Gamescom 2018: The Elder Scrolls Blades is Simple Fun for Mobile Devices

August 25, 2018

The Elder Scrolls Blades was one of the big Elder Scrolls announcements at Bethesda’s E3 Press Conference this year, just slightly smaller than their other one. It’s a mobile title that’s meant to provide a full Elder Scrolls experience but in a form factor and play-style more suited to handheld devices, that can even be played in portrait mode. After playing with it for a little while at Gamescom, I can confirm it’s a fun, but at the moment pretty simple title.

As you move around the world in first-person view, you can tap the screen to move to that location. It works well enough, but I couldn’t help but wish you could hold down on the screen to keep moving, instead of having to continually tap, or even use a virtual d-pad. However, exploration wasn’t that necessary, the demo I played had a fairly linear path through a forest that took you from monster to monster encounter, and didn’t allow you to enter huts or other structures you found along the way.

Combat is a pretty simple affair of holding down on the screen and releasing in time with an on-screen prompt to get the maximum damage. A shield icon lets you block attacks. It’s similar to the one-on-one style of combat from Infinity Blade but without that game’s cinematic angles and rapid swiping on-screen. It’s much more casual to strike and block in portrait mode, or access spells. After killing a foe you can collect the loot as a bag of gold off their corpse before continuing on.

Taking a quick look at the inventory menu, you can deck out your character with all the different kinds of equipment you’d expect from an Elder Scrolls game including chest armour, helmets, different weapons, shields, etc. I changed out my character’s default armour and weaponry for a much-higher rated Daedric set, although strangely it didn’t seem to make a lot of difference gameplay wise in this build to the damage I was giving and receiving.

There wasn’t much else to the demo apart from these mechanics, although I’m sure the full game will have a lot more going on. Visually, on the provided iPhone X the game was comparable to Skyrim‘s look on release, although perhaps not the remastered versions which have since come out. Character models generally looked better than the environments.

The Elder Scrolls Blades is scheduled for release later this year as a free-to-play game on iOS and Android devices.