E3 2018: The Elder Scrolls: Blades Hands-On Preview: Bite-Sized Scrolls

A little Elder Scrolls experience perfect for when you can’t play a bigger Elder Scrolls game.

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The Elder Scrolls: Blades is Bethesda’s first venture into the mobile market with an Elder Scrolls title, they managed to strike gold with Fallout Shelter, so why not try with their other beloved IP? The Elder Scrolls: Blades is here to give mobile gamers an opportunity to experience a taste of the Elder Scrolls' experience PC gamers have had for decades.

I was able to spend some time playing two levels of The Elder Scrolls: Blades, one set in a forest and the other in a castle. The gameplay consisted of putting my thumbs on the screen to move and aim, significantly blocking what I could see of the game, which in its defence, is exceptionally beautiful.

Though the loading screens promised such features as questing and exploring, creating your own city, conquering rivals, and creating any character, I could only partake in some light exploration. The forest level was a winding path with one or two areas off to the side with a couple of enemies, while the castle level was a collection of rooms and hallways filled with such iconic Elder Scrolls enemies as skeletons, skeevers, and a wights.

The combat itself is rather simple, utilizing a lock-on and stand still system. Two enemies might appear on screen, but one will wait patiently to the side while you block and attack until its friend is dead, and then it will shuffle forward like it was waiting in line.

An axe and shield, along with a couple of spells (one ranged and one for protection) were my primary means of attack, with the spells automatically hitting the enemy when cast – no aiming needed. When an enemy died, a little bag of treasure would drop to the ground that had to be tapped to be collected. Interestingly, there were two currencies on show: Septims (Elder Scrolls’ version of gold) and a strange gem – which when pressed as to whether this was a premium currency, no comment was given by the PR around the booth.

Because I was playing on mobile, I was able to flip the phone vertically and play with one hand, tapping the ground to highlight a spot for the character to run to, and holding my thumb to the screen to block during combat. It’s nice to be able to play it with one hand if needed, but a lot of the surrounding environment is lost when held vertically.

One outstanding feature of Blades (aside from the visuals) is the soundtrack. Those who have grown to love the orchestral and fantastic nature of the music of Elder Scrolls will feel right at home with the gorgeous pieces present in The Elder Scrolls: Blades. It made the experience feel a lot more grand and alive, and added a sense of tension to the combat.

The vertical slice that I got to play at E3 2018 wasn't quite enough to whet my appetite, but the full game appears to promise a lot of customization and an interesting town management system, all of which should feel more like a complete meal. The Elder Scrolls: Blades is releasing sometime in 2018, to all platforms that can run it, which might tide over some of the fans while they whittle away the years until The Elder Scrolls VI is delivered to us from the bosom of Todd Howard.

Guides Editor

Hailing from the land down under, Sam Chandler is relatively new to the industry, getting his start a few years ago as a writer-for-hire. After bouncing round a few universities, securing a bachelor degree, and finding his feet, he's found his new family here at Shacknews as a Guides Editor. There's nothing he loves more than crafting a guide that will help someone. If you need help with a guide, or notice something not quite right, you can Tweet him: @SamuelChandler 

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