Blah blah blah, same tired intro explaining that even though the game by now comes bundled with all the add-ons I’m still gonna rate them as though they were being sold separately, blah blah blah, same spiel about how I’m only rating add-ons involving actual story content, not just stupid extra accessories like horse armor and houses.
Mehrunes’ Razor: Oh, boy, a bare bones story about some jerk creating an army to take down the Empire as a flimsy pretext to have you go gallivanting through a very long, very generic dungeon for hours in order to obtain a slightly-more-powerful-than-average dagger. What a delight. Because if there’s one thing Oblivion doesn’t have enough of, it’s tedious dungeons to explore for little-to-no plot-related reason! This snore of a quest was apparently originally bundled in with another add-on package, the Knights of the Nine one, so I guess it sort of didn’t cost anything, but frankly the simple cost of your time for essentially no story at all isn’t worth it.
Orrery: This add-on was also bundled in originally with the Knights of the Nine, like Mehrunes’ Razor, and like Mehrunes’ Razor, it’s boring and tedious. The story to it is that bandits stole parts for the Imperial Orrery. You go to the bandits’ camps, kill the bandits, get the parts, and deliver them to someone, and get a special power from it. And you’re done. That’s it. Again, free, but a plot-less fetch-quest is not worth the time anyway.
Knights of the Nine: This add-on, originally sold for $20, is at least better than the ones I’ve mentioned so far in that it DOES have an actual bit of story to it that actually maintains some relevance through the add-on's course. I’ll give it that much; someone at Bethesda actually managed to give half a shit about it, unlike Orrery and Mehrunes’ Razor. But since the story is rather generic and dull, again making it not even worth the time it takes to complete it let alone the 20 bucks you paid for it (back in the day, at least), I still give it a thumbs-down.
Shivering Isles: Alright, finally we have something halfway decent! This expansion adds a slightly small new land to explore, several new sidequests, and a line of main quests involving saving the land of chaotic madness from the encroaching forces of rigid order. I wouldn’t call Shivering Isles anything amazing, and its sidequests are only slightly more interesting than the dull-as-dirt sidequests of the main game, but at least it’s got an interesting set of characters, a new setting that will catch your attention for at least a little while, and an overall plot that’s fairly worthwhile. The main figure of the expansion, Sheogorath, is quite a hoot, and the overall story of the cycle of order to madness and madness to order for this Daedric realm is kind of neat. In all honesty, Shivering Isles is the only part of the entire game that I found at all engaging. I can appreciate TES4 for the many impressive feats it accomplished as an RPG in terms of gameplay, but its story and characters were at very best average; Shivering Isles is the only part of it that stands out at all.
And that’s it for that. Not much to say, really--in terms of add-ons, Oblivion overall stays true to itself with a bunch of boring filler that wastes your time while giving you nothing of worth to experience. Shivering Isles is the one exception, and I even doubt the price for admission into that was worth the small positive experience it provided. Just as I do when comparing the main game of The Elder Scrolls 4 to that of Fallout 3, I look at these add-ons and then at the DLCs of Fallout 3, and I shake my head in confusion. Is this really the work of the same company that would go on to make such an excellent game as Fallout 3 from the same programming building blocks?