Blade and Soul: First Impressions
This past weekend was the Blade and Soul Closed Beta Test 2. I managed to get a key, and downloaded it right away. I love testing out new games. (Betas. Nom nom nom!)
Ok, so Blade and Soul isn’t exactly new. It is an MMO that was released in Korea in 2012, and is just now being ported over to Western areas. It is expected to have full release in the US on January 19th of 2016. You can sign up for the beta via their website. (Scroll to the bottom of their page for the sign up.) It seems like it is following the new trend of Free to Play with cash shop, and Founder’s Packs to guarantee a beta spot (plus extras).
That being said, the style is something that is very typical of Eastern MMOs. Pretty characters, flowy outfits, and gigantic weapons. Blade and Soul definitely feels like an anime. In fact, there is actually a Blade and Soul show that was released in 2014. I haven’t seen it, but the fact that they have that in addition to the game is pretty cool.
The characters definitely have the manga look, and the grand attack animations give you that anime adventure feel. I have mixed feelings on the graphics though. The character designs are pretty smooth, but the environments are rather stiff. I’m not sure how high my graphics settings were, but they should have been decent to start with. There might have been environment video settings that I could have tweaked, but it’s too late to check now as the beta weekend is over. Still, with how the movements of the characters are, I kind of expected the world to flow smoothly too.
So, to start off with, you get four races and seven classes to choose from. Some classes are bound to certain races, but at least they aren’t gender bound. It’s best to pick the class you want to play first and then pick between your available choice of race.
The character generator is actually pretty in depth. You have 22 slider options for the body, and 38 sliders for the face. I love having a lot of options to play with.
Character creation can get a little, uh, disturbing with all of those options though. Here’s a sample of some of the fucked up demon spawn that I was able to make.
My biggest gripe with the character creation is the fact that in order to make a normal looking character, you end up looking insanely similar to everyone else in the game. Also, there is no red hair option. (Minor annoyance, but I want my red!)
Also, what the fuck is this pose?
An overall issue that I have with a lot of Eastern games is the “sexy outfit boob jiggle syndrome”. A lot of the costumes are very skimpy for the females, but at least they did decent in allowing for some revealing clothing for males too. That’s a rare thing that skimpy can be on both genders. It’s still a lot worse for the females though.
Plus, the males did not have torpedo boobs…
What the actual fuck? When will game developers figure out how breasts actually fucking move? Cuz this sure as hell ain’t it. Even with the chest slider all the way to the minimum, there is still jiggle. While it is still an annoyance, the game at least maintains a sort of whimsy air about it. The crazy costumes provide more of a silly entertainment instead of the cringe inducing outfits that I encountered in Devilian. (Ok, so maybe there are a few cringe inducing ones. The game devs don’t understand how bras work at all.) I think it’s the fact that the game still contains the anime silliness, and doesn’t take itself too serious despite the heavy story.
Speaking of, the story starts off attempting to be epic. Well, anime epic. It begins with your character training at school. You go through a quick tutorial, and then experience a sudden attack on your school. You get to do a minute amount of fighting before a long cutscene. Your school, friends, and mentor are destroyed, and you are sent tumbling down into the sea.
From there, you are found by some random fisherman and awake in a hut. You then start doing random errands for strangers.
Yeah… They set up a backstory that is almost immediately forgotten. Granted, I skipped through a lot of dialogues because I wanted to see the mechanics of the game, but I still don’t like the sudden departure from it. It’s like, “Hey, you suffered a traumatic event, and lost everything. Can you go kill some crabs for me and pick up some pearls on the beach?” Uh… What?
You have no time to build up a connection to any of the characters introduced in your intro. What is there to motivate you to care about your personal story?
Aside from that, your personal story is the only story available to start with. There is no difference between races or classes. You start at the same point every time. That’s a little disappointing, and very repetitive if you like having alts.
Creating characters is always fun for me, but I also found that everyone I made ended up looking very similar. It’s not just in the character creation, but later on. While there is a variety of costumes that you can wear, you cannot dye them. Honestly, when you run around in the same clothing, looking like clones, and are on the same story… Yeah, it ruins the uniqueness of your character. You just become another faceless errand boy or girl.
Early levels do not give you much of an option. I only reached level 12 with one character, and still felt like I blended into the mass of other people playing. There was very little to distinguish my character, and that made me sad. Customizing your character is something that I value highly, and this game really falls short in that aspect.
That being said, I am actually still interested in this game. While Blade and Soul might not be something I would play a lot of, I might occasionally hop back into it. I know that sounds weird considering how I sound a bit disappointed in the cosmetics of the game, but I’m hoping that I will be able to get into another beta weekend so I can try out the dungeons and pvp. I didn’t try out either one of them, and am really curious as to how they play out. I’ve seen people do the pvp, and I know that in Korea, the arena battles are competition level. I’m generally not pvp oriented, but I’d like to try it out.
This is just a surface level review. Check out my gameplay review in Blade and Soul: Impressions Part 2!
Questions? Comments? Feel free to send a message to Rabid on Twitter!