Yesterday, Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls: Blades entered the early access phase for iOS and Android devices. Registration is still open and after you fill in the necessary data on the Bethesda’s website, you will receive an e-mail invitation to participate. Good news is that game is not under NDA and all the progress in the early access will be transferred to the full game once it is out. The plan is to release the game for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch sometime after the mobile release.
The Elder Scrolls: Blades is part of the franchise that has been present since 1994 when it debuted with The Elder Scrolls: Arena. Since then, the series had five main games, various expansions, and several spin-offs. This is a series of games widely famous for their riveting open-world stories which helped the game win the Game of the Year awards at several events and sales exceeding 50 million copies worldwide. So, when Bethesda announced The Elder Scrolls: Blades at E3 2018, there were high expectations for the game coming from impeccable reputation by the predecessors.
However, even though in the early access phase, this game doesn’t disappoint at all. The game was intended for late 2018 release, but it was postponed for early 2019 launch in November. For now, only two modes are available and those are Town and Abyss. The former is intended for quests and interactions with NPCs and you will spend most of your time in this mode. When it comes to Abyss, you probably already guessed that it’s a dungeon crawling experience that will give you the idea what to expect in the final game. The idea is to collect feedback from the players about both these modes and use them to improve the final version of the game. There will also be PvP mode called Arena, but this one will be available after the launch.
The game takes place in the familiar universe of the Elder Scrolls series where players assume the role of a member of the Blades, an elite soldier unit working for the Empire. The main character returns home after a long exile and is welcomed by the destroyed town they must rebuild. Of course, this is easier said than done since you will have to deal with a lot of obstacles in order to put your town back together.
Since the game is fresh, I played it for a short while but it was enough to give you some first impressions. First of all, the graphics look great no matter if you choose portrait or landscape mode. I was really surprised they chose to keep both options, but it’s nice that the developer wanted to cover all the options to make the gameplay comfortable to players. Big thumbs up for that! But I do have one concern when it comes to graphics and that is that it may not look as great on PC and consoles. The environments look good and realistic enough, but characters seem to harbor an outdated design that makes the game look as though it was made ten years ago.
Voice acting is missing and I hope that it’s just for early access. You can read the dialogues though, but it’s simply not the same as having a voiceover. When it comes to dialogue, you will be able to choose from the offered lines and, depending on those, the situation will unfold. This is pretty old school, but I liked it since it gives you a nice pause to re-evaluate your intentions and direction.
When it comes to controls, moving around is not complicated at all. Just tap the place you want to go and you are there. However, battle controls may be a little bit problematic and I think a controller would be a smart solution for that problem. I did go with thoughtless hacking and slashing as a proven strategy to eliminate an opponent, but that won’t work every time. It’s great for low levels, but not good enough to stronger enemies so I had to learn to use virtual control sticks. It was a nuisance and not so comfortable experience, but now I think I’m pretty good at it and will get only better the more I play. Still, I believe the controller would do this game justice and some other players I talked to said the same.
We will probably hear about this more as days go by and we are able to progress more into the game and level-up our characters. Even though I know The Elder Scrolls: Blades will be released on PC and consoles, and thus the controls in those versions will work just fine, I think that it’s unfair to mobile users. Mobile gaming is a huge part of the gaming industry now and not providing the best conditions to its consumers to play a high-profile game such as the Elder Scrolls title is a bit irresponsible. I really hope that this is just a glitch intended to be fixed and not a permanent situation.
Microtransactions haven’t been an issue for now, but I can’t guarantee it will stay this way when the full game is out. The Elder Scrolls: Blades will be free to play and for many players that mean annoying microtransactions and ads. Honestly, I think this is the only thing that can ruin the game and make players quit. I found rebuilding of the town a nice touch, and I can’t wait to see how that idea will further develop during the gameplay. It’s nice to have some underlying cause to fight for which is not “saving the world” premise, but just a small town. Which is also somebody’s world, I guess.
Now, the important thing before you decide to enter the early access is to check if your device is compatible. The Elder Scrolls: Blades requires some stronger smartphones and tablets like iPhone 6s and newer, iPhone SE, iPad Pro, iPad Mini 4 and 5, iPad Air 2 and 3. When it comes to non-Apple devices, you will need Samsung Galaxy S8 and newer, Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and 9, Google Pixel 2/2XL and 3/3XL, OnePlus5 and newer, OnePlus 6T, Moto Z2 and newer, HTC U11/U11+ and U12+, Xiaomi Mi 6 and Mi Mix 2, Razer Phone, Essential Phone, Xperia XZ Premium and XZ1, LG V30, LG G7 One, Nokia 8, ZTE Nubia Z17, Huawei P20/P20 Pro and Mate 20 Pro, Asus ZenFone 4 Pro and Sharp Aquos R. Now, this list may expand so make sure to check the FAQ on the official website regularly.
In the end, I like the game and can’t wait to see where it will take me. It may have some flaws, but they are nothing to worry about nor are serious enough to chase you away. After all early access is intended to find pluses and minuses which the developer will review and deal with to make the game as best as possible. So, don’t be shy and give Bethesda your honest opinion in order to improve the game and make this Elder Scrolls title worthy of the franchise.