Teased as far back as 2016 in Korea, where it was labeled the Maestro, the arrival of the Gunslinger has been anticipated by Blade and Soul fans for some time now. We got some hands on time with the Gunslinger during Gamescom 2017, where NCSoft introduced their latest update, the opening salvo in a barrage of updates planned for the rest of this year
After a fairly mixed reception for the Soul Worker, Blade and Soul’s hybrid class, NCSoft intend to blow us all away with the Rise of the Gunslinger. Rather than create a character focused on existing class systems the Gunslinger brings a refreshing twist to combat. While the Force Master might already fit the bill for ranged support, they are nothing alike. Primarily wielding two pistols and available to the Yun and Jin races, Gunslingers deliver a host of flashy moves that are capable of delivering a crushing damage output, coupled with a good level of customization that allows players some flexibility in play style.
Specializations allow Gunslingers to access some of this flexibility, aligning trained skills with either Flame or Shadow streams. Each of these specializations directly impacts the way this class plays. Flame builds allow players to stack up explosive rounds during combat, not conceptually too dissimilar to building Chi, and unleash these in a devastating assault on enemies. Shadow skills collect dark light until a Lightspeed state is achieved, enabling players to enhance their existing skills.
Not content with bringing a gun to a sword fight, the Gunslinger also packs a grappling hook for good measure. The hook adds extra utility to combat, allowing players to stun enemies, close gaps, and generally enhance mobility across an arena. It is certainly flashy, fast paced addition to the existing character roster that relies heavily on its excellent mobility to avoid being crushed by enemies.
Rise of the Gunslinger is not the only update to Blade and Soul this month. During our time with the Gunslinger, NCSoft discussed the latest content update to Blade and Soul, Ebondrake Citadel and the Tower of Memory event. The Tower of Memory is a multi-floor dungeon that opens at level 16, brining back long fallen warriors for a new challenge. It should provide plenty of content and rewards for those interested in getting a Gunslinger geared, or simply returning to the game. Another addition that should ease returning players back into the game is the reworked crafting system. NCSoft confirmed that after feedback, the complexity of systems like skill trees and crafting was a major barrier to new and returning players. As a result, crafting will undergo major streamlining as part of the Gunslinger update. While I haven’t had an opportunity to get a look at this, anything that reduces the barrier to entry will surely add even more warriors to the roster of four million players.
If you’re reading this and you’ve already conquered the Tower of Memories then rest assured that there is more coming soon. NCSoft revealed that they are working on bringing yet another update soon. The Fallen Aransu School will bring new raid content that should tide players over until the final update of the year. NCSoft intends on deploying a new full expansion this winter with an increased level cap, quests, raids, dungeons, and new story content.
While I’m not the most regular visitor to Blade and Soul, there’s nothing like a flashy new class and the prospect of an upcoming expansion to get me interested again. The Gunslinger Rises September 13, 2017.