Legends has been touted since Bethesda’s E3 press conference last year, and came hot on the heels of the success of Hearthstone. Though details had been scant, this weekend marks the first time that the general public – and yours truly – has had a chance to get hands-on with the Skyrim-themed collectible card game.
Though only a few hours into the campaign – just finished Act 1 – it’s safe to say that Legends manages to feel just different enough from Hearthstone, Magic, and the like. Legends offers multiple “lanes” of play, that is, basically two sides of the table. Which side to play your cards on depends on the strategy you want to take. For example, if your opponent is stacking the right lane with offensive cards, it’s wise to throw down a “Guard” card (these guys must be attacked before attacking the player) to buy time to build up your own offense.
Legends also throws a losing player a bone or two. As your health decreases in increments of five, you’ll draw a card, which sometimes are even playable immediately. This allows a losing player to catch back up, and several times I found that this card turned the tides enough for a comeback.
Like Hearthstone, you’re limited to which cards you can play in a given turn based on which turn it is. On turn one, you can only play cards that cost 1 mana. Turn two, 2 mana, and so on. Until late in Act 1, I was stuck with the cards I was dealt. I couldn’t swap anything out, so I’d be limited in what I could do. Once I lost a match, something irksome became incredibly clear. In order to defeat your foe, you had to perform a certain set of actions in a certain order. The cards we were dealt in the beginning were the same, so I had to play the same card on turn one, as did he. Then on the second turn, I had only one card that I could play. It went on like this, until I learned the right pattern, or at least the right one for the first couple turns.
Obviously, as your mana pool grows, your options open up a fair bit. Use multiple lower-powered cards, or one higher-powered card. It didn’t really matter which I chose though, this game – at least in the first act – is preposterously easy.
I’d go entire series of matches without even being hit, much less killed. Only one enemy managed to kill me, the whole way through, due to the game introducing a new mechanic. It took me an extra game or two to readjust my strategy, but once I had it covered, the game went back to being overly easy.
As it stands, the early game content is fun, if only thanks to an easy-to-understand gameplay model and a story that happens to keep things relatively interesting. It does over-explain at times, but I suppose that’s to be expected in the early portions of single-player. As the game goes on, I anticipate the game will open up a fair bit (not unlike the mainline Elder Scrolls games) and I imagine I’ll continue playing before jumping into multiplayer.
The Elder Scrolls: Legends is available now in open beta.