The first major competitor to Hearthstone‘s dominance in the world of digital collectible card games is slated to launch later this year. It’s called Elder Scrolls Legends and I’ve gotten a chance to play around with it.
First of all, the visuals in Elder Scrolls Legends have a very different vibe than Hearthstone. The art and animations are what you would expect from an Elder Scrolls game (without all of the annoying bugs.) The avatar images are beautifully drawn and the animations associated with playing cards is pretty stunning. It’s clear Bethesda went the extra mile in making the game stand out from an art perspective.
There are five modes to choose from. You’ll start off with the story mode. The story isn’t anything special. It’s your basic hero saves the world story. But the mode is basically a tutorial. You’ll learn how the game works, as well as unlock some pre-made decks to help you get familiar with how some of the cards work together. Once your done with the story, the other modes will unlock.
Speaking of decks, you have to have at least 50 cards in your deck, but you can have up to 70 cards if you want. Unlock Hearthstone’s class-specific cards, the cards in Legends are classified into attributes. Each deck has two attributes assigned to it. You can only use cards from the two attributes, dual attributes, and neutral. The card types are pretty standard – creatures, spells, and items.
Now to the biggest gameplay difference from Hearthstone. In Elder Scrolls Legends, the board is divided into two lanes. Each lane can have specific rules attached to it that will affect any creatures played in that lane. Creatures can only attack other creatures in their lane or the player directly. As an avid Hearthstone player, I wasn’t sure how much difference the two-lane board would make. It actually makes it very different. It’s like playing two games of Hearthstone at once. You have to strategize where to place your creatures to take advantage of the lane rules and set them up to control that lane. It requires an extra amount of thought that isn’t that common in Hearthstone.
Another gameplay difference is that creature modifying cards are much more prevalent than they are in Hearthsone. All item cards, such as weapons and armor, can only be applied to creatures rather than the player avatar. In addition many of the creatures summons (battlecries) involve changing the stats and status of a creature.
So far, I really like what I’ve played. I went into it thinking that it would be so much like Hearthstone that it wouldn’t have any chance of making me consider playing it instead of or in addition to it. But I was wrong. It feels and plays very different. It’s still has the tenets of any collectible card game, but it looks to be carving out its own niche.
No specific release date has been given, but Elder Scrolls Legends is slated to launch later this year.