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The Elder Scrolls: Legends - Launch impressions

DireWolf
The Elder Scrolls: Legends DireWolf
The Elder Scrolls: Legends

When you have a Netch by the udders - you might as well squeeze real hard

The Elder Scrolls: Legends has me a little torn. During my brief expedition into the digital cardboard version of Tamriel a lot of disapproval and thoughts of why would they even make this (aside from money) bubbled to the surface really quickly. Still, I sat down with the game and couldn't tear myself away from the screen for 12 hours straight.

DireWolfThe Elder Scrolls: LegendsThe Elder Scrolls: Legends

Bethesda's almost scruffy jab at the CCG money pot has been in beta for more than half a year and it's easy to see that most of that beta time went into tweaking and balancing the individual cards and mechanics.

At first glance, Legends is Elder Scrolls only in name. The card illustrations squeeze every last bit of meme and memorable out of the setting, in-universe and outside of it, even with things like an "arrow to the knee" spell card - yeah, they couldn't resist.

DireWolfThe Elder Scrolls: Legends - Meme arrowsThe Elder Scrolls: Legends - Meme arrows

The roughly 8 hour campaign plays more like an oversized tutorial, intersected with late 90's quality level cutscenes and visual design so bland that you have to admire the sheer effort that went into making Tamriel look and feel as dull and uninspired as possible. A lot of the cards are hard to tell apart without reading through the descriptions or being intimately familiar with them in the first place. One would think elaborate card illustrations are a good thing, until you start having trouble telling one random blue card elf lady from the other.

DireWolfThe Elder Scrolls: Legends - All elves look the same to me The Elder Scrolls: Legends - All elves look the same to me

In essence, any fantasy setting could be grafted over the core gameplay systems and it wouldn't make much of a difference. Between the dry voice acting, incredibly unwieldy touch-centric menu animations and navigation, and a plot that almost dares you to hit the skip button every time some bit of story is about to go down - I don't think I rolled my eyes this much since my last daedric possession.

DireWolfThe Elder Scrolls: Legends - Did you just call me a mortal?The Elder Scrolls: Legends - Did you just call me a mortal?

A lot more thought and effort was put into the actual mechanics. At this point I'm not entirely sure what kept me seated in front of Legends for 12 hours. It might be that there is an inherent attraction in waiting to see how your opponent or the AI will play its turn. A short peak in anticipation before you draw your next card. The old "just one more turn mantra" morphed into "just one more match". Legends isn't anything special in this regard either. The cards are placed on the virtual table sprinkled with a MOBA inspired lane system and that is as far as the uniqueness of the system goes. It's hard to escape the impression that any other card game, crafted carefully enough from a mechanical standpoint, would have achieved the same effect. The Elder Scrolls coat of paint does a very bad job of distracting the player from this reality.

DireWolfThe Elder Scrolls: LegendsThe Elder Scrolls: Legends

Dire Wolf Digital have displayed competence and experience in crafting a solid - but entirely uninspired card game. Bethesda have displayed endurance and determination in milking the Elder Scrolls franchise with a ferocity and disregard for brand image I have yet to see outside of Star Wars merchandising.

As is quite apparent through the UI design, Legends will be releasing for iOS and Android in the coming months. The graphics are too detail heavy to display with any clarity on small screens, especially with fingers in the way, and the interface is too focused on touch controls to provide a smooth gameplay experience for the PC version, so I'm not quite sure what platform the game was primarily designed for. It might very well be that the PC iteration was just a sneaky beta test before the product is rushed onto its target platform in the still booming mobile market.

DireWolfThe Elder Scrolls: LegendsThe Elder Scrolls: Legends

The Elder Scrolls: Legends is free through the Bethesda game launcher and if you have absolutely nothing better to do - giving it a spin will only cost you some time and possibly your faith in the future of the Elder Scrolls franchise and Bethesda as a company.

DireWolfThe Elder Scrolls: LegendsThe Elder Scrolls: Legends