Blade & Soul – satisfactory, but doesn’t introduce much novelty

Blade & Soul is a Korean massive multiplayer online role-playing fantasy video game developed and released by NCSOFT in 2021. The game focuses on martial-arts-like combat and qinggong technique. Set in an open-world realm, players can discover all the possibilities as they finish different quests.

Even though there is an abundance of MMO games, Blade & Soul quickly became a hit in its native country. After its release in the United States and Europe, players were more skeptical since there were so many games in the multiplayer genre, it was challenging to stand out among them.

Kung fu movies enthusiast were likely the first ones to embrace Blade & Soul. It was what made the game refreshing and convinced the players something new might be on the market. Before it reached the North American and European markets, developers had the opportunity to implement all the necessary tweaks and updates.

Hence, players had high expectations and hoped for a game going beyond being worth of wait. Blade & Soul had a good reception, although years after, opinions are conflicted. It was awarded the 38th most discussed and 82nd most shared PC game of 2016.

If you’re wondering whether Blade & Soul is a hit or miss, we played it for you. Here’s our take.

Challenging PVP and an abundance of quests

Blade & Soul starts with training at the Hongmoon School of martial arts. After a vicious group and its leader, a female known as Jinsoyun, throws you off a cliff and eliminates your master and friends, you will wake up on the shores of another continent. There, you’ll find yourself in a crossfire between two dangerous groups, including pirates. There are three majestic areas where different plots unfold.

Moreover, the nefarious Jinsoyun has cursed you, causing your soul to become corrupted. However, there are so many arcs and plots that you’ll likely forget most of them as you progress through the game and reach the next levels. Although the characters are interesting, you won’t have much time to engage with NPCs due to the many quests and side tasks. However, the latter is optional, but it will serve you well for earning extra points and reaching advanced levels sooner.

Keep in mind that the missions will often feel like an endless loop of going places and killing people. They are not particularly gripping if you played more than three MMOs. Indeed, you might feel that way about the story itself because nothing is genuinely new or unique. Besides, other players have access to items and monsters your quest requires, which can feel overwhelming and crowded. Players can share these triumphs only if they group up, which isn’t always a good idea.

On the other side, the combat system is engaging and often resembles the iconic Street Fighter and its adrenaline-fueled moves. You can pick from seven classes, such as the Summoner. Whatever you choose, combats require skills, and there is no healing class. It is why you should be proficient and master your skills to avoid needing healing more than necessary.

Moving through the game is one of the aspects that makes it smoother than your usual MMOs. Forget the horses. Blade & Soul lets you run, sprint, and jump, although the 15-seconds timer makes it less enjoyable than it could have been.

Moreover, the game allows satisfactory customization compared to others in the genre. You can choose a soul shield, as well as an outfit. The game’s economy consists of a cash shop where you purchase items with real money or special Blade & Soul currency. If you decide not to spend actual dollars, you won’t notice much difference because the objects are mostly cosmetic. They can also be convenient for some occasions, such as utilizing the ammunition discovered in a chest.

Other than that, when in need of crafts, you can place an order in relevant shops using a sample material. Another significant element of the game, and one of the most exciting, is the PvP. It unfolds in two different ways. One of them is when two factions battle for power and desire to be the authority. It is challenging because you can get attacked and attack members of the other group at any time. The second option is joining a cross-server matching arena, which is perhaps the most adrenaline-fueled part of Blade & Soul.

Even though not directly gameplay-related, the environment plays a significant role in the game as it’s aesthetically outstanding. However, there is no sense of unity between different areas, but they still look majestic and make the world more immersive.

The female characters tend to look cheesy and exaggerated due to having overly bouncy chests, regardless of the size. While that’s mostly typical in anime, it can leave a wrong impression and make the game appear sexist and unrealistic. Most players want to see kick-ass fighters without the focus being on their looks.

Ultimately, it is the PvP that makes Blade & Soul stand out among other similar games. There is also a dimension of equality because you’ll get matched with someone who has the same gear. Hence, the fight is solely about your skills, but you’ll have to go through many quests and missions to unlock new abilities.

If you’re a Kung Fu or anime enthusiast, you’ll love it

Blade & Soul doesn’t introduce anything inherently new to the genre. It is challenging, visually pleasing, and satisfactory if you are new to MMOs, but it’s not overly innovative, gripping, or ground-breaking.

It often feels like an over-the-top anime, which you might enjoy if you generally love a similar niche. But if you’re looking for something more substantial, a game you come back to again and again, Blade & Soul is probably not the answer.

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