Elder Scrolls Blades is the new offering from Bethesda on mobile phones. The success of Fallout Shelter has made them build on the Elder Scrolls property and bring it with you anywhere. Sure, you can already do that with the Switch and Skyrim, but you get the idea. Here are the highs and lows of the game.
The Good Things about Blades
First of all, Blades is an Elder Scrolls game. It has depth and design which allow you to build out your character and choose fantastic abilities to either fight or cast spells. The view is first person which works well on mobile so you can see things clearly and the environment is beautiful.
Did we mention it is mobile, play anywhere, any time? Yes, the flip mode into palm style playing is amazing and actually a fun way to play. You can move back and forth depending on where you are in a social situation to pretend you are looking at a calendar or texting an important meeting update, while instead killing Trolls.
The dungeon crawl aspect is also very well polished. The demo that they had gave you a choice of a forest or dungeon adventure. We chose the dungeon and it was worth it. The environments were darkly rendered with torch lit areas. It gave you the feeling of going deep into the ground with all the Elder Scrolls trimmings, loot, chests, secret doors etc.
The Improvements It May Need
For a mobile game, any combat system is tricky. You have to rely on touch screen which can get messy in terms of building a UI that works well for high speed combat. Blades had a combat system that just seemed slow. You tapped the screen to swing at your target and then waited for the circle to complete to execute your attack. It felt slow and did not cater to a speed fight approach. Imagine in Elder Scrolls every attack you made was a power attack that is how the game feels.
The combat also appeared to have a smaller hit box, so you could not target legs. You could however aim high in the hit box and attack heads. It also generated crits along the way and combinations, but there was no way to figure out how to do these together.
Spells were based on screen icons over the normal Magic, Health, and Stamina bars at the bottom. In order to cast you had to hit the icon. It seemed to go much easier than waiting on your attacks.
The other big area for improvement was movement. There were many times when we just could not get the hang of how to move through the dungeon. Don’t get us wrong, the dungeon set up was fantastic, but moving through it was not. It was clunky and needs a lot more polish.
Overall, Blades has a ton of potential. It is the amazing RPG we have all been looking for on a mobile device. We have seen success before, but Blades could really capture a new audience into RPGs if it makes the tweaks needed to move and attack faster. After talking with a few reps at the booth we did learn that they are continually iterating on the design and game mechanics so there will hopefully be changes coming to these two areas. For now, the jury is still out on Blades, a few more tweaks to design and it will be a knockout of a game.