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The Elder Scrolls: Blades Is An Impressive Mobile Game With Annoying Chests

The Elder Scrolls: Blades isn’t the full Elder Scrolls experience. Instead, Bethesda has crafted a game that takes some of the key elements of the franchise and reworks them into a portable experience that feels built from the ground up to work on phones. But Blades also brings with it elements of mobile gaming that some fans might find annoying.

First revealed back at E3 2018, The Elder Scrolls: Blades is a mobile phone game that is set in the popular Elder Scrolls universe. Though, to be clear, this isn’t Skyrim on a phone. The experience here is more focused on small quests and managing a town.

The game starts by quickly throwing the player into the world and introducing them to a village which was recently burned down and nearly destroyed. It is up to you, of course, to find missing villagers, get new folks to move in, rebuild shops and homes and bring the settlement back to life. To complete this task, players will have to go exploring dungeons to accomplish simple quests.

In my first few hours with the game, the quests have nearly all involved saving villagers, killing a certain number of baddies or collecting a something or many somethings in a dungeon.

The simple nature of the quests might get stale eventually, but so far I’ve found myself excited to jump back into the game whenever I can find some spare time. The reason I keep coming back is that the basic gameplay loop is really fun and satisfying. As you complete quests and challenges you get more materials that let you improve your village. You have full control over where to build new shops or homes and can even customize them. Watching a village return to life is a neat way to visually show players how much progress they are making.

Also, as you complete quests you earn new weapons, armor, level up and unlock new abilities, passive perks or spells. This isn’t groundbreaking stuff, for sure, except the whole experience feels polished in a way most mobile RPGs don’t.

There is no open world to explore. Instead, your town is a hub and dungeons and other areas are smaller levels you explore depending on the quest. Again, some players will find this too simple and paired down. Except, the short quest length and smaller size of the maps feel perfect for a game that you pick up and play for only a few minutes.

For those wondering, in my time with the game, I could close the app mid-quest and when I returned I was right where I left off, making it even easier to sneak a few minutes of adventuring in while at the bus stop.

Visually, Blades is one of the best looking mobile games I’ve played. It looks as good as most Xbox 360 games and honestly nearly as good as Skyrim. Some crappy looking water and weird lighting are the only graphical problems I’ve noticed. Watching a game like this run on my phone is still remarkable and I was happy to see it didn’t instantly kill my battery or make my phone turn into an oven.

Much of what you expect in an Elder Scrolls game is found in Blades. Multiple enemy types, armor, leveling up magic or stamina with each level, unlocking perks, a character creator and even lovely lizardfolk. It’s just been reworked to work better on a phone and a touchscreen.

Maybe the most impressive feature in Blades is that you can play the entire game in portrait or landscape mode. This makes it possible to play Blades with one hand. I found myself using this mode while I watched TV. What’s really remarkable about this feature is that you can switch between either mode whenever you want. Every menu works in both vertical or horizontal. Combat and exploration work in either mode too. I spent more time than I would care to admit rocking my phone back and forth, watching menus shift and icons move. It’s slick.

The controls change depending on which mode you are currently using. When playing in landscape, you control your character using two virtual joysticks. When vertical, you tap on the ground where you want to go and your character moves to that spot. While I prefer moving with two sticks, tapping to move is great for playing with one hand.

The combat in Blades is based on timing when to tap and when to release. You tap the screen and hold down your finger until a circle fills a ring. Time it perfectly and you will land a critical hit. If you are using a shield, a simple tap on the left of the screen brings it up, letting you block. As you level up you can equip new spells and abilities, which are activated by clicking their corresponding icons during combat.

The combat is simple enough that most players won’t get stuck, but there is also enough depth there to allow players to really master it. Like the quests and dungeons; exploration and combat aren’t ripped right out of the bigger games, instead, they feel inspired by them and built to work on a phone.

One element of Blades that will most likely be a deal breaker for some fans is the inclusion of timers to unlock chests. The first time I found a chest I was excited, as I often feel when finding chests in other RPGs. Then I clicked on it, the way to interact with objects in the game, and the chest just popped out of existence. I got nothing. Hmmm. I was confused. Then the game explained that chests are collected in quests and then you unlock them in a menu.

This takes time. Real world time.

Basic chests only take a few minutes or less. But bigger and rarer chests can take hours and hours to unlock. This, as you might expect, can be skipped using in-game gems, which you can buy from a store.

There isn’t any way to spin this chest unlocking process as a positive. The act of opening a chest is supposed to be a joyous moment in an RPG like The Elder Scrolls, except now it’s locked behind a timer. In my time with the game I haven’t been bothered too much by these chest timers as the rest of the game is free and unrestricted to play for as long as you want. Yet, I also understand that many will see chests that take hours to unlock and uninstall the game, which I think is a totally fair reaction.

I’m just more accustomed to how mobile games work and outside of these chest timers, I find the rest of the game to be really open and not very manipulative. If these annoying timers are the cost of getting a high-quality RPG like this on a mobile phone, I’m willing to put up with them. But I understand many won’t.

Another part of Blades that I’ve only barely dug into is The Abyss. This is a large, randomly generated dungeon that will challenge players as they get farther down. As you get deeper into The Abyss, you earn more rewards and loot. Another mode that isn’t available currently in the Early Access release of Blades is PVP. So no idea how that will work or if it is any good.

The Elder Scrolls: Blades isn’t a portable Skyrim. To be fair, that already exists on the Switch. Instead, Blades tries to reimagine the core elements, visuals, and gameplay of The Elder Scrolls games for touchscreens. The result, at least in my first few hours, is mostly successful.

I can now play a large, visually impressive RPG with one hand while eating. Ain’t the future wonderful?

Source: Kotaku.com

 Final Fantasy Gunblades, Ranked

Seriously.

Final Fantasy VII was the first game in the series to have guns. They added to the game’s modern and mature mystique at the time. Prior to that, the series’ weaponry was purely medieval, primarily focused around swords. But what if you could have a sword that was also a gun? Final Fantasy VIII answered by delivering unto players the gunblade, a device that has appeared in almost every Final Fantasy since.

Experts disagree on the precise number of gunblades that have appeared in the series since Final Fantasy VIII came out in 1999. Some don’t have names. Others are duplicates of existing models with a swapped color palette. Then there’s the age-old question of what satisfies the blade requirement. Something attached to a hilt? Any piece of sharp metal that can also shoot bullets? There are no perfect answers, but in my quest to be as thorough as possible, the only gunblades excluded from this ranking are the ones the Manikins wield in the Dissidia games.

By my count, then, there are 35 different gunblades that have appeared in the series so far. My extremely scientific ranking process includes criteria like how cool the gunblades look, the gun-to-blade ratio, and their practical stabby shooty ability. Here they are, ranked from worst to best.


35. Shear Trigger (Final Fantasy VIII)

Squall’s second weapon. The bullets do more damage, but the hilt looks like ass. No thank you.

34. Flame Saber (Final Fantasy VIII)

Someone thought a sword that looked like it was on fire would be cool. The logic was sound, but this gunblade was not. Points for color, but minus a bajillion more for using the same hilt as the Shear Trigger.

33. Cutting Trigger (Final Fantasy VIII)

Keeps the hairy red blade but ditches the Shear Trigger’s hilt for one that looks like an actual gun.

32. through 29. Razor Carbine, Edged Carbine, Lifesaber, Peacemaker (Final Fantasy XIII)

Despite coming out a decade after Final Fantasy VIII, many of Final Fantasy XIII’s gunblades look about as lethal as bent rebar. For some reason these four all look like barber’s tools. If Final Fantasy XIII had job classes and one of those classes was barber, the game might have been a lot better. Even so, these four gunblades still wouldn’t have been cool.

28 and 27. Hauteclaire, Durandal (Final Fantasy XIII)

If you’ve ever wondered what a can opener that could also spray bullets would look like, look no further.

26 and 25. Lionheart, Ultima Weapon (Final Fantasy XIII)

Although these both look the same as the Hauteclaire and Durandal, they have better abilities.

24. Omega Weapon (Final Fantasy XIII)

The best weapon in Final Fantasy XIII with a max strength of 508. Not 506 or even 507 but 508 big juicy units of monster-destroying power. Even with the cool name and boss stats, the fact that it looks like a pretzel made out of one of Maleficent’s horns holds it back.

23. Punishment (Final Fantasy VIII)

“Two is always better than one” is an old gunblade-smith saying, and Punishment gets that.

22. Twin Lance (Final Fantasy VIII)

The Twin Lance edges out its more powerful sibling Punishment because of better flavor text: “The Twin Lance is a gunblade forged with two blades. The two blades work synergistically to inflict severe damage.”

21 through 18. Gladius, Helter-Skelter, Organyx, Apocalypse (Final Fantasy XIII)

It’s sad but true that the weaker you go in the Final Fantasy XIII gunblade arsenal, the better they get. All of these switchblade-inspired firearms will serve you decently in a West Side tory brawl and also probably get you thrown on the TSA’s “no fly list” for life if airport security catches you with one in your carry on.

17 through 14. Blazefire Saber, Flamberge, Axis Blade, Enkindler (Final Fantasy XIII)

Simple, elegant, and each complete with a paint scheme that won’t make you want to shoot/cut your eyes out, this Blazefire-inspired line is the best Final Fantasy XIII has to offer.

13. Bradamante (Final Fantasy XIV)

This one will probably get me in trouble, either because Nael van Darnus’ gunblade is technically a gunhalberd or because it only made it to 19 on the list. Where do the bullets even come out? Who knows, and who cares—it’s a giant sharp pole with a trigger.

12. Weiss’ Gunblade (Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII)

The most minimalist of them all, Weiss’ gunblade is one of the most functional looking and lightweight. It reverses the traditional design dating back to Final Fantasy VIII and sticks the barrel on the top rather than the bottom.

11. Cid nan Garlond’s Gunblade (Final Fantasy XIV)

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the first Cid to wield a gunblade has one of the cooler ones. It feels straight out of the Gears of War universe with its gear-like teeth on the hilt. Unfortunately, no one has yet invented a gunblade where the sword part is also a chainsaw.

10. Heirsbane (Final Fantasy XIV)

Gunblades are way cooler than guns with bayonets because the gunblade formula, at its best, really tries to fuse the two things together. The gunblades the Garlean Empire uses, which Gaius van Baelsar also has and gave a fancy name to, are a perfect example of that distinction. Instead of putting something sharp on a gun, they make the entire gun sharp. Genius.

9. Ras Algethi (Final Fantasy XII)

Perhaps the most subtle iteration of the concept, Balthier’s Ras Algethi is never used as a sword, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the most beautiful gun-centric incarnations of the gunblade.

8. Genesis Copy’s Gunblade (Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII)

This gunblade, like its owner, was never given a name. Unlike its owner, though, it’s totally unique and awesome, like someone took the idea for a sawed-off shotgun, reversed it, turned it into a machine gun, and then turned it into a sword. Some people say Square Enix ran out of ideas when it started pumping out Final Fantasy VII spinoffs, and those people are probably right. This gunblade still rocks.

7. Lion Heart (Final Fantasy VIII)

While I’m not wild about replacing cold, hard steel with ephemeral glowy shit, the Lion Heart has one of the most hype gunblade names and is so powerful the hilt has like, two and a half cross-guards.

6. Hyperion (Final Fantasy VIII)

Seifer’s gunblade is the red light saber of gunblades and has probably been outlawed in 47 states. Enough said.

5. Thancred’s Gunblade From The Shadowbringer Expansion Trailer (Final Fantasy XIV)

This thing is like when you go to the sandwich Kiosk at a Wherever-You-Buy-Your-sandwiches and although you’d probably be best with just a standard turkey sub you instead drag your hand across the condiment screen until you’ve ordered so many extra fixings the computer cuts you off, except if the sandwich were a gunblade.

4. Overture (Final Fantasy XIII-2)

Who would have thought Lightning’s coolest gunblade wouldn’t actually appear in a properly numbered Final Fantasy but rather the two spinoffs almost nobody played? The Overture is one of the coolest-looking swords in the entire series, and the fact that it’s also a gunblade makes it that much better.

3. Godslayer (Final Fantasy XIII)

There’s one gunblade that’s never been discovered. A placeholder discovered in the game files for Final Fantasy XIII references a weapon called the Godslayer with power enough to match its namesake. It was probably just for testing, but also, what if it wasn’t? Some of the best gunblades are the ones we have yet to discover.

2. Revolver (Final Fantasy VIII)

Nothing beats a classic. Well, almost nothing. The mindfuck of putting a sword on the end of a gun was never better executed than with the series’ first gunblade. Sharp, wildly unbalanced, and without any way for the ammunition to actually exit, the Revolver transcends time, space, and our comprehension of them.

1. Gilgamesh’s Revolver (Final Fantasy XII)

Gilgamesh’s Revolver looks identical to Squall’s, except it replaces the etching of the lion on the side with a painted decal of a chocobo, which instantly makes it better.

Source: Kotaku.com