Card games are definitely trending as of late, between indie titles like Faeria, or Krosmaga, and others based on strong licenses, such as Smite Tactics
or Runescape Legends
. Despite their qualities, these games did not manage to worry Blizzard's juggernaut (although Faeria
is a pretty good outsider, and Smite Tactics is still being developed), and it is now Bethesda's turn to try and get a foothold in the arena with The Elder Scrolls: Legends
. However, while it is based on their most famous license, this one is not developed by the Bethesda studio itself, but by a small company named Dire Wolf Digital.
Related: Faeria Review, A F2P Card Game With Undeniable Potential
My first steps in this free-to-play were guided by a mandatory and particularly interesting (albeit quite long) tutorial to introduce beginners to the TCG. The different types of cards, the special skills of certain monsters, support cards, prophecy cards, all the basics of the genre are explained in a very didactic way to avoid leaving beginners in the dark. To accompany us in this apprenticeship, the title introduces us to its story directly based on the lore of the series.
To make it short, an evil character named Naarifin plans to release a demonic creature named Daedra. To prevent it, you will have to go to a tower and fight all the enemies that will stand on your way. Through your victories, you will earn various basic cards and decks. Strong point, the adventure that is proposed to us is consistent with dozens of matches, and reinforced by somewhat beautiful cinematics.
This solo mode offers a nice entry to understand the mechanics of The Elder Scrolls: Legends. But if you are familiar with titles like Magic or Hearthstone, you already know the basics since this title does not really play the card of innovation . If it was the originality that seemed to have guided some of the competing productions mentioned earlier, The Elder Scrolls: Legends remains on the very traditional path and doesn’t seem to offer anything truly different from Hearthstone. All the classic rules are present: players have to drop the life points of their opponents to zero, using spell cards and monsters cards with various known traits (charge, guard, protection, effect upon invocation, effect upon death...) .
The true difference of this title is to be sought in the concept of the board, or ought we to say, the boards. The game table is indeed composed of two distinct and non-communicating corridors. Should you decide to summon a creature in the right corridor, it cannot attack enemies in the left one and vice versa. A mechanism that requires a little adaptation time and changes the way you strategize the "Board Control". To push the concept a little further, the developers made sure that the two corridors were very different. On the right-hand side, for example, the creatures summoned possess a camouflage ability (cannot be attacked by enemies the turn after being summoned), while the other remains completely classical.
But apart from this interesting mechanic, The Elder Scrolls: Legends remains unfortunately too classical and close to the other major productions in the genre. From the gameplay point of view, the game works well, but does not have any strong enough argument to get you to abandon Hearthstone. In terms of balancing, the whole game seemed quite correct, especially thanks to a luck factor that is perhaps a little less present than in other games of the genre.
Let us now discuss the different modes of the game. Like any self-respecting card game, The Elder Scrolls Legends offers, in addition to its solo adventure, a PvP mode. Whether it is ranked or casual, this one allows you to select a deck before confronting real players in the hope of completing your daily quests and grabbing some gold coins. And just like in Hearthstone, there is an arena where you can try to accumulate as many wins as possible (up to 10) before losing three matches, in hopes of obtaining great rewards.
Unsurprisingly, they allow you to buy card packs in the in-game shop. Players that wish to progress at the normal (slow) rate can simply buy packs with the gold they obtain from quests and such. For those that are in a hurry to build the perfect deck, note that it's obviously possible to buy the precious packs, with the possibilities being multiple and the cost of packs decreasing the more you buy at a time. Nothing very surprising, nothing wrong. Let us mention. however, the presence of a "Special offers" menu providing special bundles and including, for some, exclusive cards. Yes, some cards are, a priori, only available for purchase with real money and that is not very fair .
For a card game, its realization is very good. Graphically, The Elder Scrolls: Legends has a detailed UI and successful effects. It is therefore regrettable to see that the concept that is proposed to us feels, and is, far too traditional. With its solid gameplay, The Elder Scrolls: Legends could have attracted many fans of card games. "Could have", since the title reaches us too late, at a time when the mastodon Hearthstone has already imposed itself with a similar recipe. In this context, Bethesda and Dire Wolf offer us a correct title, well balanced and enjoying graphics that are finer than those of the competition, but that does not bring much change to the world of card games.