The storyline of Bless will be strictly dependent on which faction you choose and presumably your race. As most of my characters were elves aside from some brief Mascu-bation I tried early on the founders release, I can say unequivocally that after completing the entirety of the story missions, the banality of the storyline caused me to lose interest quite early on. There were some underlying plot points that stuck with me, but in many ways, the player character is depicted as a savior, when in reality, the cut scenes very rarely depict the player character as doing anything heroic. In some cases, my character would just stand there idly by in a default pose, like a mannequin from a mediocre Renaissance Fair.
Aside from the main quest line which continues after 45 and therefore cannot be completed, the side quests, as well as some of the guide quests, which were created to help teach you how to complete important tasks such as upgrading weapons and mounts, had plentiful localization problems, often times misleading players into how to achieve their desired goal. This also, in some cases, transferred through to class upgrades as well. For example, the Mana Shield for my mage had an upgrade ability that said, by selecting it you would increase the mana cost by 20 percent while also increasing the cool down of the power. Only insanity would dictate that choosing that ability would be a good idea, but in practice it decreased mana consumption by 20 percent.
Neowiz decided early on that the main focus of end game in Bless would be PvP, and through their world design the developer pit players against one another by adjoining quest objectives for the factions into areas where fighting is encouraged. This can lead to tense situations, all out battles and in a few rare cases, mob campers. On my way to the max level of 45 there were times where multiple players would try to stop me from killing the mobs I needed, and at times, even camp elite mobs across multiple channels to ensure I wouldn’t be able to complete the quest.
This also outlines another underlying problem with Bless. Mob tagging is still very much alive and well in Bless Online, requiring you to tag an enemy before anyone else, and that includes players of your own faction, if you want to get credit for it. This leads to several frustrating experiences such as the one explained in the prior paragraph, but is exacerbated once you have your own faction to contend with as well.
PvP over the past couple weeks has already changed drastically. Balancing has turned Paladins from a once easily killable class to nigh godly. Berserkers and guardians have had some nerfs along the way, and Mages, that could one shot enemies using fire tactics and rapid fire in ice tactics has now been relegated to mostly back line fighting, either expending way too much mana to stay alive or casting longer channeled abilities in hopes they hit their mark for any consistent, meaningful damage. Neowiz has done an exceptional job at being reactive and forthcoming with changes that are being made.
From the moment the servers began to crash to the moment the community found game-breaking bugs that needed attention, the turn-around time from when problems began to hit the core of their player base to when a fix was implemented should be applauded. Unfortunately, this also makes it harder on players to determine what they should expect from the game moment to moment. Class balance has been bastardized in its current form, and with each additional patch, one worries whether their class will be obsolete, as in just over a week characters ranged wildly in their effectiveness in all game modes. Dungeons that were originally soloable have become group events. Grouping up for party buffs is a necessary evil for some classes, just to get every last ounce efficiency out of a system that wasn’t necessary just a week ago.
Blessings, Blessings to All
Neowiz is doing a fantastic job at being present in their community and acknowledging that changes need to be made for the game to grow and succeed. The primary error Neowiz has made thus far is in their execution. Crafting and enhancing gear takes a lot of materials and time and has its own grind attached to it which may not make it accessible for casual players especially when runes can be lost very easily. Early bugs lead to market and currency manipulation which has taken its toll on the market place, and the greater population has yet to see the consequences of that. Then there are the curious performance issues that some players experience on high end PCs that low to medium range PCs do not. Lastly, Client-side exploits have been used and reported, and the greater community is waiting to hear if and how Neowiz will respond.
Bless has a lot of early access problems. Despite being released in other regions, the changes that Neowiz has made has been numerous, but some issues, such as game breaking bugs regarding duplicating items and client-side hacking should have been handled in its previous iterations. I’m not going to sensationalize what is going on with Bless and say that the game has nothing going for it and isn’t worth one’s time and money. On the contrary, there is a lot of fun to be had leveling through the content, exploring a new world, and discovering all of the animals and enemies the world of Bless is home to. The combat is monotonous, the classes are fairly cookie cutter and the current imbalance weighs heavily on end game. That being said, Neowiz’s response is encouraging to say the least, and there is more than enough content right now to keep one busy for several solid weeks if not more.
Despite the rocky releases of their Korean and Japanese versions, Bless is still in Early Access in the west, and that is frightfully apparent at just about every turn presently. Bless Online isn’t Mr. MMO-Right for someone looking for a brand new, polished experience, but it may just be Mr. MMO Right-Now for the gamer looking for a diversion until the next game comes out.