Released in 2007, Shivering Isles remains to be the largest ever expansion pack for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, a role playing game developed by Bethesda Game Studios. The expansion pack was published and launched on January 18, 2007 and was initially only available for download on the Xbox Live Marketplace platform. More than two months later (on March 26, 2007 to be exact), a boxed retail edition for the Microsoft Windows PC was released.
Action play in Shivering Isles takes place in the eponymous isles which are under the iron fist rule of Sheogorath, the Prince of Madness in Daedria. However, Sheogorath is not having it all his way as a challenge to his reign is mounted by his polar opposite: Jyggalyg, the Daedric Prince of Order. The player is tasked with the challenge of combining forces with Sheogorath in order to defeat this threat as failing in this quest will lead to the ultimate ruin of the Shivering Isles.
While the main quest of the expansion pack remains to fight and defeat Jyggalyg, Shivering Isles stays faithful to the trend established in the main game Oblivion (as well as all the prequels) of an open game world. As such, the player is free to explore the expansive game world at their own leisure, completely ignoring or postponing the main storyline and quest.
History of the Elder Scrolls Role Playing Games
The Elder Scrolls video game franchise had its first release, Elder Scrolls: Arena, in 1994. Prior to this, Bethesda Game Studios had almost exclusively been dealing with sports games. Before releasing the role playing game franchise, the developers had released ten other games of which six were sports going back six years to the when the company was founded. The latest release, The Elder Scrolls Online, will be available very soon. You can find more information about Elder Scrolls Online here and Pre-Order it via this link.
The other four non sporting video games released before the Elder Scrolls era were predominantly adaptations from such movies as The Terminator series and Home Alone. When Bethesda announced that they were moving away from developing sports and port games and into role playing ventures, many dismissed this as a foray which would ultimately fail.
The Elder Scrolls proved a hit and has enjoyed enormous success since with Bethesda now having released 17 other versions in the long running series. The 19th offering of the series will be released later in 2014. The Elder Scrolls Online is going to be the first time the series has been released in an exclusively multiplayer, open ended installment.
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The Elder Scrolls series before the Shivering Isles expansion
Bethesda developers readily concede that they drew inspiration for their first series from other role playing games such as Looking Glass Studios’ Ultima Underworld series. However, it is surprising to note that Arena was never a role playing game to begin with. RPG elements were only added after the developers had worked many months into developing the action set.
The release of Arena was not as auspicious as would have been ideal. To begin with, the developers missed their self-set deadline of releasing the game by the Christmas of 1993 and had to be content to wait until late in the first quarter of 1994. Secondly, they made the infantile error of featuring a scantily clad female warrior on the packaging which many distributors felt was a tad too distasteful for their brands. However, those who bought the game praised its excellent plotline as well as graphics and sales picked up stoked up by online forum posts and word of mouth.
Bethesda went out of the way to create a massive game world for their next installment of Elder Scrolls. The Daggerfall was played on a stupefying , sprawling world comprising well over 15,000 virtual towns. The reception was largely positive though some people did complain of buggy code and Bethesda were from then on very cautious release schedule for future versions of the game.
Battlespire, Redguard and Morrowind
After the release of Daggerfall, Bethesda embarked on the development of three future releases simultaneously: Battlespire, Redguard and Morrowind. The series were at first planned as expansion packs for Daggerfall but at some point during the development, the decision was made to release each of them as a stand alone installment. Battlespire was the first to be released in 1997 and Redguard followed soon after. Morrowind was only released in 2002 and enjoyed resounding success.
Work on Oblivion began in 2002 but was only released in 2006. According to Bethesda, the project took longer than a hundred “man-years” to complete. Bethesda increased resolution of the graphics throughout the game world which in turn ensured players had more of a hands-on experience on their quests.
Shivering Isles Gameplay
Shivering Isles stays faithful to the gameplay adopted by Bethesda for Oblivion. The basic design of the game sets is the same throughout as are the maneuvers. The player is also accorded the same set of interfaces as in Oblivion. In the initial scenes, the player is set the challenge of defining the character they will assume. Options are provided for specialization, set of skills, physical appearance and race.
As the gameplay proceeds with the character honing their skills, the enemies become more vicious and strong. In keeping with the strategy adopted in Oblivion, the player is free to abandon the confines of the main quest and develop a character in keeping with their own personal taste.
Watch the video the The Shivering Isles Gameplay here:
The Shivering Isles Plot
Shivering Isles is set up in a Daedric world divided into two realms: Mania and Dementia all under the rule of Sheogorath, the Prince of Madness. The player makes their way into Shivering Isles at the onset of an event named Greymarch in which Jyggalag, the Daedric Prince of Order is attacking the realm in a bit to destroy the isles forever. However, at this initial stage in the game, the player cannot access most of the realm apart from an area called The Fringe.
To gain access to other areas of the Shivering Isles, the player must fight and defeat a creature called the Gatekeeper. After completing this challenge, the player is summoned to an audience by Sheogorath. The ruler of the realm explains that Shivering Isles is doomed to be destroyed by the forces of order led by Jyggalag unless the player as Sheogorath’s champion manages to stop the Greymarch from succeeding.
This plan ultimately fails and the powers of Order overrun the Shivering Isles. It is only at the end of the game where it is revealed that the action was all a ruse meant to break an ancient curse and that the player’s actions have managed to accomplish this. The player is then accorded the honor of becoming Sheogorath, the eternal ruler of Shivering Isles.
Shivering Isles is a compelling game that will have you at the edge of your seat throughout for all its thrills and spills. Going by the largely critical reception, many experts are of the same mind. But you need to play it to know exactly what it provides. Looking for the newer releases of the Elder Scrolls Series? Find information on the Elder Scrolls 6 Release Date and the Elder Scrolls Online Gameplay Features here.