The Elder Scrolls: Blades - Hands-on impressions from E3 2018

Elder Scrolls fans rejoiced at E3 2018 when not only one, but two new Elder Scrolls games were announced. Elder Scrolls VI was by far the biggest name drop, but also so far off and completely undetailed that there's little use in talking about it. Fortunately, Elder Scrolls: Blades is coming this year to mobile, and there's a bit more to say about it.

I went hands-on with The Elder Scrolls: Blades at E3 2018 and learned a bit more about the look and feel of the game. Unfortunately, the demo was devoid of some important details on how the game will work to keep its players engaged.

The world

With the constant caveat of the game being on mobile, The Elder Scrolls: Blades is quite lovely to behold. The environment I traversed was varied in both structure and decoration, if a bit limited in scope. My path forward was almost entirely linear, though that may have been a limitation of a demo. I could walk forward by tapping the ground and adjust my view by swiping the screen in any direction.

Speaking of limitations of the demo, mine consisted mostly of walking down a forest pathway into a camp of enemies and slaying a few goblins and spiders. There was another demo I did not get the chance to try that took place more in a dungeon cave. But from what I saw, there wasn't much in the way of quests, NPCs, or story direction.

That doesn't mean those things don't exist. In fact, I'd be astonished if an Elder Scrolls game of any stripe didn't have a glue of some kind tying it all together, be it an overarching adventure or many smaller quests to get you out into a variety of locales. It's just hard to make determinations about how interesting the game will be in the long-term without seeing that firsthand. Combat, while fun in its own way, can't stand on its own.


I've always felt that not enough mobile games did fun things with touch screen combat ala Severed or The World Ends With You, but The Elder Scrolls: Blades steps up to the plate now too. Combat is instigated when you encounter an enemy, and fortunately, you'll automatically turn toward them even if you're ambushed so you don't have to freak out about turning around quickly.

A shield button in the bottom corner lets you block incoming attacks when held while preventing other actions. You can attack with a sword by touching and holding on the screen for a second or so until an indicator turns yellow, then slashing — though some monsters will block you, too!

I had two magic spells in my arsenal. One was a simple blast of electricity, and the other gave me blizzard armor that swirled around me for a time and did damage to enemies I came in contact with. Both moves could be used if I had enough of my slowly recharging magic bar filled, and were accessible just by tapping their icons in the corner.


The idea of The Elder Scrolls: Blades sounds exciting on paper, and I love the ability to play either in portrait or handheld mode with ease (I swapped multiple times during the demo). My problem is that so far I haven't seen enough to make a firm judgment call on whether this is going to be a grand adventure or a kind-of-fun Elder Scrolls mobile combat simulator. Bethesda's built up enough of my trust over the years (especially with Fallout Shelter) to have me believe they can do a mobile Elder Scrolls well, so even though I didn't see much at E3, I'm looking forward to the end result.

When can I set out on my adventure?

The Elder Scrolls: Blades will be available for free on iOS and Android in fall of 2018.

Consult the sages

Want to know more about The Elder Scrolls: Blades? Let me know in the comments and I'll try to assist!

Reb Valentine