Blade and Soul: First Impressions Part 2 (Updated 12/2/2015)
A while back I wrote about my first impressions of Blade and Soul. In that post, I only covered the look and story of the game. Today, I’m diving into the gameplay. There are a lot of aspects to cover, but I’m going to focus on the combat, dungeons, and PvP.
Please note that this article is based on my personal experience. It is not designed as a thorough explanation of the game. I jumped into a beta to see if I would like it or not, and then wrote about it. Simple as that.
Plenty of people will jump into a free to play game without researching it first. This is what happens when you try something and push through early levels before the beta ends.
The first thing that people look at in MMOs, aside from the graphics and such, is the combat. People want to know how the fighting style is.
Blade and Soul has a very simple looking action bar. It reminds me of Skyforge a bit in that the default keybinds are 1234 and Z X C V. Obviously you can rebind them if you aren’t a fan of the layout. It definitely takes some getting used to as most MMOs use the top row number line for their skill activation.
Now, what makes Blade and Soul combat unique in the world of MMOs is the combos. I know that other games such as Dark Age of Camelot had combos too, but Blade and Soul combat has a different feel to it.
The combat is more like a fighting game (Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, etc). You rely on performing your combos, and hitting all of those buttons at just the right time. There are counters and stun escapes as well. However, you really don’t have a lot of time to use them. This can be frustrating to players. Missing one key skill can throw off your entire attack and cause you a lot of problems. (I.e. death. Lots of death.)
While the combos can be tricky to execute on time, it makes the combat feel fast paced. You have to really pay attention to what you are doing (at least in pvp).
Ok, so as you know, I’m not a huge fan of the ridiculous outfits and boob jiggle. That is usually my first gripe about any game. However, I think that Blade and Soul’s dungeon system actually rates higher on the WTF list.
The dungeon system is rather disappointing. Now, I love dungeons. I enjoy running them in most MMOs. I have fun grouping up, taking out big bosses, and getting the shiny loots. (Though sometimes PUG groups can make me want to drink…A lot.)
In this game, the dungeons are very simple. Too simple. I only had access to a few low level ones, but these aren’t proper dungeons to me. So far, they seem like quest areas that you can complete by yourself. By grouping up with the party finder, you get access to new loot drops like weapons and outfits. That’s just asking for help. It is not a dungeon.
See that? There really isn’t a challenge there. So far, the dungeons are pretty much linear. Trash mobs, boss, trash mobs, boss, done. Granted, that’s typical in the MMO world, but most other MMO dungeons at least have some strategy. You are required to figure out the fights and change tactics. In Blade and Soul, everyone just kind of ran forward, attacked, and then left. There was no strategy besides button mash til the mobs drop.
I understand that this is just a beta. People are trying to grind through as fast as possible, so they can get to higher level content. While that is understandable, it doesn’t exactly make the dungeons fun.
That is one upside of these dungeons. You can run them pretty fast. Since they are not really that in depth, you could probably get a few runs in during your lunch break or while dinner is cooking. I managed to do a “dungeon” run in less than 10 minutes.
If you do manage to have issues while dungeoneering, there is help in the form of Dragon Coils. It’s an interesting system. When you use it, you acquire one or two hearts. The dragonblood (aka hearts) provides you with extra lives. These are automatically activated if you fall to zero health. It will replenish your health to full and remove status effects so that you can get right back into the action.
There do not appear to be healers in this game, so you definitely need to keep plenty of potions and food on you. Those hearts activate instantly too, so keep an eye on what you are doing during boss fights. Also, be aware that with the rushed tone of the dungeons, your party probably won’t wait for you to sit and enjoy a dumpling.
Now, on to the loots. As I said earlier, you can acquire new weapons, crafting items, and outfits from doing the dungeons. In most games there is a need versus greed looting system. Clicking either one will roll a random number and the highest number will win.
This is not the case with Blade and Soul. When boss loot drops, a bidding window pops up. Yes, bidding. You have to spend your money on these items. What the actual fuck? This is dumb.
No one wants to fight through a dungeon just to buy the loot at the end. Plus, give the game some time, and people will have a ton of currency laying around. This can easily screw over new players that don’t have enough money to bid for new gear. Also, the party finder doesn’t match you with equal level players. I ran a dungeon when I was level 17, and a level 45 ended up in it too.
One last issue that I have with the dungeons is that you can’t queue up from anywhere. You need to go do the Dungeon Finder Lobby and hang out there until a group is found. It’s pretty fast as of right now, due to everyone trying out the beta, but there is the potential for longer queues a bit after the game launches.
This is annoying. This lobby system means that you can’t do anything else while you wait. You can’t quest or craft. Hell, you can’t even look at stuff in your inventory. You have to focus on waiting. That’s lame. (Unless, of course, you want to come to QueueTimes and catch up on posts.)
Blade and Soul has a semi-open PvP style. I say semi-open due to the fact that you have to change outfits in order to do so. It’s… odd.
When describing the system to one of my friends, she asked “So, you basically wear gang colors?”
I was kind of stunned that she was dead on with that assessment. That truly is the case here. You can wear one outfit, and walk around perfectly fine in a town. If you change into a different outfit, you can suddenly be attacked by the guards that paid you no mind a few minutes earlier.
This is a very annoying system that goes right back to my first article. Customizing and personalizing is a big plus for me, and this clothing based pvp flagging system doesn’t work for me. As I’ve said, the outfits can be kind of crazy, and I don’t want to run around in an ugly outfit. With the pvp system that they have in place, you’ll be stuck wearing things that you don’t like in order to pvp or keep yourself safe in an area. That sucks. This makes the pvp system feel more like an inventory management game.
The world pvp wasn’t something that I was able to really get into during my play time. I attacked one person. That was about it for my open world pvp experience. I did, however, try out the Arenas.I know that in Korea, the arena games are competition level. You can either spar 1v1 or do a 3v3 match. The 3v3 system is, again, like some fighting games. You can tag out and let your groupmates take over if there is a particularly challenging opponent, or you are super low on health.
Much like the dungeon finder, you are required to go to the Arena lobby to queue up. I’ve already stated the annoyance with that. Also, it seems that the arenas are not cross-server like the dungeon system.
The pvp in this game is definitely fast paced though. Since you rely on the combo hits and getting your stuns off right away, you will find that matches don’t last very long. The huge drawback for this is the lack of level matching. Like the dungeon system, you can hop into an arena match at say level 20 and go up against someone who is level 45. The system seems to match players based on their pvp rank and not their level.
As far as I know, those are the only two options for pvp in this game. I did not see any battlegrounds in Blade and Soul, as the pvp is more focused on a fighting game style of play.
So, will this be a game that I play when it launches on January 19th? Probably not. The dungeon and pvp systems are not enjoyable for me. I’m not saying that this is a bad game, but I was disappointed in a few aspects of it. Others might have a hell of a lot more fun than I did, and enjoy it more than some of the current MMOs out there.
I may give it some time and check it out again after a few months, but this game does not have enough of a draw for me to play at launch. Blade and Soul was kind of entertaining, but it fell short in a lot of categories for me.
However, if you are looking for a different pvp MMO, and fighter game style combat, then feel free to check out the game. It will be free to play when it launches on January 19th of next year. Founder packs are available if you really can’t want to hop in.
Happy gaming all!
Any questions? Comments? Feel free to contact Rabid at rabid (at) queuetimes.com or via Twitter @Rabidbushbaby