Since Naraka: Bladepoint launched in August of last year, Morus Isle has served as the battleground royale to the game's 60-player free-for-all. It was a suitable host, with plenty of locations to explore and loot to find, but with the first anniversary of the game just a few weeks away, developer 24 Entertainment decided it was time for a change.
Enter Holoroth, a brand-new map brimming with secrets for players to explore…some of them reaching as high as the sky. We had a chance to take the new map for a test run, seeing first-hand every nook and cranny of Naraka's new field of battle. Ultimately the map has a lot of personality, from its towering buildings and opulent palaces to a few mysterious elements hidden within the environments. Holoroth gives Naraka a fresh injection of energy, one that could sustain it for some time to come.
Holoroth features five key areas: the Plumed Castle located in the dead center of the map; the desert-like Mehtaab featuring a colossal tower; the war-torn City of Tang marked by ripped banners and other debris; the fort-like Empyreal Village with fences surrounding tents; and the Yushan Ruins, which we did not get to see but were told will be a mountainous, snowy area.
Each of the four areas houses plenty of loot, chests, and merchants, so it's hard to truly say which of these is best to start in during a match. We expect a ton of traffic in the Plumed Castle--it is the center of the map after all, and the "safest" place to land with respect to the closing circle, but other than that all three of the outside areas we saw had plenty of resources for players to collect. Our favorite, if we had to choose one, was Mehtaab, and that's thanks to the tower that plays into a major new theme of Holoroth: verticality.
While this new map may not seem as big in a square mile sense--the distance from end to end seemed to be comparable to Morus Isle while traveling through it--it makes up for that lack of difference through the buildings that occupy it. In Mehtaab lies a massive tower, standing over ten stories tall and begging to be climbed. The tower has multiple levels both inside and out, adding a vertical spin to the battle that was not previously felt.
Now, instead of simply monitoring the area around you while looting an area, you'll have to worry about a potential foe raining death from above. We can already see instances where a skilled archer or rifleman will post up in one of the higher areas of the map--like the tower in Mehtaab or the Plumed Castle--and pick off unsuspecting enemies one after another. The buildings stretch higher than we'd expected too, giving plenty of opportunities for players to use that verticality to their advantage. It will be fascinating to see how the combat in Naraka evolves over time, now that the element of surprise from above is in play.
There's one other feature in Holoroth with implications we find super intriguing: environmental interactions. Some of them are in your face, like the giant spiked log rolling on a track between Plumed Castle and Mehtaab. Luring an opponent onto that track and jumping at the last second already feels like something we need to try. More important though is the interactive puzzles, a few of which can mean the difference between victory and defeat.
The Plumed Castle holds one such puzzle: as you descend the massive staircase outside, you'll come across four statues arranged in a square, with a circular pattern between them. These statues can be spun to face one of four different directions, and arranging all four statues in the correct order spawns a merchant box with the powerful Bloodrippers weapon and multiple top level Souljade gems--all for the low price of free. We don't know what other puzzles 24 Entertainment has hidden around Holoroth, but if the prize at the end is a super powerful weapon every time, we're going to keep an eye out.
Naraka: Bladepoint's next map brings a lot to the table that will bolster the Naraka: Bladepoint experience from the jump. The verticality is easily the more important new feature from a combat standpoint, as strategizing against opponents has a whole new layer to consider. The environmental puzzles are a welcome addition as well, breaking up the sometimes long wait times between skirmishes with some high-end loot at stake to boot. If additions like Holoroth are what Naraka: Bladepoint has in its future, that future is a bright one.