The Elder Scrolls: Blades has been in Early Access on mobile devices since March, and the overall reception has been, at best, lukewarm. Franchises that eventually make their way to phones usually have this problem; fans are expecting a similar experience to the games on the home console, and when that doesn’t happen, they are rightly annoyed. No one would argue that a full-blown Elder Scrolls title on mobile wouldn’t’ be incredible. Although Bethesda decided not to go that route, The Elder Scrolls: Blades is a fun game, and a great addition to the franchise.
The Game Has Its Limitations
Let’s get the ugly stuff out of the way first; microtransactions. As a free to play mobile game, Blades features microtransactions in the form of Gems. These lovely resources can be used to speed up the unlocking of chests (Blades version of Loot Boxes) or to purchase cosmetic items to improve your town. These haven’t been implemented in a ‘Pay 2 Win’ fashion, but it is still annoying to wait over an hour to open some chests and see what loot you’ve earned.
Beyond that, Gems don’t serve much of a purpose. The only other issues with the game include frustrating touch screen controls and the fact that this is not an open world game. If you can look past these shortcomings, Blades is a wonderful mobile game to spend time with.
By The Nine, Those Graphics!
Phones are becoming more powerful every year, and with that comes increased graphical capabilities. On the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, the game both runs well and looks stunning. The Elder Scrolls art style remains almost entirely intact, minus a few odd special effects and glitches. Roaming around town, delving into dungeons, and patrolling forests in Blades looks strikingly like its console counterparts.
Engaging Combat For A Mobile Game
Blades combat begins as a simple affair; tap to block, and tap, hold, and release to attack. Release at the right time and you’ll land a critical hit. As you level up, you’ll unlock new spells and abilities that need to be timed right for them to work properly. For example, if you are hit while casting some spells, it will backfire and cause damage to your character. Finding the proper cadence of blocking, attacking, and using abilities is a fun take on combat, and one that works well on portable devices. Even as an Early Access title, the game offers loads of abilities to unlock, although it isn’t nearly as robust as its console counterparts.
Building A Better Town
Beyond combat, rebuilding a town is the other main draw of the game. There’s a bit of a story to go along with it, but nothing too elaborate. You’ll acquire resources and gold during your journey, which can then be used to place buildings such as a Workshop, Alchemy Laboratory, and Blacksmith. Many of these also unlock new features, such as upgrading weapons or crafting cosmetic items. Others simply increase the appeal of your town. The higher your town’s appeal, the more building types you’ll be able to craft. It’s a fun concept, albeit one that is common in most mobile games, but it is executed well.
In the end, Blades isn’t exactly what players wanted from a mobile Elder Scrolls title, but it does an admirable job of translating the heart and soul of the series onto a handheld device. It certainly has its flaws, but if you’re willing to sink an hour of your time into it, you just might find that the game is better than you thought.