I hate the "end game." Completely. Thematically and mechanically. In MMOs, strategy games, board games, adventure games, rogue-likes, platformers, pen and paper RPGs. All the damn time. It is not fun. If it were fun to run around invincible with every damn power in the world then I would just turn on some invincible cheats from the very beginning. Not to mention what it does to narrative. Ugh. How am I supposed to identify with or care about someone who is so ridiculously tricked out they're either a freaking god or some 11 year old's most banal power fantasy. Or both. Usually both.
So holy crap, do I love me some Oblivion.
And every day or so for the next few days I'm going to say why.
So I dislike heroes. I think every character in modern media with a "destiny" is a cop out (of course this isn't true, but it's easier to generalize.) I am disgusted at the idea of having special parents, or no parents, special blood, ancestral curses, blah blah, yawn, snore. And The Elder Scrolls, a series about prophecies, doesn't always feel the need to make the player the fated hero spoken of since days of yore ramble ramble. In Daggerfall if you even tried to be that hero you got your ass handed to you BECAUSE YOU WEREN'T GOOD ENOUGH. Why do all other writers have such a fear of making your character anything less than the most important person in the world?
The same in Oblivion. You haul ass all over the country doing the most ridiculous things, but the epic, world-saving moment doesn't belong to you. Sacrifice used to be the duty of heroes, somewhere along the line it has become their inalienable right. Heavenly Sword, Dead Rising, Final Fantasy X, God of War. If we expect it, if we become surprised and disappointed not to die or kill our loved ones or give up a life of good times, then it isn't exciting anymore.
But to be an ordinary prisoner, rising not to meet your birthright, but to exceed it? To witness the world being saved, knowing it wouldn't happen without you, and then knowing there's nothing but potential ahead of you?
Well, I think that hasn't lost all it's charm yet.