Bless Unleashed released on consoles earlier this year, but the main focus right now is the PC, which will see itself n Closed Beta again next month. We caught up with Jason Park, Round 8 Studio's Head of Development to talk Bless on PC, lessons from Bless Online and how the lessons from the console launch have helped the PC, and game, overall.
MMORPG: What lessons have you learned from both Bless Online, as well as the console releases of Bless Unleashed?
Jason Park, Round 8 Studio: It’s important to remember that Bless Online was developed nearly a decade ago by a much different team than Bless Unleashed, that said - when we at Round8 came up with the idea to do an Action MMORPG with Soulslike-combat, we knew right away that we had to do things differently than Bless Online.
The list of things we’ve learned could probably fill a library, but the main point is that we know how different the audiences across the globe are - meaning, players in the West are going to expect a different game than players in Asia. We’re Korean, remember - home of Lineage, open FFA PVP, and a baseball team that holds up a giant sword from that MMO when they won the championship. We love MMOs, but they’re very different for each side of the globe.
A PVP and hunting grind is NOT the game we wanted to make in Bless Unleashed, so we’ve worked hard to take note of players’ desires in the West, while still offering PVP and open world conflicts for those who wish to pursue it. By and large, Bless Unleashed is a questing and dungeon-delving game at heart.
It’s hard to make an MMORPG that caters to everyone’s wants, so in the end we must make the game we want to play, but one that also takes into account the passion of its player base. If you read our blogs about the changes we’re making for the 2nd CBT, we think you’ll see we’re trying to listen and make changes based on the feedback we get from our PC players.
How is the team equipped to handle some of the naysayers and mistrust in the PC community coming off of the Bless Online days, and what steps has the team made to ensure that issues that Bless Online players had are addressed and their voices heard by the development team?
As game developers, I think we’re pretty well-used to the harsh feedback we receive from fans and players - ultimately, even when it’s really angry feedback - it’s valuable and prized because it comes from a place of passion and care. Players care about our games the same way we do.
We’re doing it for a job, we’re trying to earn a living, but we always have to look at Bless Unleashed as a service to its players, and one that comes with baggage from the rough launch and shut down of Bless Online.
Rest assured that these are two completely different games that share the same universe, and that this team has been and will continue to listen to its players throughout the beta period and into launch and beyond.
What is different about Unleashed that might attract Bless Online players back to the IP on PC?
While some of the characters are the same, Bless Unleashed is an all new massive world to explore with tons of new dungeons, quests, a whole new combat system that we think is really fun even as we work to improve it constantly.
There are also a ton of open world “Field Bosses” which have great rewards for the taking, hidden treasure chests throughout the world for discovering, and even a player housing system called Estates.
And for our PVP players we have the ability to toggle on PVP mode and go hunting other aggressive players and earn honor for taking down the outlawed players in the world. On top of that, there are also PVP arenas - instanced competitions between teams, which have their own rewards to boot.
There’s a lot to the game, and we’re always adding more - for free - with our regular content updates.
I had a really hard time enjoying the Xbox One version in my review – much of my issues were down to technical problems, incredible distracting input lag, as well as just the overall monotony of the leveling grind. I loved the world and wanted to explore it more, but the grind itself proved to just not be enjoyable at a certain point. Has the team taken any steps to improve that since the early Xbox One release to ensure a more enjoyable experience throughout the whole player progression path?
Indeed! A lot of the issues you had in your review have since been resolved on XBOX and PlayStation, and we’ve also reduced the grind with more quests, XP reward changes, and adding more content overall to help get players to the cap more smoothly. It’s funny, because we all remember the grind we had to go through in the early days of other MMOs, but we never realized how hard it is to make sure there’s enough content to seamlessly get players from level 1 to the level cap without making it a chore. It’s always a delicate balance! We are always working to make things better for players, and have even more updates planned for 2021 and beyond.
Ever think about doing away with Gear Score? :P
Ha! Probably not - we actually like this mechanic! But we are working on reducing requirements for some of the content that is gated by Gear Score.
Is there anything specific you’d love for PC players to know heading into the beta for Bless Unleashed?
Just that we know Bless Online was not everything players had hoped for, and we don’t expect that somehow Bless Unleashed is going to magically be the best game of all time - but we really do love working on it, creating this world, and building it with our players. We want you all to enjoy it, and we’ll do our best to make sure your voice is heard and that whenever we are able, we adjust the game based on feedback from our players.
We think we’ve created a beautiful and exciting Action MMO to explore, and we look forward to seeing what everyone thinks about it in the months ahead. And best of all? It’s FREE so you don’t have to pay to try it for yourself!
Are you able to speak about any future plans in terms of upcoming content, updates, events, etc?
We can’t say specifics, but Bless Unleashed on PC will be up to date with its console counterparts at launch, and we have a roadmap of content we’ve got lined up for 2021 that we’re excited to share in the months ahead. But first, let’s get this game launched!
We’d love for everyone to sign up and take part in the next beta test coming up in January, and you can sign up HERE - if for no other reason than the free loot that comes with registering! Thanks so much for your time, and we hope to see you in the game.