A solid mobile game that is quite fun to play
gameplay 80 / story 30 / graphics 95 / sound 75
The Elder Scrolls: Blades is now available for everyone to play. It has been available for download for quite some time, but it was not playable for most. It was restricted so Bethesda could work out some kinks and make sure it runs smoothly. Now it is open to us all, but it is still in Early Access. Any problems or glitches that you may come across might still be fixed.
Overall, it’s a good experience. It feels like a mobile game no question, but it still has a lot of Elder Scrolls in it. That may sound obvious, but try playing the Kingdom Hearts or Final Fantasy XV mobile games. The FFXV game is just a strategy game with an occasional picture of Noctis. Kingdom Hearts was better, but It just couldn’t capture the charm of the series. This game is different.
That is not to say that it feels like you are playing Skyrim. It is most assuredly not a classic Elder Scrolls game, but they have adapted it quite well. First off, Blades is not open world. There will be no climbing up sheer rock surfaces to get to the tops of mountains here. In fact, you can’t even jump so if you can’t walk through it or whack it with a sword, then you can’t explore further.
The linear approach is better for the simple reason that it keeps the levels shorter. Limiting the areas to explore and having less actual stuff around means that you can play this on the go. Which is really what mobile games are all about.
The amount of collectibles is insanely low compared to games like Skyrim. You can’t pick up everything that isn’t physically nailed down but there are still resources to gather. Many of them you will find throughout your quests or you’ll find them when you open a chest.
These resources will be used to craft armor, weapons, potions, etc, but that is not all. The game has a “plot” so to speak. It’s weak, but it’s there. You are a character of your own creation (of course) who comes back to their home town to find it completely destroyed. Also, you are told what to do by elderly Benedict Cumberbatch, so that’s interesting. All the lumber and limestone collected will go to the reconstruction of the town.
The chests I referenced earlier can be found everywhere. Sometimes they just sit there and wait to be found. Other time they are rewarded for completing quests. There are three types of chests: wooden, silver and gold. Wooden chest take 5 seconds to open, silver takes 1 hour and gold takes 6 hours. Only one can be opened at a time and 10 chests is the limit to carry around. Once full, it’s either time to sacrifice any other chests you would normally pick up, or take a break until you can open more. Or you could, of course, open them up instantly with gems.
Talking of gems brings me to the topic you have all been waiting for, the microtransactions. Gems are not the easiest thing to come by, but they are not impossible either. Finding them in chests is not uncommon and on rare occasions, an enemy you kill will drop one. Personally, I have had yet to get annoyed with the microtransactions. They exist, but that’s about it. They are not in your face, nor is the game pay to win. Frankly, this is a free to play mobile game. Microtransactions are acceptable in this kind of situation.
All of this and I have yet to touch on the gameplay. There’s no question it takes a little getting used to, but it feels quite good. To move around, you can tap the area where you would like to go and you can swipe to look around. Or, if you prefer, you can use virtual joysticks. It pretty much goes without saying the one on the left controls movement and the one on the right controls the camera.
The combat is a little bit odd. The good thing is that no one can attack you from behind since you don’t have the control you normally would with the virtual joysticks. You just freeze in place and automatically face them. Large enemies, like bandits and Spriggins, only attack one at a time. Smaller creatures like the Frostbite Spiders are not as kind. Many can attack at once and they can take you out really quickly if you’re not careful.
The actual way to fight them is to tap and hold the screen. A red circle will appear and when it turns gold you release it. That is how you do a basic attack. Going from one side of the enemy to the other results in a combo. You can block enemy attacks and, if done at the right time, stun them for a second or two letting you get in a hit yourself.
There are special moves and magic spells to unlock along the way as well which you can also use during combat. These skills can often be interrupted, however, so you have to be careful when you use them. Those abilities will also drain your stamina or magica which recharge over time or you can take a potion.
Health in the Elder Scrolls was always fairly simple to manage, provided you had a supermarket’s worth of food on you. You could simply pause the game and eat everything in your inventory. Blades does not allow you to carry food with you. When not combat, you will see plenty of it sitting around and you can eat to replenish what you lost, but if your health is full it stays put. When in combat, if you need a pick-me-up, you either take a potion or say goodbye.
As I said in the beginning, it is a solid experience overall. Some die-hard fans might not care for it since it messes with the formula a bit, but it is certainly fun to muck about it when you have a few minutes. I also think it would be excellent for newcomers to the series. Skyrim can be daunting if that is your first foray into this world. Blades will give you an idea of some of the mechanics at play in the games without bogging you down with confusing details. So if you have ever wanted to jump into the Elder Scrolls series or if you are a fan that wants to play on the go, play the Elder Scrolls: Blades. There’s nothing to lose.
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