Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Overly Hearthstone Inspired Hack Job

The Elder Scrolls Legends recently came out on Steam and Android OS, and I was kind of curious about it, so I decided to check it out, wondering what Bethesda's take on the digital CCG might be like.

Turns out, it's a lot like Blizzard's. As in, they just ripped off whole swathes of Hearthstone and gave them a different skin. I could see doing that early in production, with a mind to go back and redesign later, but for the most part things are laid out extremely similarly to the way the other game does them.

It wouldn't be so bad, really, if more care had been taken in thoughtfully re-arranging menu or UI elements. The design of the game itself, sectioning the playfield out into lanes, adding runes to the life bar that explode and grant card draw as life is depleted, and the like, does seem to show more than a surface groping of Blizzard's mechanics, but the presentation here is awful.

Apart from the blatant copypasta, The Elder Scrolls Legends incorporates terrible voice acting, very bad cutscene art, and tutorials aimed at an idiot. The cutscene art is most puzzling, considering the art on the game cards is generally pretty decent. What you get in the interstitial scenes features not only uninspired fantasy pap for a script, but some of the ugliest photos-digitized-and-fantasy-filtered stylings this side of Mortal Kombat.

The one thing I was really curious about was if the developer could make something as fun as but less frustrating than Hearthstone. I don't think I'll play enough to find out, though.

I wonder if the idea of a continuously evolving CCG is inherently flawed. The ever expanding card base presents obvious issues of balance, which games like Hearthstone and Magic: The Gathering before it mitigate by restricting structured play to only the most recent sets of cards. However, you will still eventually run out of ideas keeping the game fresh. Maybe that's only a problem for the individual player, and not so much the game's stewards.

No comments: