Published on February 10th, 2016 | by Gary Mullen0
Review: Blade & Soul
The year was 2012, Blade & Soul launched in South Korea with an announcement that it will be coming to the Western countries. Fast forward to 2016, it has finally hit Europe and North America. Yes, we are slightly late to the party on this game, but over those years Blade & Soul changed and instead of getting an early version of a MMORPG’s we are getting a tried and tested version from the South Korean market which packs a solid punch.
Blade & Soul is a free to download and free to play game, similar to the setup used by Wildstar, where you can upgrade your in game time to a premium subscription model which gives boost such as reduced waiting times for getting into the server (if there a queue premium members get to jump to the front), the game is a MMORPG based around characters who are masters/training to masters of martial arts. From the first point when you create your avatar you see how it offers a very highly detailed character creation system, I did find myself lost in this section for over an hour, never quite happy with exactly how my player looked, it was not down to not enough choices but the sheer amount of things I could change, which made me want to get the avatar absolutely perfect.
unlike many MMORPG’s you can’t just jump right into a PVP world, instead you have to start in the PVE world and later on you can move to PVP, by doing this the game offers quite an intense training mode during the mandatory PVE section, to a level that I have not seen on any other MMORPG’s. It takes it time to ensure you know how to use all the features and how to best battle with your chosen avatar while you are going through the training missions the story starts to unfold and your true purpose becomes apparent.
This is actually a pretty solid story throughout the game whereas normally in MMORPG the story mode is prehaps a second thought, and normally you find after some time “side quests” just become the normal quest’s and the story mode fades out, however this game grab you from the start, as you start the game as a level 1 you simply can’t stop what unfolds at the start of the game and your journey is about seeking revenge more than anything which gives you a sense of purpose for your player for the whole game.
In order to seek this revenge you need to learn to fight with the combat system, it is very similar to most MMORPG’s on the market, using the number keys to pick your suitable type of attack, it works as well as it does in all other MMORPG’s that I have played, it no better than the rest but no worse, the similar kind of experance in this game for professions and gathering modes found in most of the industry standard MMORPG’s , nothing stood out for me in the list of options as something different to what I expected however one part of the GUI that did seem odd to me was the mouse cursor, by default you move the mouse around it move around the camera, to get the mouse cursor up you need to hold down the ALT key, this did take some getting use to as am use to having my cursor to point at what players I wanted to attack, however after a while I got use to just using the camera to aim my attacks instead of my cursor pointer and it did mean spinning around when an enemy jumps around me was far easier than it is in similar games.
The interface used for leveling up your players abilities is quite nice, it break down each of the leveling up abilities into sub groups, included a separate skill tree for each type of attack, this offers a cleaner type of leveling up then seen in most other games on the market, however it does mean a lot more clicking to as you need to go into each group one by one to level up anything but you can change the view to a big tree mode. On the note of leveling up I also did like when you logged of the game it showed you what you have gained during that session, the amount of experience points, money and items, it felt like a well done pat on the back to you menu before you logged off the game.
Graphically the game is very good for a MMORPG, the high detail in each NPC which have been built in a similar system used to create your own character results in any very clean connection where the NPC generally don’t look out of place next to your player, as you can see in the screenshots things like shadowing etc are spot on also but sometimes the ground is a little depth however when you think about the size of the world these things are to be expected.
If I was going to start picking holes we could argue as per the normal with MMORPG the public chat is full of people trying to sell you stuff for real money, there no live or automated moderation carried out in the chat from what I can see, I know it hard to moderate especially when there so many servers and so many local area chats going on however it something that really should be getting snipped out in this day in age (more of a moan at the industry then this game as it affect all the games of this genre).
Overall you got to hand it to NCSOFT, this game offers a very compelling free mode (where you don’t even need to pay for the game itself) and premium mode that comes stacked with extra, so no matter if you are a player who likes to drop in and out of MMORPGS or plan to play it 24/7 the game has a mode to meet your needs. Personally I feel this will be a drop in and out game for me without the premium mode, despite the story I found the experience slightly cold, could never find out what was wrong with it to make me feel this way and prehaps simply the problem is that it not World of Warcraft and that what we instantly think of when talking about MMORPG’s, as a result it what we use as a benchmark when comparing games.
Summary: A free to play MMORPG that offers a lot of features for nothing with ability to go premium for extra features if you are enjoying it.