The Elder Scrolls: Blades — Beginner's Guide

The Elder Scrolls: Blades is a free-to-play game from Bethesda Game Studios. Bethesda is the renowned publisher behind franchises like Doom, Fallout, Rage, and more. While the game is a radical departure for the series, there are still many similarities. Unfortunately, you don't have an open-world to explore, but you do have a town to build and dungeons to master.

If you're just starting out in The Elder Scrolls: Blades, you'll want to make sure you master the combat and use other tips and tricks to ensure a smooth transition into the experience. We've compiled a list of everything you need to know towards the beginning of your adventure.


The Elder Scrolls: Blades follows your journey as you try to rebuild your town after a devastating attack. A powerful queen destroys your hometown and you have to gather resources and restore it to its former glory. However, the plot isn't quite that simple. During the raid on your town, an underground passage is discovered and there seems to be an undead curse. Throughout the campaign — which is tied to the progress you make on rebuilding your town — you'll uncover what's truly going on and form unlikely alliances.

Many gamers will be surprised as to how engaging the plot is. Unfortunately, The Elder Scrolls: Blades doesn't appear to feature any voice acting at the moment, and the animations of the characters are quite stiff. Hopefully this will be improved when the game leaves early access.


In order to earn building materials, consumables, coins, and gems, you have to select quests from the menu. The more dangerous the quest, the better the rewards. Each quest is ranked from one skull to five, where one skull is the easiest and four to five skulls is near impossible. In order to tackle the four or five skull missions, you have to grind quite a lot and level up your gear. If you aren't opposed to the pay-to-win microtransactions, you can also buy certain swords that are reduced to around 1,000 gems — or $10 — on the store.

Combat features a variety of skills, but the basic premise is to block and attack. Enemies usually follow a predicable pattern so this is quite easy. After you strike an enemy, immediately block because they tend to strike the second after you hit them. Keep on doing this until you kill them. Unfortunately, some enemies use magical powers like fire and lightning, so you have to find gear or level up your resistances to be successful.


The Elder Scrolls: Blades features three different skill trees, where each skill can be upgraded a number of times. Once you level up, you earn skill points. Skill points can be used to either unlock new magical abilities like a fire bolt attack, choose a perk like more damage from weapons, or a combat ability like a powerful blow. You have to choose which path you want to follow.

For example, if you want to play as a mage, you'll want to upgrade Magika instead of Stamina each time you level up. This will help you cast more spells during a short duration. However, if you're in the mood to be an old-school warrior, you'll want to spend points in Stamina, and invest in perks and advanced combat abilities.


If you want to earn a lot of items, you want to venture into the Abyss. The Abyss is an endless dungeon which gets harder and harder as you delve deeper. On the top right corner, you'll see the item you're making progress towards. This can include anything from Void Salts to a Silver Chest. The more enemies you kill, the more that meter fills up. Once the circle is complete, you'll earn the item.

All of the levels in the game are linear, but there are still secrets scattered around here and there. While there aren't many branching paths, try to explore different levels so that you can get the additional chest hidden behind a false wall or other structure.


In its current state, The Elder Scrolls: Blades is pay-to-win. Early on in the game, you'll run into a massive wall which will limit further progression. The only way around this is to spend $10 and buy a powerful legendary weapon. This will allow you to cleave enemies with ease, but the fact that a sword costs $10 doesn't bode well for the future. You'll probably have to spend much more to find a complete set of legendary armor and other gear. You'll probably end up paying way more than a new copy of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

Bethesda needs to address this imbalance and make it easier for players to earn gems. Gems are required to open chests, acquire building materials, speed up construction, and much more. Right now, you barely get any by grinding the missions and jobs.


There are a number of different types of chests, but you'll mostly find Wooden, Silver, and Gold ones. It seems like the Legendary chests are only accessible through microtransactions towards the beginning of the game.

In order to open them, you'll have to wait anywhere between 5 seconds to 6 hours, depending on the chest. If you aren't opposed to spending actual currency, you can buy gems and keeps on unlocking chests instantaneously.


The end-goal of The Elder Scrolls: Blades is to make you humble town into a domineering castle. This will likely take months if you don't buy gems and chests. Building materials are hard to come by and even erecting basic structures like an alchemist station is quite difficult. On top of that, each merchant like the Blacksmith has different levels, so you'll have to upgrade them a number of times.

Progress feels incredibly slow at the moment, and the game clearly wants you to play it for months and years to come. It also wants you to spend money on microtransactions. It's a shame there isn't a one-time pass to avoid all of this misery.

iPhone XS

It's much easier to play in landscape mode on an iPhone XS because the smaller screen is ideal for using the thumbsticks. You probably want to maximize the sensitivity because if you don't it feels like you're trudging through molasses.

iPad Pro

Playing on an iPad Pro is quite clunky — whether you're in landscape or portrait mode — because you have to swipe your entire finger on the screen just to turn around. The ideal experience is definitely on a powerful iPhone like the iPhone XS.

Tips and tricks for The Elder Scrolls: Blades

Hopefully this guide will help you in The Elder Scrolls: Blades when you're starting out. Maybe Bethesda will change the balancing so that fights are easier and resources are plentiful, but that doesn't seem to be the case at the moment.

What do you think of the game? Let us know.

Asher Madan