At long last they've finally given us some solid info on ES:Legends! Earlier this week, they updated their website, released a gameplay video, and launched the closed beta. They're also at PAX East this weekend, and had a short segment on PAX's stream discussing and showing the game. So since I'm excited for it, I've decided to summarize what we know so far, and share my thoughts.
In case you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the trailer:
Before I discuss the game, let's address the two main things that seem to keep getting brought up in comments on Youtube/etc:
No, it's not slowing down ES6; this game is by a completely different studio, Dire Wolf Digital, not Bethesda Game Studios, so it has nothing to do with the development of the main series. And ES6 isn't really late, either, based on the pattern of their last few releases: 2.5 years between Oblivion and Fallout 3, 3 years between Fallout 3 and Skyrim, and 4 years between Skyrim and Fallout 4. (If you're wondering why I didn't mention New Vegas, that was by a different studio, like ESO, Dishonored, and this card game.) My personal estimate for ES6, therefore, is 2019-2020.
Lots of accusations about only being made because of Hearthstone. They didn't decide to make this game just because of Hearthstone's success; it's been in the works since before Hearthstone went to beta. I certainly imagine it might have influenced some of its aspects, but considering that Dire Wolf's staff includes professional-level Magic: the Gathering players, it's likely that there's plenty of inspiration from Magic as well.
From what we've seen so far, the base gameplay is similar to other games in that you gain 1 magicka per turn that you can spend to play cards, and can attack either creatures or the other player. It also has some gameplay mechanics of its own:
That's what the battlefield looks like. The field is divided into two halves, called lanes. If you play a creature in one of the lanes, it can only attack other creatures within that lane, or the other player. The lanes may have conditions: the standard setup is that the left lane has no conditions, while the right lane is a shadow lane, meaning that your card cannot be attacked by the other player's creatures until after your next turn. Every time you lose 5 health, you lose one of the blue runes around your avatar, and draw the top card on your deck. If it says Prophecy on it, you can play it immediately for free, during the other player's turn, and shake things up a bit.
Each card is based on one or two of five attributes (Strength, Intelligence, Willpower, Agility, or Endurance), and decks are built around classes that consist of two of these attributes. As far as your avatar/race, rather than choosing a hero with a hero power, your avatar simply influences which types of cards you earn more quickly.
There'll be a couple types of gameplay: story mode (which is sort of like a tutorial), single battles against the AI and other players, and Arena matches, in which you choose a class and are given cards to put together a deck on the fly to last you through a number of consecutive matches (also against either other players or the AI).
The game will be free-to-play, and card packs and arena tickets will be available for purchase, although they also can be earned through normal gameplay as well.
That's about all I can think of so far, except that there have been around 200 cards revealed so far between the gameplay video, official articles, and other promotional material. Someone’s put together an album with most of the ones we’ve seen so far, if you’re interested in looking at them before we get card pages up and running on the wiki. And if you want a bit more detail on some of the game mechanics that hasn’t been mentioned by an “official” source yet, but was reported by a fan who went to the PAX East booth, check out this thread on the subreddit.
If you’d like to discuss the game, feel free to do so in our Legends subforum!
Now that we've actually seen what the game and gameplay look like, I think my cautious optimism after the announcement trailer was both justified and rewarded, and I'm really looking forward to it. Scratch that, I'm extremely enthusiastic about it at the moment. I enjoy Magic: the Gathering (admittedly I'm not great at it, but I have fun nonetheless), and I've played a bit of some digital card games as well (a bit of Hearthstone, a lot of Rage of Bahamut, and the closed beta of Shadowverse). Strategy card game plus Elder Scrolls art/lore? Heck yes. From what we've seen so far, this looks like it'll have some interesting strategy, especially with the whole “lane” thing. And of course the art, I'll admit, is one of the things I'm most excited about. The original teaser trailer didn't even scratch the surface: it's absolutely gorgeous, and I always love seeing the Elder Scrolls world brought to life in this way.
So, all in all, I'm pleased with what we've seen of it so far, and I can't wait until it comes out!