The Elder Scrolls Blades Review: Bethesda duels arrive on Switch

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Brian Adam
Professional Blogger, V logger, traveler and explorer of new horizons.

The first mobile chapter of the Bethesda fantasy series moves to Nintendo Switch with a year of improvements and updates.


review The Elder Scrolls Blades Review: Bethesda duels arrive on Switch


The Elder ScrollsBlades represents the first sortie of the Bethesda franchise on mobile devices. Released in early access on mobile devices, the application free to play she immediately found herself in the middle of the crossfire of critics and the public. In general, while praising Bethesda’s gamble, at the time of the release it was mainly controversial about the dynamics linked to the rewards and progression, which led the players, willy-nilly, to have to put their hand in the wallet. During the first year of life, the title, strengthened by constant support, has enjoyed several patches and corrections that have gone to improve the quality of life of the players and to change the looting mechanic, making it not only more enjoyable but also less pounding in terms of microtransactions. Now the mobile RPG, recently released from the Early Access phase, also lands on Switch with a few technical tips. Let’s see how Blades did with the Nintendo Hybrid Joy-Con.

A city to be rebuilt

The Elder Scrolls Blades aims to condense and miniaturize the fantasy experience which has characterized the role of the role franchise on PCs and home consoles for years. Clearly, keeping in mind the specifications of the reference hardware, Bethesda has opted to reinvent and lighten the structure of its GDR, so that it can be adapted to the portable environment from a technical and playful point of view.

The focus remains, as usual, the progression of your character (created through a simplified editor that allows you to select the essential traits, even if in fact we will never see it). Blades also introduces a managerial system dedicated to your city: the pretext that starts the adventure leads us to investigate the causes that destroyed the settlement in which we arrived.

By helping the inhabitants and completing the missions it is possible to collect and accumulate materials with which to rebuild the destroyed buildings. In this way not only will life return among the cobbled streets of the fortified town, but it will be possible – by increasing its prestige – to also unlock new buildings very useful to our cause, such as the alchemical laboratory (in which to make potions), the forge (for weapons and armour) and the general store.

Blades, therefore, proposes a classic “cyclic” gameplay: by completing missions, secondary tasks and challenges (daily and weekly) it is possible to unlock chests and rewards that allow you to level up your character and the city, build new buildings, forge more powerful objects to start the adventure with missions increasingly arduous and profitable. The update of the looting, arrived sometime after the release, as we said has improved the quality of life of the players by removing the annoying feature of the timer linked to the opening of coffers. The intervention made the experience much more immediate and fun, defusing the most annoying part of the free to play model with the subsequent updates, the title has also been enriched with two additional game modes, accessory to the main experience: the Abyss (a procedural dungeon of increasing difficulty) e Arena (obviously dedicated to PvP).

As for the exploration and combat phase, Blades had to succumb under the axe of simplification. The development team dismissed the idea of ​​an open world mobile in favour of a more linear experience, based on instances dedicated to each mission, such as “go from point A to point B”, “kill x enemies”, ” explore the dungeon. ”

However, dungeons are very simple, you cannot make deviations from the pre-established tracks (except for some secret area to be found within the levels) and it is not allowed to avoid the clash with the creatures that infest the map. The combat system is very reminiscent of that proposed a few years ago by Infinity Blade, Epic Games’ unforgettable mobile title. The clash is static, with the enemy well planted in front of you, and the whole thing is resolved in a series of attacks, spell casts and parades that must all be brought at the right time to increase their effectiveness. In short, nothing particularly elaborate.

After the release, the numerous updates that have followed have added some extra indicators to help the player to better read the action, such as the elemental weaknesses of the opponents and visual elements that facilitate the understanding of the spell or the special technique launched.

Porting 1: 1, or almost

Now, take – almost – all of this and translate it into the Nintendo console hybrid console. The gameplay is exactly the same, lying on a map of the controls revised and specially designed. Compared to the mobile version, in fact, The interaction with the touch screen has practically disappeared, replaced on Switch by the back and front buttons of Joy-Con which, in any case, do their job in an excellent way.

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The (almost) one-to-one porting suffers, however, from several problems that highlight a bitter reality: the application has not only been transferred to the hybrid without a great deal of optimization but, even, during development some features are gone, probably cut in the running for budget, timing or compatibility issues. Too bad, because in the docked mode it would have been more engaging to interact with the motion detection, unfortunately completely absent.

The Switch version, however, also suffers from the technical field. Porting, in this sense, took place without almost touching the mobile version. Just the latter, among other things, continues to work better on our portable devices. In the course of our long test, we have in fact ascertained the impossibility for the application, despite a far from the exciting technical sector, to run smoothly on the Nintendo hybrid. Episodes were frequent in which drastic drops in the framerate led to the annoying “hiccup” effect of the image. Furthermore, on more than one occasion and especially during the fighting, the game crashed completely forcing us to restart.

We hope that future maintenance can correct and file these problems, because the title remains, on the whole, fun and enjoyable despite the continuous recycling of locations and the free to play dynamics that force those who do not want to shell out real money, to take the title in small doses.

Fortunately, as we said from the beginning, constant updates have lightened the intrusiveness of microtransactions and now Blades is a perfect title to spend time with some daily mission, at home or when you are out and about. One of the most interesting features of the Switch version is indeed the cross-save: if you have downloaded Blades also on mobile you can safely resume your session wherever you are.


The Elder Scrolls: Blades
The Elder Scrolls: Blades

Nintendo Switch Analyzed VersionAfter a year of the open beta on mobile devices The Elder Scrolls Blades also arrives on Nintendo Switch proposing the same playful experience seen up to now. The porting was however lightened by several features, probably cut due to budget, timing or compatibility problems, such as motion detection and interaction with the touch screen. Furthermore, Blades still seems to run better on mobile devices, because technically the Switch version suffers from a decidedly subdued optimization. The title suffers from drops in framerates and a really dated stylistic sector that, in the long run, recycles the same assets and even struggles to turn properly on the Nintendo console. The Bethesda title, however, in a year has come a long way: thanks to the constant updates that have gone to improve the quality of life of the players and to file some of the most angular corners of the free to play business model that is still done every now and then feel. Now Blades – albeit unpretentious – is a fun and enjoyable title, suitable for some quick mission before going to bed or when you are out of the house. The most interesting feature is, in fact, the cross save that allows you to play indifferently on Switch or mobile devices.

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