Bethesda Delays The Elder Scrolls: Blades Amid Fallout 76 Backlash

Bethesda Softworks delayed the release of The Elder Scrolls: Blades, its upcoming role-playing game for Android and iOS devices which was initially scheduled to be released this fall. Instead, the title will be hitting the Google Play Store and Apple App Store in early 2019, the developer-publisher said this week. It's currently unclear how the delay of the mobile launch will affect other ports of TES: Blades - those for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and select virtual-reality platforms.

No reasons for the decision have been given and the company's wording of the announcement suggests its early access program continues. However, that only appears to be of importance to individuals who have already been playing the beta build of the game since earlier this month as AndroidHeadlines understands there has also been a delay in issuing new access codes to mobile gamers who applied for an opportunity to experience the RPG early, according to insight provided by a person close to Bethesda. AndroidHeadlines reached out to Bethesda for commentary on the reasons behind the delay of TES: Blades but has yet to hear back from the company.

Background: Originally announced at this year's E3 trade show in June, TES: Blades took many an industry watcher by surprise as Bethesda gave no indication of another mobile TES game being in the works, especially seeing how it's been twelve years since the last such title was introduced in the form of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion for J2ME phones. The Rockville, Maryland-based firm described the title as a full-fledged first-person RPG more similar to the main series than any spin-off that came before. Much like its name suggests, the Android game is centered on Blades, an ancient order of spies and agents in service of the Cyrodiil Emperor.

Those familiar with the lore of the franchise will know that Blades eventually end up being exiled and have to find a new home, which is the main plot device used by Bethesda's upcoming mobile game. TES: Blades is hence a combination of a city-builder and dungeon-crawler which utilizes procedural generation in order to consistently provide players with new level layouts and keep things interesting. Outside of frequent adventures that will lead to loot that includes both resources and equipment which will help you equip your character and continuously grow your headquarters, TES: Blades will also feature single-player quests which will tie into a larger plot consisting of dozens of unique storylines, Bethesda previously revealed. The game will be entirely playable both in portrait and landscape orientations and is believed to have been made in Unity, the same engine used for Fallout: Shelter, the last mobile game published by Bethesda.

Player-versus-player arena battles will also be on offer, whereas the procedurally generated world the players will be exploring is known as the Abyss. TES: Blades isn't the first entry in the series to deliver random level layouts - that element has actually been a staple feature of the Original TES: Arena from 1994. A gameplay video that emerged online in mid-August revealed more information about the RPG, suggesting the title will be suitable for playing on the go, with missions that last no longer than several minutes. Character classes will also be virtually non-existant, as was the case with previous TES games, both main series entries and spin-offs. Instead, players will be able to focus on any particular skillset and evolve their characters in any way they see fit, free of the shackles of traditional RPG tropes such as warriors, paladins, thieves, and wizards, though all of those will still be attainable.

Bethesda has yet to share many details on the game's storyline, including information about its length, though what's already known is that TES: Blades will be a free-to-play game with optional in-app purchases. While it remains to be seen how aggressive will its monetization techniques be, the studio already set a good example with the aforementioned Fallout: Shelter, a critically acclaimed management sim from 2015 which was outsourced to Canadian studio Behaviour Interactive.

The Fallout franchise may actually be one of the reasons behind the newly announced delay of TES: Blades, with the online gaming community presently being rife with speculation that the decision is a result of the backlash prompted by Fallout 76, Bethesda's latest RPG for PC and consoles that's been blasted by both critics and gamers alike due to launching in an incomplete state, full of bugs, glitches, scrapped mechanics, and server issues. The current speculation is based on the assumption that Bethesda saw the Fallout 76 criticism and decided it's best not to push its luck and risk another backlash wave by delivering a freemium mobile game, similar to what Blizzard experienced just several weeks back after debuting Diablo: Immortal, an Android and iOS spin-off which was unveiled at a time when the gaming community expected a Diablo 4 announcement.

While the global reaction to TES: Blades has been significantly more positive than the disaster prompted by Blizzard, the current climate may be making the studio wary about experimenting with a mobile game that could be seen as a cash grab, which is the label some critics are now attaching to Fallout 76, claiming the game has been shipped in an incomplete state for the sole purpose of hitting the market before the holiday season, traditionally an extremely lucrative period of the year for the gaming industry. AndroidHeadlines inquired whether there's any truth to those claims with Bethesda but given the company's established media policies, it's unlikely it will provide concrete answers to those questions.

Impact: The delay of TES: Blades raises many questions that Bethesda has yet to address, though it appears the game should still be out before spring. Seeing how the current early access program is running on both Android and iOS, there's no reason to assume the game won't be released simultaneously on both platforms, as was originally the plan, though it remains to be seen how this delay will affect other ports of the game the studio already confirmed are in the works.

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