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.