Blade & Soul is one of the most anticipated games to come shortly, with many players speaking about it for years. With the final beta kicking off, it was a great time to get a final look at what can be expected in the full release coming up soon. And let's just say that the game is nothing short of impressive.
Not Feeling Like a F2P Game
The first thing I noticed when starting up Blade & Soul is that it doesn't feel like a free-to-play game. It actually feels more like a professional, subscription-based game. From the design and UI to the graphics and sound, to things like movement, character customization, and more, it is clear that it was designed to be the best it can. In essence, it has really set the bar high for other MMORPGs, bringing about a great, quality experience to gamers – and a free one, at that!
Quality Characters and Customization
The character models in Blade and Soul are magnificent. They're detailed, very colorful, and just give a very vibrant look to your characters. When picking out what race and class to play, though, the game does go against the method most use, in that its races are what determine the available classes. For example, if you want to play as a Summoner, there's only one race that has it available: Lyn. Most classes, however, are spread across multiple races, so you can either choose your class and base your race on what's available or choose your race and then see what classes are available based on that. To help determine classes, there are both audio guides that help better understand the decisions, as well as videos that show skills in action, in an effort to help make more informed decisions.
Once you've picked a class, it's time to customize your character. To say that there's a ton of options is an understatement – there are so many options available that it would take a couple pages just to cover them. To help with seeing how your character would look with different gear on or in different areas, you can pick things like backgrounds, poses, outfits, lighting, and compare body types. All of these are designed so that you can see what you'll look like away from the character creator, out in the world itself. And you could easily spend hours trying to design that perfect look, should you choose to!
A Fast-Tracking Tutorial
The tutorial within the game is very well done. Within the first five minutes or so (assuming you read quickly or just ignore quest text), you learn how to do tons of the game's basic things, such as:
• Attacking enemies (with multiple different skills, to help learn your class)
• Loot items
• Equip things
• Use potions
• Fight against deadly foes
• Use your minion to help with fights
• Explore (including dashing, gliding, etc.)
• Picking up and completing quests
• And more
The tutorial pretty much pushes you from one thing to the next, making it very simple to catch on to the game, without having the core parts spread over a multi-hour gaming session. Some of these mechanics are a little weird and take some getting used to, but most should be fairly familiar if you've played a MMORPG in the past.
Getting Used to Controls
One area where Blade and Soul gets a little awkward is in its control scheme (which you can customize how you wish, and might be a good idea). To put it into perspective, here are some of the more used controls:
• F (interact with things)
• Left/right-click (attack)
• Numbers (attack)
• Tab (pet attack)
• Y (complete quest)
The normal attacks are all pretty familiar from other games. What isn't, however, is using things like tab to get your pet to help attack, or using F to move through quest text and then having to hit Y to actually complete it. While these aren't a huge deal once you get used to them, there is a bit of a learning curve. Customizing them to things that are a bit more natural may be a good approach.
Great Weather System
To help add a bit of spice to the game, it has a pretty good weather system. When it's raining, for example, it actually somewhat looks like it is – you can see the rain pour down from all around. When it's sunny, on the other hand, it actually looks like you're out in the sun. While a small part of what makes the game a good one, this doesn't hurt!
Cut Scenes and High-Quality Graphics
Throughout the game, you deal with a lot of cut scenes and exploring the world. With both of these, the graphics are so great that it's almost like watching a show or movie, rather than playing a MMORPG. For example, when you're looking at your cat, it doesn't just look like a block of color – it actually looks cat-like. The same goes for other animals and NPCs, as well as things like trees. It's all so lush and colorful that the view itself is something to be proud of.
For a severely hyped game, Blade and Soul has shown itself to be a pretty good contender in the gaming space. From its ease of learning to great customizability and awesome looks and sounds, it is a very solid game that is absolutely worth checking out. And with its official release being about a month away (January 19th, 2016), it's not too much longer until you can give it a try!
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