The first of five Closed Beta Tests for Blade & Soul came and went this past weekend. Other than applying and winning a key to participate in the closed beta ( by going to the site and scrolling all the way to the bottom of the page to click the application link) one can have full access to all of the closed betas if they purchase a founders pack. Other than the access, a three day head start in playing the game from the general public, as well as titles and some more perks are offered in exchange for your initial support.
Blade & Soul 1st CBT impressions
I must admit, I heard that the CBT was coming and I looked at the website but wasn’t interested. I was an avid Aion player from day 1 and had some issues with how NCSoft handled their customer support. After playing Aion for a couple years and enjoying the heck out of it with RL friends I moved on to other games. A post on Facebook by one of my MMO friends inquiring into it made me give it a second look, however, and after playing it for 2 days I’m certainly glad I did. Overall, it is a pretty fun game to play and is new and interesting. The storyline is intriguing and I can see myself wasting a year or so of my time on this.
First off I dont know a lot about the game as it will be released in NA but I will try to answer what I do know from playing the game and exploring the forums. It will be a free to play game with a cash shop and premium memberships. The cash shop will contain items that anyone can get in the game during normal play. The people who purchase founders packs will get certain perks that will not be available to free to play users but will not give an unfair advantage in gameplay just some titles and some added character slots as well as an appearance change ticket, nothing revolutionary or ground breaking. An example is the wheel spin shown in this video. Any number of MMO’s nowadays have premium memberships and it helps fund expansions and game development so I’m all for it as long as it doesn’t turn into P2Win where you can purchase things that you cannot get in game.
PVE & PVP
One major turnoffs for people is when higher level people camp the lower levels. Some games separated their servers into PVE / PVP and allowed their players to decide which they wanted to join. Blade & Soul takes a different approach and allows open world PVP, but you can only be attacked by someone wearing an enemy faction outfit to the faction of the outfit you are wearing. It is something I never took part in before and I enjoyed it immensely. This will allow you to enjoy PVE and then allow you to play some PVP if you wish at any time of your choosing. It also allows you to be able to go anywhere, just put on the right outfit. The outfits themselves do not have stats as in other games and are kept in a wardrobe when not in use which helps with inventory / bag space.
There are a large number of costumes that can be had as drops or purchase from the NPC’s. I’m sure there may be more ways to procure them but this is what I encountered in the CBT. The costumes are very well done and allow you to wear what you wish when you wish and other than affecting faction players (both players and NPC) reaction to you, allow you to play looking as customised as you wish to.
I want to estimate that there are around 40 skills for each class. This can be misleading though. The skills can contain multiple versions of itself, for example you can run and glide, other skills you will learn will allow you to run longer, glide faster, jump obstacles, jump higher and run on water! The combat skills themselves are well laid out. For my Forcemaster , you start out with your left and right click skills as welll as the skills 1-4 (in my setup). When you use certain skills they put you in a stance that allow for only a particular set of skills. If I used Frost palm, it would put me in the frost / ice stance and I would only be able to use the advance frost / ice skills or the base fire skills. The same would be true if I used a fire skill. Some skills trigger a continuation skill that you could just hit “F” to complete. Therefore with all of the skills at your disposal youre only using 15 buttons for combat and 7 for movement.
Although it sounds complicated, it is very, very easy to learn and fluid and is a great step up form games in the past where macro users had the upper hand. Heres a short Video showing some of the combat mechanics.
Gathering / Crafting / Marketplace
I must admit I am less than impressed with the gathering and crafting system. It will most likely be something that I do after I’ve hit end game because it seems to be terribly complicated and expensive. The marketplace is a little on the cheap looking side, kind of reminds me of an afterthought or an addon. Its small and doesn’t match the rest of the game’s UI. You also have to pick up your purchases from the mail when you do make one, which will confuse people who are new to it instead of automatically receiving it in your inventory like almost all other MMO’s.
Parties / Matchmaking
The system to create a party is somewhat confusing and limited. It seems a bit clunky coming from a game that has been out for so many years now. Maybe the partying system was much easier to understand in Tera and I just have to give B&S some time and maybe not. Commands didn’t seem to work and it was frustrating to type “/inv playername” and nothing happens. The cross server mode for dungeon looks ok but I only messed with it once.
All in all it is a pretty good game and I cant wait for the next CBT