On August 8th Neowiz delivered on their promise to have the Assassin class in the game, and the Assassin has made quite a splash since being added to the list of available class choices in the game. While the game is still currently labeled as Early Access, Neowiz was kind enough to give us a fully leveled character so that we could taste a little of what makes the assassin stand out from the other classes and why a Bless fan might be interested in giving them the opportunity to become their new Main Character.
As luck would have it, being boosted to max level immediately has its advantages. Within moments of logging in, I was able to swiftly traverse the map and test my mettle against all manner of man and beast which gave me a general handle early on of what the Assassin is capable of. In broad terms, the Assassin, as one would imagine, would closely resemble a Rogue in other games, relying primarily on swift movements, backstabs and stealth to slay their foes. Neowiz made most of that pretty simple, with most tactics with the exception of the Withstand Tactic deftly placing you behind your opponent with the use of certain abilities.
Being boosted unfortunately also has its drawbacks, as learning rotations can become a difficult task when all of your tactics and abilities are available right out of the gate. I found myself poring over abilities, trying to determine which tactics would best fit the run and gun playstyle I came to love with the Mage. Eventually I settled on the Raid and Assassinate tactics which boasted a good mix of auto backstab and crowd control abilities, while not entirely forsaking some damage over time abilities that cause poison or internal injuries which is a great addition to the burst damage the Assassin excels at.
There are also a few stealth utility skills known as “Smoke Screen” and “Incognito” which undoubtedly comes in handy, especially when you take into consideration that powerful attack abilities such as Massacre, which doesn’t directly put you behind the target and requires you to get close before it executes, also gives you a 30 percent bonus to damage when you hit from stealth. In conjunction with the other utility skills, such as Shadow Charge which is a helpful dash, and Acrobat, which increases your dodge, all the trappings of a sneaky assassin are there.
The assassin doesn’t necessarily faulter at any particular point. Really what burns my biscuits is the strange combo system that persists in the game, which requires you to swap tactics to continue the chain. This allows the Assassin a maximum of 6 combos in the chain, whereas the Assassin attacks so fast, you could easily roll through most of your abilities, chaining combos almost infinitely, with the caveat that the assassins attacks are so powerful, you likely wouldn’t get through all of your abilities before enemies start dropping like flies. Still, skilled players banking on extended combos will be sorely out of luck, even if you are fighting groups of enemies, and don’t have any abilities on cool down.
It also kind of irks me that the combat system as it stands now reuses abilities throughout the different tactics, but that the abilities aren’t exactly the same. For example, I mentioned Massacre which is an opener ability in the Withstand tactic that does 30 percent extra damage when the player is stealth. It also appears as a finishing move on the Assassinate trait line, but, because activating a stealth mid chain breaks the chain, you would never be able to use that ability from stealth. Instead they balance it by requiring you to have over a certain number of Malevolence (energy) or a certain number of Marks of Death (ability modifier) to enact any bonuses.
Another picadillo I had with the game was simply trying to get into a PvP match of any kind. In Bless, PvP matches, such as t he Siege of Castra and Certanon Arena are based around certain timeframes, and queue times generally begin 10 minutes or so before the battles go live. What frustrates me is, even when I queued for an arena, if I was even a little late to the party, I would be but into a queue, and promptly kicked from it after the matches have ended. Seeing as how there is a small window of time to play each encounter, this turned out to be nothing if not frustrating for me. I do understand the reasons for this, to a degree. Battles are waged on a large scale, which requires an ample number of players, so they can’t split PvPers up between all arenas at all times, but when you have limited time to play, getting into a match shouldn’t be more frustrating than getting ganked by opposing players in those matches.
Neowiz is still steaming down the tracks to release, and after playing several of the classes during my Early Access Review to now, I can definitively say that I enjoy the Assassin as much if not more than I enjoy my Mage. There have also been some improvements with performance, and server merges have made it a little easier to find other players to play with. While I can’t say with certainty that from now until the full release of the game, we’ll see massive changes or improvements, what I will say is that my time in game has revealed a very dedicated and active player base. I’m interested to see how the Mystic will meld once they finally release it, but until then, I may just give the Siege of Castra queue a few more chances between now and then.