Oblivion Ultimate 2011 – Episode 1: OBGE and ENBSeries
Hey there !
I recently wanted to reinstall Oblivion, seeing as Skyrim is soming in a few month but there is just so much out there to make a good Oblivion installation. It has become pretty hard to get the most of the game, because of the size of the modding community.
I mean, you can pretty much turn up Oblivion the way you want with a few mods and .ini tweaks.
And that’s exactly what I’ll be doing. But there is a catch.
This is somewhat of a “What can I get from Oblivion in 2011” mod list. Well, it’s not really a mod list, but more like a log of what I’m doing, along with my personnal mod list..
It can be really useful to follow it if you want to get the most from Oblivion as I’m doing extensive research for everything and that will spare you some time. I’ll link each and everything I used and explain how I installed what and how I resolve potential conflicts.
As such, it can be considered a “guide to the ultimate Oblivion experience”. (Modesty, what is that ?)
My aim here is to get the most out of the engine as far as realism and immersion goes. That will cover pretty much any category of mods available.
Obviously, you need to have the game, it’s expansions and the latest patch to follow this.
So, I decided to begin by testing some shaders replacement “modules”. I found 2 that gave me what I needed, so I’m going to compare them and choose one.
I know I should begin by installing patches to fix some things, but I’ll do that just after. It’s not going to break the game if it looks a little more pretty before applying the unofficial patches, right ?
Here we have Oblivion, in all it’s vanilla glory. It’s looking pretty ugly these days. Especially with Skyrim coming soon…
So, we’ll spice it up a bit !
The main thing it’s lacking is plenty of GPU intensive shaders to make it look more realistic. You know, like Ambient Occlusion, Indirect Illumination and stuff like that.
We thus have two options to remedy that:
- ENBSeries – A DirectX .dll hook that applies all kinds of modern effects on all games.
Advantages: All in one, no fuss apart from correcting some settings in the .ini file.
Disadvantages: Looks ugly, IMO. It’s over saturated, the shadows look really bad and it’s VERY hungry on GPU power. Il lost 15 to 20 FPS running it, even when disabled.
- OBGE – Currently in version 3 (Which is likely to be the last major version, as I understand it.) works directly from within the game.
It uses and requires Oblivion Script Extender and can add shaders on top of those already in the game or replace shaders from the game with it’s own.
It’s totally modular, and the performance cost depends on what you have running. I noticed a light impact of ~10fps on the Vanilla game with Volumetric SSAO, Volumetric SSII, Light Shafts, Bokeh Circle Depth of Field, Bleach Bypass, Color Grading, Vignette, Physically Correct Sky, Luminance HDR and Parallax Occlusion Mapping with an ATI Radeon HD4890. But keep in mind I’m running vanilla game as far as textures, models and everything. So, you should expect a major loss of FPSes if your installation contains some mods.
The thing I like about OBGE, other than it’s modularity is the fact that you can add your own shaders on top of the game.
For example, on top is the original water and on the bottom is a mod that adds a totally new shader for the water.
Only downside of the mod is that it removes all the shaders that are automatically loading through OBGE, thus you’ll have to reactivate everything from the menu. I don’t know why and I don’t know if there is a way to fix itEdit 07/16/2011: It’s actually really easy to fix. Just disable the OBGE support plugin and use the shaderlist.txt file. Everything should look normal and work correctly.
For reference, here is my shaderlist.txt:
We have thus 2 modules that are very good at what they are doing, however, my choice would go towards OBGE, as it’s modular and can replace any shader of the game. It’s also, it seems, less GPU hungry than ENBSeries.
The two things that I would like to see included in OBGE in the future are a new hair shader and a new skin shader with subsurface scattering. The regular skin shader is just normal render. A fake subsurface scattering would make it look much better, with maybe support for wet surfaces, so that when the character enters in the water, his body gradually becomes wetter where the water touched him. Though this would probably be very hard to do, it would look awesome. For the hair, better shading, better specular pass, light passing through thin hair strands, hair moving with the wind, etc.
The possibilities are endless and Oblivion could pretty much become a game that “always looks good, new and fresh”, as long as people continue to work on it.
Obviously, you shouldn’t use both ENBSeries and OBGE at the same time.
Next time, we’ll install a load of utilities and tweak the game.