The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion received universal acclaim from critics. Reviewers praised the game for its impressive graphics, expansive game world and schedule-driven NPCs. Eurogamer editor Kristan Reed stated that the game "successfully unites some of the best elements of RPG, adventure and action games and fuses them into a relentlessly immersive and intoxicating whole". Scott Tobias of The A.V. Club wrote that the game is "worth playing for the sense of discovery—each environment looks different from the last and requires a nuanced reaction—makes the action addictive." Game Revolution's Duke Ferris noted that "the voices occasionally repeat" but was impressed that the developers managed to fit a lot of voiced dialog into the game, where most is "high-quality work". IGN editor Charles Onyett commended the game for its "top notch storytelling, easy to navigate menus, and a wonderful upgrade to your map and journal." X-Play's Jason D'Aprile stated, "All the games in this series have been known for their sheer vastness and freedom of choice, but the Elder Scrolls IV takes that concept and runs with it". GameZone staff commented on how you can spend a lot of your gameplay time by leveling up your character, doing various quests, and customizing your character before even starting the main quest. GamesTM editors noted that the game is "heavily steeped in RPG tradition, however, its appeal stretches far beyond the hardcore RPG demographic thanks to its ease of play, boundless ambition and focused attention to detail". GameSpot's Greg Kasavin wrote that compared to Morrowind, which was one of the best role-playing games he has seen in years, "Oblivion is hands-down better, so much so that even those who'd normally have no interest in a role-playing game should find it hard to resist getting swept up in this big, beautiful, meticulously crafted world".
Despite the praise, Patrick Joynt of 1UP.com criticized the conversations between in-game NPCs and the player: "When an NPC greets you with a custom piece of dialogue (such as a guard's warning) and then reverts to the standard options (like a guard's cheerful directions just after that warning) it's more jarring than the canned dialogue by itself". GameSpy's Justin Speer complained that he experienced "disruptive loading stutters while moving across the game world, hanging load times in excess of 60 seconds during environmental transitions (even after clearing the cache), and several complete system crashes. On all systems [his team] encountered several miscellaneous smaller bugs, such as inexplicable floating objects and animals, lip-synching without speech and speech with no lip-synching". Onyett of IGN criticized the disjunction between enemies that scaled up according to the player's level and not their combat abilities or NPC allies, the loading times and the imprecision in the combat system, but stated that "none of those minor criticisms hold back Oblivion from being a thoroughly enjoyable, user-friendly, gorgeous experience with enough content to keep you returning time and time again".
Oblivion won a number of industry and publication awards. The game had shipped 1.7 million copies by April 10, 2006, and sold over 3 million copies by January 19, 2007. In Japan, game magazine Famitsu gave the game its "Platinum award". In 2007, PC Gamer magazine rated Oblivion number one on their list of the top 100 games of all time. In addition to the awards won by the game itself, Patrick Stewart's voice work as Uriel Septim won a Spike TV award, and the musical score by composer Jeremy Soule won the inaugural MTV Video Music Award for "Best Original Score" through an international popular vote. The game was nominated for five BAFTAs.