Combining hand-crafted and procedurally generated dungeons, ease of use elements and hardcore game design, The Elder Scrolls: Blades is a hybrid game concept bringing a fascinating RPG universe to consoles, computers, and smartphones this year.
In September 2018 The Elder Scrolls will get a brand new entry playable on the go for the first time since Nokia brick phones. With Skyrim now available on Nintendo Switch and a portable version of Oblivion cancelled from back in the PlayStation Portable days, fans have been hungry for more of the unique role playing game’s universe to fit in their pocket. Behind the scenes Bethesda Game Studios is working hard to ensure that they get this right, and it’s not viewed as just a cash-in.
“We wanted Blades to feel like an authentic Elder Scrolls RPG – great-looking, deep, and first-person,” Todd Howard said. If you’ve played any Elder Scrolls games, you’ve personally experienced the vision of this game designer / director turned industry figurehead. As Executive Producer of titles like Fallout 3, Skyrim, and roots back to The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall, since he joined the company back in 1994 Todd has had a major influence on Bethesda’s games. When times were tough and budgets were smaller, he even got in the booth and did voice-over work for NPC’s without asking for credit or extra pay. This is a person who has passion for video games and cares deeply about the universes his team is creating.
The Elder Scrolls: Blades is the result of rising smartphone technology bringing 4K graphics and extreme processing capabilities into the average user’s hand. Thanks to cell phone service providers mostly hiding the fee of these thousand dollar phones within the contracts and monthly usage bills, there’s more people with a powerful smartphone than perhaps owning game consoles. That being said, the market and play-style for mobile gaming are both very different from console and PC gaming with games that are too complex usually feeling like too much to play on your phone in short bursts, but games that are too ‘dumbed down’ being seen as shallow vehicles for greedy in-game purchase systems.
Some things that we already know about TES: Blades were revealed during the Bethesda E3 2018 Press Conference and include that it’s using a new movement and combat system that’s unlike other RPG games. There’s a rogue-like mode which contains procedurally generated dungeons and challenge players to see how long they’ll last in an infinite dungeon, a PvP mode, and a base-building center of operations which is where quests are launched from. But at its core this game is based on the story-telling, immersive staple features that make The Elder Scrolls so good. Players take control of a character who has had their town taken out and as they rebuild it through quests and following the story mode of the game, new NPC’s will be unlocked to continue making the world more alive and cinematic.
In addition to these facts, it’s also already known since E3 that there will be auxiliary features planned for the game including a PC version with High-End VR, Mobile VR, Cross-Play between those two versions, and support for Portrait Mode which Todd Howard calls ‘meeting mode’ joking that it’s a way to play the game in the middle of a meeting at work without being obvious. But now we have learned even more than that thanks to a special interview with one of the TES: Blades developers found hidden within Apple iOS. While it mostly reads like a puff piece and restates a lot of stuff we already know about the game, there is some new information to glean from it.
Hold and release to swing your sword, tap on-screen buttons to cast spells and shield bash – these are some descriptions of gameplay that we also heard from press who got hands-on with the game’s playable demo at E3. Rather than trying to “mimic a complicated PC or console game” controller layout on-screen, Bethesda has crafted a subtle and easy to understand UI that won’t occupy much visual real estate, but you can still turn on optional virtual thumb-sticks in landscape mode if you insist.
Every 10 minute burst of TES: Blades you manage to find time in your life for will feel rewarding. Fallout Shelter, with over 120 million players, was a huge motivational factor in creating TES: Blades with Todd Howard himself saying, “-with Blades, we [can] still be ourselves and reach a wide audience, so we shouldn’t hold back – [that] with Blades, we should go for something much more ambitious. The key parts of defining your character, getting quests, exploring and fighting – they’re all there,” the game’s director tells us stating that TES: Blades gameplay moments are in fact “Different but they scratch the same itch.”
The Elder Scrolls: Blades will become available free-to-play for Android, iOS, PC, and “modern consoles” (which we hope means PS4, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch) some time during 2018. For now, you can request beta access at PlayBlades.com and we look forward to finding out much more about the game as well as getting more hands-on with it soon!