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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Elder Scrolls: Blades is a free-to-play, first-person, fantasy role-playing adventure game available for download on iOS and Android devices. Based on content from the popular Elder Scrolls franchise on console and PCs, players work to defend and rebuild their hometown by fending off all manner of threats, ranging from enemy soldiers and bandits to wild animals and magical creatures. Combat regularly occurs, with the first-person perspective giving players a detailed view of the brutal fighting. Although free-to-play, there's a heavy push for in-game microtransactions, including rare treasure chests, equipment, and gems which can be used to bypass the time required to complete certain actions.
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What's it about?
THE ELDER SCROLLS: BLADES is a mobile fantasy role-playing game (RPG) set in the Elder Scrolls world of Tamriel. For centuries throughout the land of Tamriel, there were few more trusted and revered than the Blades, an ancient order sworn to the service and defense of the Dragonborn. But that was before the Great War saw the order disbanded and its members hunted down and executed by the Thalmor. In the game, you're one of the few surviving Blades, a fugitive on the run and in hiding. You return to your hometown for sanctuary only to find it in ruins, the result of an attack by mercenaries under orders from the Bloodfall Queen. While you may be in hiding, you're still one of the Blades of the Empire. Calling on the sense of honor and duty that once served you as a Blade, you now take on the task of helping to rebuild your hometown, defending its people, and fighting back against the Bloodfall Queen, all while trying to uncover the true source of the encroaching evil and the threat it poses to all of Tamriel.
Is it any good?
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about microtransactions in games. What are some of the ways that “free-to-play” games try to encourage players to spend money in the game? What are some of the offers that you would be willing to spend money on and what practices discourage you from doing so?
Is the impact of violence in games like The Elder Scrolls: Blades affected by the fact that you're frequently fighting monsters and figures that aren't real? Would the violence be intensified if you were only fighting humans, or if the visuals were more graphic? How can more immersive experiences, such as first-person games, impact the how violence in games can affect younger players?
- Devices: iPhone, iPad, Android
- Pricing structure: Free
- Release date: March 27, 2019
- Category: Role-Playing Games
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Size: 147.70 MB
- Publisher: Bethesda Softworks LLC
- Version: 1.0.1
- Minimum software requirements: Requires iOS 11.0 or higher; Android 7.0 and up
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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