The Elder Scrolls: Blades (An In-Depth Game Review)

Mobile Games

The Elder Scrolls: Blades is a F2P (Free to Play) action RPG created and published by Bethesda. The game is a spin-off of Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls series. The game is set following Elder Scrolls: Oblivion and before the Elder Scrolls: Skyrim.

Read on to learn more about the latest of the Elder Scrolls video game series.


Development History


The Elder Scrolls: Blades was developed by Bethesda and was published under Bethesda Softworks. It was showcased and announced by Todd Howard on Bethesda’s time to showcase new games and series during E3 2018, in addition to being playable on the expo’s show floor.

Blades came out on early access for both Android and iOS smartphones on March 27, 2019. The Bethesda figure-head said that he expects that Elder Scrolls: Blades would soon be available for consoles and VR.


Invite-Only Period

On March 1, 2019, Bethesda announced to the public that they would be hosting an iOS-only closed beta release for Elder Scrolls: Blades before the planned early access release for both iOS and Android on March 27. However, the early access release was instead placed forward by a day (March 28, 2019) on both the Android and iOS versions. The beta was released on the date of the 25th anniversary of the first Elder Scrolls game.

The store entries that the game has stated that it “launches as early access,” and that players “need to get an invite for them to play the game” at that time. Bethesda said that they’ve sent all the invites to the players in “waves” through email.


Early Negative Feedback

Then, the early access version was made available to registered players on Bethesda’s website. The company then posted on Twitter mentioning how the gates of the Elder Scrolls: Blades are further expanding. Along with the more-widespread access, Bethesda also talked about making changes with the games’ rewards.

One of the items or rewards in question was the Silver Chest. Players hated that you need to wait three hours for it to open. This is coupled without any option that was currently available at the time to open other chests that the player has in parallel or to discard previous chests that they have for a better one. This, of course, led to stalling gameplay. In response to multiple player complaints, Bethesda decreased the expected opening timer of Silver chests to an hour. They also reduced the cost of instantly opening Silver chests from 36 to 12 gems.


Early Access & Release

The early access version was then expanded to include most iOS and Android users on May 2, 2019. This coincided with the time that Bethesda updated the game so that it no longer needed players to have a Bethesda net account.

Shortly afterward, on May 17, 2019, Bethesda announced several planned changes to the game. These included adjustments to the player’s equipment repair costs and several difficulty balance tweaks. On that same announcement, Bethesda also confirmed to the masses that there would be a forthcoming “big” update that includes other features that players asked for.

These include jewelry and better and new story content. All of it was added in the 1.1 update, which was released in June 2019. The update also included added dialog for NPCs and, last but not least, support for players with levels beyond 50.

The game left early access on May 12, 2020, as part of the game’s version 1.7 update. In-game rewards were added for people who participated in the early access beta. The game’s Nintendo Switch version was released two days later on May 14.


The Elder Scrolls: Blades Features

Photo taken from Bethesda Softworks’ video on YouTube


The first thing that you need to know is that the game is beautiful—particularly in terms of visuals. The visuals are some of the best that you’ll get on a mobile game, and there’s no denying that Bethesda created a pretty diverse world that has character development and several other staples of the Elder Scrolls experience. However, some things are pretty much not going to be palatable for some people.

Blades is one of the most anticipated mobile RPGs in a long while. If you’re interested in other action RPGs for mobile and the best mobile games to play when bored, you can read our articles to learn more.


The Elder Scrolls: Blades Playing Guide

Blades Elder Scrolls
Photo from MMO Culture



The Elder Scrolls: Blades is an action RPG that, as typical from an Elder Scrolls game, is usually played from a first-person perspective. You can’t go on a third-person perspective like in other games here, and also, the game was made specifically for those that play on mobile devices and has near-unavoidable mano-o-mano, sword/ax/mace/sledgehammer, and board combat. Combat is done by the use of tapping, swiping, or making use of the virtual dual-stick controls through the touch screen.

Also, when you compare the game with most of the other installments that are in the series, the former Elder Scrolls games primarily have a built-in open-world as well as world map features. Meanwhile, the Elder Scrolls: Blades’ overall story and gameplay design are linear. Mostly because of the challenges and limitations of an Open-World game of the usual Elder Scrolls scale on your everyday mobile devices. Another notable distinction that the game has is the ability to sneak around NPCs, moving the corpses you killed, and hiding/storing/stealing items that are not added in the game.



Photo from SlashGear


Combat allows players to play either as a melee fighter, a sorcerer, or as a ranged-weapon specialist. When talking about the use of magic, the player only can use up to three different spells during combat. The game’s areas are a mix of handcrafted assets and generated content. As players level up, they can put points in skill trees to further customize their playing style.


Game Modes

Game Modes
Photo from Forbes


In terms of playable modes, Blades has three major ones. These game modes are Abyss, Arena, and Town.

Abyss is a test of the player’s attrition as they face off against countless enemies in an unending battle. However, Abyss isn’t connected to the game’s main story, but it is still the best way for players to gain experience and equipment. The Arena is a PVP multiplayer mode that’s exactly as it says on the tin. Two real-world players battling one another for supremacy.

The Town mode is the game’s main mode, which includes the story quests. This is a hub area where the player can get quests and meet NPCs to progress the game’s story. The player’s hub town starts as dilapidated and destroyed due to an attack before the game started and they are tasked with both rebuilding and upgrading it, which unlocks more quests and NPCs to interact with. Players can also visit the hub towns of their friends.

On mobile devices, the game is available in landscape or portrait orientation.


How to Level Up

In The Elder Scrolls: Blades, you level up by completing quests and defeating monsters, whether these monsters are on the Main Quest dungeons or the Abyss. With each level that you go to, you will gain rewards and unlock new skills, weapon and armor crafting styles, and get stronger. As of writing, the highest level possible that any player can get to is 100.


How to Earn Cash

As for getting cash, or gold, you can get them through going on quests, for one. The game rewards you by giving you gold throughout the quest’s duration. This is done by defeating enemies, breaking stuff, opening chests, and finding secrets.

Then there’s the Abyss game mode. The Abyss is the place to go to if you want to grind out. The Arena is second best in this regard, and if you don’t have good gear, you will get wrecked in the Arena anyhow. However, make sure your in-game stats and equipment are sufficient enough to maximize your farming experience when selecting a specific floor.

Of course, you are not limited to that floor. You have the choice to try and complete floors that exceed the recommendation. Clearing out the harder floors will reward you with better gear and more money. That’s up to Floor 50. Beyond that, the gear stays the same.

There are five types of chests that you can get in this game. They can be found in the Abyss or the Store. These are Legendary, Elder, Gold, Silver, and Wood. We’ll get into these chest types below.


How to Get Gear and Equipment

Photo from Gamefreaks365


As mentioned, there are five different types of chests in the game: Legendary, Elder, Gold, Silver, and Wood in descending rarity. You can also get equipment in the blacksmith through forging, but these chests hold the best equipment. Feel free to smash open as many as the common chests that you get, but remember to store the Legendary and Elder chests for later. Saving the chests you get is a common tactic; the loot inside any chest you get is generated the moment that you open the chest up, so you can actually save the best chests you have in your inventory, and then open them when you’re on a higher level for the best gear.


Strengths and Weaknesses of Elder Scrolls: Blades

TES Blades
Photo from Digitally Downloaded


The game leverages the Elder Scrolls series and adds new lore to the game at large, as well as giving a fresh twist to the gameplay. Its graphics are awesome and you can expect a cool look into the franchise that you can play on the go.

Unfortunately, this is where the good times end.

For one, the game’s graphics will make you choose between it and the framerate. You can either have awesome graphics (for the mobile) and have a choppy framerate, or you can have faster frames, but the graphics suffer for it. And that’s just graphics-wise.

Combat is a repetitive slog of “Hold until the circle’s filled and release to deal damage,” “Press this to block,” “Time the block to stun the enemy,” “Use magic,” “Use abilities,” rinse and repeat. In addition to this, your damage depends on the weapons that you have equipped. And while it’s true that on the first few levels, your average weapons are okay, you better ensure that you have higher-tier equipment later. If you don’t, you’re going to be screwed, especially in the Arena events.



Elder Scrolls: Blades’ in-game premium currency is called Gem. You get gems typically through the same way that other free-to-play mobiles give you premium currency—through achievements, playing the game, logging in, et cetera. The thing is, the game will eventually inundate you with so many things to spend the gems on, that you’ll run out of them pretty fast. And it doesn’t help that the gem costs of all the things in the game are pretty jacked in some cases.

An example of this is on the chests. We’ve already talked about how expensive the Elder and Legendary chests are in the shop as they cost gems to purchase. The chests are on a timer so you need to wait before you can open them. If you want to immediately open them, you’ll need to spend gems. And the higher the chest rarity, the higher the gem cost. So that’s a pretty big con.

The game has several sets of Gem packs that you can buy—from the 160 Gem pack to the 14K Gem pack. The thing is, it’s fine to go and purchase the 160 Gem pack for $2.

If you want the better chests and thus better equipment, you will need to shell out more money.

The cheapest chest that you can get in the store is the Golden Chest. In the store, this chest costs 250 gems. The cheapest gem pack you got gives 160 gems, which means you need to purchase a total of $4 to buy one Gold Chest.


Pricy Chests

The game’s Elder and Legendary Chests are way more expensive in terms of in-game currency, and real-life spending. The Elder and Legendary Chests cost around 750 and 2,500 gems respectively. The second cheapest Gem Pack that you can get gives you 500 gems for 5$. If you want to buy even one Elder Chest, you’re will need 9 to 10 dollars to get it.

The Legendary Chest needs you to purchase the Strongbox of Gems pack—at a minimum—to buy one. As that Gem Pack holds 2,500 Gems. This pack costs $21.25. Yes, you read it right. The Legendary Chest, if purchased in the store, costs nearly $22.

True you can get these chests on the Abyss and the Colosseum, but the game runs on equipment that you can get from chests. The best equipment is in the rarest chests. And these are the rarest around. If your equipment ain’t up to par? Well… Expect several, very painful deaths for your character.


Alternatives to Elder Scrolls: Blades

Evoland Series


If you’re looking for a game that has a linear progression yet has a fresh plot, then the Evoland Series is something that you should get. Sure the second of the series costs some money, but the fresh style when it comes to narrative, as well as the classic gameplay from old school Legend of Zelda fame? Well, it’s irresistible.


Knights of Pen and Paper 2

Knights of Pen & Paper 2
Photo from VentureBeat


If you want to experience DnD without actually creating your character, then Knights of Pen and Paper 2 is for you. The game has you play both the Dungeon Master and the perspective players and go on a journey throughout the land. Defeating various critters along the way. The game is quirky, and weird, with a lot of storylines that make no sense, but the game is all on good fun.



RuneScape Mobile
Photo from GameSpot

And lastly, the good old RuneScape. RuneScape is an old, yet venerable game. It heralded the release of the MMORPG back then, and it’s one of the most enduring MMOs out there. And while it’s true that the graphics are dated and the mechanics seem a bit stale, there’s nostalgia and comfort in the game. That and its mechanics are still pretty polished even after all these years.


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