Most of you have probably played some of the fantastic games brought to you by Bethesda, such as The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim or the amazing Fallout series. With these fantastic games in mind, I was disappointed to find that The Elder Scrolls: Legends, the company’s first CCG title, was nothing more than a copy-pasted version of the popular Hearthstone in so many ways. However, even through the undefinable likeness, Legends manages to feel special in its own way, and ends up being a generally fun game.

If you haven’t heard of Hearthstone beforehand, then let me be the first to welcome you to planet earth. As the undisputed king of the collectible cards genre, Hearthstone features an intuitive, yet complex and addictive gameplay loop Legends does a really good job imitating. As in most other collectible card games, two players fight each other using a deck of virtual cards. These cards are split in to creatures, one-time-use spells, equipment that helps upgrade other cards, and support cards which have ongoing effects. Creatures are basically your soldiers, and you can use them to attack your rival’s creatures or deal damage directly to their avatar. All in all, on the surface the gameplay is pretty standard, and you if you’ve played any other CCG you’ll know immediately how Legends is going to play.

The Elder Scrolls: Legends review

However, Legends introduces a new mechanic called “Lanes”, which basically divide the board into two separate fields. Lanes are the game’s “twist” on Hearthstone’s gameplay, and each of them can have an additional effect, like a “Shadow Lane” which keeps the creatures you place on it hidden from your opponent. Another small change Legends makes to the Hearthstone formula is the way decks are built. Decks are not divided into different classes, but instead to pairs of 5 different attributes: Strength, Intelligence, Willpower, Agility, and Endurance. These attributes can be matched up to make different classes and deck types.

Another interesting change is that whenever you lose 5 life points, you’ll get to draw a new card. If that card has the effect “Prophecy”, you’ll be able to play it right there and then, which can really shift the scales of an ongoing battle. This feels like it encourages a more balanced play, rather than getting swept away after drawing all the wrong cards.

The Elder Scrolls: Legends review

The main story of the game is first introduced through a row of simple but elegant cutscenes after you choose your in-game avatar. You play as as a damned hero trying to reclaim his life and save the kingdom from an evil demonic warlord. It didn’t strike me as a very original plot, and was actually quite forgettable. However, it serves as an acceptable frame from the gameplay itself, and helps introduce new characters and new predetermined decks filled with new unlockable cards. Throughout this so-called story, you’ll be asked to make several decisions, after which you’ll receive a new card that reflects the choice you’ve made. Cards will also change and evolve as you level up during the game. There are many times when you will be asked to choose between two different upgrades for a card, each will change the way it plays.

The single-player campaign is comprised of several acts, each divided into 7 or so missions. Each features a battle, a cutscene, and rewards, with the last mission in an act giving you some larger, more anticipated rewards. Most of the earlier battles are easy and are there for you to learn another rule in the game, but the later bits actually give your computer-controlled opponent some unfair advantages, which require you to play smart. Overall though, I didn’t find it very challenging to sweep past the campaign, and didn’t see myself going back to play it once it was over.

Now let’s talk a bit about the different game modes. You have the multiplayer modes, which comprise a huge chunk of the game, because that’s what you’ll be doing after clearing the story. The multiplayer isn’t very different from the single-player in essence, since it’s the same game but against a live human instead of a computer AI. You can play in either ranked or free battle modes. In the ranked mode you will climb a ladder of rankings which determine what kind of bonus card you will receive at the end of the month. I like these kind of ladders, as they give you a goal to strive for. The other modes include a battle arena which can be played against human or AI players, and in it you’ll be posed to make a new deck of cards and battle with it. Since you don’t get to keep the cards you made the deck out of, and the battle arena costs in-game currency to enter, I don’t recommend beginners to play it until they feel more comfortable in the game.

The Elder Scrolls: Legends review

While the gameplay itself is diverse and challenging enough, the same can not be said about the game’s presentation. While the cards have a cool art style the board and everything around it is pretty gray and simplistic. The sound effects are not as exciting as they should be, with the exceptions of a few well-voiced catch phrases you hear when playing specific cards. To tell you the truth, I don’t expect cards to feature outstanding graphics, so this wasn’t much of an issue to me. However, since you do spend a lot of time staring at the board, it would have been nice to see some visual spectacle from time to time.

Despite being a pretty obvious clone of Hearthstone, The Elder Scrolls: Legends is a very fun, free-to-play game. It offers a slight twist on familiar gameplay, and if you’re fans of The Elder Scrolls’ lore, you’ll appreciate the cards. Whether you’re knew to the world of digital card games, or are just sick of Hearthstone and looking for something that’s just the right amount of different – Legends is the game you should be checking out.

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