If you load in Nintendo eShop The Elder Scrolls: Blades you have the choice between two versions: the free Free2Play version and the quick starter version for 15 euros. Both deliver the same game, if you pull out your wallet, you get numerous helpful items at hand. When we start the title, we are first greeted with a loading bar, because The Elder Scrolls: Blades can only be played online.
The character creation follows, where we determine gender, height, face, physique and Co. We can choose between all the well-known people of Tamriel. There are no classes and later we can change our appearance and ethnicity at any time with all the associated bonuses.
Technically in need of improvement
Already in the character menu it is noticeable that texts overlap slightly and many face options look suspiciously similar. In the rest of the game, too, we encounter small disruptive factors that testify to a certain lack of love from the developers: some texts are set to English, there is no sound elsewhere; sometimes the lips of our interlocutors move, sometimes not. Nevertheless, we calmly overlook this, as well as floating food next to tables or occasional stutters.
Source: PC games
Despite the obvious shortcomings, we are walking through a very beautiful world. The faces of all NPCs look alive and are graphically great to look at. Forests, ruins and caves are neatly designed and almost create something like this like a Skyrim feeling. Unfortunately, however, it's a bit more being than appearance. There are many tube-like areas to be explored in terms of quantity, but far too quickly we encounter repetitive textures and entire sections that are completely identical to one another. We keep walking through the same castle or the same forest and at some point ignore the beautiful ambience that we have seen thousands of times. The nice look is only of secondary importance anyway. The gameplay revolves around its three main mechanics: fighting, looting and urban expansion.
Since we never have to commit to a class in the game, it's up to us to find our own fighting style. With skill points we can specialize in small, medium or two-handed weapons. We also spend skill points to learn spells and endurance skills. Stamina and magic are used only in combat and cannot be used up by sprinting or jumping around. These athletic components didn't make it into the game, any more than any ranged or sneak attack. If we see an enemy, we run towards him until he notices us and engages in a fight, which activates the duel mode. There we strike from two directions, block or activate an ability. With well-timed blocking we even numb our opponent, but vice versa we can also numb ourselves. The simple combat system rewards dexterity and is more than just blunting. Nevertheless, the decision about victory or defeat largely depends on weapon and armor value.
Source: PC games
This is particularly evident in the abyss, an infinite dungeon that harbors stronger opponents with every new level. Without the right equipment, you don't get far and have to increase your level and find better equipment through daily orders and side quests. The constraint of values in the PvP arena is becoming frustrating. There you can measure yourself against other players, which is also fun thanks to the relatively short waiting time. Unfortunately we were rarely packed up with players of our rank. Enemies five levels above us simply beat us up, even if we blocked well. The other way around, of course, we undermined underleveled competition just as quickly. Once it was balanced, the combat system in competitive mode was a lot of fun.
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How does the raid do? Loot-loot!
Source: PC games
Chests, building materials, gold, diamonds … It can be so nice to collect loot! We are rewarded for everything we do, whether we're doing jobs, fighting in the arena, throwing ourselves into the abyss, or completing hourly challenges. Every box we find is ceremoniously opened in an extra screen and we regularly receive very good items. The Pay2Win principle, under which the game for the original mobile release suffered, has been severely weakened. The real money currency in the form of diamonds can now be found enough to regularly speed up certain processes, such as upgrading a weapon. In between, the game still reminds us of its Free2Play character and prompts us to visit the in-game shop. An occasional click away remedies.
Our city should be more beautiful
Source: PC games
We receive orders and side quests in our city, which is in ruins at the start of the game. For us this means: get the hammer. We put houses, shops and decorations on prefabricated building slots and thus increase our urban level. This not only creates a nicer atmosphere, but also new crafting opportunities, more NPCs and new side quests. The system is skilfully integrated into the main story and the regular receipt of decorative objects is extremely motivating to keep expanding and prettifying the city.
The long-term motivation is greatly reduced by many corners and edges and only kept alive by the surprisingly exciting story. Pleasantly unobtrusively told, the plot revolves around the secret of our own past and a powerful enemy. Those who are not put off by tube levels and the first-person dungeon crawler gameplay will get their money's worth, even without spending money.
Good Free2Play fun, luckily now without Pay2Win.
Blades has nothing to do with Skyrim apart from the shared original series and should not be compared to it as a Free2Play game. In itself, the title is not only fun, but the mobile version has the great advantage of sensible control. Small technical defects are forgiven and the graphics are really decent for a Free2Play game. The different game modes outweigh that the levels hardly differ from each other and the abundance of reward boxes that can be obtained even without the use of real money make The Elder Scrolls: Blades a pleasant and positive pastime. The waiting times when expanding the city are fair and emphasize that this is a game in between, which does not claim to have to keep up with its big brother.
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