Originally revealed during Bethesda’s E3 conference back in 2015, The Elder Scrolls: Legends was an announcement that disappointed many fans who had been anticipating the next installment of The Elder Scrolls to make an appearance alongside Fallout 4. Since then, the game’s undergone a few delays leading up to the recent open beta release – but if those delays helped make the game what it is now, it was certainly worth the wait.

From a gameplay standpoint, TES: Legends operates almost exactly like Hearthstone. As you’d expect, many of the same types of spell effects, damaging cards, and buffs are present in Legends that you’d find in Hearthstone. Cards with charge allow you to attack immediately, cards with guard must be attacked first, and cards with ward allow them to absorb a turn of damage before tapping into their health. They’ve thrown a few additional mechanics in that add to the overall pull of things, but widely they remain the same as other digital card games on the market.

Whats interesting about TES: Legends is the way they’ve built the progression system around a core element of the Elder Scrolls franchise. Much like Skyrim or Oblivion, when you first start up Legends you’ll be met with a character selection screen. This choice will affect your visual appearance in-game of course, but it also dictates what type of cards you collect faster from games, card packs, and rewards.

In Legends you have 6 types of cards: Strength, Agility, Intelligence, Willpower, Endurance, and Neutral. Each of these attributes focuses on a specific style of play. Endurance, for example, is based around playing the long game with cards that protect you and drain health from your opponent to sustain you. Each deck you build will allow you to pick cards from two of these attributes similar to common tactics in Magic the Gathering and whichever blend or neutral cards you have available.

While playing you’ll also be able to upgrade specific cards in your collection — marked with a green arrow in the upper right-hand corner. Upgrades essentially boost the power of the card in question one of two ways, which allows for further customization of your deck. These upgrades are not based on use of the card however, just on your player level overall. It’s also important to note that you can receive upgraded versions of the cards in packs or by crafting them with Soul Stones.

In general, TES: Legends also works to reward you more often than Hearthstone too. Thanks to a few additional modes they’ve crafted into the game, such as story mode and the solo arena mode, players are able to obtain gold to purchase packs, Soul Stones to craft new cards, and card packs themselves much easier than its obvious rival. During your initial few hours in Legends you’ll be given plenty of card packs, gold, and additional cards provided you play through the story and tutorial quests — all which can be used to make some decent starting decks.

But those decks arent perfect and will require plenty of refinement to become viable in the end game. Earning new cards isn’t too terribly difficult in Legends, though. For every three games you’ll receive 15 to 35 gold and a free card that can be up to a legendary, which is higher than Hearthstone’s 10 gold reward per three wins and no free card. You’ll also be able to progress through arena much easier in Legends provided you know your way around deck building too.

As an entire package, TES: Legends is shaping up to be quite an interesting addition to the digital TCG market thanks to its complex deck-building elements and unique twist on progression. Legends feels like a much more rewarding experience to play when compared to its cousin Hearthstone too - rewarding you for learning the best card combinations and developing a style of play that fits their strengths. If you’re looking for a reason to dive into a new TCG or an alternative to Hearthstone, Legends might just be worth a shot.

Photos via Nicholas Bashore

Nicholas is a writer and content creator in Knoxville. He frequently covers video games and other consumer electronics. When he's not writing for Inverse, you can usually find him tweeting about Star Wars or streaming on Twitch.