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What You Need to Know About Head Start & Launch

By William Murphy on January 05, 2016 | Guides | Comments

What You Need to Know About Head Start & Launch

Perhaps this is a little premature, but in the fairness of a slow post-Holiday news week, you’ll have to forgive us for getting excited about Blade & Soul’s impending head start on January 15th (next week!).  So as we’re counting down the days, here’s the info you need to get prepped and ready for the moment the servers come on.

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The first thing you should know is that Name Reservation and Head Start are reserved for Founder’s Pack purchasers only. Founder’s Packs range from $24.99 to $124.99, and all three of the packs get the full three days’ worth of head start. But only two of the packs allow you to create characters and reserve names as early as January 11th

WHEN DOES NAME RESERVATION BEGIN?

Blade & Soul’s Name reservation period begins on January 11th at 6am PST (9am EST) and runs through January 14th at 10am PST (1pm EST). Owners of the Disciple Pack ($74.99) can create one character and reserve one name, while owners of the Master Pack ($124.99) can create two characters and reserve two names.

WHEN IS HEAD START ACCESS?

Head start begins for all Initiate, Disciple and Master Pack owners on January 15th, 10am PST (1pm EST). There are no time gates or tiers between access levels.

WHEN IS THE OFFICIAL LAUNCH?

After a brief downtime between January 18th at 10am PST and January 19th at 12am EST, Blade & Soul’s official launch is expected to kick off for all interested parties, as it is a Free to Play MMORPG.

WHAT EXACTLY IS THERE TO DO IN BLADE & SOUL?

If you haven’t managed to get in on the multiple closed betas, or get a taste of the other regions’ versions of the game, Blade & Soul is a story-centric theme park MMORPG with wildly varying action combat at its center. I say wildly varying, because every class plays very unique from one to the next. A Summoner uses its adorable and feisty cat pet to maim foes, while the Force Master pretends to be Darth Vader and choke their enemies. The Kung Fu master grapples and ripostes every incoming attack, while the Destroyer does massive damage to every enemy that gets in reach of his or her gigantic axe.

There are no traditional healers in Blade & Soul, as the game’s dungeons rely more on coordinated attacks and potion-popping during and between fights (though the Soul Fighter, a class recently released in Korea seems to challenge this). Traditional questing with an overarching story that lays out the narrative will be your main form of PVE progression, but PVP fanatics will find loads of fun in both instanced competitive ranked arenas as well as the open world factional warfare engaged in by simply putting on your faction’s chosen costume.

There’s a lot more to Blade & Soul than we can fit in a couple paragraphs, but we will say that B&S (thus far) doesn’t feel like a very involved crafting game. The focus instead seems more on the story, questing, dungeons, and competitive PVP.  That view may change once we’ve played more of the final game.

HOW FAR AHEAD IS THE KOREAN VERSION?

Not really that far! Smartly, NCSOFT West is releasing Blade & Soul here with more content than the game originally had when it launched in 2012 in the East. Once the game’s released here, they’ll be keeping an eye on how quickly the player base chews through the content, and they’ll be opening up more story and features as regular updates as they go. It may sound kind of shady, but really in doing this the team is able to give themselves some leeway in how quickly they must put out content updates in the West while in tandem with the Korean and Chinese versions. The real question is…

WHEN WILL WE GET THE OTHER CLASSES?

Western B&S is launching with just 7 of the currently 9 available classes. Business-wise, it makes sense for NCSOFT to hold onto the Warlock (first in line) and Soul Fighter (released in December 2015). The question is, how quickly will we see them show up in the NA and EU versions? That remains to be seen, and I’m also wondering if they’ll be something players must pay for in order to access.

IS IT CENSORED?

No. Seriously. Censoring is being forced to remove or delete something by a higher governmental power. While some may not like that there are more clothes (across the board and across genders) in western Blade & Soul than in its KR forebear, it’s not censorship that’s to blame, it’s localization. While there’s a fine line between the two, it’s a pretty clear one.  It shouldn’t be a deal breaker for anyone, but I’m sure some will hate the changes made.

IS IT GRINDY?

Yes, and no. For one thing, the leveling pace is brisk and the story interesting enough in its Anime fashion that you won’t really notice you’re being led by the nose from zone to zone… but you will be. B&S doesn’t have a lot of choice in how you progress through the game’s levels, instead assuming that you’ll find enough diversity in its classes to offset the lack of diversity in content digesting.  That said while quests may be very derivative of everything else, the combat of Blade & Soul, like TERA before it, may be enough to help you ignore the stale design.

DO I NEED TO PRAY TO RNG-EEZUS?

Short answer? Yes. There are a lot of lotto systems in B&S, and some items you need to upgrade your weapon come from one of only two places – random drops from loot bags, or on the store for a pittance. While I’m sure some of you will immediately say “Pay to Win”, I prefer the term “Pay to Skip”. There’s nothing in the store you can’t get in the game, but those who are willing to spend a few coins to get a weapon upgrade item will oftentimes get it faster than those who wish to hold out for the RNG to kick in.

SHOULD I BOTHER PLAYING?

Yes, for two reasons. One is – what else are you playing in January that’s new? Two is, it’s actually a very fun game. Blade & Soul doesn’t reinvent the wheel by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s a very competent and fun to play theme park MMORPG and it’s free to boot. It may not be your cup of tea, and perhaps you’ve already decided it’s not, but Blade & Soul has a lot to offer the weary MMO fan looking for a quality game to try in the new year. Whether it’ll hold folks’ interest beyond the first few months remains to be seen.

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.
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