…and why i probably won’t play it as an MMORPG.
The Beta experience
I’ve played B&S on one of those CBT weekends and made my way through the introduction before i logged out. So i don’t have much experience with the game, but i’m really getting tired to spoil the fun i might have on release with playing a game a lot before.
Blade and Soul is fun. It’s interesting how these “eastern” MMORPGs are able to make the gameplay itself fun and interesting while most “western” developers aren’t really able to do that even if they try. Wildstar, Guild Wars 2 and Elder Scrolls Online are MMORPGs with action combat systems- but they’re still not really fun to play. The one that tries the most- Wildstar- simply feels stressful to me. I love GW2’s combat system, personally, but that’s because i don’t really look at the gameplay factor in MMORPGs. They are interesting because of their inherent systems, not because of their gameplay. The same goes for Elder Scrolls Online- i like the combat system and actually prefer it in an MMORPG over the combat systems in TERA, Blade and Soul, Black Desert, Vindictus and so on. But if i were simply looking at the “fun” part of that equation, the latter would be at least one step ahead of the former.
Blade and Soul’s combat is interesting to play. Someone else wrote about it in a more elaborate way than i ever could- so head over there if you’re looking for a deeper look at how combat works in B&S.
Playing B&S, there’s a strange way conversations are done in the game. I really can’t put the finger on what’s different- maybe it’s because the dialogue isn’t shown in a “usual” way- say, either by cutscenes, chat bubbles, a simple quest text or in a dialogue window as in ESO. It reminds me of TSW, actually, but it still feels a bit “off”. Mind you, i’ve got the same feeling with dialogue in FF14, for instance. The way NPCs talk to you also feels a bit different. My best guess is that this comes down to small cultural differences as well as the fact that usually, the english version of games i play is not the translated one, but with these games, it is.
Setting, World and Character
I’ll play Blade and Soul in spite of its combat, however. As i said, it’s fun, but it’s not really what i’m looking for in MMORPGs. The reason i’m going to play B&S is because of its setting (and the fact that they don’t mess their translation up in the same way Age of Wushu did). Let’s say it’s asian, although my only asian experiences come from bein in China and therefore, the setting is pretty much a chinese one for me.
Of course the medieval fantasy setting in a cultural equivalent to europe/north america is more familiar and quite interesting, it has been done many, many times. It’s not so much that i’m tired of it (i’m not), but it’s interesting to see a new setting- asian inspired medieval/fantasy instead of the usual crazypants mash up of different cultural influences we get to see in TERA, Aion or FF14. Blade and Soul didn’t make a “crazy” impression on me.
Another important thing- at least in the introduction, it didn’t feel boring/uninspired to me. TERA’s world, for instance, is strikingly beautiful and worth exploring/seeing, but the questing, well, it didn’t grab me. Everything feels hollow (i think this is also why i can’t get into Rift, despite it being one of the best MMO experiences out there). In B&S, maybe because of the storytelling element and the fact that the story appeals to me (more on that soon), it feels interesting.
The world- or at least what i saw of it- looks beautifully designed and “believable” as well as new because of the eastern setting.
The character editor is very good and i like the character models. I’m also not offended by them having a sexualized outfit and i do believe that if you don’t want your character to look skimpy, there will be alternatives, because i feel like character customization plays a big role in the game and probably in its’ business model, too.
Character customization is a great way of getting us, the players, attached to our avatars and i think B&S offers great customization tools and outfits.
I do like the races- i don’t like that two classes are Lyn only. I don’t get the love for small races, especially in asian MMORPGs- with the Lala’s in FF14, the Elin in TERA or the Lyn here. Gnomes and Dwarves, i get. They are small and somewhat cute (in the case of gnomes), but they’re more…weird. This might be a lack of cultural understanding from my side, though, because somehow i feel the usual background of gnomes believable and frown at 300 years old grumpy little girls.
The story of Blade & Soul isn’t groundbreaking or surprising, it’s the typical eastern revenge story where someone kills your teacher/master/family and you go off to get revenge. While i’ve seen a myriad of eastern movies with this theme, it’s close delivery in video games is new to me. B&S makes sufficient use of cutscenes to deliver the story.
Sure, there have been other games that, maybe, focus on the same (Swordsman, Age of Wushu), but in B&S, there’s that Triple-A feeling. Everything feels slick, if a bit strange at times, the quality level of B&S is high.
And why it’s probably not for me long-term
Since GW2 and Archeage, i’ve made it a habit not to look too closely at upcoming MMORPGs, because especially with GW2, i felt i knew the game before i even started playing at release. So usually, i try to get only a very broad sense of a game and maybe look into a beta for an hour, but i prefer to enter new games blindly.
So i don’t really know if B&S has intricate systems underneath the combat surface. There’s crafting, i know that, and there is pvp and probably a very good cosmetic system. If i’m right in my assumption that combat is the most advanced system in the game, there’s nothing, system-wise, that would keep me in B&S. Setting and Story are very nice and i’m looking forward to playing the game tonight or tomorrow, but i think that missing systems as a driving force will make it a game i’ll touch once in a while without caring too much about it. Since it’s f2p and i’m also heavily involved in Elder Scrolls Online and Rocket League, there’s nothing wrong with that.