Pros:

  • Flashy combos
  • Fun action oriented control scheme
  • Cash shop is cosmetics only
  • Classes all have unique playstyle and feel balanced
  • Character customization is very good
  • Lots of planned content on the way

Cons:

  • Censored compared to Korean version
  • Requires good ping
  • Overcrowded at launch
tl;dr – Blade and Soul finally provides the western audience with a fantastic martial arts fantasy MMORPG.

Blade and Soul is a martial arts fantasy MMORPG by NCSOFT. It was first released in Korea on June, 2012. An English version was released for NA/EU on January 19, 2016.

Gameplay

Blade and Soul is probably one of the most anticipated MMORPG to be released in 2016. For those that don’t know, Blade and Soul is a third person MMO that focuses on action oriented combos with an eastern martial arts theme. The game has four races: The huge and bulky Gon, the most human looking Jin, a race of only females called the Yun, and the cute and small Lyn. Races have no perks or stat benefits to them, but the classes you can pick are limited depending on your race.

There 7 classes available in the initial NA release, with 2 additional classes coming at a later date. First we have the Assassin, a class focusing on stealth and burst damage. Then we have the Blade Master, a class that focuses on parrying and counter attacks. Then we have the destroyer who are pretty much tanks. Force Masters are your average mage class. Kung Fu Masters focus on long combos to take down their opponent. Summoners summon a cat mascot that fights for you. Lastly, the Blade Dancer is a variation of the Blade Master class that’s only available to the Lyn.

Blade and Soul is combo based, requiring quick reaction times and accurate timings to fully master the game. The characters move using WASD and attack by using the LMB, RMB, F, and the 1,2,3,4 keys depending on the skills. This isn’t a point and click MMO. Targeting is done by facing the opponents and waiting for the cross hair to lock on. By chaining multiple skills together, you perform a combo. Pretty much every skill can be chained together into a combo but there are a couple of combos that have special conditions such as requiring the enemy to be knocked down. This helps create a deeper, more dynamic combat system than most other free MMOs.

Each class has a unique approach in using their skills. The Blade Master, for example, uses a Chi system. Blade Master skills have a chi point cost, basic attacks and combos require 0 chi but the higher tier skills require multiple Chi points to execute. Every successful combo hit by the Blade adds one Chi point to the pool. As a result, Blade Master plays like a traditional fighting game, chaining basic attacks together for a combo and finishing with a special move. Alternatively, the Force Master uses a traditional MP system to cast their skills. They can combo but they can’t chain as much and their skills can be cast with no restrictions. As a result, the Force Master plays more like a traditional mage class.

The Good

Do you like flashy martial art moves? Then you will enjoy this game. This game is really fun to play, watching your combos build up and deal damage to the enemy is great. The combo attacks are really flashy. Each class is pretty unique with their own fighting style. Also, while the game is free to play, it isn’t pay to win. The cash shop in the NA version only has cosmetic items and basic consumables. There’s no OP armors or weapons in there to give you an edge over other players. The game looks really good and is full of high production values.

The Bad

It’s censored. The lingerie was changed into short pants. I don’t mind that, the original babydoll lingerie version does not really fit the game to be honest and it’s a pretty minor change. What is not okay is dumbing down the quest lines. It seems like the localization team was overly concerned with offending players and removed anything questionable in the game. Another potential disadvantage of this game is that it requires extremely good ping times to play. In fact if you have poor ping times to the server, your enjoyment is really going to suffer. Timing is critical to a combo.

Closing Thoughts

In the end, Blade and Soul is a fun martial arts fantasy MMORPG. While the localization team made some questionable decisions, it doesn’t really detract much from the fun gameplay or excellent visuals. So if you want a flashy, fun action mmo or are into eastern martial arts and lore then give this game a try. But make sure you have excellent ping times to the server. I admit the game takes a little bit of getting used to, but once you’ve familiarized yourself with the control scheme, you will enjoy it.

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