1up has a piece looking at how Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion may just be what the western RPG genre needs
to spring back from the brink of nonexistence. From the article: "Western RPGs focus on the characters, and the world around them is a tool to let the player-as-character do and see more. Eastern RPGs focus on the events unfolding around the characters, and how the characters affect the world around them. Western RPGs are based on the experience of tabletop role-playing games, limited only by the imaginations of the players and the game master, where Eastern RPGs are more re-creations of traditional storytelling. Oblivion has taken huge strides toward meeting fans of MMOs halfway by building A.I. that really lives alongside the player and ensuring that the actual missions are easily pursued."