Sunday, May 24, 2015

Blade & Soul Internal Build: Impressions

So, the big news at the moment is that NCSoft has finally released a date for Blade & Soul to come to the West. The game will release here in December and there will be a closed beta in the fall sometime.

I decided that the game sounded interesting, so I thought I'd watch the livestream over on Twitch (which is now over on YouTube) on Thursday talking about the game, and I wanted to share my impressions.

First of all, if you're interested, these are the accounts to check out. Some of the folks working on Blade & Soul are also folks working on WildStar, for instance: Omeed, Tony, Mark, Jan, Akli, and Buster were all in the chat and helping out. So, because I think these folks are awesome and supportive of the WildStar community, I wanted to check out the game. The

Blade & Soul is a martial arts MMO that will be completely F2P. The game itself won't be a direct port from the Korean version, but will be customized and designed specifically for EU/NA regions. What this seemed to mean based on their explanation was that the game would stay in its entirety for story, but some things would be re-written for more explanation (and to be more appropriate to a multi-cultural audience with certain names so they weren't bad words), and that the game would not go P2W as supposedly the current Korean version has.

The build they showed was deemed the "Pre-pre-pre-Alpha (or Internal) build", that Omeed commented (multiple times), "we really shouldn't even show this." The build shown in the stream was dubbed EN1 and was the straight translation from Korean to English. It was a literal translation with no changes, but they have a huge team of writers working on edits and changes, so what they showed is definitely not necessarily final.

When the game comes out there will be four races: Jin, Gon, Lyn, and Yun (formerly Kun, changed for "bad language" reasons). There will also be six classes upon release: Assassin, Blademaster, Kungfu Master, Destroyer, Summoner, and Forcemaster (formerly Elementalist).

On the left side of the character creation, you will see Stars under Difficulty. This was described as how difficult it is to master the class so players make a choice that is right for them. The web chart next to the Difficulty level shows what kinds of areas the class fills, such as CC, Defense, etc.

The character creation is extremely customizable and led to some pretty funny combinations using the Random button. There are a bunch of sliders for each part of customization you could think of--face, body shape, height, etc. It was made clear that there will be nothing about customization taken away, but they may add in some things such as hair styles.

They showed the trailer, and it looked to be a decent story. Very anime, if that is your thing. Personally, the trailer didn't grab me like I thought it would. This is where I really started to think: Why the hype?

The game itself looks gorgeous, I won't fault it that. For a game designed in 2012, it still looks pretty good. But, honestly, I don't feel it's any prettier than FFXIV is.

They talked a little bit about starter levels. At level 1, you'll earn a skill called Windwalking which is, well, flying. But you have it from the get-go. From what they showed, I'm not sure if there are even mounts. Being able to water-sprint looks neat, though I didn't really feel like it was my thing.

There are also things called Dragonstreams, where, as I understand it, you can get back up from when you fall down instead of having to use Windwalking to get all the way back up. It's also sort of a mini-cutscene where you get some pretty scenery.

I found the combat to be kind of... meh. It looks to be tab target, and it's another Limited Action Set sort of layout, however, depending on what your character does, the buttons change. It seemed like you have a lot less control over your spells and combinations, and almost seems a little bit RNG-based. Granted, these are all impressions from what they showed, and they didn't go into details. (Admittedly, I also had to walk AFK soon after they started discussing combat.)

Itemization and costumes are kind of neat--there's a "wardrobe" system which is cool, and you always keep the same weapon, however, you can upgrade it by feeding it other weapons you pick up to increase it's power. The same thing will happen with accessories such as necks and rings.

What little of PvP we saw seemed confusing. It's almost like it will work in ways that I've heard Star Wars Galaxies World PvP talked about. But it's based upon costumes you pick up? Really, the bit they talked about confused me.

Blade & Soul will be released in three languages when it comes out: English, French, and German. It will not be region-blocked (at least, there are currently no plans to do so), and there are currently no Oceanic server plans. However, the panel in-stream did say to keep putting it in as a request if you were interested in Oceanic servers. If you're interested in a chance at a beta key this fall, you can go to their website and sign up for the newsletter.

I myself, was not impressed and probably won't pick up the title, but I do wish the utmost success to the team! There's a great group that's focused on the community working on it.

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Past Week

So, if you didn't already know, my mother was in town last week. As such, there was no gaming, and very limited social media. Yup. I actually spent time with my Mommy! I mean, I hadn't seen her in close to two years. So she kind of deserved all of the attention Chaide and I could give her. Even if it meant doing some binge-watching of House of Cards.

FYI, this post is going to be full of photographs, so I apologize for load times ahead of time.


She arrived in town Saturday, and we spent the day just kind of chilling, and getting her car to the shop because it was having some issues.

We walked around the local square, and discovered the tea shop that sells bubble tea. I've had bubble tea before, but with the normal tapioca pearls. Being a texture eater, the tapioca just kind of makes me gag and want to rinse out my mouth, so it was awesome to discover that they sell clear teas with what they call "Poppers" which are essentially little balls of juice. So I tried their Lychee tea with Mango Popping Boba, and it was amazing.

Sunday we hung around at home, played a small bit of Little Big Planet 3 and then went to the Shakespeare Tavern to go see The Merchant of Venice. The show was phenomenal, as always, and if you ever find yourself in Atlanta with the time for a show, you should check them out.

We ended up attending the show that coincided with a Q and A with the actors that they do monthly. It was neat to get up close and personal with the cast and learn more about the show, their roles, their interpretations, etc.

The Week

There was a lot of sitting around, and a lot of doing things, but for the most part the days blurred together. Monday I had to work, and Chaide had some stuff to finish up for a paper he's trying to publish with one of his professors. After work, we headed to the local square, and I got more tea. Yeah, it's an addiction. I ended up trying a Mango tea with Strawberry Boba this time, and it was wonderful. Mango is my new favorite! They offer it in Green and Black, but I'm not the biggest Black tea fan. Maybe I'll try it eventually. We hit Goodwill (with surprising success) and then stopped at one of the local Indian places for food. It's not the greatest there is, but it's close and good-enough. Good-enough meaning I like their Paneer Makhani, so I'll keep eating there for the convenience until I find better that's still within a decent distance.

Also on Monday, Chaide and I got our Casper bed, and set it up. OMFG. It's amazing. The first few days kind of sucked as my back re-aligned, but I love it so much more than a Tempur-Pedic. Plus it didn't smell at all when we unpackaged it.

Tuesday was pretty much occupied by the Georgia Aquarium. If you ever get a chance to go when you visit Atlanta, you should take it. It's a tad on the expensive side (unless you hit one of their online ticket sales) but completely worth it.

We decided to go to the Whale Shark Feeding, and it was so neat! Every morning and afternoon each wing does things simultaneously--you know, morning feedings, scuba dives, etc. The Whale Sharks are my absolute favorite (there's 4 at the aquarium--2 male, 2 female, and they're still juvenile age), so it was so cool to see how they feed them in lanes. Really worth the time.

Wednesday was a lazy day where we ran errands, and binge-watched some television. Thursday was Chaide's graduation!! He is officially certified to teach English to middle and high school students!! That took up all day as (1) he was awarded as the exceptional senior in his program and we had a luncheon and award ceremony for that, (2) we had the official ceremony itself, and (3) we celebrated afterwards with a few of our friends and his mother and my mother.

Friday was the last day for my Mom in town, so we spent the day at the square (after I got my under-color root re-dyed) and the Gone With the Wind museum. Mom made Chaide and me watch the movie for the first time earlier in the week (maybe Wednesday?), and it was good. I was unhappy with the ending of the movie, and felt that Scarlett was only good when she was struggling for money after the Civil War. So now I want to read the book, and the sequel (Rhett Butler's People by Donald McCaig). We also hit the antique shop and the Boba tea place... again.

Chaide had something to do in the evening, so my mother and I binge-watched some more television (Dollhouse, this time) and repaired and hemmed some clothes I've been putting off because of lack of time.

Saturday it was really difficult to say goodbye to my mother. I got up, made all of us breakfast omelettes, and then had to pack her in the car for her to drive all the way back up North East. I was a mess after that, so I crawled back into bed with Chaide and pretty much cried myself to sleep. I was kind of emo the rest of the day. I pretty much just binge-watched a bunch of Netflix the rest of the day after my nap.

Sunday Chaide and I went to our second wine tasting. I really loved this one as I find myself a bigger fan of whites/ros├ęs than reds. It was a nice way to end the weekend on a happy note before heading back to work for this week.

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