I’m not going to lie guys, I spent almost every waking minute if this weekend playing this alpha. I haven’t watched a single anime, nor written a single word. To say the least I am behind, but fear not as I do have a first impression of this game! I streamed, recorded, and took screen shots of my experience for you guy to read an enjoy. Let me tell you it wasn’t easy slacking off for three days straight, but somehow I managed it for my readers. So now that I’ve thoroughly covered my own behind, let’s jump into the topic at hand shall we?
Let me just say that the character creation in this MMO is one of the best I’ve seen. You are given four races (Gon/Lyn/Yun/Gin), that all have three classes they can be played as. It’s mostly a slider based character creator, but the amount of aspects of your character’s body you can change is pretty outstanding. One other interesting facet of the character creator if the ability to change the character’s pose, clothing, and background. This isn’t a new feature, but it does give you the ability to see your character in different lighting as well as well as how they might look in the future.
In terms of classes Blade & Soul has 7 unique ones, and these classes are rated in difficulty for players to consider. These difficulty ratings are easy, normal, hard, and expert. I played one of each of the ratings, and as far as I can tell from playing them the difficulty rating is grounded in the amount of reactionary abilities the class has. For example I mostly played a Destroyer (rated normal), and most of my abilities were focused on overpowering my opponent before they could do anything. On the other hand the Assassin (hard) and Kung-Fu Master (expert) both required me to react heavily to my opponents actions to successfully execute my strongest abilities. One weakness I saw in this formula was the necessity for a good internet connection. A player experiencing poor latency for whatever reason will quickly find out how difficult it is to successful counter AI or player abilities when their enemy’s attack animation is only marginally related to the time it actually strikes them thanks to lag.
PvE / Story
Like many MMO before it, Blade & Soul’s PvE plays out as a series of quests. You play throught the tutorial only to be placed in a world in turmoil, and only you (and every other player) can save the world. You do various quests to learn the game, gain experience, gain money, and open new areas to explore. I played a Gon Destroyer for most of my play through, and solo PvE for that character was way too easy. After she got her grab ability the combat formula very repetitive. Dungeons and open world boss fights were a lot of fun with the destroyer despite slight repetitiveness though. There’s nothing like bench pressing a giant mob for your team to whale on, and then tossing it up in the air and slamming it back down.
If I had to pick the weakest point of the game, I’d have to say it was the story. I didn’t really pay attention to the side quests, but the main story is fully voiced so I gave it a chance the first time through. The dialogue is terrible, as the English voice actors deliver their lines as if they’re reading the script for the first time while recording. I really want a Korean or Japanese voice option to get the professional voice actor/actress feel from the characters. Certain characters are given cringe inducing accents, though much of the dialogue would sound ridiculous no matter how well it was read. The plot is full of one dimensional “mustache-twirling-villains” and “white knights” that are straight out of a Saturday morning cartoons. The one character I was somewhat happy with was a surprise traitor in the storyline, as that character had a slightly interesting two faced personality. Other than that the story’s a rather forgettable distraction that gets in the way of PvP.
This is the bright and shining aspect of the game for me. I was never big on PvP in games like this before, but with Blade & Soul I’ll have to make an exception. The quick action style of combat in the game lends itself well to PvP, and the amount of ability customization gives you the capacity to create strategies against other classes. There are two types of PvP in this game, and those are open world and arena PvP. Open world PvP is accomplished simply by putting on a factions uniform, and fighting someone with the opposite factions uniform on. You can be sneaky and wait for someone to start fighting before putting on your uniform and jumping them, but if you want to take off the faction uniform you have to wait a few seconds. This makes it so the you can’t just jump in and out of PvP to boost your stats. Still open world PvP felt more like it was just for grinding dailies.
The arena PvP is where I had the most fun. You enter into a queue, and when the game finds you a fighting partner you enter one of the arenas to fight one on one. There is a two vs two option, but I like the skill matchup of a one on one fight. Immediately I learned the importance of crowd control, and cooldowns in the arena mode. Most of the fights boil down to how quickly you can react to and deal with your opponents abilities, and chaining your crowd control abilities to keep your enemy on the back foot. I noticed that I had trouble with certain classes more than others. As a destroyer I had the most trouble with Kung Fu Masters and Blade Masters, as one could constantly counter me and the other could block most of my damage. Player skill is and strategy is largely taken into account in Blade & Soul’s PvP though, so I imagine with practice even someone like me can overcome these troubles with those classes.
With the a solid combat mechanics and an entertaining PvP scene, I can forgive this games lackluster story. To me the PvE was just there to facilitate character and weapon experience so that I could get to the better dungeons and higher level PvP. As I understand it Blade & Soul’s PvP has an eSports scene in the east, which is something I hope comes soon to North America since I’m a huge fan of eSports in general. I’ll definitely be continuing with this game even through to launch, and if you’re interested in joining me in this game hit me up on my social media on the Contact Me page! I apologize again for taking an extended weekend on this post, and I hope to see my fellow BrOtaku in game whenever this game is finally released in North America and Europe.
Arigatō my fellow BrOtaku!
Source: Blade & Soul