Finding its Niche Audience
It has been almost a month since the EU/NA version of Blade and Soul was released. Many current players have noticed a reduction of the population on servers which is to be expected, of course, though there is some thought that this will continue until the game finds its core audience.
At launch, there were huge queues to even get into the game, new servers were added to accommodate the rush, but as with any brand new game, things are leveling out three weeks later. Content locusts have finished their run and moved on. Those looking for the next great theme-park MMO are on their way out. Players looking for a sandbox experience are now looking elsewhere. And those frustrated by rampant bot use and the huge number of gold sellers have thrown in the towel which leaves us with those who are committed with BnS’ Wuxia style combat, open world and 1v1 PvP (with more PvP modes added later).
Who are those core players?
There is no question in anyone’s mind that BnS’ focus is PvP. Story, instances and open world discoveries take a back seat to what is clearly the true end-game. PvE players will be left with little to do but repeatedly grind the resources needed to upgrade their weapons and jewelry or hunt for achievements or outfits. While all of those are worthy pursuits, they will doubtlessly not keep an ardent PVErs attention for too long.
However, those who love the amazing Wuxia style combat that depends on putting together combos and lightning-fast reflexes to block or evade and those who love PvP are definitely the niche audience of BnS. NCSoft is committed to providing those players with the type of competitive atmosphere they crave.
NCSoft is well established in the South Korean eSports community and BnS is one of the major players in Korean eSports scene. The company wants to bring the same level of excitement to other regions as well.
According to Steven Messner’s article, NCSoft will be bringing the first season of competitive PvP to North American and European players this year, even though currently western version lacks some PvP features that are already in place for Korea and other Asian versions. To bring the game up to speed with other versions, NCSoft will be releasing these PvP features along with catch up mechanics prior to the beginning of the inaugural competitive season in NA/EU regions. To come in line with other released versions of Blade & Soul, NCSoft will be releasing the multi-player arena types as well (3v3, 6v6). The result, of course, is that the PvE content may be left wanting in the interim.
For the more casual PvP players, there is an opt-in open world PvP system, based around Cerulean Order and the Crimson Legion. Players are required to wear the faction’s costumes (that cannot be taken off during a battle) to participate. Unlike many others, this system is not as punishing (there is no loss of equipment or experience on death). The key difference in open world PvP is the additional boon to players of statistical advantage through weapons, soulshields, and jewelry that is not present in arena-based PvP.
As described in Steven Messner’s article, Will PvP Be the Game’s Savior:
Each time you kill a member of the opposing faction you earn Prestige Points, which are a currency you carry until you die or spend them in the faction war camps. If you kill someone carrying prestige points, you can loot them and then take them and spend them.
While both PvP systems are interesting and compelling, it remains to be seen how strong the community will be once other, similar PvP-oriented titles are released, most notably Black Desert on March 3rd.
It is obvious that NCSoft has plans for both competitive and casual PvP to be the central features of the end-game for Blade and Soul. Now that the niche crowd is more established, it will be interesting to watch how dedicated it is over time.
Do you PvP in Blade and Soul? Do you have plans to participate on a competitive level? What are your thoughts on the long-term goals of NCSoft? Leave us your thoughts in the comments!