The Korean version of the MMORPG Blade & Soul was released in 2012 and has long been a desirable project for many fans of the genre who wanted to see a full-fledged localization. In Russia, the game became available only four years later, in 2016. Since then, she has received many updates and even managed to change the engine from Unreal Engine 3 to Unreal Engine 4. In this review, we will try to figure out how the project feels in 2022 and whether it is worth starting to play.
Blade & Soul came out at a time when the target combat system was already beginning to fade into the background, but still remained popular among MMORPG developers. Therefore, in this game, despite the declared non-target, attacks are still aimed at the target, and in the settings you can select a hybrid mode for those who want to click the mouse. Despite this, the dynamics in the battles here are insanely high and require the player to control and react.
The battles here are tied to combinations – for maximum efficiency, you need to press the skills in the correct sequence. Often this not only increases the damage dealt, but allows you to get a pack of good buffs. For those who are afraid of getting confused in the keys, there is a simplified mode that performs some combos automatically when holding down the right mouse button. Don’t worry, the game doesn’t turn into “Press X to Win” in this case – you still have to manually press certain keys.
In Blade & Soul, there is no classic division into tank-healer-damager roles, so each class is self-sufficient. To be successful in a fight, you will not only have to deal damage, but also effectively defend against enemy attacks. To do this, all classes in the arsenal have a number of abilities that allow you to avoid damage: blocking, teleportation, jump, anti-control – all this you will have to use as often as attacking techniques. Otherwise, you will continually fall under the camp or capsizing.
In addition to the combat system, Blade & Soul highlights the story. It’s really great and rivals many modern single projects. “Skipping” tasks in order to quickly get to the cap is clearly not worth it here. The developers have done a good job of presenting an interesting story that you want to follow, and the presence of full localization into Russian only contributes to this. New chapters are still being added along with major patches. There are also additional story quests (not to be confused with side missions) that reveal the stories of individual characters.
After you complete the main questline and reach the maximum level, the door to dailies and endless leveling will open for you. There are a lot of activities to choose from, but first of all, you need to focus on daily and weekly challenges, since they give good loot. They are mainly associated with the passage of certain dungeons or participation in PvP. Luckily, you’re not forced to do everything – you only need to complete a few from an extensive list to claim the maximum reward.
Dungeons come in several types. Heroic are standard dungeons for 4-6 players, in which you make your way through a long corridor, clearing monsters and occasionally encountering bosses. They are divided into three difficulty levels: for the first, automatic matchmaking is available, and for the rest, you will have to search for a group via chat – just like in old-soul MMORPGs. There are also more complex raids designed for 12 people.
The most interesting are the Seals of Chaos dungeons, added along with the transition to Unreal Engine 4. At the moment there are only three of them, but the number will probably increase in the future. A feature of this activity is that after each sweep, the level of the dungeon rises, and the passage becomes more difficult. The characteristics of enemies increase and they receive additional effects that diversify the passage, but at the same time, the reward becomes more valuable.
When Blade & Soul first came out, many praised the PvP component for its depth and skill dependence. The developers constantly held tournaments with large prizes and actively promoted the esports component. Unfortunately, now there is no trace of the former greatness of PvP. If you want to fight other players, you will be forced to stand in a long queue, since almost no one plays this mode. There is an open PK here if you put on a faction suit, but nobody here is interested in it either. Apparently, the authors themselves understand this and the main emphasis in updates is on PvE.
It’s no secret that in recent years, many South Korean developers like to add auto-combat to modern MMORPGs, and Blade & Soul, unfortunately, is no exception. No, almost all content will still have to be studied manually. However, there is one activity here called “Hunting”, where you can literally be given a task to destroy 800 monsters. For a more convenient grind in some zones, you can turn on auto-battle and watch how your character deals with enemies on his own.
Of course, “Hunting” is not a mandatory activity, and you can easily pass by. But, for example, at the time of writing this review, the game is hosting the Path of the Master event, which rewards for completing special tasks. Among them is a daily for the Hunt, which must be completed seven times. The rewards are too sweet to ignore, so you can’t completely avoid the mobile grind.
Any massively multiplayer game needs to have a large enough online presence so that people can be easily brought together to participate in various activities. How is it in Blade & Soul? As mentioned earlier, it’s almost impossible to find a PvP match, and despite this, calling online dead doesn’t turn your tongue. You can often see people in locations, there is constant communication in the chat, and finding people to dungeon is not difficult. The publishers do not disclose the exact number of active players, but they seem to be quite enough.
The advantages of Blade & Soul include excellent graphics, especially considering that this is an MMORPG. The game was released in 2012 and even by modern standards it feels good. This, among other things, was influenced by the transition to the Unreal Engine 4, which not only made the game more beautiful, but also opened up new ways for developers to develop the project. Although some users still believe that it used to be better. Well, it’s all about taste and color. True, for the transition to modern technologies had to pay with performance. In some places the game works perfectly, while in others there are significant FPS drops and occasional stutters, even on top-end computers. There are several ways to solve problems in the client, such as the ability to remove the effects of other players or completely hide characters, forced simplification of the image quality in dungeons, and so on. However, overall performance leaves much to be desired.
Finally, we got to the most interesting – the in-game store. It would not be true to say that Blade & Soul lacks elements of Pay-to-Win – they are present here. Take, for example, temporary buffs that increase basic stats such as attack power, health, defense, and others. You can also buy various consumables and not waste time farming them. Of course, the game still has the opportunity to get what is available exclusively in the shop, although not as quickly as for real money. For example, you can buy valirs (local premium currency) for gold through the exchange, with a small chance of getting them through drops or earning in PvE ratings.
In addition to gameplay items, you can also buy cosmetic items in the store. There are many beautiful costumes to choose from that do not give an increase in performance. Fortunately, if you are not ready to pay real money for them, then you will not have to walk around in rags. Blade & Soul has enough costumes that can be obtained through the game, and some of them are even superior in quality to the “donate” ones.
What can be purchased exclusively for rubles is a premium status. It does not provide any advantages over other players, but makes the gameplay much more comfortable. For example, a warehouse opens anywhere on the map, the teleport has no cooldown, and experience and gold give more. In general, you can do without all this, but the bonuses are still nice.
Summing up, we can say that Blade & Soul feels pretty good in 2022. The disadvantages include mediocre performance, a certain impact of microtransactions on character strength, dead PvP and the presence of auto-combat activity. The game also has a lot of pluses: an excellent plot, beautiful graphics, an interesting combat system and a lot of activities. If you have played this project, then we suggest you go down in the comments and share your own impressions.