Around a week ago now, I put together something of a beginner’s guide over on Pocket Gamer for The Elder Scrolls: Blades. In that article, I had a bit of a moan about the current state of Blades’ chest/loot system, as has seemingly everyone else who’s played the game at this point.
Now that Blades’ early access version has opened its doors to any and all comers, I have to wonder just how many people will actually stick with it until the full 1.0 release. Usually I’m happy to reserve judgement until such time as a game is in a finished state, but something about Blades’ monetisation model has got me irked.
I think the reason why is that the core gameplay experience, that dungeon-crawling and town-building grind, feels altogether light in exactly the way you’d expect from an early access title. The monetisation of that half-game, however, seems to have been considered rather deeply, and Bethesda has well and truly laser-focused the game’s systems for full-on whaling action.
The lengthy timers are horribly misjudged, the inventory capacity is paltry when you consider just how many chests you get per mission, and it’s far too stingy about giving out those all-important gems. And it’s a crying shame that this is all I can think about whenever I see or hear Blades being mentioned – the core gameplay has some promise after all.
Truth be told, I’ve had no urge to actually engage with Blades outside of opening the dozens of silver chests in my inventory. By now, I couldn’t care less about the contents of the chests. I’ve racked up hundreds of materials, pieces of armour, and weapons that I’ll likely never put to use, and so I have to wonder if I’m returning day-on-day purely out of spite, which I’m well aware makes no sense and is flat-out dumb.
And anyway, Blades doesn’t make it easy for me to be spiteful, oh no, the simple act of booting up the game presents a 50/50 chance of being saddled with an infinite load screen, prompting me to have to close and open the app multiple times. Oh, and I almost accidentally spent 93 quid on an IAP because the Android version’s in-game store previously listed all gem packs at the actually very fair price of £0.00.
I think, ultimately, I just need closure. So once I’ve finished opening the last dozen or so chests, that’ll be me done with Blades. I won’t say it’s been the best week-and-a-half of my life, but it’s at least given me a few articles to write.
And so all that was yet another scream into the abyss for developers – especially those the size of Bethesda – to prioritise the game experience over monetisation when still in early access. Please consider whether the game itself is worth playing in its current state before infesting its systems with paywalls, endless timers, and artificial difficulty spikes. If the game is good, the “whales” who you seem to hold in such low regard will come.