Each week on Twitch and Alpha, hosts Erika Ishii and Trisha Hershberger talk video games with special industry guests, insightful coverage and a ton of audience interaction on our show Game Engine. Be sure to tune in every Tuesday starting at 4 PM PT to learn about what’s new and cool in the world of video games.
The Elder Scrolls game landscape is a broad one. There have been five main games with a sixth on the way, a massively-multiplayer online game, and several mobile spinoffs. One of those spinoffs is called The Elder Scrolls: Legends, and it’s a digital card game that landed in 2017 thanks to developer Dire Wolf Digital. Dire Wolf, as you may know, has developed other remarkable digital games like Eternal Card Game and Pokemon Trading-Card Game Online, and also has a successful foray into tabletop games with the award-winning CLANK!, Lanterns, and Lotus. But Dire Wolf no longer has a hand in the future of this game.
What is The Elder Scrolls: Legends?
The Elder Scrolls: Legends is a digital card game that can be best described as a bit like Hearthstone, but with a neat twist. Gameplay is divided into two lanes, and creatures can’t attack across lanes. In a standard 1v1 game, the left lane is normal, and the right lane gives creatures played in that lane cover for a turn, meaning they can’t be attacked at all. There are also a set of runes that each player possesses; when your health falls below a certain amount, a rune breaks, giving you an extra card. If that card drawn from a broken rune has prophecy, it is played immediately.
The basic strategy is to know which lane to play creatures to, when to attack (especially if that attack will break a rune), when to give up a lane, and so on. Of course, the cards feature main characters, situations and stories from all over the Elder Scrolls universe, up through the latest game, Skyrim. There have been two big expansions to the game and two smaller, campaign-based expansions between each.
Sparkypants Steps In
Bethesda owns the Elder Scrolls intellectual property, and for nebulous reasons, has yanked away The Elder Scrolls: Legends from Dire Wolf and given it to another studio, Sparkypants, best known for Dropzone, a competitive real-time strategy game for PC. Bethesda and Sparkypants also immediately announced a revamped client, more sets on the way, and ports to the PS4, Xbox One and Switch.
Because Sparkypants is eSports focused, with the tournament mode and competitive play in Dropzone, it’s a safe bet that this growing studio has competition in mind for the future of The Elder Scrolls: Legends, and we confirmed that by speaking with Andrew Auseon, the new producer of The Elder Scrolls: Legends at Sparkypants.
“As the new developer on an established game, it’s important to us that the core game, the game mechanics that make Legends a unique CCG, will not be changing,” says Auseon. “We’re huge fans of the game, and we have no plans to mess with success.”
However, Auseon says that the game still needs improvements to the user experience and points toward the dedicated players who will need support in this next phase of development.
A new look and feel for the game is also a priority, according to Auseon. “Motivation for the overall redesign was to update the look and feel of the client, to keep it in alignment with other Elder Scrolls titles but to recognize that it was a digital CCG and that it should be enjoyed by fans on all platforms, including mobile. We wanted to update [the] visual style to something more vibrant — more modern — while retaining the Elder Scrolls art style that fans love.”
A Competitive Future for The Elder Scrolls: Legends
Up until now, fans had to run The Elder Scrolls: Legends tournaments by juggling unwieldy third-party software like Discord and Battlefy. There was no way to run a proper tournament from within the game client itself. That’s all changing. Within the client itself, there will be in-game tournament support, Auseon says, with support for small bracketed events among friends as well as open tournaments with prize support.
“We’re focusing on competitive and social experiences as our direction going forward,” says Auseon. “We want to create new ways that friends can jump into Legends and play together. To some, that might be short, customized matches and tournaments. To others, it could be streaming a Story expansion and taking votes on which branch to take in a quest.”
Auseon says that Sparkypants plans to make it easier for casters and streamers to host The Elder Scrolls: Legends gameplay, and the company will create tools to create “competition, large-scale events and tournaments.”
Porting Legends to Consoles
The pickings for collectible card games on game consoles is very thin at the moment. There’s Gwent, a card game tie-in to the Witcher series on PS4 and Xbox One. Hex TCG has a scaled-down version of its game on PS4 only. There’s no current version of Magic: The Gathering on console anymore and no Pokémon card game. However, the Elder Scrolls games are quite popular on console, especially since Skyrim was ported to the Nintendo Switch. So the landscape is wide open for a game like The Elder Scrolls: Legends to come to consoles and make a big splash. Even though Sony doesn’t allow crossplay between its version of games and other consoles. Nintendo and Microsoft have been glad to play up the fact that their games often have crossplay between their consoles.
Console support is a priority for The Elder Scrolls: Legends, according to Auseon. “We want to be sure that the best possible Legends experiences arrives on Switch, Xbox and Playstation,” he says. According to Auseon, more news on the console front will arrive later in the summer.
New Sets, Card Changes and Elder Scrolls 6 Tie-Ins
Since Elder Scrolls 6 was teased at this year’s E3 convention, it appears that tying in this upcoming game and Elder Scrolls: Legends is a no-brainer. However, it’s far too early for specifics on that front. “Wouldn’t I like to know?” says Auseon. However, there are new sets on the way, and new sets will be coming out faster than before, according to Auseon. The company will also be looking for community feedback for any card buffs or nerfs that might be necessary.
All this points toward a new developer that is very serious about working hand-in-hand with Bethesda on the future of The Elder Scrolls: Legends. Though the baton has passed from Dire Wolf, it seems that the game couldn’t be in better hands at Sparkypants.
Are you an The Elder Scrolls: Legends player? Tell us why you love the game in the comments! And be sure to tune into Game Engine on Twitch and Alpha for more video game goodness every Tuesday starting at 4PM PT.
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Image Credits: Sparkypants