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Editorials: Review in Progress Part 2

By William Murphy on February 05, 2016

Review in Progress Part 2

Another week, another several levels on my Blade Dancer, and I’m still enjoying my time with Blade & Soul. In some regards, my experience with the game has improved, while with others I’m left in the cold. Read on for more adventures of the Grasshopper in my ongoing review in progress.

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When reviewing any game, whether it’s an MMO or not, my goal is always to weigh the balance of “what I feel” with “what the studio intends”. Meaning, yes I need to be able to say what I like or don’t like about a game, but I also need to be able to evaluate how well a game achieves its goals. And when it comes to Blade & Soul, it’s clear that the game’s main focus is on combat and arena PVP, with the PVE and open world, along with the systems like crafting taking a sort of back seat to what the game wants to excel at: esports and competitive play.

I have to give Blade & Soul its due – it knows its niche, and it’s nailing it. The combat, forty-plus hours on, still hasn’t gotten stale. The questing did long ago, but the story as I level up is good enough to keep me going. I spacebar through most of the un-voiced side quests, and pay close attention to the main campaign “yellow” quests. Dungeons, minus the quick and fun Blackram Narrows, have proven just one of several ways to get items that increase your Hongmoon items’ power.

Mushin is a total B.A.

It’s interesting to play a game that places such an emphasis on loot, but where the loot you get is only used to power up items you got at the very beginning of the game. I’m glad I skin my weapon to look any way I want, and I think the Soul Shield (BoPae) is actually a great way to replace armor, since costumes take over the looks of our characters.  The Secret World has a similar system, and it works well in both games.  The only difference being that I feel TSW gives you far more control over your outfit, where Blade & Soul just lets you swap single pieces. Luckily, there are a great many to collect in the game, as well as (of course) tons to purchase in the Cash Shop. Let’s be honest though, a costume dying system would go a long way, as would an account-wide costume unlock system. Get cracking, NCSOFT.

I’m knee deep in my 30s finally, and loving where the story is going. Yehara’s Mirage and that whole segment in Scorching Sands was really memorable with fantastic cinematics. I wasn’t surprised to see the Wheel of Fate return in the zone, either. I know some people don’t like the RNG and sheer luck needed to get materials and upgrade your Hongmoon items, but there hasn’t been a single time I’ve found it very annoying yet. I’m betting it’ll get worse when I hit the cap (hopefully next week before the new content drops on February 10th or shortly after), as I hear dailies and grinding for gold is just about the only real way to progress your character… which sounds familiar but disappointing.

I often wonder how a gunner class would play…

I started crafting as soon as I could in Blade & Soul, but frankly, I’m only using it to make money right now. The Tree Fellers and Merry Potters are good enough to make money with on the Marketplace, and I like how you have to hunt down materials once before you can order them from the NPCs. But crafting just isn’t very necessary or useful right now, though I’m told it becomes more needed at the cap. I’ll find out when I get there.

35 levels in and I’m doing roughly the same thing I was doing at level 1. That’s not bad, but it’s a little bit tired. I like when MMOs slowly layer in loads of features and game options, and there’s just not that many layers to Blade & Soul. Frankly, that’s either something you’ll be alright with or something that’ll drive you away. For me, personally, while I’d love “more to do” the combat and story and occasional PVP match are good enough for me to still be enjoying my time.

There’s one down side that I’m still sad about though. Blade & Soul actually has some purpose to its World PVP, but because of spam, it’s just not happening right now.  I want to love the fight between Blue and Red, and I suspect that it could be great fun given my brief brushes with it so far, but the amount of gold spam in nearly all chat channels makes it nigh impossible to chat and find groups or action in the zones. A week ago, people still talked in Faction and Region chat… this week? Not so much. It’s just a never-ending stream of spam. See the left chat of the screen below.

So. Much. Spam.

As I slog my way to the cap, Blade & Soul is only further cementing itself in my mind as a great game for fans of arena-based PVP, a great game for fans of Action Combat in MMOs, but only a mediocre all-around MMO. And that’s OK. Every game has its ups and downs.  Despite being a few years old already, there’s nothing stopping Team Bloodlust from adding depth and layers to the game’s feature set as it goes. Its (Unique Selling Point) is undoubtedly the esports ready PVP and the action combat. They’ve nailed those aspects. There are loads of updates this year to catch NA and EU up to where KR is at in terms of patches, and when we get there a year or more from now, hopefully we’ll have more to talk about. 

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002. Be sure to follow him on Twitter for all of his pointless rambling.