The Good: Moving Around Isn’t as Depressing as it Looked
My first thought when I saw Elder Scrolls: Blades in action during the Bethesda press conference was how clunky moving around looked. Tapping around just looks so ancient and outdated for mobile games, and when I saw the virtual analog controllers, I thought for sure that was going to be the preferred way to play.
Once I got my hands on it, though, I actually found that the tapping around is completely fine and not annoying at all. The main reason for this is that when you approach an enemy, you enter an attack stance automatically, so the game will adjust your camera to make sure you’re facing the enemy the right way, and not battling the camera.
So when you’re not in combat, all you have to do is just use both your hands to tap around and keep yourself moving quickly, and just touch, hold, and drag around on the screen if you want to shift the camera and check your surroundings. It was actually much easier and quicker than using the analog controls.
The Good: Blades Looks and Runs Great
Mobile phones are more than capable of pumping out nice looking games, so it’s no surprise that Bethesda would push the platform to its limits for The Elder Scrolls: Blades. It has console quality graphics for sure. Enemies are detailed and the environment around you is polished, and not just for mobile game standards. It genuinely is just pretty.
The Elder Scrolls: Blades also ran very well, I didn’t experience and lag, frame rate chugs, or anything like that. Inputting commands was quick and responsive. If anything, the only concern I have is that this game will likely annihilate your battery. The demo phone I was using was very warm to the touch, which is unsurprising considering, again, the game is very pretty and likely very demanding from a performance standpoint.
The Good: It Seems Like a Decent Time Killer
The Elder Scrolls: Blades isn’t going to compare to a mainline Elder Scrolls game obviously, but it was fun enough where I can see it being a great game to have on your phone to screw around with while in a car or plane. Like I mentioned above, the controls are passable, and while I didn’t get to do anything than fight stuff, there appears to be lots of ways for you to customize your character, and use the resources you collect to build up your town which I can see being fun.
The Bad: It’s Kind of Dull
While yes, it seems like a decent, very pretty, time waster of a game, there are lots of other games just like that on mobile. That doesn’t automatically make them fun. I’m not a big mobile phone guy, but let’s use Pokemon Quest as an example since it will be on phones soon enough. I don’t find the game to be that entertaining, honestly, but it’s a nice way to pass the time, and feel like I’m making in progress in something if I don’t have the time, or the ability to play something better. The Elder Scrolls: Blades can totally be that way too.
But, gameplay wise, it’s kind of generic. You’re just tapping around, slashing and tapping at enemies mindlessly until they are dead. I didn’t really get a sense of much strategy or nuance. You could time attacks to make them critical, but it didn’t really matter either way. Maybe more difficult encounters will better highlight the nuances in combat.
The Bad: It Seems Kind of Linear
The other not so great thing I noticed is that there really wasn’t much exploring to be had. Whether I was in the forest or castle area, both experiences were just long hallways with enemies to kill along the way. There were a few off the path distractions that led to another pot to break open or something, but neither experience even came close to matching the elaborate dungeons, and caves that are seen in traditional Elder Scrolls games.
This could just be a really early point in the game, and it might open up more later, but if the game is linear, and the combat doesn’t get much more exciting than what I played today, I can’t see The Elder Scrolls: Blades being much more than something you play for a few minutes while on you’re way to doing something else.