LOS ANGELES—A true The Elder Scrolls game on mobile? Not exactly. Recently-announced The Elder Scrolls Blades from Bethesda Game Studios is not a massive, free-roaming, systems-based super RPG. Instead, it’s a casual dungeon crawler with a gorgeous presentation—and more bells and whistles than your typical mobile RPG.
I’m a passionate fan of the franchise, and I played the new mobile game for about a half an hour at Bethesda’s E3 booth this week. In a similar way to spinoffs The Elder Scrolls Online and The Elder Scrolls Legends, I recognized the franchise’s DNA but I also recognized that the growing game studio is trying something different here.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The streamlined game has top-notch visuals, the combat draws influences from the right places, and it feels entirely native to the device on which it runs. The game I played intrigued me, but I didn’t get a sense of what might keep someone coming back for days or weeks after the initial download. Judging from the modes described in the initial announcement, that could be because the most interesting mode—the one in which you play through a story to build a town with non-player characters (NPCs) in it—wasn’t on display at the show.