After being delayed from last fall and not much news about it until last week, The Elder Scrolls: Blades has finally made its way into early access. A couple day ago, I was given the chance to go hands-on with the game to see how it felt and played. Below are some of my impressions of the early access version of the game. To this point, I’ve played about 3 or 4 hours of the game and I’ll detail some of the good and bad things I’ve found throughout my time thus far.
It’s important to know that The Elder Scrolls: Blades is not a full-fledged RPG experience that the other main Elder Scrolls games. Instead, Blades takes many of the elements of the other games such as character creation, spells, different weapons, and quests, and tailors them into an experience that feels made for phones, but also true to previous Elder Scrolls games.
The game can be played in portrait or landscape mode depending on your playing preference and the transition to either is pretty smooth. I personally prefer playing in landscape mode as you’re able to use the on-screen joysticks to move your character and camera around, where in portrait mode you’re limited to tapping where you want your character to walk and swiping your finger across the screen to move the camera. Despite my preference for playing the game in landscape mode, I had a difficult time with the controls as the camera can be hard to control. This is something I hope Bethesda fine-tunes before the launch of the full game.
The next thing to know about the Blades is that it isn’t an open world game. Instead, quests take place in various areas and the areas are fairly linear. There are some small, out-of-the-way places in the areas, or occasional secret rooms or locations that might hold a treasure chest, but outside of that, players aren’t free to roam wherever they please. I didn’t have an issue with this though, as I enjoyed doing the quests and trying to find all the treasure chests hidden around the level.
The game’s graphics are fairly impressive for a mobile game, with most of areas and environments looking fairly detailed. The best comparison I’d make to the game’s environments are that of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, which I’d say isn’t bad for a game made for phoned. Sometimes I would see trees in the background floating or would be in what felt like the same map for different quests, but it wasn’t something that deterred me from my experience.
The biggest issue I have with the game’s graphics though is its NPC models. The NPCs in the game look almost like plastic and low-resolution action figures. This is most noticeable with the human NPC characters that you come across throughout the game. Other character models however such as skeevers, skeletons, and draugrs are pulled off fairly well and didn’t look much different than those from Skyrim.
One last thing that players will notice is that there is audio dialogue for NPCs in the game. Instead, dialogue is reminiscent of old school rpg games where players had to read the dialogue between your character and the NPCs you were interacting with. I again wasn’t incredibly deterred by this, since it is more common to have non speaking NPCs in mobile games than console games these days.
Despite some of the flaws that I just mentioned, I’ve had a genuinely great time playing this game and would say that I’m hooked on it. As a huge Elder Scrolls fan, this scratches the itch I have to play a new Elder Scrolls experience while waiting for the highly anticipated Elder Scrolls VI to come out. The story, the town building, and the looting systems are some of the things that build up Blades and make it a truly fun experience despite its noticeable flaws.
Without going into much detail about the story for the sake of spoilers, the story behind The Elder Scrolls: Blades is very much an Elder Scrolls story aside from starting off in a prison cell. Instead, your character starts off in a forest where you have to make your way towards a burning town you see in the distance. Once you get to the town, you learn that the town is the one you were from and that you had left long ago for various reason. The town itself (which you get to name) is in shambles because of a failed negotiation between a ruler by the name of the Blood Queen, and the citizens of the town. From there, you are thrust into a story of mystery and intrigue as you try to find out the exact reason the town was destroyed.
After completing this first quest, you are taken to the character creation screen, which I found to be surprisingly in-depth for a mobile game. Like all main entry Elder Scrolls games before it as well as Elder Scrolls Online, you’re able to choose your character’s race, customize their hair, face, facial hair, etc. The number of different ways for you to create a character that is genuinely your own is truly impressive and I was happy to walk away with a character I liked.
Once you’re finished creating your hero, you are tasked with saving a few of the townsfolk that are held up in a nearby dungeon. After rescuing the townsfolk and returning to the town, your ability to do what you want opens up a bit, as you are introduced to the town-building mechanics. With the town in shambles, you’re must rebuild the town as you see fit and truly making it your own. You need to collect various materials such as limestone and wood in order to be able to buy and rebuild shops and homes for people. This is the part of the game that I’ve truly gotten hooked on aside from the quests because I’ve enjoyed games in the past like The Sims, where you have to build a place up and make it your own, so having this new element added into the game has been an exciting new addition which I really enjoy.
These are just some of my thoughts after going hands-on for a few hours with the game, but I clearly see myself putting more time into it. Despite some of its obvious flaws, it’s important to note that the game is still in Early Access and has no concrete release date, so a lot could change between now and when it gets a full release. But for fans of the Elder Scrolls games who are looking for a surprisingly in-depth new addition to the series that you can take with you anywhere, I would personally recommend looking into this game and trying to get hands on with it.
Have you gotten to play The Elder Scrolls: Blades yet? Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below and be sure to subscribe to BYOG for more of the latest and greatest in gaming.