Friday, May 11th Neowiz held a press event introducing all of the new changes they made to Bless Online for western audiences. In my last article, I detailed the combat and all of the intricacies of the new combo system. I also alluded to several other changes, including new monetization adjustments that will undoubtedly shift most players perception of what Bless Online will be like, and why they should be looking forward to it. In this article I will outline some of the features that we’ve already known about Bless, but in more detail in according to my personal experience after my hands-on experience during the press event. Whether you have been following Bless Online or you are brand new to Bless’ feature set, brace yourself for a bevy of incoming information.
Built for Everyone
When I first heard about Bless in accordance with its Korean release, I felt that it was a very PvP heavy game. As a person that enjoys both PvE and PvP, this made me wonder what would be left for a PvE player to do at max level. Luckily for me, the play test allowed me to start a character at max level, with opportunities for cooperative dungeon play as well as completely open play sessions. In my last article, I mentioned that gem fragments will be drops that you can obtain from playing pretty much however you would like which includes hunting monsters, doing dungeons and participating in PvP. These gems can be combined and used to upgrade your abilities, which means progression won’t stop once you reach max level.
I also spent a good portion of my time playing with different classes in the free play session. Aside from the classes, each race will have a specific story for you to complete that has been localized and vocalized, which means gamers that are hoping for story questing won’t be left out either. While there were few options to complete quests during my experience, and no, I didn’t pick up any gem fragments from practicing combat on random mobs I encountered, the mount and companion taming was working perfectly, and despite knowing that I had a very limited amount of time, I couldn’t help myself and ended up hunting and capturing several dozen different animals.
The taming system is actually one of my favorite parts of the game, and the developers have even joked that the premise of “catching them all” via a pokemon style mindset is completely possible. Here’s a quick crash course on taming. In order to tame animals, you need a taming scroll. Taming scrolls are craftable, and once obtained you can travel forth and capture pretty much any animal in the game. There are currently 660 different animals, some of which can be mounts and others that can be companions. In my short play time I had several amazing looking mounts which included crocodiles, wolves, elk, and bears. I also caught plenty of companions like foxes, snakes, rabbits and rats. As you use your mounts and companions you can level them up and unlock abilities. You can also catch multiples of the same animals and combine them together to level your animals faster. It’s important to note that your companions don’t necessarily help you in combat like a pet class would, which was a disappointment for me, however, as you level them, you can gain powerful passive abilities that do aid you in the long run.
There will also be flying mounts, but unfortunately these aren’t able to be tamed from world play, and instead are very special mounts that you can earn through certain gameplay modes like PvP or possibly dungeon play. The rewards you earn in those modes will then be used to purchase these mounts, and these flying mounts will then only be available for a week before you have to purchase or earn them again.
One of the hardest parts of the play test was sharing the PCs with other players, so everyone rotated machines ever twenty to thirty minutes, allowing others to try the characters you had access to and vice versa. This also meant that you had the opportunity to see other parts of the world and experience different enemies and combat tactics. In one of my play sessions I fell into playing a Guardian who happened to be outside of an island city. From my understanding, the area was sectioned off from the other PvE areas and designated as more of an open world PvP area. As I traveled to the more populated areas of the world, there were some interesting design decisions I noticed about the way the world worked. In these sparsely populated areas, the world filtered into smaller corridors, with guard patrols being the only real opportunities for combat along the way. In the event there was an enemy force attacking, it’s clear that Neowiz is expecting you to fight within these chokepoints.
Once I made my way past these tight corridor-like play areas, I was bombarded with enemies spilling out every several meters. Not only did I find tons of animals to tame or monsters roaming about, but I also found enemy camps overrun with baddies awaiting a swift end at the edge of my axe. The world felt alive, but alive in a very unorganized and indifferent manner. Patrols in enemy camps meandered uncaringly around, mob aggro wasn’t particularly interested in attacking me unless I was extremely close to them or attacked them first, and enemies acted more like grazing cattle than lifelike beings with an agenda. That being said, the AI could have been tuned down some for the play test. This also may include the mob respawn rates being tuned up some, as I often found myself trapped in a camp after about a minute because the enemies I just killed respawned already.
Bless in terms of world design and questing likely won’t ultimately take shape until Neowiz is in its final adjustment phase. Still, from my short amount of time in the game, it was easy to see that the world of Bless is immense, with the main PvE areas being expansive and diverse in the number of enemies you encounter. The developers also mentioned world bosses and monster hunts will be in the game which means PvE players who are just looking to explore the world will have more than enough to keep them busy. With so much to do, the last thing on you have to know about before you’re decided on whether or not you want to play the game is monetization. Keep an eye out for our final article which will outline Monetization, including what comes in the different purchase tiers.