TheSebie was invited to the technical alpha weekends for the North American launch of Blade and Soul for the last two weeks. Blade and Soul will be launching their closed beta access starting Oct 30th. Those who have purchased Founder’s Packs will be able to access CBT or if you have signed up for the newsletter there is also a chance of getting access. After CBT is over, the game will be free-to-play in 2016.
Here are Sebie’s and DecoyEC’s impression of the game:
The hype has been insane the past several months for this game and so far Blade and Soul seems to be heading for a strong launch. The game has awesome graphics and I really hope it will stay around for a few years.
I was able to test out Kung Fu Master, a melee counter-attack focused class and Force Master, an ice and fire wielding magician. Both classes had their merits but I preferred Kung Fu Master. Here is my opinion of the game so far:
- Character customization is beautiful- ABSOLUTELY beautiful. The fan service is real though. Seriously, as a joke I tried to make the boobs on my character as small as possible, nope still big. Maybe I’ll go with a male character for the actual launch. Hue.
- Combat system is quick and rewarding, it feels super satisfying when chaining combos. Similar to Dragon Nest, the combat speed is very fast paced. For certain classes like Kung Fu Master you have to time your skills to do a counter attack. Force Master is a ranged class and all you really do is switch between Fire and Ice attacks. FM is a significantly easier class to play. In addition, the joint attack system is fantastic for fostering cooperation and teamwork.
- The dash/run and glide feature on the game is introduced in the tutorial section and honestly eliminates the need for mounts. Making this feature available in the very beginning adds to the speed of the game play. I loved that as a Kung Fu Master I was able to glide over an enemy, target and drop down on the enemy’s face like an anchor.
- There are no set roles. There is no designated healer, tank, or dps. Everyone attacks mobs together and use their respective skills to stun a mob or heal themselves.
- Equipment is divided into two kinds: Outfit (Fashion) or Shields (Gear).
- The fashion outfits are amazing- best designs I have ever seen in an MMO game.
- The Shield gear system is an interesting take on gearing. You essentially collect, what I call, pizza slices and a full set of eight, gives you a set bonus. Literally, imagine a pizza, cut it into equal pieces of 8 and that’s how gearing works in Blade and Soul. Shields drop from dungeons, chests and roulettes.
The Dungeons were fun except in the beginning when I had no idea I was in a dungeon until I killed the boss. Perhaps the reason why I was confused was because of the lack of the word “DUNGEON” plastered everywhere unlike other MMOs. I literally walked into a portal that took all of 1.5 seconds to load and I was in…a dungeon.
- The party finder system was the most unclear, confusing system of partying I have ever encountered. Either that or I totally skipped through the quest/story line that explains to me exactly how I make use of it. I had no idea that the button to “Find a party for [selected dungeon] meant becoming party leader and waiting for people to join it but alright, I’ll make do. Then the game throws me a curve ball and says someone is applying to join your party and you have to find an obscure button to confirm/reject their application. As if that wasn’t confusing enough, for a reason unbeknownst to me, there are times that people can join your party without needing your approval… I still don’t get it.
- Storyline was pretty shoddy. There were moments where I was like awwww and then something would ruin it for me one way or another, whether it was the expressions or the lack of flow, there was always something left to be desired.
- The dubs were alright. I wish they gave the option for original voice acting (AKA Korean version) instead of listening to the English dub like they do in FFXIV. Having listened to the Korean VA before, I prefer it over the English one.
- The Crafting System in the game is similar to FFXIV in that they take the form of guilds that you can choose to join. The difference is you don’t craft it yourself but collect items and turn it into the guild where they will take a set amount of time to craft the desired item. In addition, you can’t just join ONE crafting guild because each guild is linked with another e.g. I needed to make buns to heal my HP so I joined the Cooking guild to make buns. HOWEVER, the ingredients for crafting the buns was a whole chicken which I can only get through the Trapping Guild. I don’t know…I am not really a fan of this system but maybe it will grow on me. Also I had to wait 30 mins for the whole chicken and another 30 minutes for the buns…what is this, Farmville?
- PVP is a huge point of marketing for this game and I do have high hopes for it so this is not exactly a con. That being said, the only experience I had with PVP during the alpha test was when I put on my Faction costume to try it on and immediately got KO’d by a passing Crimson Legion person clearly waiting for nubs like me to walk around with the faction outfit on. Lesson learned.
Overall, I found the game to be entertaining and I really enjoyed the combat system. I look forward to doing high level raids with more people and to make use of the joint attack system. Look forward to theSebie’s full review and possible guides for classes following the official launch of the game!
I’ve known about Blade and Soul since it’s launch in Korea and have been waiting with high hopes ever since I found out it was getting ported to North America. Never would I have imagined to partake in even the closed beta test, let alone the technical alpha. Unfortunately I was working for most of the technical alpha so my play time was quite limited, but here are some thoughts I have from what I experienced (I apologize for the lack of screenshots I took. Was too busy admiring my characters OTL Here is a wall of text instead):
- Character Creation: I easily spent the majority of my time on this stage, creating 5 different characters in about a span of 4 hours or so. There are four races to choose from (Jin, Gon, Lyn, and Yun) and some have classes locked to that race: Assassin (Jin), Summoner (Lyn), and Blade Dancer (Lyn). That being said, actually creating your character is a monumental task if you are like me and are picky with features. The options with the eyes are just fantastic, and I see a lot of Uchihas in the future. Most of the characters were just for fun so I know what I’m going to make once the game is released. I also took the time to make Major Armstrong from Full Metal Alchemist as a Kung Fu Master and it sparkled- he even shed manly tears.
- Combat: Combat is unique for each class. I ended up trying out Blade Dancer, Blade Master, and Kung Fu Master. The combat system
was fluid. Blade Master fell short for me in the introductory stages while Kung Fu Master and Blade Dancer are easily my top picks, in that order. You use left and right clicks for attack combinations and number keys and TAB for special attacks. This is an action MMO so the live combat feel is very well implemented. If you’ve played Dragon Nest or Vindictus, it’s like that but open world instead of limited to dungeons. There are also combo attacks and a prompt will pop up for it and boy is it satisfying to land them.
- Movement: The movement in this game is what really drew me to it in the first place. Very early on you get the ability to sprint and glide. You have a stamina bar that gets consumed while sprinting. Gliding allows you to travel great distances while recovering stamina. It is annoying that you have to wait a few seconds after a fight to sprint again. If there is a way to manually exit combat stance, I did not find it.
- Graphics: One of my biggest concerns when I first saw the trailers for this game was if my computer could handle the graphics. Thankfully, I have built my own PC and it sure as hell can- I use Radeon R9 280 (which is equivalent to GTX 780 for comparison). The environments look amazing and the water effects are phenomenal. I actually just stood in front of a waterfall and stream in town for a good 5 minutes. There are also settings to help run on lower spec systems but I didn’t bother checking it. The attack animations are also great and actually feels like you’re charging at the enemy and slashing through them and beating them to a pulp.
- Daily Rewards: You get this giant board-game as a daily reward. 3 spins per day, given at timed intervals throughout the day every 40 min. and the spins are shared across all your characters. The reward can be claimed by any character or directly to the character that spun, depending on the prize. Free stuff is always good.
- Story: Very generic story about betrayal and seeking revenge and honor. I tried to pay attention to the story but after playing the the
tutorial stage five times, I just really stopped caring. Voice acting is also what you would normally expect from English dubs – very few good ones with the majority completely missing their mark on every line delivered. Rather cringe-worthy in some parts.
- Character Background: Each race has its own background info. During the technical alpha, we got a survey regarding questions about character creation, one of which mentioned the backgrounds of the characters. I am curious if the background actually plays a role later on. If so, it would be really important to maybe have some notes about it…but as far as I could tell it doesn’t have much impact.
- Inventory: Initially, you start off with rather limited inventory space, but you can unlock more through in game currency. After that, you’ll have to pay to expand through cash shop. Each line you unlock will cost more than the previous. This is always a con and can make or break a game for me since I like to hoard stuff. I didn’t even get a chance to hoard anything and I was out of space very early, due to all the shield shards that don’t have their own tab. Seriously though, basically making it mandatory to buy extra inventory space with cash is not cool. Making it an option is fine for hoarders like me, but not practically mandatory.
- HUD Customization: You have the option to move stuff around, which is great. What’s not great is that if you move one window too close to another, a little arrow will appear and links them together. In order to separate them, you have to remove each window individually. What really makes it unbearable is that once it goes within a certain range of another window, it will automatically snap-link to it… (ノಠ益ಠ)ノ彡┻━┻ I eventually just gave up and accepted my layout since it will never be what I want it to be.
- Open PVP: I know that fighting players from opposing factions gets you prestige that can be exchanged for rewards, but damn at least limit the area or give some warning. I joined the Cerulean faction and discovered the glory that is emotes so I began to play with them (ﾉ◕ヮ◕)ﾉ*:･ﾟ✧ when suddenly, I noticed my hp drop very quickly, two people in red were attacking, and before I knew it I was dead. Greeeaaaaat. Now, I’m all for PVP, but only if I’m actually in the mood. When I got on a different character and arrived at the same town, I skipped joining a faction and went another area. There were two rather large groups of people in the Crimson Legion waiting. I dare not think what happened to any Cerulean Order members that passed by without knowing. Sad that I can’t wear my sweet outfit without fear of getting ganged up.
- The Map: I’m not sure what it is but something about the map bugs me. Maybe it’s because I’ve played FF XIV too long and gotten used to the compass + map combo but this one just seems cluttered. The mini-map is a bit too large to show what I want it to and uninformative when it is the size I want it at. The world map is pretty much useless because it’s either zoomed all the way in or zoomed all the way out. Map is bad. Conveyance is bad. Need more guiding butterflies.
- System Messages: So during some quests, you will be given directions or warnings. These are not subtle and will stay in the middle of your screen until you complete the objective. This blocks a lot of your view because of all the stuff that’s in the way while you’re trying not to die. Some of the messages are just not clear. System messages are positioned poorly and distracting. I wonder if I can change its position in the HUD…
- Loading Screen: The loading screen seems weird to me. On multiple occasions it will load up a cutscene, play it, then return to the loading screen briefly just to load you back into the actual world. It’s a bit jarring and it takes away from the immersion. Overall it just seems it could have been implemented better. Even on my SSD it takes several seconds just to load into the cutscene. I can’t imagine sitting through that with an HDD.
That being said, I’m definitely going to play this game. The combat is fluid and rewarding both visually and on an immersive level which helps cancel out the forgettable storyline. The voice acting is also sub-par at best. I felt like a lot of names were mispronounced but the biggest thing is just that the way some characters talk doesn’t really portray the situation. For instance, once you wake up in the village and speak with Ms. Strawberry Shortcake (Sebie’s description), you go outside to find the village under attack (ooh big surprise, it’s hero time). The second guy you talk to is waaay too nonchalant about what’s going on around him and even sounds pretty happy to harp some orders at you. Music was alright, nothing special here.
Overall, biggest points goes to combat, graphics, and character customization which are the most important to me. I love creating characters with as many options and sliders as possible and it definitely delivers. Combat is smooth but I really hate the wait time between fights to sprint again. Can’t wait to try PVP without getting ganked in town ಠ_ಠ If this is how factions work, it’s a pretty big deterrent in the early stages. I have been anticipating this game for about 3 years now and I’ll be damned if I’m not playing it now that it’s almost released.
**Side note: During character creation, if you make your character huge (Gon) and zoom in all the way while working on the face/head, you can see inside them. They have tongues. The rest is hollow though.