Gamers of the world, rejoice, for another well-loved franchise goes fully mobile with The Elder Scrolls: Blades for iOS and Android.
Keep in mind, though, that those who have had the opportunity to try out the game’s demo at Bethesda’s booth on the E3 2018 say that Blades is not a fully fledged experience. The demo in question offered two playable sections – one was a forest mostly occupied by hostile goblins and giant spiders, while the other area was a castle filled with skeletons and all that good, spooky stuff.
This is where the limitations typical for a mobile game kicked in. The world of Elder Scrolls is well-known for its sandbox like free-roam play style. This is not the case with Blades. Though it’s not completely on rails, the game doesn’t offer too many chances for exploration. Those who have played the demo say that freedom-wise, the game feels like the original Wolfenstein or Doom. Though, this might be changed in the final game.
When it comes to controls, you tap the screen to walk, swipe to look around, and press and hold in order to charge up your weapon for an attack. The angle of the attack depends on the way you are positioning your finger, so there is a bit of strategy involved with fighting. Another element that seems to be very important for combat is the shield, which takes up the central position at the bottom of the screen. All you have to do is tap the icon to raise it. Taping on other objects in the game lets you interact with them as well.
There are three special abilities available in the demo: a lightning bolt, “blizzard armor”, and a shield slam which can break through enemies’ guard. The battle mostly consists of blocking the enemies’ attack and then striking them down, with a rechargeable special attack added here and there to finish an enemy off. There are three bars at the bottom of the screen, with the middle bar being the most important, as it represents your HP. The other two bars are for Magicka and Stamina.
Just like any mobile game these days, Elder Scrolls: Blades has two types of currency, gold bags and green gems, where gems seem to be the rarer, more valuable ones. Each killed enemy leaves some gold behind, and there are also pots scattered throughout the levels, and breaking them might give you some gold or diamonds. If we combine this with the fact that the game’s inventory contains slots for your sword, shield, armor, helmet, gauntlets, boots, necklace and two rings, seems like gold grinding for the best weapons and gear possible will be a big factor in hooking the players in.
While the game is not as pretty looking as, say, Skyrim, it does look rather impressive for a mobile game. Another neat feature is that it can be played with the phone held both horizontally and vertically. The vertical mode not only makes it easy to play with just one hand, it also makes the game feel more immersive and intimate, according to those who had a chance to try it out.
The element that was severely underrepresented in the demo was the plot. All that is known is that you play as one of the Empire’s top agents, who found their home destroyed upon returning from a mysterious trip and is now in exile. The demo didn’t offer any NPCs, notes, or anything else that might clue us into the finer details of the story. Some published in-game screenshots seem to suggest that city building will be a major part of your quest, so the pervading rumor currently is that one of your main missions will be to rebuild the wrecked home city. The story mode is called “Town”, after all.
The demo shown at this year’s E3 was clearly an early build, since another potentially attractive feature, the Multiplayer Arena, was only mentioned.
The game’s release date is yet to be announced. There are some good ideas already at play here (like the fact that the dungeon maps are a mix of hand-crafted levels and procedurally-generated layouts), and some ideas that need some more polish (like repetitive enemies and not too engaging combat system), but, knowing Bethesda, the final product will be a genuine, pleasurable time waster, just like the other titles in this series.