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Hunter Blade: Monster Hunter Clone or More?

I take a look at a newly listed MMO called Hunter Blade. At first glance it looks like a plain and simple Monster Hunter clone, but is that all there is to it or is there more?
Final Score

6
Mediocre

Pros
 
 Lots of features and a fair amount of depth to the gameplay
 Supports pvp
 Action oriented combat
 Great item and armor design
Cons
 
 Highly cash shop oriented, very pay to win
 Graphics may feel outdated to some
 Very repetitive gameplay
Disclaimer: The following article is the sole opinion of its author and does not represent MMORPG.com in its thoughts or opinions. This is not an official MMORPG.com editorial article.

Hunter Blade: Monster Hunter or More?

Hey guys today I've decided to review the newly listed MMO here on mmorpg.com called Hunter Blade. I've actually been playing this MMO for a while now and I saw it was recently listed, needless to say I wanted to add a review for it.

When you first see the website, take a look at the screenshots, and check out the videos and you're familiar with Monster Hunter, you're definitely going to think it's plain and simply a clone of it. I'll be honest, that's exactly what it is; however, that does not mean you should dismiss it. While it is so similar both visually and gameplay-wise that it seems a bit questionable, they've added quite a lot of new features that are pretty interesting. They do seem to add some features from Monster Hunter games that it doesn't have, so you can look forward to those too. A lot of people may take this as a very negative thing (the fact that it's a pretty blatant clone) but the way I see it is if you like Monster Hunter, then why would you hate this? In the end it's more of what you like.

Now lets get down to business, the actual review.

Graphics

(Here you can see a level 30 newb on the right (me) and what appears to be a much higher level player judging by their equipment)

Graphically the game looks great. While some people may think the graphics look dated and old I feel they're actually quite good (the modeling on many things makes the game look quite blocky but it's not a major issue at all, just nit picking). The textures are great, very good in fact, so that makes the game look much smoother and immersive despite some of the actual models being a bit low poly (nothing wrong with that). With all that said the visual style and quality is great.

Character Creation and Weapon Mastery:

Character creation is very basic and simple. There are a handful of options for hair and face, beyond that there is no further customization options like you would see in some other MMOs like Aion, Perfect World, TERA, or several others that have extensive character customization. Personally this does not bother me very much. While tons and tons of options are nice? to have I find that I either almost never use them, or when I do it doesn't end up looking much different than the presets anyway. So for me it's not a huge deal.

Another thing to note is that in character creation you can select your starting weapon. There are three: wand, sword and shield, and two handed sword (katana). You can click and view the other weapons but you can't select them. You have to unlock the rest of the weapons at a certain level: Crossbow (level 40), Claymore (level 40), Dual Daggers (level 30), Hammer (Level 30). Unfortunately once you get a character to those respective levels, you can't create a new character and use those. I assumed that once you reach that level you would unlock them and have access to those when you start a new character. That's not the case. You have to literally be those levels in order to use them. You can spec into several weapons, level 30 being the first time a new weapon is available. I am assuming once you reach level 40 you can select your third weapon. I'm not positive how this affects skill point distribution or if they give you enough skill points to actually use all three, or if you have to be selective about it. I grinded to level 30 without spending any points and I have over 20 points left (I can't put any into the hammer skills because of level requirements to increase them) so it seems like even if you put points in two weapons you should have enough to level the skills you want.

Gameplay

After the tutorial intro you are placed into the first town and given a quest to talk to an NPC. A lot of the quests will be explaining many of the mechanics and features of the game so it would be to your benefit to try and read them. Almost the entire game is instanced (like Vindictus or Dragons Nest) and towns serve as a hub for players to interact. Until level 25 that is the only place you will see other players wandering around. At level 25 an option becomes available to you to intrude or allow intrusions while you are in an instanced zone doing quests. This is where the pvp aspect of Hunter Blade comes in. You can basically invade or be invaded by other players if this option is on. I wont go into all the details about it and leave it at that.

Intrusion System:

You may ask yourself why you would enable intrusions if you don't like pvp or don't want to. The answer is simple. The game uses a stamina/fatigue system where you are given a certain amount of points per day, each time you enter a hunting zone those points are subtracted. If you enable intrusion the amount of points used will be reduced significantly. As you will see in an image below having intrusions off will cost about 70 points, turning them on will only take around 30 points.

Stamina/Fatigue:

This brings me to the stamina/fatigue system. Many of you will probably stop reading this right now and never bother looking at the game because of this, however, the way it's setup is pretty reasonable. You can do a repeatable questline of 20 quests several times per day to receive an item that fully recharges your stamina/fatigue. Not only that but you can save these items. If there is a day where you don't use up all of the stamina (which would be insane if you manage to somehow use it all up, including the quest rewards) then you can save up those items for another day when you run out. The only problem I have with this is that you have to do 20 quests to finish and get the stamina restoring item. A large majority of the quests are very easy and simple, go talk to this npc or go deliver this item, and some might make you hunt or gather items. It's extremely tedious and monotonous if you want to do it multiple times. Not something I'd knock the game for but it's not very enjoyable to do. Not sure they can do much about this, but I would much rather have this as an option over not having it at all or having to buy it through the cash shop.

Crafting:

The crafting system is a main part of gameplay for Hunter Blade. A large majority of your items will likely come from crafting because it's just not worth it to buy items from a vendor. They are quite expensive and weak. The only thing I'd recommend buying if you can spare the money are weapons. Some weapons are quite hard to get the materials for so you might be better off buying them. This decision is entirely up to you, you can decide if you think it's worth it to just buy the weapons or craft them instead.

Some of the tutorials can be a bit confusing since there are so many elements and steps to getting some things (for example there is a gathering zone for plants, bugs, and ores, and to get them you need a "tool" an npc gives you once every day and it is limited use) so you may have to look up information frequently on the forums or on the website. Like I mentioned the crafting and gathering in Hunter Blade is quite extensive and perhaps even a bit over complicated. Sometimes I felt like they are just trying to cram absolutely every single thing they liked from multiple games into one. Sometimes this works out amazing, sometimes not so much. I'm leaning more towards not so much, but it's not especially bad or anything. New players will likely be confused and possibly overwhelmed by the amount of features in this game and I'm definitely not going to cover every single one, this is a review not a guide after all. I think the website needs better written guides or explanations for each feature. A lot of the info seems a bit convoluted.

Quests and Leveling:

The quest system in Hunter Blade is pretty nice, although the town is small it still has the option to allow you to automatically walk to an NPC if their name is clickable in your quest log. For lazy people like myself this is nice and I appreciate the option. A lot of the quests also serve as a tutorial so try to pay attention or skim them. 

The game (up until level 30-40) isn't too grindy. You can probably get that far in a few days if you play casually or one or two days if you use up all your stamina and do all the quests. The main source of exp seems to be from quests, any exp you get from hunting monsters seems insignificant so don't bother grinding unless you need monster or boss drops, there's no reason to apart from that. So yeah, the grind isn't too bad if you're doing all of the quests, and there are a pretty significant amount of quests available so you will almost always have a reason to go hunting.

Inventory Space:

You probably don't see many people covering something like inventory space in their reviews but I feel it's something worth mentioning. Inventory space in Hunter Blade is extremely lacking. You start off with 42 inventory spaces for your character. While this may seem like a lot, it's really not. The entire first page (24 spaces) will likely be taken up by reward items from newbie packs (which you open at certain levels) or potions or other random items you might need for hunting missions. People who like to save items will have to do a lot of micromanaging. Your warehouse storage only has 24 slots as well. You can expand your warehouse with Jade Shells, the cash shop currency. 20 Jade shells gives you one extra row (8 spaces) for your warehouse while 100 Jade shells gives you 6 extra inventory spaces for your character. 1 dollar is equal to 100 Jade shells, 10 dollars is 1,000, and 100 dollars is 10,000.

The game has a TON of miscellaneous items that you get from killing monsters (several types of bones, teeth, skin, etc...). These items are used for crafting so it's wise to keep them. Apart from that there are also MANY types of ores, plants, and bugs you get from the gathering zone. There are a ton, imagine playing Guild Wars with only one or so pages of storage space, that's kind of what Hunter Blade is like.

Cash Shop/Item Mall

Now comes the disheartening and disappointing part. The cash shop/item mall. From my experience with Hunter Blade (no pvp and played up until level 30-40 with several characters) you do not need to buy things from the Item Mall to play the game effectively but many of the items will help you greatly. As I mentioned above: 1 dollar is equal to 100 Jade shells, 10 dollars is 1,000, and 100 dollars is 10,000. With those prices in mind let's look at some of the items available into the Item Mall.

There are 5 VIP packs which include things from limited time costumes, gold, VIP scrolls which give you certain advantages and benefits as well as some other random items. The VIP 1 package is 1000 Jade Shells and VIP 5 package is a whopping 20,000 Jade Shells. That's right, two hundred dollars, the fact that this is even available worries me greatly. You can get the VIP 1 pack for free if you are online for a total of 240 hours for the month. 240 hours. This must be a mistake or a joke because even if you have a full time job you probably wont work that much a month. You would have to spend upwards of around 8-10 hours a day every single day to reach 240 hours a month for the lowest tier of VIP package. This is just insane. It's nice that it's there but I highly doubt anyone will manage to do that. I think most people will get tired of the game before even hitting the 240 hour mark of gameplay time.

Overall, the Item mall feels extremely pay to win which is disappointing. Costume sets are roughly 25 dollars and also give some stat boosts. Almost everything in the Item Mall screams pay to win and expensive. Pets, which are newly introduced, cost nearly 60 dollars. SIXTY. DOLLARS. For a pet. They even sell things like shovels that you can use to get items during specific events. I have never seen this in any other MMO. Aside from that there are of course many consumable items that give you boosts and even reset quests so you can do them again (and even these are quite pricey). A weapon spec reset is 30 dollars. An item that prevents your clan from being attacked for 48 hours is 50 dollars.  10 potions that increase your attack and defense by 2000 is 20 dollars. Mounts can range from 5 dollars to 80 dollars. So yes, the cash shop is extremely pay to win unfortunately. I would not recommend getting heavily involved with this MMO because of this.

Overall Thoughts, Summary, and Score

Overall it's a fun game. The combat is different compared to a large majority of other MMOs so if you've only played the traditional types of MMOs where you target a monster and spam your skills as they become available, this will be refreshing and different. It is a blatant Monster Hunter clone and it doesn't try to hide it either. If you like Monster Hunter you'll enjoy Hunter Blade. It's a good MMO, it looks good, it's interesting, there is a lot to it, but it's not great. In addition, the insane focus on trying to get you to buy things from the Item Mall is a giant detriment to the game in my opinion, it's such an obvious pay to win type of game that it makes it frustrating for me since I enjoyed the game quite a bit.

I don't recommend getting heavily involved with this MMO unless you have hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars you are willing to throw away. It's fun for a few days, maybe a few weeks if you play it casually, but that's it.

Apart from the VIP status there seems even be an additional "premium" type membership on top of VIP. I didn't find a lot of information on it but it seems like you start out as a Bronze member and if you buy 50,000 Jade Shells (500 dollars) within a year of your first purchase, you are upgraded to an Iron member. I'm guessing there are ranks above even Iron and I don't even want to think about how much money you would have to spend for that.

Overall, it's an average MMO, maybe even a little bit above average. I would have rated it around 7.5, but I can't ignore the fact that it's a shameless pay to win model so I've lowered my score to 6 because of that. Try it out for a few days if you like the Monster Hunter style, then move on and never look back. They can fix the extreme pay to win business model but it's very unlikely that they will do that. Pets are a new addition and the fact that they are 60-80 dollars shows that they don't care that it's a pay to win MMO. I'm sad that I have to give it such a low score because I know it could have been so much more, but that's just how I feel at this point.

Other competition for Hunter Blade and similar games:

Vindictus, Dragons Nest, C9, and any other instanced based action MMOs.

RaiderZ, TERA, and any other open world action MMOs.

More Hunter Blade Features:

Hunter Blade - Play RaiderZ Instead Review added on Tuesday August 21

More Features:

General - Perfect World's Arc Client General Article added on Wednesday July 09
 
 
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