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Michael Bitton: Why I’m Looking Forward to The Elder Scrolls Legends

Columns By Michael Bitton on July 01, 2016

Why I’m Looking Forward to The Elder Scrolls Legends

I feel Elder Scrolls Legends has unfairly drawn the ire of the series’ fans due to the perception that Bethesda is simply jumping on the CCG craze to milk their IP in open envy of Blizzard’s success with Hearthstone. Is it possible that Hearthstone gave way to green lighting a game like Elder Scrolls Legends? Sure. But that doesn’t mean Blizzard has a monopoly on studios creating card games based on their intellectual properties.

Personally, I’m pretty excited for Elder Scrolls Legends and this week I’ve put together a hopefully helpful list on why.

The Lore

Well, I suppose this is obvious. I’m a fan of the Elder Scrolls series and so I’m naturally curious about whatever sort of game Bethesda decides to attach its IP to. I enjoy Hearthstone, but I’ve always played the game in spite of its IP, not because of it. I’ve never liked Warcraft, though Hearthstone has allowed me to appreciate some aspects of the series’ lore and personality, it’s still not exactly my cup of tea. If Bethesda were merely cloning Hearthstone with the ES IP, I would probably be OK with this.

Dual Lanes

ESL’s dual lanes promise to add an interesting wrinkle to the digital CCG formula. In Hearthstone and in most CCGs, you play your cards on your side of the board and your opponent plays his cards on his, but in TESL, the board is divided vertically down the middle and split into two lanes. Lanes can have different attributes that affect the cards you play into them and also serve as a different way to respond to what your opponent is doing. If your opponent is filling out one side of the board more than the other, you may decide to play a key creature into the less occupied lane for a better chance at it surviving to do its job.

We don’t know all the possible lane effects so far, but we’ve seen at least one where all cards played into a particular lane will be stealthed until the next turn.  We’ve also seen another lane effect described as being a graveyard where creatures will rise from their graves as skeletons when killed. The possibilities are endless and I really can’t wait to see how this simple wrinkle can spice up a typical match.

The Campaign

Yep. Just like the main series, The Elder Scrolls Legends will feature its own narrative driven campaign, replete with choices to make. The more cynical among us could consider the campaign merely an extended tutorial, but even so, it could provide a fun way to earn cards for your deck when starting out with the game.  Choices you make during the campaign can affect the sorts of cards you’ll unlock. Bethesda’s Pete Hines described one scenario where the player has to choose to adopt or abandon a wolf cub. The card you’ll receive depends entirely on the choice you make. I don’t know how much of a difference your choices will make (if at all) on the way the campaign ultimately plays out, but I do feel that acquiring cards this way is a lot more fun than simply going into the store and buying some packs. 

Prophecy

This mechanic might be controversial for CCG fans, but it’s yet another way TESL differentiates itself from Hearthstone. You can’t really react to what your opponent is doing on his turn in Hearthstone, but in TESL you can via the Prophecy card text. Each player has five runes surrounding their portrait and a rune is shattered for every 5 HP the player loses. Upon shattering, the player will then draw a card and if this card features the Prophecy card text it can be played during the opponents turn. The mechanic could be controversial because it’s a sort of RNG based comeback mechanic, but I feel it will help make the game more interesting overall.

The Visuals

“But…it’s so brown!” Yeah, yeah. I know. The same criticisms were leveled against Elder Scrolls Online as well. A game based on the Elder Scrolls IP is just never going to be as colorful as a game like Hearthstone. Warcraft ‘s universe and style is just more vibrant and cartoon like, while the Elder Scrolls games are typically a bit more gritty and realistic. That said, have you seen the card art in Elder Scrolls Legends? It’s gorgeous stuff.  The card text and borders on the other hand, sure, they could use some work.

From what little I’ve seen, the visual effects attached to cards are also top notch stuff, arguably on the same level as the sorts of effects we see in Blizzard’s CCG.  I’m a fan of the production values I’ve seen in the game so far and I don’t think I’ll be disappointed with the game’s visuals once I can finally get my hands on it.

What’s your take on The Elder Scrolls Legends? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site''s Community Manager.