During a round table discussion about all things Bethesda, we had the chance to sit down with 2ndOpinionPro, PCGamesN and several other members of the press to find out the companies view on the future of their products.
As an avid player of The Elder Scrolls: Legends, I’ve quickly learned that the game has several tiers of play, even at the highest tiers, the game has something to offer for everyone. It’s not a game that will stand side-by-side with titles such as Hearthstone or Magic the Gathering. Now, we’ve had a chance to sit down with Pete Hines, Bethesda’s senior vice president of global marketing and communication.
During our interview, Hines explains that the company is investing a lot into ES: Legends, since the game, from its conception, is viewed as a long-term game that they’ll continually be supporting over the years to come. That is, however, in contrats to Fallout Shelter, which has continued to see a decline in content making its way over, which honestly – as explained to us – doesn’t need as much post-launch support.
In contrast, Fallout Shelter has quite a few more downloads than The Elder Scrolls: Legends, sitting at 10 million downloads on Google Play alone in comparison to 1m installs just on Android devices alone.
While the numbers are drastically different, The Elder Scrolls: Legends is a unique strategy card game in the way it plays as Pete Hines explains, “We have created a game that we think hits a particullary good spot for us in the spectrum of strategy card games from really simplistic and basic to incredibly complex, and I’m using strategy card game in a pretty particular sense here to talk about the kind of stuff specifically we make.”
He explains that The Elder Scrolls: Legends was designed so that they could be in a spot that is rather accessible to both veterans of strategy card games and newcomers alike, “We sort of spoon feed you the basics and get you get up to speed on ‘man that’s how it works’, but the big diffrentiater here for us – there’s a bunch – but the big ones are number one – our battlefield is divided is into two lane.
It’s not a very difficult to grasp, but it is incredibly important and offers a lot of strategic depth in terms of how you are deploying your resources where it makes sense to – you know – even in the masters series here, the highest level of play, there’s a lot of back and forth about, y’know, different points in the game where it makes more sense early on ‘I can deploy all my resources early on into one lane and try to dominate the field lane because I don’t have to play around sort of big lane sweeping things’ but as the match goes on ‘I know what’s in his list and have to worry about something – immolating blast – that’s going to take out a bunch of stuff if I group my creatures in a lane.”
Hines shows his enthusiasm about the game as he gives us the second reason behind the games unique features – the rune and prophecy mechanics – that allow you to catch back up against your opposing player, “you tend not to see as many runaway games because cards are your most important resource. As you are gaining more life, you are getting more cards, you are getting more options that can get you back into the game, especially if it’s a prophecy where you can interrupt their turn.”
Hines continues, giving us an example regarding a pro-match that was for the top-8 in the Masters Series during QuakeCon’s Friday qualifiers last week, “there was a crucial match that was a win-and-in to get in the top eight on Friday and a guys got a lethal on the board, swing swing, swings with the creature, breaks the last rune, and the guy pops a prophecy and drops a Fighter’s Guild Recruit down, and you could see the guy who was attacking just put his hands to his face like ‘this was done, like I was ready to get up and go y’know, and all the sudden the guy interrupts my turn drops a lethal guard, I can’t attack through it, I can’t deal lethal damage,’ and he gets the guy down to 2 or 1 and he’s at 30.
And you’re just thinking this is over and in any other card game that game is just over, in ours (Legends) – because of that (runes and prophecies) – interrupts his turn, doesn’t allow his other guy through, he had no response to get it out of the way, and the guy came all the way back and won. He had all these extra cards he had drawn which he could now start to play and get rid of his other threats and managed to get down some drain creatures get back some life and that was it.”
Hines explained to us that you don’t see that in other games, that The Elder Scrolls: Legends separates itself from the rest because of these mechanics, but also the fact you get multiple chances to make a comeback against your foes and even two to three color decks that you can play, making decks of all sorts rather viable. He even explains that he also still plays Magic the Gathering, sitting somewhere near 50,000 cards to date.
When given a chance, I asked Pete Hines about what the conceived idea behind The Elder Scrolls: Legends was in order to become a mobile game. His answer? Surprised me the most when he went into depth with Bethesda’s approach to developing games and bringing in new ideas, “I’ll tell you specific to Legends, but it’s my belief on everything that we do. Alright, It’s the exact same explanation I’ll give you for, ‘Well how did you get into making survival horror games with Shinji Mikami when you guys have never been known for that?’
Anything that we do, anything that’s good, comes from the people that make it, ” Hines continues with giving us a prime example, “‘We have an idea for a thing we want to do that would be really cool. We want to do a strategy card game and work with you guys on a strategy card game that works like this for The Elder Scrolls and we’ve made strategy card games.’ ‘Cool, what does it look like? How does it play? How is it different? Why is it interesting?’ and I played one game. I went up to ZOS (ZeniMiax Online Studios), because the Dire Wolf guys were at the time talking to ZeniMax Online because they were working on The Elder Scrolls Online and this came up.”
He explains that the Dire Wolf guys had a physical copy of the game with them while they were working with ZOS on The Elder Scrolls Online. As part of it, Pete explains that the ZOS guys volunteered him for the very first match to date, “I sat across from Paul Dennon who is the creative director at Dire Wolf, he invented, he created the idea for Legends, and he had printed out paper cards and we sat down and played the very first game of Legends.”
As he explains how it started to us, he mentions how Paul Dennon explained the game to him. Hines was firm about how the the lanes, runes, prophecies, and Dennon’s prototype of the game won him over. He explains that the rune mechanic is how he won his very first match against Dennon and how that single mechanic sold him on the game, how the idea of losing and having a chance to come back won him over.
However, as things moved forward, Pete was put in the hot seat by us here at Blast Away the Game Review, asking him about how, when The Elder Scrolls: Legends does make its way to consoles, they will work with Sony due to their stance on crossplatform play. His answer? One of the best we could ever have expected.
“I can’t answer any questions specifically on Sony. I will answer a different question, which is ‘how do we intend it to work’? On any platform, our expectation is that Legends – it is critical for it to have two components – Cross platform progression. Meaning, whatever you do on here, you load up Legends on a different platform everything that you have done works there. To the point where as it works now, I’ve been on vacation, wasn’t paying attention, iPad dies in the middle of a match, I grab my laptop, I flip it open, I boot up Legends, puts me back into match right exactly where I left. It doesn’t care what platform I’m on. It just knows ‘you’re DCDeacon here, you’re DCDeacon here, this is exactly where you should be.”
He explains that the game has been designed to recognize everything you’ve done regardless of the platform you are on, whether it’s iOS, PC, Android and whatever platforms you will be playing the game exactly on. He explains the second part of their angle is cross-platform. It just cares what you own and that you wan’t to play now saying that there needs to be constant communication between the game and the servers so that continuous progression can be made.
He states that the game itself needs to have a very symbiotic relationship between one another, which includes working with the platform holders that the game is on. Hines explains that 20 years ago, the concept of a digital card game like Legends may not have worked, but now, it’s a perfect time for games like The Elder Scrolls: Legends.
“It’s back to being cool to play board games, it’s back to being cool to play Dungeons & Dragons,” Hines said. “It’s back to being cool to play strategy card games. And well, awesome. I mean, I’ve always thought it was, and now everybody else does, and so, a rising tide floats all boats.”
If you have not given it a chance, The Elder Scrolls: Legends is now available on iOS, Android, Windows, Mac with PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One versions in the works.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.