Will PVP Be the Game’s Savior?
As I play in the beta tests for NCSOFT’s Blade & Soul western release, I notice a few things. One, the game’s still gorgeous despite being three years old. Two, the PVE questing is pretty rote and unmemorable. Three, the combat is probably the best combat in any MMO since TERA. And four… its PVP flagging system seems to make for a game that PVP and PVE fans can get behind.
In its native country of South Korea, Blade & Soul is a dominant force in eSports, due largely in part to the competitive combo-based combat. It’s clear that NC West is hoping the watchability of its action will translate to the West, where eSports is constantly on the rise. With 1v1 arenas, a sort of deck-building system for skills and talents, and excellent 3v3 fights as well it’s clear that Blade & Soul focuses a lot on the organized PVP systems.
But what intrigues me more is the open world faction-based PVP.
Like the Secret World, B&S uses a costume system that separates its gear from characters’ looks. You slot items called BoPae and these add and tweak your stats based on how many items in a set you have equipped. Your weapon is also stat-based, but neither the BoPae nor the weapon stats effect your stats in arena-based PVP. Arena PVP, ergo, is the most balanced and controlled system of PVP in Blade & Soul. On the other hand, the faction-based PVP competed in via wearing the game’s different doboks (cosmetic outfits that change your faction). Your stats from weapons and bopae affect your abilities in this form of open world PVP.
The Cerulean Order and the Crimson Legion are the two main factions for PVP in B&S. There’s no real “good or bad” and the difference is largely based on whether you like blue or red. This isn’t so much Horde vs. Alliance, as it is rival gang versus rival gang. When you want to participate in World PVP you just change your costume to your Cerulean or Crimson outfit and then be on the lookout. You can’t change your outfit in combat, and anyone who wearing the opposing faction’s colors can kill you on sight.
Why would they want to? Well, 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. This is ideal to me. It gives risk and reward a meaning in PVP without punishing players by removing their gear as in other more hardcore PVP games.
Additionally, aside from earning Prestige to spend on specific PVP rewards, there are daily quests and special Windstride (teleport) points to unlock in the areas where the two factions are constantly at war. Now, someone more verse in B&S will have to let me know if there are controllable plots of land or resources to actually fight over, but the idea of seeing roving bands of Cerulean or Crimson colored PVPers is enough to get me excited. If I’m out questing and I see the call to action from my faction, chances are I’ll join in. It’s PVP on my own terms, when I want it, and I don’t have to worry about it altering my PVE activities unless I want it to.
Video courtesy of Steparu’s KR B&S Coverage
I suspect a lot of MMO veterans will dismiss Blade & Soul based on the fact that we’ve been there and done that with its PVE leveling. There’s not much new to find in that regard. But its combat is so on point, and its potential for thrilling PVP is so great without the harsh penalties associated with other open world PVP games that I suspect it’ll find a loyal if niche following here in the west. So now the only question I still need to answer for myself is… do I want to be Blue or Red?