When it was announced that this series was coming to mobile devices with an original RPG experience, concern arose about if it could live up to the legacy of its console and PC brethren. While obviously some changes had to be made, The Elder Scrolls: Blades is a strong addition to the franchise. The game looks absolutely gorgeous, recreating the detailed style of Tamriel almost flawlessly. The user interface works great for combat, which relies heavily on timing. All the commands are right at your fingertips, and the game even allows players to switch out from portrait to landscape views on the fly. Unfortunately, movement in Blades and exploring the environment isn’t nearly as good. Using the virtual thumbsticks to move feels somewhat sluggish, especially when trying to look around. On the flip side, when using the touch and move option, it’s way too easy to overshoot or undershoot your mark due to the 3D first-person layout. It’s nothing you can’t get used to with practice, but it can be frustrating after running into a wall for the umpteenth time.
The Elder Scrolls: Blades isn’t the open world adventure that fans are accustomed to. Instead, it’s a sort of hybrid between a dungeon crawler and a city builder, but with enough solid role-playing elements added in to still feel like an Elder Scrolls game. If there’s one genuine weak point to the gameplay, it’s that the free-to-play formula hurts more than it helps. The problem is that some actions are locked behind a time gate. This gets particularly irritating if you’ve collected a number of treasure chests, which can only be opened one at a time, taking longer times for rarer chests. If you keep playing the game, you wind up with a bunch of chests that are constantly waiting to be opened. The only way around this is to use Gems to speed the process along, but you rarely earn enough through gameplay to do much. The result leaves you feeling either forced to sit in timeout just for wanting to play or forced to pay to access your well-earned rewards. In spite of this frustration, The Elder Scrolls: Blades is still a solid fantasy role-playing game, with an entertaining story and strong gameplay worthy of a Dragonborn.