QuakeCon 2018: The Elder Scrolls: Blades hands-on

The verdict is still out as one major puzzle piece has yet to fall into place.


Todd Howard took the stage during E3 2018 and revealed The Elder Scrolls: Blades, a mobile version of the game with big ambitions to deliver on the Elder Scrolls RPG experience in a stripped down form-factor. Our guide extraordinaire Sam Chandler got a chance to check it out himself during E3, but I got my own hands on it during QuakeCon 2018.

To set the stage for my take, I’ve dabbled in the world of Elder Scrolls mostly via Oblivion and a VR dive into Skyrim. A large percent of the time I’ve invested in mobile gaming involves village, city, or empire building of some kind. The Elder Scrolls: Blades will feature such a mechanic when it launches, but the only things I checked out this time were the combat and exploration.

The Elder Scrolls: Blades is a mobile experience first and foremost and I was comfortable using the supplied iPhone with one hand to play. The forest and castle levels were linear and consisted of walking through the level, breaking specific glowing objects open, and fighting creatures of various kinds. Pretty simple.

The movement is equally simple, as you move your character by just tapping where you want to go on the screen. Once you encounter an enemy, the camera repositions and tracks the enemy. You’re static for the fight, so you just focus on attacking, defending, and using special abilities. Attacking requires you to hold your press until the circle on the screen reaches its edge. There’s a timing element where, if you hold it too long, the attack won’t be as impactful. Beyond that, you press a button to put up your shield when the enemy attacks and can press other smaller icons to set off different abilities. In this demo, I had a shield bash, blizzard shield, and lightning bolt.

Things were perfectly fine with humanoid or larger creatures, but smaller creatures that hover lower on your screen caused some mix-ups as I mistakenly hit the shield, which is in the lower center of the screen, instead of attacking. When you tap a glowing item like a vase or tree trunk, the camera similarly repositions like in combat and the character cracks it open with their weapon.

Ultimately, the verdict is out on The Elder Scrolls: Blades' potential and it will remain so until I can get my hands on the village building. The dungeon crawling mechanics and combat are simple and seem polished, but they’re ultimately a means to supply the individual city I’ll be able to shape with resources I gather.

No doubt, there are unique weapons and armor that players will earn and find throughout their adventures and there’s a PvP aspect in the works, as well. Nevertheless, the city-building coupled with dungeon crawling is what will fuel this game for myself and many others. The official The Elder Scrolls: Blades website has a registration form for players wanting early access to the game, which is slated to launch sometime in 2018, so stay tuned to Shacknews. Once we get hands-on with a bigger slice of the game, we’ll provide you all with a thorough impression.

Charles Singletary Jr keeps the updates flowing as the News Editor, breaking stories while investigating the biggest topics in gaming and technology. He's pretty active on Twitter, so feel free to reach out to him @The_CSJR. Got a hot tip? Email him at Charles.Singletary@Shacknews.com.

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