The latest entry in the Elder Scrolls franchise is finally in early access, and it’s quite a departure from the rest of the series. Elder Scrolls: Blades squeezes Tamriel into the palm of your hand, setting you out on a mission to restore your hometown to its former glory.
Unfortunately, the game doesn’t have much in the way of a tutorial or hint system. To help out first time adventurers, we put together a list of Elder Scrolls: Blades tips and tricks, covering everything from combat to skill choices. Pay close attention if you don’t want your adventure cut short by an arrow to the knee.
Swipe in combat for huge combo damage
Although the combat system in Elder Scrolls: Blades is simple, it can be frustrating due to the lack of an in-depth combat tutorial. The game pretty much drops you into the thick of it without explaining how to defend yourself against all of the skeletons, goblins, and necromancers that stand in your way.
Combat follows the same pattern against every single enemy. Wait until they wind up their swing, then block. Land a few hits or spells while the enemy is stunned. Repeat.
The main thing that will improve your combat effectiveness dramatically is swiping. Rather than tapping and releasing to attack, swipe in any direction just as the circle fills without removing your finger. This works particularly well in portrait mode. Keep swiping back and forth to perform a combo attack that deals bonus damage. Once you get the timing down, you can land successive critical hits if you swipe just as the circle fills.
Don’t specialize in one type of damage
In most games, specializing in one type of weapon or magic will make your attacks stronger, but in Elder Scrolls: Blades enemies are weak to different types of damage. This extends to both elemental damage from spells and physical damage from weapons.
Switch out your weapons and spells in battle to exploit your enemy’s weaknesses
For example, most humanoid enemies are weak to poison damage, and goblins are generally weak to bashing weapons (maces, hammers, etc.). If you have a few types of weapons on hand, you can switch them out in combat to take them down even faster.
Likewise with elemental damage from spells. Trolls and wights can be tough opponents, but hit them with a fire spell and they’ll burn down quickly. Popping open the menu and switching the spells you have available is a great way to defeat these opponents.
Invest in equipment that restores health
Items in Elder Scrolls games can come with all kinds of enchantments, and Blades is no exception. Upgrading from steel armor to silver or orcish armor might improve your armor value, but it could hurt you in combat. What you really need is health and health regen.
If you manage to find an armor set with a health enchant, hang onto it. If it’s a higher level enchant with health regen, even better. Any weapons or skills that restore health will be enhanced by this, so you can keep your health topped up without spamming health potions.
Once you unlock the Enchanter’s Tower, you can start enchanting equipment on your own. Make sure you enchant every piece of equipment you plan to use, preferably focusing on health and health regen bonuses. The bonus enchantments are random, so it’s worth enchanting multiple copies of the same piece of armor until you get one that you’re happy with.
Prioritize skills that restore health
Much like equipment that restores health mentioned above, there are a number of skills that can help you survive as well. Putting skill points into these is key to making it further into the game without spending real money on shop items.
Absorb, Adrenaline Dodge, and Healing Surge are key spells for survival
The key skills here are Absorb, which converts damage into healing, and Adrenaline Dodge, which evades attacks and heals you. Both of these skills are available early, so pick them up as soon as you can. Choosing an Argonian or Imperial character will also give a passive boost to these skills.
Once you reach level 23 you unlock the next big regen skill, Healing Surge. This gives passive health regen while your stamina is high. Against lower level enemies, this often means you can out-regen any damage dealt. Combined with other regen skills and equipment, you shouldn’t need to keep a big stock of health potions at all.
Pick up your free daily item in the shop
Opening the shop is likely the last thing free-to-play players are thinking about, but it definitely shouldn’t be ignored. This is because it contains a useful gift every day. For free!
This can range from a few copper to a rare revival scroll, so make sure you check every day and collect it. Elder Scrolls: Blades isn’t particularly generous with handouts, so take what you can get.
Keep an eye on your surroundings
Exploration has been cut back dramatically in Elder Scrolls: Blades, but paying attention to your surroundings can still pay off. In addition to enemies and other NPCs, the each level is littered with apples and slabs of meat that will restore a small amount of health at the cost of some self-respect.
Quest descriptions display the number of secret areas there are to find
On top of that, wooden and silver chests are frequently tucked away in corners just out of sight. Don’t always blindly follow the clairvoyance indicator and stray off the beaten path (unless your chest inventory is full).
Certain quests also have secret areas with silver chests or better. To know whether or not each level has a secret area, check the quest description. It will display how many secret areas there are to discover. If there is one, be on the lookout for a glowing chain or light fixture.
Manage your chest inventory effectively
One of the main ways to progress in Elder Scrolls: Blades is to upgrade your town. In order to do that, you’ll need to open tons of chests. There are four types of chests available (for free), and each of them takes a different amount of time to open.
- Minor loot and common items
- Takes 5 seconds to open
- Costs 1 gem to open instantly
- Decent loot, rare and common items
- Takes 1 hour to open
- Costs 36 gems to open instantly
- Lots of loot and several rare items
- Takes 6 hours to open
- Costs 72 gems to open instantly
- Tons of loot and many rare items
- Takes 12 hours to open
- Costs 144 gems to open instantly
To gain chests, simply run quests and jobs. Quests usually list the type of chest they reward, but jobs can give anything from a silver to a rare elder chest. Make sure you’re always unlocking a chest and don’t miss out on any by filling up your chest inventory!
Previously, silver chests were a huge bottleneck to progression, as they took three hours to open. Bethesda fixed this a few weeks after release, and now the chest system is much more manageable. Still, you might want to consider expanding your chest inventory once or twice to be safe.
Change your appearance and race
This Elder Scrolls: Blades tip has nothing to do with playing the game, but it can have an effect on your character’s stats. Like in other Elder Scrolls games, Blades has a number of races, each with special characteristics and bonuses. For example, Dark Elves and High Elves are better with magic, and Argonians deal more damage with daggers and other light weapons.
Choosing your race might seem like a big decision, but the game allows you to change your mind. Find the NPC named Theodor Gorlash near the town gates and speak with him. One of the conversation options is to change your appearance and race.
Keep in mind that this option isn’t available forever. After progressing in the game the NPC will disappear, so make sure you’re happy with your appearance and bonuses before advancing too far.
How to get more gems
There are a number of ways to gain more gems in Elder Scrolls: Blades that don’t involve opening up your wallet. The first is to simply open chests, which can give a few gems each depending on the rarity of the chest.
The other is to defeat enemies while on jobs or questing. Enemies will often drop a gem when defeated, alongside gold and occasionally items. The drop rate isn’t great, but given how many enemies there are you should be able to farm up a few gems with each excursion.
As for what to spend those gems on, you’ll find there’s no shortage of options. Expanding your inventory once or twice is a solid investment, and speeding up chest opens is relatively inexpensive. Just don’t expect to ever be able to afford any legendary weapons from the shop without spending real money.
Grind out levels
Chests are the main way you’ll be gaining resources, but what’s inside them depends on your character level.
Defeating enemies and completing quests will give experience, which will gain you levels like in any other Elder Scrolls game or RPG. You will also gain a small amount of health and Magicka/Stamina, as well as a skill point or two.
As you gain levels, the quality of the gear from chests also improves. This doesn’t mean you should hold on to your golden and elder chests or anything (although you can if your current gear is great), but it does mean that completing a few extra jobs – even without collecting any chests – can be worthwhile in the long run.
Set the game down for a while
It might sound counter-intuitive, but sometimes the best way to progress in Elder Scrolls: Blades is to simply stop playing. Given the long chest timers and massive amount of chests you accumulate by running jobs or quests, at some point playing more won’t make much progress.
Elder Scrolls: Blades wasn’t designed to be played for several hours every day
It goes like this: to get better equipment and enchants you need to upgrade your buildings. To upgrade buildings you need resources (mostly copper). To get copper, you have to open chests. To open chests, you have to wait.
Consider setting the game down for a day or two and just log in to open chests. It’s boring, but it’s also the way the game was designed. You can always spend gems to speed things up, but given how many other great mobile games there are, you shouldn’t struggle to fill the time.
That’s it for our list of Elder Scrolls: Blades tips and tricks. Did we miss any hot tips? Let us know in the comments below!