Title: Elder Scrolls: Legends
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Dire Wolf Digital LLC
Release Date: March 23, 2017
Platform: Android, iOS, Microsoft Windows, Macintosh operating systems
Hours played: 100+
When discussing the emergence of the CCG (computer card game) genre in recent years, it’s impossible not to mention Hearthstone. One of the reasons Hearthstone was so successful was because it tapped into the rich lore of the Warcraft series, a Blizzard staple since 1994. You would be hard put to find any CCG with such a vast trove of inspiration to draw from. Until now that is.
Elder Scrolls: Legends takes possibly the most successful American RPG series of all-time, the Elder Scrolls franchise, and creates a fun, competitive, and incredibly in-depth CCG. From Arena to Skyrim, Bethesda has well over 20 years of critically-acclaimed RPG’s represented in Legends. As such, playing Legends is a real treat for longtime fans of the series. I won’t soon forget the feeling of playing Skyrim’s General Tullius in battle for the first time.
In Legends, two players face off against each other. The object of the game is to reduce your opponent’s 30 health points to 0. Each player starts with 1 magicka point, which is spent to play cards. These magicka points increase by 1 automatically every turn, giving rise to a very gradual build from an early-game in which cheap cards are king, to a mid-game where medium cost cards can be played, and to a late game in which the most expensive and impactful cards can be summoned. If this sounds familiar, that isn’t surprising. These basic game mechanics are all present in Hearthstone. But Legends is unique because it borrows not only from Hearthstone, but from another source as well.
Legends utilizes the color/attribute system from another popular card game; Magic the Gathering. Each color represents an attribute that, as any Elder Scrolls fan will notice, is also present in the RPG’s. As such, the colors represent a certain type of card. Yellow is Willpower, red is Strength, purple is Endurance, blue is Intelligence and green is Agility. Any deck, which must consist of at least 50 cards, can incorporate up to two colors. Grey cards are neutral and do not belong to any color family, and can be included in any deck. Each color or attribute combination of a deck is represented by a class. Willpower and Endurance, for instance, create the Spellsword class, while Strength and Intelligence create the Battlemage class. This adds a significant layer of gameplay variety, allowing players to mix and match attributes to fit their playstyle. You might build an Aggro deck, which focuses on overwhelming the opponent early and winning the game quickly. Aggro decks utilize Strength primarily, and want to end the game as soon as possible, as they rarely have the legs to make it through the late game. You may also prefer a Control deck, which seeks to control the game with Willpower or Endurance cards by maintaining advantages throughout. Control decks are strongest in the late game, while they tend to falter early due to their slow start. There are 4 basic types of cards, each with a different function: action cards, creature cards, item cards and support cards.
Legends is not an exclusively multiplayer game. There is a single player story mode that introduces new players to the various gameplay mechanics. Expansions to the story are being planned, with the first one, The Fall of the Dark Brotherhood, releasing in early April. Once you complete the single player campaign, there are a variety of game modes to keep you entertained. Versus Battle is the most basic game mode, and can be played in Normal mode, which is casual, and Ranked, which is the more competitive mode. Players can also battle in the Arena, which has a tournament format in which the player must triumph over 9 opponents before accumulating 3 losses.
Rewards can be earned in Legends in various ways. The main currency of the game is coins. Coins can be earned by completing Daily Quests or participating in the Arena. A small reward is also given to the player every 3 wins. Coins can be spent on two things: card packs and Arena tickets. Card packs contain 6 random cards to pad your deck with, and cost 100 coins. Arena tickets cost 150 coins, though the rewards for victory in the Arena are quite substantial. Daily Quests encourage gameplay variety, as they will often require the player to use different types of decks and strategies to complete them. If you’re after specific cards and aren’t getting lucky with card packs, you can always craft the cards you want using Soul Gems. Soul Gems can be obtained by exchanging extra copies of cards you already own, and can also be earned upon leveling up or winning in the Arena.
Legends also offers a certain degree of personal customization that goes a long way towards building player identity. Each race of Tamriel, such as the Nords and the Khajit, can be used as a player avatar. Each race has different benefits, and there are four different avatars for each race. A Khajit avatar increases the player’s chances of drawing cards that increase magicka, while a High Elf avatar increase the player’s chances of drawing action cards. There are also hundreds of titles to earn. “The General,” for instance, is a title earned by having 8 Imperial Grunts in play at one time. This is a feat really only achievable by a Willpower deck, and really shows the type of player you’re up against. “The Pickpocket” is a title that is earned after attacking your opponent 300 times with cards that have the “pilfer” keyword, which is a staple of the Agility attribute. Titles provide long-term goals for players who want to advertise their dedication and playstyle to their opponents.
Up until recently, you could only play Legends on PC using the Bethesda launcher, which requires a Bethesda account to log in. As far as launchers go it isn’t the best, but it gets the job done. The benefit of the Blizzard launcher is that it has a number of popular titles for you to choose from. Chances are you’ll only ever use the Bethesda launcher for Legends, which loses some points in my book. On March 23rd, however, Legends officially released on iOS for iPads in the United States. This game, like most other CCG’s, is perfect for tablets. The game is available for free on the Appstore.
Legends has kept me entertained for well over 100 hours of gameplay. Every month is a new competitive season, with reward cards granted to players who reach certain milestones. The variety in gameplay is enough to keep even the most avid players engaged. The Meta Game is always changing, with Bethesda regularly releasing balance updates that keep the game fun and evolving. No two matches are the same, with the player having the choice of 10 different types of attribute combinations to utilize and plenty of cards to choose from when building your deck. The game has a tactical depth that requires dedication to master, but the basic mechanics of the game aren’t too hard to grasp. As such, I would recommend this game to any person, hardcore or otherwise, who is interested in strategy, CCG’s or the Elder Scrolls franchise.