App Review: “The Elder Scrolls: Blades”

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Platform: Android, iOS

Price: FREE, but with in-game transactions 

Although “The Elder Scrolls: Blades” has been in early-access since March, the game has gone through enough updates to merit taking another look. On its surface, the promise of “Blades” — to take the Elder Scrolls formula and make it playable on a phone — seems impossible. After all, these are gargantuan virtual sandboxes that players dump hundreds of hours into. How can a phone’s limited memory and the stop-and-go nature of the mobile platform handle six-hour gaming sessions?

The good news is that “Blades” translates the Elder Scrolls formula very well. You’re able to take control of a character you create, deciding their race, gender, and appearance right out of the gate. Then, you’re thrust into being the hero of a destroyed town, performing missions that earn your character experience and gear as well as money and other essentials for rebuilding the town. Instead of an open world, the town functions as a hub where you can walk around and accept missions from its citizens.

The bad news is that the designers have taken a pay-to-win mentality on many of the game’s mechanics. For example, when you find a silver chest in a dungeon, you have to wait an hour in real time to open it—unless you’re willing to pay. Therefore, if you want to move forward in the game at your own pace, you’ll have to invest.

In all, “The Elder Scrolls: Blades” is a fun, unique take on fantasy role-playing on the go. If you can stomach the microtransactions, it’s a great way to spend your lunch breaks and bus rides home.

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