E3 2018: Hands-on with Bethsoft’s Elder Scrolls: Blades (yes, in portrait mode)


Out of all the announcements Bethesda had at its pre-E3 presser, The Elder Scrolls: Blades was the last title I thought we’d be offered. Oh, we had asked about others, but they sadly weren’t being shown, nor did they have anyone around to answer questions. Beyond the basics, Blades was the same.

Which was a shame, since there was excitement about the title in the MOP newsroom, especially once we heard it would include some sort of multiplayer. Scaling from PC VR down to mobile is a vast tech difference and gameplay experience. And being able to potentially play in portrait mode? All jokes aside, that’s actually some promising stuff!

However, of those awesome selling points, I only experienced portrait-style ESO mobile goodness during my demo.

While Blades’ surprise announcement ramped up quickly, my demo felt like it was still an early model. What I saw was restricted to a solo experience and limited to mobile, but I can still imagine how it might play on VR.

Movement is acceptable. You can either click the ground to move toward the desired point, or you can hold the virtual joystick on the left side to move similar to using WASD, while holding the screen on the right side to move the camera for almost a PC gaming feel. The former obviously feels like a good choice for VR that doesn’t make you sick (Skyrim VR sounds cool, but my stomach freaks out when I think about it).

The problem is that the game feels a bit too big for mobile. When you enter combat, it’s seamless first-person action, but you can’t dodge or run around. I could block, shield bash, lightning stun, or make a blizzard. Oh, or slash stuff. I don’t know whether it was by design or a bug, but the spiders (leave it bee, pun fiends!) seemed to “dodge” a lot. At any rate, combat just a bit like a clumsy version of For Honor, with shield and no-shield being the stances. No shield got most of the AI to attack; shield got them to turtle up.

Collecting cash and gems happened after each fight, but I’m not wholly sure what those sorts of currencies do in the long run. Even when I started to get the rhythm of combat, the idea of having no deeper goal at the moment was somewhat distracting.

Now, all this may be fine, but I have a feeling there’s still another huge elephant in the room to address: The game plays fine in portrait and landscape. The seamless combat stance that limits mobility felt odd, and I imagine it could be worse in VR.

The demo just seemed to be pretty early in development, especially as my castle adventure kept crashing (not a widespread problem, it seems). Based on just what I played, it’s hard to get excited and recommend Blades right this very moment. That being said, the concept we heard from Bethesda’s conference still has me intrigued in spite of my experience. The game world hints at something bigger than its humble mobile demo, and I can only assume the addition of multiplay – hopefully group combat – will add another element entirely in the future.

Massively Overpowered was on the ground in Los Angeles, California, for E3 2018, bringing you expert MMO coverage on Anthem, Fallout 76, Elder Scrolls Online, and everything else on display at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo!
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This sounds promising, but would need to be bigger than Order and Chaos for me to seriously take a look at it. I want a true mobile MMO that I can take with me on my GPD XD


I bet this will rape my Huawei Y3II’s battery if it can even be installed (or sideloaded). I think I will give this a chance on an emulator when it’s possible.

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Graphically it is certainly very nice for a mobile game.


Well, it will be free and cross-platform. That makes it worth a look for me.

And yes, portrait mode play is a great idea.

I’ don’t care much for the VR capabilities or multiplayer necessarily.

My question is, will this be monetized like other mobile apps. Or, will it be full featured right off the bat?

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Tobasco da Gama

I know a lot of folks made the obvious “one hand” jokes during the announcement, but anybody who’s ever tried to kill time on a crowded bus ride knows that portrait mode is absolutely a killer feature for a mobile action game. I’m definitely intrigued by this, though I feel like it’ll probably make my Nexus 5X chug a bit.

Bree Royce
Bree Royce

This! I know it’s haha-funny, but I am pretty excited about this functionality too. Landscape mode can be tiresome when you just want to idly kill some shit. :D

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But I always want to idly kill some shit. It was a real problem in the days before computer games.