, so you need to keep your load order a little trimmer than Skyrim or even Fallout: New Vegas. Here’s a list of some of my favorites, in no particular order.
Oblivion Script Extender
Obligatory nod to the mod that makes other mods possible. If you want anything more complex than a simple texture or other mods that don’t add anything truly new to your game, you need the Script Extender to make it happen. Almost every mod on this list requires it, so I put it at the top. Just keep in mind that you can’t install it through a mod manager and there are separate downloads for the Steam and GOG versions of Oblivion.
Unofficial Oblivion Patch(es)
There are three primary patches: the Unofficial Oblivion Patch, the Unofficial Shivering Isles Patch, and the Unofficial Oblivion DLC Patches (found on one page). All three fix a plethora of glitches and bugs for their respective domains. If you like all of the classic Oblivion glitches (like the constant effect glitch) feel free to leave them off. I find I’m more likely to use the console to revel in those kinds of shenanigans than do glitches like that these days, and you can still do that with these patches that remove a lot of the other unsavory game breaking bugs the game has your nostalgia might have deleted from your memory.
Automatic Attributes- Simplified Leveling
One of the benefits to joining the modding scene 13 years after the game was released is you get to see little gems like this that dedicated modders are still cranking out for the venerable old Elder Scrolls title. Released in February of this year, this is a more simplified take on similar mods that try to level out Oblivion’s obtuse, tedious attribute leveling system. It makes it so simply leveling a skill increases its relevant attribute (whether its a Major skill or not) and caps your actual level up bonuses to +1, instead of a range between +1 and +5. Anything that takes away the need to micromanage your level ups is welcome in my book.
Oblivion Character Overhaul
Generally, when I play an older game, I’m fine with it looking worse. Usually, I was great at the time, after all, and I can accept it for what it was. But man, even back in the day Oblivion had some ugly faces. Oblivion character overhaul makes them a bit less potato-y and closer to what Skyrim’s faces look like. There are still some absolutely hideous ones in there, but those are people like that one Nord from Anvil that makes you retrieve a flagon for him that you never have to talk to again and looks pretty fitting anyway, so it’s a vast improvement over the base game. This requires Blockhead (another modder’s resource) to function, so keep that in mind when downloading it.
Oblivion Magic Extender
I really like playing mages, especially in Oblivion. Using Spellcraft to create overpowered, fun spells is where half the fun of that game comes from for me, and always has. OBME is a modder’s resource that makes most other magic mods possible, so it gets a nod as being the catalyst for a lot of great magic mods, including the next one on our list.
Av Latta Magicka
Another recent one (from March of this year). This is a full magic overhaul, adding new effects to mastery perks (the things you get at skill levels 25/50/75/100) for all of the magic schools, changing how stacking spell effects work (they no longer do, at least when casting them), and a bunch of other stuff. Not a mod for everyone, or every playthrough, but an ambitious mod that does a lot and is still being updated, so it’s worth giving it a try and seeing if you like what it does. Keep in mind it requires Oblivion Magic Extender, as well as two other resources (Add Actor Values and Menu Que) that are used off and on for certain other mods, so download those as well or the mod will break.
Unnecessary Violence III
This is a mod aimed at enhancing the gore levels of Oblivion to a level similar to Fallout 3 and New Vegas, with things like limb amputations and blood spray. If that’s not something that interests you, it’s not a necessary addition, but if nothing else it’s a mod with a lot of work and detail put into it that makes it fascinating from a technical aspect. Requires NifSE to function, as well as OBSE.
Oblivion Reloaded mod makes the game look a lot better. Not strictly necessary, but enhances a lot of visuals. Keep in mind that it’s manual download only, and probably best downloaded from TESReloaded’s own site rather than Nexus, since that is the site with more up to date downloads and information.
A whole boatload of quality of life functions for mages, enchanters, and really any character. You can learn spells from scrolls, rename magic items, and a whole lot more. This is a mod that thrives on being something that does a lot of very small things and adding up to something you can’t live without afterward, at least fi you use Spellcrafting and Enchanting altars as much as I do. Requires OBSE, Menu Que, and optionally Soul Gem Magic.
Midas Magic – Spells of Aurum
This mod adds close to 300 new spells, most of them with overpowered or wacky effects. A great addition to any mage character that wants to run around turning people into statues or dropping a rain of meteors on unsuspecting townsfolk, for those who think Kvatch hasn’t suffered enough. Midas Magic is the original spell mod, and while its Skyrim equivalent was quickly overshadowed, it remains the gold standard for Oblivion mods that add new spells.
Alternative Start Arrive By Ship
This one will depend on how often you make new characters. If you’re starting the game again for the first time in years, you probably don’t mind going through the tutorial dungeon again. But if you’re fiddling around with a bunch of stuff and just want to jump into the action, this mod is great. You start on a ship, make your character, choose several options (like your background and how much money you have) and get straight to playing.
And that’s it for Oblivion mods. There are plenty of other great mods out there, but these are a selection of the best ones I’ve personally used and can recommend.