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Early Access Review – Is the 3rd Time the Charm?

Steven Weber Posted:
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After two weeks and one first impressions article later, much has happened and even more has changed in the highly critiqued roller coaster launch of Neowiz’s western early access launch of Bless Online.  History dictates that Bless is not finished evolving into the game that will finally release in August of 2018, but in its current state, Bless online offers a modicum of subtle victories hidden behind ostentatious gameplay features that rarely hit the mark. With two prior rocky launches under Neowiz’s belt is Bless Online worth the cost for entrance now, or should buyers beware?

Create your Character

Bless Onlines’ early access launched two classes short of what they expect to be available on the official launch in August, barring the Mystic and the Assassin from being playable.  This left the potential options for character creation to seven races across two factions and five total classes which include the Mage, the Berserker, the Ranger, the Guardian and the Paladin.  Each race on the opposing side is significantly similar to each other, with the exception of the Pantera and the Lupus, whose similarities are still apparent despite being as different as cats and dogs. You can also choose from basic humans, elves, and a tiny race called the Mascu that can look either human or animal depending on your character creation choices. 

Classes are, unfortunately, race locked, with Humans and Mascu being the two that can currently select any of the classes. Delving into creating your actual character visually is one of the things Bless Online does right, there are a lot of options and it was easy and fun to make my character how I wanted. Costume options are available to aid in aesthetic variations, but any real notable ones that I have come across have been in the Cash Shop. the cash shop, which everyone originally worried would be Pay to Win has come out as mild in its offerings, with the only real must have items in the special shop being some crafting items that you can only purchase with dungeon points. 

With a major and minor crafting profession available for each character, and dungeon points being slow to obtain, you could spend hundreds of hours just leveling up your crafting abilities. Post character creation, and progressing through to end game, the limitations of the class system becomes utterly apparent very early on.

Throughout the entirety of my gameplay as a Mage, my stance choices were minimal, as you can only utilize two tactics at a time, and you have no alternative weapon choices aside from the one type that your class starts with. To compound on the lack of choices, players only get four “tactics” or stances to choose from, but all tactic loadouts are preselected and abilities are repetitive, which means you are exactly the same as every other character that chose the same tactics to slot, with only two minor stat changes per skill to differentiate yourself.  At level 45, your character “customization” is really only getting started, as fleshing out your Chain Skills, Non-Stance Skills, and Ability Points will take a very long grind to obtain the necessary gem fragments to make any real, powerful headway on character advancement. 

 Due to these somewhat archaic designs, gameplay becomes exasperating with mundane combos repeated ad nauseum with the only notable exceptions being the mobs you fight. To add the proverbial insult to injury, the combination system was a great theoretical design handled poorly. After playing several classes, it was clear that having some abilities as a precursor to others is a fun idea, but when you mix ranged and melee abilities with a system that shackles your combos to whether or not a hit is successful, it leaves many players with a disjointed feel to their class rather than a cohesive one.  Tack on a mostly arbitrary and confusing combo counter, which requires that you switch stances to chain combos properly, and it’s more of a slap in the face of what a combo system should be – a series of successive hits – rather than an indicator to if you’re using your combos and tactic switching the way they intended.

A World to Remember

In stark contrast to some of the character choices and gameplay, Neowiz did manage to make the world of Bless extremely large, visually pleasing and well-tailored for their conflict inspired game play.  As my characters progressed through the world they were met by fantastical monsters of all shapes, sizes and creeds.  Almost every one of the enemies I encountered could be tamable, with very few exceptions. Neowiz touts a total of 660 enemies that you can tame and progressing through the varied landscapes made me a believer.

While not all enemies are flagrantly different from one another, for example there are at least a dozen different wolves I ran into that I can remember, the landscape is rife with activity, however shallow that activity is in most cases.  Animals don’t roam particularly far from their areas and only at the later levels do you see any real semblance of a war raging between soldiers or demons.  Simplistically put, knocking Neowiz on the low hanging fruit of poor mob AI for ambience is more nitpicking than an honest concern. There are cases of enemies patrolling areas, and hostile aggro range increases as the mob level increases which makes high level hunting quite dangerous in some situations.

5.5 Average
  • Beautiful world, beautiful character models
  • Team-centric gameplay modes for PvE & PvP players
  • Tons of enemies to tame & collect
  • A grindy & uninspired end-game
  • Lots of balance & bug issues
  • Mundane class customization

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Steven Weber

Steven has been a writer at MMORPG.COM since 2017. A lover of many different genres, he finds he spends most of his game time in action RPGs, and talking about himself in 3rd person on his biography page.