The Elder Scrolls: Legends
Heroic card battling craze reaches Tamriel
Android, iOS, PC
RPGs and card games go together well, and it would be easy to dismiss Legends as an attempt to jump onto the bandwagon. Certainly many of its details are rather more cloned than inspired – the cost, for instance, of an arena run, or eschewing trading in favour of making whatever cards you want with sufficient play.
Legends is an overtly tactical game, splitting the battlefield into two different lanes. Minions summoned from your collection of cards – a deck starting at 50, rather than Hearthstone’s 30 – can only directly attack enemies in their current lane, with the added complexity that one lane is typically a ‘shadow’ zone where they’re safe from direct attacks for a turn. That means it’s a good place to stock minions that get a buff each turn, or to place your heavy hitters so that you at least get one good strike out of them – but, of course, doing that leaves your other side unguarded, and your opponent will know where to guard or counter.
That’s just one twist, though. Hearthstone treats its minions as largely disposable, with a few cards that can synergise and buff them to high levels. Legends instead favours direct upgrades, from basic +2/+2 to strength and hit points in the shape of a new weapon, to being able to give an already-buffed unit the ‘Lethal’ tag that takes anything out in one hit. Elsewhere, while Hearthstone is a classbased game that serves up its cards around specific playstyles, Legends splits its cards into classic stats such as Strength and Intelligence – each deck being a mix of two.
The whole system is sleek, considered and, in personality, about as fitting for The Elder
Scrolls as Hearthstone is for WOW. The catch is that in being that, it’s also far more po-faced, and just plain less fun. This may be a bonus for players who find Hearthstone to be too much of a cartoon or too tuned towards casual play. The raw game is solid. Enjoyable. Full of options. When looking through the card selection, though, it’s hard to find much that jumps out as a card to crave as well as to craft. Far too many are all +2 this and -2 that, various types of soldier or bandit, with no fun card text to read and rarely any interesting special abilities. Calling up Odahviing (one of the Dragons of Skyrim), for instance, deals a handy four points of damage to each enemy – but that’s hardly the oomph of summoning Deathwing in Hearthstone in all his ‘crush everything, discard your whole hand’ glory. We were hoping to see the Daedric Princes offer a chance to really mess things up, but so far their only real representative is god of madness Sheogorath’s Wabbajack, which offers three chances to turn a creature into another random one. How about transforming the whole enemy team? Strategically, yes, Legends is better off without the likes of Yogg-Saron (cast a random spell for every spell cast), but it’s also much less interesting to play, and no doubt will be to watch once the streamers and the competitive scene get their hands on it. Hopefully a few crazier cards will be coming because so far it lacks personality in everything from the board design to dramatic card-playing animations.
Despite that, it’s the core game that matters right now. Here, at least, Legends currently stands out as feeling like a worthy game for Hearthstone players to step up to if they fancy more of a challenge or have grown weary of yelling ‘Bullshit!’ at its heavy focus on RNG and fairly limited meta. It feels solid, satisfying and well thought out. If it can find a way to channel a bit more of its parent franchise’s fun and whimsical side into the mix, it might really come to life.
So far it lacks personality in everything from the board design to playing animations