I realize I’ve mentioned a lot about Blade and Soul (BnS) and how I’m really excited for it’s release.. but I suppose I haven’t really explained in full detail the reasons why I have such high hopes for this game. Basically, this post is dedicated to outlining some of the features of the game as well as my own experience playing the China server. So let’s get down into some of the details and my initial impressions:

GAMEPLAY

For any of you that has seen the gameplay on YouTube or any other video streaming website, I’m sure we can all agree that the gameplay is pretty damn awesome and epic. I feel the gameplay truly captures the main elements of martial arts and the traditional Asian fantasy. It almost feels like you’re venturing into The House of Flying Daggers or Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. It offers unique interaction between the environment and monsters, allowing players to run up walls and bash your opponents around. BnS offers a very interesting combo system whereby players are prompted with several different skills to use for their next move based on the circumstances and required conditions. For example, if your enemy is stunned you’ll notice the hotkeys change based on the conditions to move into your next combo skill. Unfortunately, I’m unable to upload a gameplay video as fluid gameplay is next to impossible with the terrible ping. You can find several other great gameplay videos on YouTube!

As you level and venture through the game, you’ll notice that you can learn new skills. These skills will help you explore the world and are very useful when interacting with the environment, including:

  • Air Dash and Water Sprint
  • Obstacle Running
  • Emergency Landing and God’s Speed

Demonstrations of these skills can be found here (Thank you Blade and Soul Dojo – it’s been a GREAT resource and community for players wanting to learn more)! Please note the skill names are based on their Chinese meaning and may or may not be the correct literal translation.

The overall skill you don’t really have to worry about messing up your skill build or buying skill resets. It gives players the freedom to adjust your skill build anytime depending on the circumstances and scenario. I think this is a great feature since it gives players the flexibility go the full out PvP build or AoE  build for party quests/dungeons without ruining your end game. Additionally, the PvP arena and combat is awesome, definitely stoked to try this out with normal ping in the West release!

 

ARTWORK & GRAPHICS

As mentioned above, I personally think the artwork and graphics are stunning. It’s probably also one of the main reasons why I enjoy playing BnS. One of the features of BnS is the ability to customize your character during creation, there are so many different options and sliders which allow players to craft their own unique avatar. I’M SOLD!!

The game also allows players to toggle with different lighting and scenery so that if you’re a perfectionist (like me), you can guarantee satisfaction through viewing your creation in different settings. It’s terrible you think the skin/hair/eye color looks great in the creation screen until you’re in game and it looks completely different! It’s happened to me time and time again where I’ve recreated characters multiple times until I was fully satisfied so this is definitely a feature I appreciate. You can also preview your character in different outfits and poses to make sure you didn’t go too far on that slider that when you character smiles it looks almost like their face pulls too far on one side or that their eyes look a bit too excited.

I’ve posted a character creation video here which showcases some of the awesome features.

 

There are four main races in Blade and Soul:

  • Jin
  • Gon
  • Kun/Jun (will be referred as Jun in the North American version)
  • Lyn

BnS has seven classes:

  • Destroyer – Available Races: Gon
  • Assassin – Available Races: Jin
  • Kung Fu Master (KFM) – Available Races: Jin and Gon
  • Force Master (FM) – Available Races: Lyn and Jun
  • Blade Master (BM) – Available Races: Jin and Jun
  • Lyn Sword Master (SM) – Available Races: Lyn
  • Summoner – Available Races: Lyn
  • Warlock – Available Races: Jin (newest class released, I don’t think this will be available during the initial NA launch)

 

 

It was recently announced that there will be certain unlocked race/class combinations, for example Destroyers are exclusive to the Gon race just as Summoners are exclusive to the Lyn race. Nothing has been confirmed to date but I’ve seen videos from the KR test servers with new combinations including Gon/FM, Jun/KFM, Lyn/Warlock.

Unlike most MMO’s, BnS does not really have a purely support/healer class. Each class has it’s own defense/support-oriented skills to assist in party settings. I like how there isn’t really a designated healer class since it allows parties to function without being solely dependent on having a cleric.

My personal favourites are the KFMs and Assassins – nothing more fun than kicking, face rolling your opponent and ninja stealth attacking

 

WEAPON & ARMOR

Imagine you could still rock your favourite level 10 outfit at max level without worrying about losing important competitive stats. OR that you don’t have to resort to wearing mismatched armor that gives awesome stats but really looks quite ridiculous.. I know what you’re thinking: “WHAT IS THIS SORCERY?!”  YES you can still look dashing in your favourite armor (which are “doboks” in the KR server) at any level, at anytime anywhere!

BnS offers a very unique armor system whereby players don’t have to sacrifice appearance and fashion for useful item stats like defense, attack power and more. Stats are only affected by accessories and Bo Pae (in Korean) or Ba Gua (in Chinese) and not your amor. Bo Pae/Ba Gua are triangular/wedge  or talisman pieces that can increase your characters stats – although I’m not certain how these will be referenced in the NA version. The wedges are part of a larger talisman and so if you collect pieces of the same talisman you can achieve a greater “set effect” with additional stats. You can also break down equipment to get materials to feed or infuse your Bo Pae/Ba Gua and get better stats. I’ll be honest, I haven’t yet explored this feature completely in BnS China (BnS CN) to talk through what to add to get what stats, etc. However, I do know that Bo Pae/Ba Gua can only be activated when the player is wearing some sort of armor so you won’t be able to get these awesome stats if you’re prancing in your underwear! Either way, I think this system is great because it allows players to focus on their stats while keeping your character looking awesome without necessarily purchasing cash-shop armor. In BnS CN, players were awarded permanent costumes through quests and/or defeating field bosses so cash purchases were not required – some of the free doboks look pretty cool. Special doboks could be acquired through bossing, getting drops and using the in-game roulette to get exclusive items. My experience with those types of doboks were typically 7 day/30 day duration which is okay because players can pretty much boss to get the boss costumes they want whenever their current one expires. You’d just have to get the boss drops and try your luck with the roulette to get the costume.

Players also start off with a special weapon referred to as the Hongmen weapon in BnS CN. This weapon grows with you and evolves over time as you feed it certain weapons and level it throughout the game. It costs a bit of money to upgrade/infuse but hey, either way it’s still really convenient because you don’t have to clog your inventory with several different level weapons.  It’s a pretty neat system in a sense where the weapon goes through a “breakthrough” at a certain weapon level whereby it physically changes appearance – it feels like you have a new weapon altogether! I personally think you can plough through the game using only your Hongmen as your main weapon.

 

QUESTS & DUNGEONS

BnS is an MMORPG and from my own experience of playing several different MMO’s, there is a clear grinding element. I would say BnS is no different. You’ll find that you have to complete pretty repetitive quests, but I think it’s safe to say that’s the nature of MMOs. I suppose it makes the “grind” less obvious since you’re completing a million different little mini quests that help you explore and travel through the world.

The only element I disliked from this game is the dungeons. Now, I didn’t get to max level but I did get to about 40+ on my characters and so I think I can conclude that there’s A LOT of dungeons which are really dark caves. You travel to a different region/part of the world, then it’s dungeon, dungeon, quest, dungeon, quest in dungeon – you get the point. The world isn’t nearly as big as Tera so when you’re doing cave after cave in such a small space, it seems really repetitive and to be frank quite boring. I get that there’s bosses and dungeons but I really wish there was less emphasis on cave jumping. It’s not as cave/dungeon intense as Dragon Nest where players can’t really “free-roam” and see other players in the field, but there’s definitely many many caves.

 

STORYLINE

Last, but not least is the storyline. I wasn’t able to complete the story in BnS CN since eventually the ping and inability to read Chinese seemed to roadblock my full comprehension of the game. Although most of the main components were translated in English, I just couldn’t bear to read only parts of the game that were translated. But, what I can say is the parts that I was exposed to and read were quite interesting and captivating. As NCSoft mentioned, the storyline is unique because you encounter several characters throughout the game that each have their own motives and reasons for being pulled into the story. I’ll be honest, most of the time I don’t bother to read any of the dialogue in quests (just TOO wordy!), but the cinematic element and the way in which characters are introduced in the game makes it that much more interesting. You almost feel like you’re the main cast (which is also true) in a movie as you venture through the game.

In the LiveStream, NCSoft also mentioned they were going to localize some of the game dialogue to provide more context to players. I’m interested to see how this will play out!

 

VERDICT

I’m super excited to play Blade and Soul  and so happy for the release in the West. I’ve played many other MMORPG’s and I can say this one left me craving and patiently waiting for it’s “unannounced” release years later.. until now! Though my experience on the CN server was influenced by language barriers and terrible ping, I am still confident to say the game is beautiful. I’m interested to see how and what will change for the NA localization and am literally counting down the days until open beta sometime in Fall. Anyhow this is just my quick review based on my impressions and experiences, hope you’re excited! If this post was helpful or not so helpful, please leave some comments below and let me know what you think!