Title: Blade and Soul
Developer: Team Bloodlust
Price: Free To Play
Release Date: Out Now
Tagline: Interesting Story/Combat Trapped Behind Lag and Long Free Queue waits
Family Friendly: Click here to read more
Verdict: Skip It
While the MMO title Blade and Soul has been out for several years in Asia, it has now found its way here to the US and Europe, looking to entertain fans that have long been awaiting the arrival of this title. And at face value, the game does not disappoint, as it has looks and style that eyeball something unique and different in the crowded MMO genre. However, procedural issues and a lack of modern convention dog, Blade and Soul leading is something that has promise into something that feels far more tedious than fun.
The idea behind Blade and Soul’s story falls into a stereotypical trope of revenge, as your training school is ambushed by a traitorous student and his crew of henchmen that are hell bent on destroying everything and taking the training secrets for themselves. You try to stand tall with your instructors and schoolmates against the invaders, but all is lost and you are sent on your way to survive to fight another day.
Sure, the plot is razor thin at best, but it does set in motion a battle system that is probably the freshest and innovative for hand to hand combat since The Matrix Online. Yes, Blade and Soul still lives and dies by the power bar, but it is the way attacks and counters are used make for fun combat options. Instead of just working your way down a cooldown list of powers, you have to use things like countering options and defensive measures successfully in order to earn action points for more valuable attack options. One can find a lot here when it comes to using your defense to open up avenues of attack, although it does end up over time becoming more patterned than one would hope from the earlier battles.
While the experience with the combat systems does start as fresh, the rest of Blade and Soul leans heavily on the tried and true mechanics that power most dated MMO titles. Most quests that advances the story come down to fetching x number of y items, or battling x number of y monsters, which then allows you to complete that quest, opening up, you guessed it another one of the same formulaic quests. Blade and Soul never looks to push the boundaries of newer MMO mechanics when it comes to story, leaning more on what made it popular years ago over reaching a new audience.
None of these quests end up being instanced either, which means that you enter an arena where everyone is trying to kill or find the same number of items, leaving one scrambling to find the proper items or enemies that are not being engaged to move the story forward. Instead of fun, one will soon rack up a headache from trying to get the appropriate goals to move a mission forward.
Blade and Soul does put forth a solid effort in giving players a number of classes and races to choose from, allowing for a lot of creativity and unique creations. However, one can quickly surmise the design goal that NCSoft was going for with Blade and Soul, as design is heavily pushed towards the female persuasion and said females are design out of the anime cookbook – thin waist, large chests and ample bottoms. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of male characters to design and build, but there is definitely an emphasis on making the ladies the star of the show and well-endowed along the way.
As a free to play title, Blade and Soul does make sure that you are never impacted in playing the game by having to pay for items per se. All items in the store that you can buy with real money are cosmetic in nature. That said, there is a premium membership that one can subscribe to in order to skip login queues and get right to the action. Yes, this is optional, but if you do not opt for the membership, you will find yourself waiting, sometimes up to an hour to get into the action and that will kill the desire of most to get into the game. I had a premium membership to use for the sake of review, and it did get me in front of the free queues and got me into the action normally within minutes. But when I tried to use a free account for test purposes, I had wait times that ranged anywhere between 22 minutes and a full hour. Again, no one is forcing one to subscribe, but the penalty for not being a member means not playing for up to an hour, which does not sell well when you just want to get in and have some fun.
The game is also plagued, from time to time, with terrible lag. Now I do not have a screaming fast Internet connection at my house, but it has more than sufficed for any MMO title I have played up to this point, and yet Blade and Soul routinely would leave me choosing attacks and defensive items only to not have them work for ten to fifteen seconds, because of how woefully overloaded the servers were in catching up to my actions. In a game that is predicated on martial arts and hand to hand combat, lag is not only unfortunate, but detrimental to the flow of the combat system.
All of this ends up making Blade and Soul a conundrum of a game. It presents itself with gorgeous graphics, beautiful character models and a combat system that is unique from most other MMO titles on the market today. But with so much lag, delay queues, a touch of sexism, it leaves so much on the table when there are many other options out there in the free to play MMO space that don’t penalize those playing for free, not to mention stability. Maybe over time, Blade and Soul will continue to innovate and add servers to meet demand and expectation, but until then, it will have a hard time finding an audience that is willing to wait to enjoy the fun that can be found within.
- Beautifully created characters and world in general
- Combat system and mechanics are rather unique in today’s MMO world
- Lots of classes and skill items to unlock
And Not So Great:
- Non-premium members can find themselves waiting in a queue far longer than they will actually being playing the game
- Quest mechanics are of the standard MMO fetch variety
- Female character models are sexed up quite a bit
Blade and Soul does feature a lot of fighting, both with weapons and hand to hand, but there is little in the way of bloodshed. However, the game is an MMO, and can be filled with other people that can make the game fun or terrible depending on their demeanor. The game also hypersexualizes the female models used in the game, focusing in on their breast physics over realistic form. With that in mind, probably keep Blade and Soul for the older teens and up.
This review was prepared using a code provided by NCSoft to allow for Premium Access.