Taken from the Feb issue of PC Gamer (originally posted on shacknews):
The February 2006 Issue of PC gamer magazine featured a cover story on Oblivion, as 1 of 10 "Top 10 games of 2006". The previewer, Desslock, was given a day with the current full beta Build of Oblivion, he said "It addresses Morrowind's short-comings in spectacular fashion, while retaining that games RPG depth" The following is a Paragraph by Paragraph summary of the article.
*= issues yet unknown or unproven
1. Oblivion Begins when Uriel Spetim is killed (In the tutorial). You are tasked with finding the heir and closing the Oblivion gates Spawned by the daedric lord Mehrunes Dagon.
2. Many low level items littered throughout the tutorial, allowing you to get a feel for different skills before you finalize your character. Skills are increased by using them, and higher levels result in more powerful and visually spectacular acts. (One mentioned was an intrigueing "Spinning Sword Thrust".
3. Skills more action oriented than MW; Blocking is manual, damage reduction determined by skill. Two mini-games are lockpicking and conversation.
4. Draw distance on PC is huge, all landscape visuals are dazzling and realistic. Many Plants and animals are available, and apparently you can spend hours of time stalking deer. Compass highlights active quests and other landmarks, Horses can speed travel, and you can speed travel to any of the eight cities. Homes will be available for purchase and decoration in each city.
5. The hand crafting of the world is meticulously detailed, and every house is stocked with items, and decorated. 150 Readable books will be present, as well as periodically released newspapers, which report on current affairs.
6. Havok physics are well implimented, and you can pick up and move things realistically. (The tutorial traps were mentioned). However, all the items are unbreakable, detracting somewhat from the realism.
7. Though Desslock was suspicious of Radiant AI, the beta allayed all of his fears; "Oblivions AI system seems to create an incrediblyvibrant gaming world".
8. The NPCs engage in numerous mundane activities like reading, gossiping, and eating. They also notice tresspassing and stealing, but your cursor will turn into a red hand to show when messing with an item is prohibited. Dialogue is spoken, and random conversations are often new, as they discuss current events.
9. 5 Guilds. 3 can be freely joined (Mages, Fighters, and Arena), while thieves requires imprisonment for stealing, and Dark Brotherhood requires the killing of an innocent NPC. Guild quests dont conflict, so its possible to become head of all 5. Desslock notes that it seems they will be more complex than simply kill so and so, or give this to whoever. He goes over the now well known dark brotherhood quest in which you have to kill various guests at a dinner party. The guests, reacted to the killings, arming themselves, and even accusing others of the crimes.
8. Roleplaying will be taken to a new level, and it is mentioned that you can kill people by poisoning their food. All NPCs are killable, but the main storyline characters can only be incapacitated.
9. NPC battle AI is challenging and intelligent. Creatures and items in Dungeons are balanced to the PCs level. One example of the AI was that upon entering a vampire lair (You can "choose" to become a vampire) the undead turned invisible in order to surround the PC and then luanched a surprise attack. In another encounter, desslock determined the location of an archer by looking at the direction of the arrows stuck in himself. The archer also switched to melee when the PC closed range.
10. Exploration is more interesting due to RAI. NPCs will sleep, and engage their activities during the day for example. Hunting, practicing archery, and sleeping were described as the activities of a hunter. Also, Monks were make wine nearby.
11. When Desslock entered the religious town of hackdirt (A small town), all of the citizens were at church, and desslock attacked the priest. The churchgoers defended the priest, while a "coward" ran out of the door. When Desslock left, the people chased him out of the door, and the "coward" had only left to get a sword he kept at home.
12. Desslock says that Oblivion improves incredibly on Morrowind in every way, The world feels alive. His final words were "I think Bethesda may be on the brink of releasing its Masterpiece".
THOUGHTS: This seems to disprove most of the naysayers on game quality, however, several other things were mentioned.
-Weather is dinamic, and the northern areas recieve snow.
-Each creature has behavior conditions.
-The interface is combined into 4 tabs.
-It says no flying or levitation*
-It says that you can enchant items by capturing souls in soul gems.*
-Editor is included
This was a fairly full summary of the article, please comment.
Though I know some things have already been mentioned, I wanted to include the article in its entirety.