This past week we got a solid look at Blade & Soul from NC Soft. The game launches on January 19th, 2016 here is North America and many of you may have been playing in the betas. Blade & Soul has had great success in Korea, China, and Japan over the last few years and continues to draw fans with its heavy action combat style of play. The team also has a very aggressive post launch schedule for 2016 which we will go into below.
If you have not been following the game it is a martial arts style MMO that brings a unique fighting system similar to the classic arcade style fight games. You will be able to play through content from levels one to forty five and choose a class: Blade Master, Destroyer, Summoner, Force Master, Kung Fu Master, Assassin, or Blade Dancer. The game breaks from traditional MMO troupes like the holy trinity of classes and using skill rotations. It really tries to capture the intense combat feeling. Attacks are focused and can unlock combos or chain attacks. Keeping yourself defended while boosting up large combos makes for a combat style similar to Street Fighter meets TERA. By the time you are reading this, head start has come and gone and launch is under way.
NCSOFT has done a lot of work to bring the game to the Western audience. They have taken out the grindy feel of the game which can be common among Korean imports, and instead offer a rather quick pace to the level cap. They have also made sure the business model is friendly to players and is not a pay to win concept. Another area where the game really shines is in its dungeon design. Players can go through epic dungeons with six people on a normal level. The normal level has prompts and telegraphs when fighting bosses to help the players learn through the dungeon. Once you feel confident with your skills there is a much harder four person version of the dungeons that does not give you any assistance. The best part about these encounters is you can win the costumes off of the bosses that you fight and wear them proudly as trophies on your character. The instances we saw dealt with the Blackram Pirates, one of the many factions in the game.
Even though Blade & Soul is an MMO there has been a growing esports community building within the game. The arenas have proven to be very popular and players can compete in 1v1 or 3v3 tag-team matches. Even in the closed beta there have been player run tournaments which do very well. The main reason is that the PvP arenas are don’t rely on gear. It is all about player skill. The company did host a World Tournament this year and saw players from all the different regions. That is a big part of why Blade & Soul’s post launch plans are so aggressive. They want to get North America caught up with the rest of the world.
Once the team gets through launch this week they are planning a rapid series of events to build out the year. The first is Mushin’s Tower, a solo instance where players go up a tower and fight different bosses on each level. The instance will begin for players with tower levels one through eight and eventually go up from there. They also plan to launch another instance with the six person dynamic then add the four person hard mode as well. This will center around the Bloodshade Harbor faction. Last they are adding a branching twenty four person instance called the Naryu Labyrinth which creates consequences for any path the players choose.
Last but not least, later in the year Blade & Soul will be adding a new continent called the Silverfrost Mountains. It will be the first expansion for the game and bring the level cap from forty five to fifty. Along with this expansion, a lot of players who have been following the game from Asia are asking for the Warlock class. Well, NCSOFT listened and the Warlock should be in the game some time this year, possibly with the Silverfrost Mountains.
So this week take time to check out Blade & Soul. The team has lots of content ready for you along with PvP, an esport contender, and some great martial arts action. We’ll bring you all the details on the updates throughout the year.