The Archer is finally coming to Blade & Soul. NCSoft’s wuxia-styled MMORPG gets a brand new class update on the 18th of September and we got a sneak peek at it recently.
Springing forth, the Archer is a long-running request from the Blade & Soul player base. A nimble ranged class, it has seemed the obvious choice for this martial arts MMO and yet we’re only just getting it three years after the game launched in the west. It has been around a year since I got a first glimpse of the Warden class, one of the more complex builds the game has to offer and a character that tends to fare well in close range. Gamescom 2019 seemed like a great time to get a better look at the Archer for ourselves.
With three purely ranged classes already in Blade & Soul, the 12th class to hit the game comes in with a brand new approach to playing in NC Soft’s world. While classes like the Gunslinger and Forcemaster have great damage potential, the Archer is not just a reskin of these established playstyles. Incorporating fluid movement and some helpful party play the Archer manages to add something that you might not traditionally expect fro spring forth from this type of character.
Take a Bow
The first hint that the Archer is not another DPS class hits home as soon as combat begins. The Archer’s movement isn’t just about quickly lunging in and getting to the core of the action. It is about optimal movement at all times. Instead of going in for the kill or trying to tie up your enemy, skills, combos, and parries come together to allow the Archer to dodge, sidestep, and weave across the field of battle.
A whole range of elements add into this but a great example is the Archer’s bespoke ability to double sidestep, making them difficult to pin down. The core design philosophy behind the Archer class seems to include a nimble assassin style movement that readily feeds into the core combat utility. The Archer even has a short stealth option available in the right circumstances but it’s not quite intended to attack. As you might b have gathered, the Archer is not a ranged Assassin and is more likely to be seen using all these options to skip away from danger instead of striking at an opponent’s heart.
Like many Classes in Blade & Soul, the Archer comes with its own Talent Specialisations. Two major spec lines allow the archer to focus on a variety of customizations filed under Dawn and Breeze. The Dawn spec should give players a better all-round ability to inflict damage on opponents while the Breeze spec line increases overall mobility, using sub specs like Subtle Steps to even move while shooting.
While we didn’t get an opportunity to run down every sub spec combination available my general impression was that even the Dawn spec line still leaves the Archer with a way greater movement repartee than the ForceMaster can put out, making it a more appealing option among the AOE’s of endgame dungeons. That is, assuming the Archer can truly be mastered.
Easy To Aim, Hard To Hit
More than any class I’ve picked up in Blade and Soul, the Archer’s learning curve makes it easy to pick up and difficult to master. Unlike the Kung Fu Master, for example, which has a high barrier to entry but stays relatively steady once you’ve worked out how to pull together the right combos, the Archer feels deceptively overpowered at first. The combination of movement skills and good DPS make this class feel a little invincible when it is flitting across an open battlefield but drop it into an enclosed raid and the limited defensive capability and serious resource management will start to weed out the casuals.
Don’t Run Out Of Arrows, Hawkeye
While the Archer shares the traditional damage meter with other classes, the way it impacts combat is personal to the Archer. Dispensing enough damage to fill up the damage meter allows Archers to utilize a pair of DPS attacks without any applicable cooldown, keep that up and you can continue to chain them as hard as possible. In addition to this, the Archer has a second resource bar that is brand new. By using a Focus and Spray set of skill, players can fill this bar. As this bar fills, other skills increase their damage potential. At its peak, it is intended to make a significant difference to the DPS of the archer.
Another Feather in The Bow
There’s plenty of other abilities that the Archer brings to the table but the Archer is definitely going to work fantastically in open area combat and end game dungeons. There are a whole quiver full of iframes hidden among the standard skill bar, making cc a practical nightmare. Due to this and probably other reasons too, NCSoft is planning to split PvP and PvE damage going forward, so don’t think that the Archer is intended to be an all-powerful noob crusher. This is definitely a dungeon master in the making.
The Archer comes to Blade & Soul on the 18 September. If you want a taste of this class check out the trailer above and head over to the website for more information now. Players eager to try out the Archer can head over to the Blade & Soul website to register for a free pack to celebrate the launch of this class. Regional sites for the free Archer pack are available in FR and DE too.
N.B. skill names and final tweaks were still ongoing during this presentation so please do take this as general impressions of this new class.