Bethesda recently surprised fans by stealth-releasing a new spin-off game in its beloved Elder Scrolls series. Elder Scrolls: Castles arrived with virtually no prior announcement or fanfare, leaving gamers in shock. In a departure from the traditional Elder Scrolls experience, this mobile game doesn’t cast you as a valiant adventurer exploring dungeons and battling goblins. Instead, you step into the shoes of multiple kings and queens, overseeing the affairs of your royal dynasty and castle, which involves making crucial decisions and resource management, particularly the collection of wood.
As of now, Elder Scrolls: Castles is available in early access on the Google Play Store, with no iOS App Store release yet. The game was introduced without a launch trailer or any significant promotional efforts, leaving some to speculate whether Bethesda unintentionally made it public. However, given its continued availability, it seems Bethesda either chose to launch it quietly or decided to let the release unfold organically.
Having spent approximately six hours playing Elder Scrolls: Castles since its launch, it’s evident that this mobile game differs significantly from Bethesda’s previous Elder Scrolls mobile title, Blades. Castles focuses on management and construction, catering to the touch screen interface, rather than attempting to replicate the first-person RPG experience of the main Elder Scrolls games.
So, what exactly is Elder Scrolls: Castles? If you’ve ever played Fallout Shelter, you’ll find some similarities in terms of gameplay mechanics, such as the 2D presentation and cartoonish art style. In Castles, your task is to build a grand castle, complete with various rooms, items, inhabitants, and workstations, like kitchens for food production and furnaces for crafting iron ingots. What sets Castles apart is the freedom it grants in customizing rooms, even allowing you to add more floors or walls within rooms, enabling you to create truly unique castle layouts.
The game begins with the death of a king, and you, as the king’s heir, step into his role and start making decisions. This aspect is reminiscent of another popular mobile game, Reigns, which revolves around royal decision-making. Unlike Fallout Shelter, Castles frequently requires you to make choices that can influence the favor of commoners, noble citizens, other races, and even your own family members. If you anger too many people, your king or queen might meet an unfortunate fate. However, you can replace them with a new ruler and continue your royal dynasty. Notably, characters in Castles age, so each ruler eventually dies, and children grow up to take on various roles in the kingdom.
Elder Scrolls: Castles also allows you to send characters on quests across the expansive world of Tamriel, outfitting them with weapons and armor crafted within your castle. Quest combat involves more complexity compared to Fallout Shelter, allowing you to activate special attacks, although it doesn’t include the exploration element seen in that game.
As for microtransactions in Castles, it’s a bit unusual at the moment. It appears that, due to the game’s early access status, you can’t make in-game purchases, despite the presence of a store and premium currency known as gems. This might change once the game’s features, such as daily quests and the store, are fully enabled. Players may be eager to purchase gems for the Emperor Pass, which offers additional rewards like increased gold or experience points as you level up.
In conclusion, despite some uncertainty about potential changes and in-game purchases in the future, Elder Scrolls: Castles is currently an exciting addition to the Elder Scrolls universe for fans and mobile gamers. With its focus on castle management, customization, and decision-making, it offers a fresh take on the series and has the potential to become another mobile gaming obsession for fans of the franchise, at least for those with Android devices.