Based on martial arts, this fantastic Korean style MMORPG brings up some inovating gameplay and environment. Developped by Ncsoft in 2012 Blade and Soul was announced to be released officially in early 2016 to all the western countries.
"Rise. Strike. Avenge."
As soon as you start to create your hero, you have to choose between 4 races.
-The Gon, heavy humans which are oriented into a tank support play style.
-The Lyn, small, huge ears and a tail that fits perfectly for a fast ranged/melee play style.
-The Yun, only females, mistress of arcanes and mystical abilities, more of a caster gameplay.
-The Jin, fast, agile and heavy damage dealers, fits perfectly for anyone who likes the “glass-cannon" style.
Here is a con, you are restricted in choosing your class according to the race you picked. So basicly, each race as a unique class and two others “casual” classes :
-Gon unique class is Destroyer, using taunts, setting up the battle for his teammates, protecting them and dealing enough damage to be a threat, this class has the full potential of a tank.
-Lyn has the Summoner class, basicly, it can support with a familiar, draining life, reviving ally and dealing tons of damage meanwhile staying out of range of enemies. They also have another unique class which is the Blade Dancer, using high attack speed mixed with mobility and crowd control abilities, this game style can evade, dash and deals subsequent damage on the battlefield.
-Yun have no unique class
-Jin unique Assassin choice makes it a must try in Blade and Soul, using stealth, poison, bleeding, traps, bombs, teleports. I think you understand just how this class works, be a filthy sneaky thief and one shot enemies.
As for the other classes, Kung Fu Master and Blade Master are both damage oriented, melees, using evades and counter attacks meanwhile Force Master looks like more of an Elementalist play style, using fire and ice as combos, chilling and stacking damage on enemies, while staying ranged and safe from harm.
Then comes the customization, you have plenty of choices, from a huge list of presets, of colors and point to point editing, you have everything needed to create the One. With some humoristic details to fine facial traits, you might spend too much time thinking what you truly want before even playing the game !
Players Versus Players & Environment:
At the end of your character creation, you will be prompted to choose between two factions :
-The Cerulean Order, which is more oriented into a peaceful and noble society, based on forming bonds between its followers and fighting against evil forces to overcome the war in the world.
-The Crimson Legion, fighting for freedom, using passion, they are against any form of leader or order and believe in personnal justice by the use of strength and spirit.
This main choice has no real impact on your gameplay, it was created to easily sort out players between them to make PvP more “balanced”.
Now that you are in the game, the world itself looks astonishing, using asian style environment, buildings and lore, you will find mythological creatures based on Korean, Japanese cultures. As you move forward to your main quest, you are able to interact with NPCs, Players and have secondary missions to gather more experience and loots. So nothing special on this side, Blade and Soul feels like another MMORPG when it comes to PvE and there's no main surprise. There may be some interesting features such as open zones, no loading time and awesome way to move around the map, but after all, it feels generic if you compare it to other games around the globe. ( The usual sprint, glide, jump, fast travel )
As you reach higher levels, upgrading your skills via books, you will be able to go into the Arena and face in an epic 1 to 1 battle against someone from the opposite faction. The traditionnal combat style will make it apppealing to anyone who played arcades and love old games like Tekken, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat. But after some couples of matches, it gets repetitive, you meet the same classes, the same combos and realize there is only a few way to win PvP, making the general feeling a bit exhausting and disappoiting because of unbalanced gameplay. But after all, the awesome sounds, musics, combos animation and movement abilities makes it a fun and a must try experience for any veteran out there.
As said by the developpers, the game should be entire free, the game shop will only be available for customization and personnal appearance, making Blade and Soul an entire non-paid gaming experience. Gears and items have no impact on your statistics, you will be able to wear armors, fun clothes, hat, tunics and last but not least, females outfits that fits perfectly in a Korean game.
The death system itself looks innovating, using “meditation”, you will be able to respawn on the exact same position from where you last died, but after a second chance, you will be prompted with a “Game Over” screen that will bring memories to some old players.
Pros / Cons :
Huge character customization
Beat them all RPG
Free to play
Restricted Classes to Races
Lots of Grinding
PvP gets repetitive
With some new mechanics, dodge, air attacks, counter-attacks and awesome combos that will require patience and skills to master. The combat beat them all RPG feels refeshing, showing out some cool features and old but unforgetable gameplay, Blade and Soul will gather many players and fans of the usual Korean Combat games. Making it a fun and enjoyable video game that you should definitly try out and judge by yourself.