Ok Bethesda, you got me. You fooled even me, he who hates cell phone games. I was fooled by my initial play time being a mostly positive experience and leading me to believe there was some kind of game here without the typical free-to-play bullshit tactics hiding around the next level up. I was wrong, I’ll admit that but what really bugs me about my current experience with Blades is how much potential this cell phone game has. Let’s just dive into this pile of free-to-play BS…
For starters, there seems to be an artificial difficulty spike when the game knows you’re winning or having too much fun for free. I noticed this after leveling up my character 6 or 7 times. I started noticing spikes in mission difficulty. It was like I hit a brick wall with difficulty. In fact, I was having issues doing 2 skulled missions, let alone 3 and 4 skulled missions like I had been doing. I also noticed the game wanted me to do a lot more in-game purchasing of weapons, armor, materials, etc in order to progress or to revive. Almost like the game intentionally ramped up difficulty. The More I play Blades, the more I feel like I’m being “managed” just like every other free-to-pay cell phone game. What a complete buzz kill.
I mentioned the loot
crates chests in my previous impressions article but at the time, I didn’t fully realize how much these things will screw you time and time again. Time being the appropriate word here because it takes real- time hours to unlock these things and you can only do one at a time. One at a time! More often than not, I’d have 9 or more common chests that I could have opened but because I had a “Golden Chest” unlocking for the past 3 hours, I’d have to wait another 3 to open anything. You also have a finite amount of chests you can carry, so I typically ended up just quitting the game until the timers were up on the chests. It’s certainly worth noting that I could have purchased the in-game currency “gems” to open these chests but I’m not supporting that kind of bad behavior from devs. F that noise.
It’s not just the chests though, most of the things worth doing in this game take actual time to accomplish. A great example, I finally grind’ed enough materials and gold to build an Alchemy building. Not so fast, even putting up buildings requires hours to accomplish for no damn reason other than for Bethesda to cash in. I could hear the following in the video game Dunkey’s voice,”Wow. What are ya doing. You gotta wait 1 hour or pay da feeeeee. heh heh heh Yoshiiiiiii.” FINE. I waited the hour for the damn Alchemy building to be built. I can make some potions now, right? Sure, but you’re going to wait for those too. That’s right. You can’t even craft up some potions without waiting in line or paying the in-game currency to speed that shit up. Da’fuk, Bethesda?!
Let’s talk about some of the more hidden but equally irritating limitations of Blades. Shop keepers, like the Smithy, let you sell items you need to unload to free up the finite amount of inventory space you have. The problem is, these shop keeps only have a certain amount of coin on hand and once that coinage is gone? Game over, man. Who knows when they get replenished. I’m just going to assume my Smithy is broke until I buy some in game currency. I imagine Todd Howard sitting in his office laughing his ass off right now. Think about this problem in the frame of free-to-play though; My shop keep that allowed me to unload unwanted items will no longer do so and the only way to increase my inventory space is to purchase the damn in-game currency. It all comes back to those sweet sweet gems.
One of the most annoying things about the latter half of my Blades play through has been performance issues, control issues, and heat issues. My OnePlus 6T is no slouch in the performance department with its Snapdragon 845, Adreno 630 GPU, and a whopping 8GB of ram under the hood. The most noticeable and irritating performance issue has got to be the stuttering during movement and combat. During Combat it’s the absolute worst and definitely impacts my ability to react fast enough to block or even attack enemies. The press and hold attack mechanic will think I lifted my finger from the screen because of the performance stutter and I’ll lose my chance to attack, which more than likely leaves ME open for a crushing attack. It’s frustrating especially with the roller coaster ride of the difficulty spikes in this game.
I’ve decided that Blades’ touch screen controls are mostly garbage and tend to work different depending where you are in the game. When I’m in Doomberg, the dual sticks don’t always work and typically act as dead-zones on the screen. It’s not until I start using the tap-to-go controls that the dual sticks kick back in. During dungeon exploration, the dual sticks switch to tap-to-go at seemingly random and unfortunate times making me walk to random locations. This typically happens when the game sense I’m low on health and I need to go get killed by a Goblin with a buffed board with nail in it.
And then there’s the heat. This game makes my OnePlus 6T feel like a Note 7 en fuego. I suppose that’s normal for a cell phone game with these kinds of visuals. It’s probably the least of my issues with this game but I felt obligated to mention it none the less.
Another fun bug is the sleep boot loop. 9 times out of 10 I have to force quit Blades if it hasn’t been running for awhile or I’m stuck in an infinite loop of the intro splash screen. Seriously, this is a repeatable issue. I know the games in early access but surly someone at Bethesda has a OnePlus 6T. OnePlus sold a loot chest load of these things and it’s not like Bethesda had to use “gems” to buy one.
I’d also like to take back what I said about the sound design. It is very good but it’s also very repetitive. There’s one song or jingle that plays usually at the start of a mission that reminds me of the chimes of a clock we had as a kid. ♫ Do do do doo doo doo do dooooo ♫ You can’t see me as I type this but I assure you I’m shuddering at the thought of that damn clock.
So that’s where I’m leaving this – Bethesda made a very visually appealing cell phone game that pretends to be an Elder Scrolls game but still has all the typical free-to-pay BS gamers like myself typically hate. With all the real-time stop gates, inventory and town limitations pushing you toward in-game currency purchase, floaty and inaccurate touch controls, stuttery performance issues, boot loop issues, and wildly random difficulty ramps I take back most of what I said in my previous article about Elder Scrolls: Blades; There is no hope for this game in its present form. I know it’s free-to-play but that’s part of the problem with games like this. I would have paid good money for a real Elder Scrolls cell phone game without the shackles of this free-to-play business model.