It’s been a while since I talked to you about the NeoWiz and Round8 Studio controversial free-to-play MMO Bless Unleashed on PC. Your feelings towards the game initially were quite surprising as some of you half-heartedly supported this variant of the game. When I wrote that review in-progress I had some goals I wanted to attain for this final review. Unfortunately, I fell short and couldn’t completely fulfill them, but I did garner enough playtime to foster a stance about the game. Read on to see my final, and parting thoughts.
For the final review I decided to just break it down into the things I liked and the things that fell flat for me. Overall, the game has fun moments for me, typically when fighting the world bosses or any main quest bosses. When I was able to play the game a little each day I was motivated and looked forward to logging in to keep progress moving forward. I can’t describe why but for some reason if I had walked away from the game for a day(s), I didn’t feel as compelled or excited to jump back in. This sensation has only gotten worse over the last week as I’m behind the leveling curve and I’m seeing fewer and fewer people in-game. Even the small, level 2 guild I joined, that is focused on crafting has seen no one except me login for the last eleven days. Whether this is a bad omen or not we’ll have to wait and see as the game has now been out almost a full seven weeks.
Hard to argue that graphically speaking the game has a plus!
Arguably the most enjoyment to be had in the game comes from the action combat combined with open world boss battles. World bosses are huge and challenging and require, for the most part, several players to succeed. The action combat’s targeting system is flawed and can be a bit annoying. You’re supposed to be able to lock onto a target but sometimes it seemed like that lock would be lost. During quest completion there were oftentimes I would end up firing into a pack of mobs but hardly anything my ice-based mage couldn’t handle.
Within Bless Unleashed there is plenty to keep you busy, though nothing that is earth-shattering in concept. Nevertheless, some of these things were fun to work on.
Of particular interest was the campaign achievement system as I like to call it. This is not to be confused with the main story campaign itself, which initially I did. These campaigns are like a running list of achievements that can be attained while you level. Hitting a group of achievements earns you additional rewards, such as a bag expansion ticket. Completing a whole campaign typically earns you something cool like a new mount or a cosmetic costume.
A typical list of campaign milestones
The only downside to this feature is that the first campaign is free and opening the other additional campaigns, a total of four or five, will cost you star seeds which is a form of in-game currency. And this is a system that also runs in parallel to Unleashed’s season pass.
I also enjoyed the faction system. It’s not what I had originally envisioned though but was pleasantly surprised, nevertheless. It’s nothing to do with say PvP but it’s more about focusing on a path or destiny for your character. Eventually you can join one of three Unions. One union is focused on crafting goals and buffs, another on PvE and the third on PvP. Each Union offers quests that of course help you build reputation and then you earn rewards focused on that Union’s merits, e.g., crafting based rewards. As you level via reputation you’ll also be able to select Union Traits that are a set of buffs that contribute to your focus. Typically, union quests can be attained from a Union Request bulletin board. Sure, this is nothing new conceptually but it was still a welcome choice to have to explore.
A look at Union traits
Another side activity I enjoyed was looking for “chests”. Collecting so many chests earn you an inventory bag expansion slot. These chests are everywhere to encourage exploration. On the flipside these chests do show up on your mini map, so go figure. Nevertheless, many of these chests were still a small challenge to find as the mini-map markers were more of a “there is a chest in this area” indicator.
Lower levels feel repetitive as crafting and housing don’t really come into play until after beating the main story campaign. While there is plenty to gather in the open world and you can indeed craft while leveling up, I really didn’t find anything of significant use in any of the professions while leveling to level 28. In fact, several of the items in the professions requires grinding of world bosses to get relevant materials.
Another complaint is that a lot of the quest NPCs, especially the males, use the same facial model. They can add a beard, mustache, and hair however they want but they still look like twin brothers throughout the zones. I had the same complaint when I played this on the Xbox, and I believe the developers told me it was save on having to download so many assets.
Also, another pet peeve is the Blessing system’s leveling mechanic. You can have one of several blessings be active at a time, which itself I found interesting. But to level up a certain discipline requires attaining the necessary Blessing Breath Cards which is based on a random draw mechanic. I went with the Mark of The Wolf Blessing which requires Breath of The Wolf cards for your class. Seems like on most draws (I had several free ones) I’d get the Wolf cards for other classes. In the end it feels a bit “gacha”.
The Blessing system
Sometimes within the game it feels like you’ll hit a roadblock. One instance is being forced to revisit low level world bosses during the main story quest line. These world bosses can’t be soloed. Being a slower leveler, or even a new player coming into the game, this can impede progress unless you’re on a busy server, at the right time, with players leveling alts. In one case I was level 23 and had to defeat a level 13-ish world boss. It took a few days before I fell into a an open world group as matchmaking is not available here a ’la World of Warcraft.
One of the things I had targeted to do was play around with Housing. To do that you need to play through the original story campaign and beat your arch nemesis, the mage Gideon. This is a private instance battle which means it’s a solo campaign. It’s challenging and can be tough depending on your level, your gear score, and your skill level. Points like this within the game will leave you frustrated. Additionally, advice on the Internet for instances like this are varied and unreliable.
Unfortunately, housing in Bless Unleashed PC seems to be just the act of owning an estate and hiring workers to gather crafting resources. Owning an estate also leads into the act of taming and capturing creatures.
As far as “pay-to-win” (P2W) accusations there was indeed early on an Attack Speed buff, Critical Damage buff, HP buff, etc., as seen above, that you could buy in the game’s real money transaction shop. But currently these no longer seem to be available to purchase so someone was listening!
Bless Unleashed PC served as a nice diversion for a while. Even having a few alts created I worry about the server population, if my hollow guild is any indication. I’ll most likely visit from time to time to take part in some world boss events, but I can’t see myself sticking with it long term when other MMOs have nice expansions coming out.