If there’s one Eastern MMORPG that I’m constantly told “needs to come over to North America”, Blade & Soul is at that top of that list. Well, it’s happening! NCSoft is bringing the title over to NA this year, with closed beta coming in the fall and launch planned for winter. The fast-paced martial-arts PC MMORPG launched in Asia in 2012, and those years of polishing and content will likely be a considerable boon as it prepares for a whole new audience.
Blade & Soul is an “action-MMORPG” in that it doesn’t use the traditional tab-targeting system and also forgoes dedicated healing classes that often make up the “holy trinity” of character archetypes. Combat is fast and furious, with active blocking, dodging, counters, and combos – if you’re looking for more active decisions and consequence-based combat in your MMORPG this is definitely a title you won’t want to miss, there’s no “going through the motions” as you dial in uninspired locked-on button presses. In fact, you can set up rather incredible combos and special moves as you acquire and use resources over the course of combat. Don’t fret if this combat system sounds a little intimidating, as each class has its own learning curve and some of them are particularly friendly for beginners, like the Summoner who pals around with an adorable (but deadly!) cat pet.
Oh, and you can fly. That’s right, travel, like combat, is quite over the top, with players being able to explore vertical space in ways that’s fairly uncommon in the genre. Why deal with an annoying mount when you can cruise through the air and explore? There are also fast travel beacons located conveniently around the world to help you get around. Enjoy dungeons? I know I do, they’re one of the main aspects of MMORPG play for me – getting into group play with friends. Blade & Soul offers a metric ton of dungeons, including solo, group, and raid, and features cross-server queueing for them, which should help a lot with wait times.
Blade & Soul features an evolving storyline that’s fairly involved, and NCSoft will have plenty of content already lined up to bring to North America in this regard due to its years of service in Asia. Avenging your fallen master may seem like a fairly traditional plotline, but it ties into much of the game and makes things feel a bit more connected and intertwined storywise. Another interesting aspect of the game is the weapon system – you level up your weapon and evolve it much like a player character, so if you become attached to one particular weapon you could theoretically use it for the vast majority of the game!
Blade & Soul will be launching as a free-to-play title sometime this winter.