Technically I know advanced assassination techniques, but it's all a sort of Kung Fu as far as NCsoft's latest Korean import is concerned. Check out my impressions after one week of that sort of fighting — you know, the one everyone is doing. As with any massively multiplayer online role-playing game, we like to put between two and four weeks in before rendering any sort of official verdict. For Blade & Soul I'm toying about with video logs, reports given while inside the game. Don't fret, my video-hating friends — I'll still break down my thoughts below in text.
If you've been following along with our Blade & Soul coverage thus far, you'll know I think the free-to-play martial arts MMO looks pretty damn good for a game that's been out in Asian countries for several years.
You'll also know I get a kick out of the game's cinematic presentation, as well as its impressive movement system, though the awesome Dragon Pulse riding I showcased shortly after launch hasn't reared its head much since I passed that area.
In case you'd like to poke me in game, I'm generally playing Back, my currently level 28 assassin, on the Master Hong server.
So how do I feel about the game after a week of post-launch play? I made a list.
- I'm really glad I have VIP (paid) access. The game makes sure I appreciate this by showing how many people are waiting in the non-VIP queue during busy hours as I breeze on by. It kind of makes me feel like a dick.
- The item system is needlessly convoluted, filling my inventory with locked that require keys to open, and not a lot of stuff so far has been better than the four upgradeable pieces of equipment my character already has.
- Crafting confuses me. It seems to require several steps, including some random waiting. I'll try and get into it for next week.
- The combat system is gorgeous, with its stunning animations and endless combos. So many combos that I'm pretty sure I've forgotten more than I know, but that just means when I pull off that cool thing my assassin does when he kicks his enemy into the air I appreciate it that much more.
- Servers are crowded, and most people are dicks. Having been an MMO player for more than 15 years, I'm used to a certain degree of courtesy between players. If you see someone else going from a creature, you let them have it. Not in Blade & Soul. The rule here seems to be do whatever you can to get the first hit. During peak times there aren't enough critters to go around in crowded areas, and it's frustrating as hell.
- No one wants to be chatty in group dungeons. Barely anyone even says "hello" or "goodbye" in groups. They just form up, complete their dungeon objectives with no coordination whatsoever, and then leave. Hopefully people work together a bit more in later levels.
- The game isn't very grindy, at least in the traditional sense of the word. "Grinding" to me means having to wander about killing random things to raise your level without any objective beyond that. Original EverQuest — that was grindy. In Blade & Soul's case, all experience points necessary can be gained through questing. It's all very linear — grab a group of quests, finish them, move to next area, repeat — and doesn't make me want to create an alt just to go through the same crap with different skills, but it's entertaining enough.
- On warlock items being in the game when warlocks haven't reached the West yet: Seriously, NCsoft? You couldn't have just disabled those drops until the class that can use them actually exists?
- This is a very free-to-play game, from the daily spins of the Wheel of Fate or whatever to having to purchase expanded inventory slots to the endless parade of things to be unlocked. Folks who cannot bear such things would be wise to avoid Blade & Soul.
And so my travels through the world of Blade & Soul continue. Over the next week I plan of getting deeper into crafting (I never do) and attempting what I hear is one of the game's core draws — PVP combat. I'm going to suck so hard, just you wait.