GGR First Impressions: Blade and Soul

        Blade and Soul is a Korean MMORPG that was released to Western Markets on Jan 19 of this year. After a little over a week of playtime, here are our first impressions of the game.

        The first thing I have to say about this game is that it definitely has style. From the outfits, to the combat, to the character movement everything looks like it has been cut straight out of a kung fu movie. Check out the video above. This is the first time that I have actually enjoyed just moving from place to place in a game, because of moments like what you see in the video. Granted it’s only been a week, however so far the movement effects still have not gotten old. The far-east influence absolutely permeates the game, to the point where you feel like you have just stepped into a Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon-esque action movie, and the best part is the game never feels like it’s forcing it. I’m not gonna lie, when I saw the original trailers for the Western release, I was pretty skeptical that the kung-fu slant would go over that well. I have never been a fan of fighting games and although this was an MMO it basically struck me as an action version of Tekken. Truth be told that’s actually a pretty good summation of what the game is like, Tekken meets World of Warcraft. It’s a unique comination, and in this case it really works. Going into battle against NPC’s or other players never feels like a “here we go click these buttons in this order and bang, you win”. Every encounter requires enough dynamic movement and on the fly changing of tactics that I actually feel like I am engaging and reacting in order to best my opponent. As an MMO veteran (WoW, FFXI, Guild Wars, SWTOR, FFXIV, Guild Wars 2, and Wildstar) I can say that the combat is always the first thing to go for me. I can love the story, the world, the characters, the items, but after killing the 10,000 random mob in the exact same way I killed the 9,999 other mobs before  it, it almost always loses it’s luster. Typically that isn’t enough to sour me off the game, as I am STILL playing some of the ones I just listed, but the combat ends up being the worst part of the game, which is where the term grind came from. It literally becomes a grind that you have to keep going at again and again in order to get to the next level or get the next loot drop or whatever. Granted, I am only a week into Blade and Soul currently so things may change, but as it stands right now, I am still very much looking forward every time I wade into combat.

Glorious, glorious combat

        Now, so far we have covered the high points of the game, but I do have to say that it is by no means perfect. So far, other than the movement system and the kung fu influences, it doesn’t really bring much new to the table. Although the combat system is different from most other MMO’s out on the market so far, it is glaringly similar to the combat found in another free to play MMO: TERA Rising. As in, so similar that if I was a developer for TERA I would be pissed. Also similarly to TERA comes a screen that is just crowded as shit when you play it. Seriously, my wife even commented to me last night that she almost can’t see the game for all of the other stuff on the screen all the time.

Obviously there are some menus open here but still, there’s ALOT going on in that screenshot

I just can’t for the life of me figure out why developers feel a need to put all that crap on the screen all the time as a default. It’s especially strange because the game is made by NCsoft who have other games such as Wildstar that have a much more streamlined and open HUD. Don’t really know what went on there. My last gripe, and this is a smaller one, is that so far the story doesn’t really seem to be different for any of the various races or classes that are chosen. It’s a shame too because the main storyline so far is a damn good one, very well thought out and that I’m actually invested in. Unfortunately I have already seen the exact same story 3 times with all 3 of the characters I have played because none of them have individual branching storylines. It’s most likely a result of the game being free to play, but still, in this day in age when there are other games with such great class stories it is definitely a drawback. Still, none of these issues are things that should keep anyone from enjoying the game overall.

        All this being said, Blade and Soul is an engaging and fun MMO, and coupled with the fact that it is free to play there is no reason that you shouldn’t give it a whirl. The good graphics, the fresh gameplay, and the engaging story are giving it a strong forward push into the western marketplace. Our verdict: Worth checking out!

-CDL

Let us know your experience playing Blade and Soul in the comments

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