Game Review: The Elder Scrolls: Legends

Dan Goad Dan Goad
Expert Contributor
August 3rd, 2017

Dan is an expert contributor to ComiConverse. His interests mainly lie in video games, but he has previously written articles on film and tv. He can be found on Twitter @dangoad

Price:
A strong hand from Bethesda

Reviewed by:
Rating:
3
On August 3, 2017
Last modified:August 5, 2017

Summary:

A polished entry into a crowded market. Innovative but not inventive, it will be appealing to Elder Scrolls fans. For everyone else it may not appeal as much as other games in the genre.

Price:
A strong hand from Bethesda

Reviewed by:
Rating:

3
On August 3, 2017
Last modified:August 5, 2017

Summary:

A polished entry into a crowded market. Innovative but not inventive, it will be appealing to Elder Scrolls fans. For everyone else it may not appeal as much as other games in the genre.

MORE NEWS FROM THE WEB

Bethesda is entering the crowded market of collectible card games with The Elder Scrolls: Legends. Have they dealt a bad hand or is the popularity of the Elder Scrolls enough to come up trumps? ComiConverse contributor Dan Goad shuffles the deck and finds out.

Game Review: Elder Scrolls: Legends

When it comes to digital collectible card games (CCGs) Hearthstone is the undisputed king. Its three-year life span has seen over 70 million unique users and in 2015 was earning Blizzard approximately $20 million a month. It’s not surprising that other major video game developers wanted in on those kinds of numbers, so the Witcher 3’s Gwent and The Elder Scrolls: Legends have been put on the table (Fable Fortune is also coming soon, although without much more than a blessing from the IP owner Microsoft). Legends aims to use the considerable weight and popularity of the Elder Scrolls brand to grab its own share of the market. They’re going toe to toe with Hearthstone on the same platforms: desktop and mobile.

I make no apologies for comparing the game primarily against Hearthstone. A brief glance at the board and the menus (particularly the deck building one) and you could be forgiven for thinking this is a re-skinned Hearthstone. You collect cards to create the strongest deck you can, then take on other players. Like Hearthstone you start with 30 health and one point of mana (called magicka in the Elder Scrolls tradition) with the aim of bringing your opponent down to zero health. Each turn you gain an extra magicka point as well as drawing a random card from your deck. Again, like Hearthstone, the player going second gets a magic item that allows them extra magicka the turn they use it.

Elder Scrolls

Credit: Bethesda/Dire Wolf Digital

But when it comes to the actual playing of a game Legends takes a modified approach. In a standard game the board is divided into two lanes; on the left is the field lane and on the right the shadow lane. Generally, cards can only attack an enemy in the same lane, but creatures in the shadow lane are protected from attacks for the next turn. They can, however, be attacked by spells. So if I play a strong card in the shadow lane will my opponent be forced to counter it with a guard or will they have a spell that can knock it out? Add in cards with additional effects such as allowing a creature to change lanes and this mechanism adds an extra level of strategy to the format.

The game attempts to level the playing field and prevent a quick wipe-out by employing the rune system. If your health drops below a certain amount - starting at 25 and then at 20, 15 , 10 and 5 - it will activate a rune, meaning you can draw an extra card. By taking an opponent’s health you are actually strengthening their hand. Experienced CCG players will know how valuable additional cards and options can be. What’s more, there is a chance this card will be a Prophecy card, meaning it can be played immediately (during the opponent’s turn) without cost. These cards are generally weaker, but it all adds to a players strategic options.

Elder Scrolls

Credit: Bethesda/Dire Wolf Digital

The decks themselves are sizable, with at least 50 cards needed to use it in a game. The cards are divided into different colored attributes, a method which Legends has borrowed from Magic: The Gathering. Each color represents a different attribute: Agility is green, Endurance is purple, Intelligence is blue, Strength is red, and Willpower is yellow. When creating your deck you can only use two different colors. Choosing your two attributes gives your deck its class: for example Agility and Intelligence make up the Assassin class. If this were the case, a player could only pick cards that are green and blue, as well as any neutral cards. Advanced players will want to study the classes carefully, since it will give them a good idea which Prophecy cards might be available to their opponent.

Story continues below

As well as the colors, the cards are divided into four types: Creatures, Action, Support and Items. Creatures are your bread and butter, the troops that will both attack your opponent and defend your position. Action cards are one-off effects that occur as soon as the card is played. Support cards provide ongoing benefit or one that can be reactivated multiple times; it might be summoning a 1/1 creature at the end of every turn, or restoring two health to your character each time it is activated. Items are things such as weapons which will enhance the creatures. Naturally they are all based on recognizable items and creatures from the Elder Scrolls universe.

Elder Scrolls

Credit: Bethesda/Dire Wolf Digital

Legends features a variety of game modes. A single-player story mode acts as a tutorial, introducing core concepts and awarding cards gradually across 20 matches. Then there are practice and ranked matches. There is an arena mode for greater rewards, which can be played either against AI or player-controlled decks. The arena matches add spice to the proceedings by changing the rules, using a different set of lanes with new effects. Every month there is also the PvP Chaos Arena, which mixes the rules up even further: you might end up with cards already played into the lanes, or could be forced to swap decks with your opponent.

This is a free-to-play game, so expect to spend some money if you want to compete with the best. But the game is one of the more generous when it comes to dealing out cards, so you can definitely amass a good sized collection even as a free player. The legendary cards aren’t as rare as they are in other card games - although there does seem to be an awful lot of them.

Elder Scrolls

Credit: Bethesda/Dire Wolf Digital

It’s the aesthetic of Legends that really seems to divide critics. Hearthstone has a colourful cartoony look, something that wouldn’t work in the more grounded high fantasy world of the Elder Scrolls. This is something that a many can’t get around, even branding Legends’ look to be “boring.” In the end it’s a matter of personal choice. I’m far more familiar with Elder Scrolls than I am with Warcraft, so Legends appeals to me more. But there is something less fun about Legends’ muted colour scheme, as well as the lack of personality inherent in generic categories like Assassin or Scout when compared to Jaina Proudmoore or Malfurion Stormrage. The fact there is only one game board - in a dull light brown colour - doesn’t help.  Neither does a lack of excitement from the animations. The whole game feels more serious. Time will tell if it is too serious.

Conclusion

Can Legends can get anywhere near Hearthstone in this market? The fact that a big company like Bethesda is backing it means it will hopefully have the necessary dedicated time and resources to succeed. The game is a mix of good and bad. Counting against it is a polarising aesthetic, uninspiring characters, and the derivative aspects of its gameplay. On its side are the lanes and runes, as well as the sheer size of Elder Scrolls lore and depth of popularity to draw upon. On balance I'd say it is more good than bad.

The Elder Scrolls: Legends

  • 3

A strong hand from Bethesda

A polished entry into a crowded market. Innovative but not inventive, it will be appealing to Elder Scrolls fans. For everyone else it may not appeal as much as other games in the genre.

(Visited 170 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Yes No