Blade and Soul

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Blade and soul is an action-oriented, fast paced, weapon slicing, blows dodging gaming experience.  It is the equivalent of Ninja Gaiden with Devil May Cry living in the world of Final Fantasy. As the MMO community is leaning towards more action-based MMOs rather than mindless button spamming, Blade and Soul is one of the pioneers spear heading this concept, and it delivers as advertised.

Can’t say its one of the best but its decent enough to get the players involved and curious about where the story is heading. As you unveil the story, the game is filled with plenty of cut scenes to keep you entertained.The background of the story is deep and I hope Team Bloodlust can work on expanding it. At level 45, it feels like I just finished Chapter one of a novel and I can’t wait to flip the next page.

The physics of the game is good, very good. You can immediately tell an Ace Game from the lesser wanna-bes once your first strike connects with the enemy. The physics, the sound and how the enemy falls backward can immediately tell you what is waiting in stored. When you wield that big axe over your head or swooped down on your prey like a darting eagle everything feels right. The game is beautiful and I am curious to explore every part of this new world powered by Unreal Engine 3.

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You can choose to play from the 4 Races,  (Jin),(Gon) , (Kun) and  (Lyn) and there are 6 Classes to date  (Kungfu Master),(Blade Master),(Force Master),(Assassin), (Destroyer) and  (Summoner) with the 7th Class  (Lyn Blade Master). There is no gender lock for the races except for Kun and I leave you to explore on which class is limited to which race.

This game is very skill based. With no healer class, everyone needs to depend on their pocket potions to replenish health. There is no class distinction between tanker or dps. Getting aggro is no simple task unlike the Paladin in Dragon Nest. A “tank” is required to deal high amount of damage to draw the aggro away from team mates and utilised blocks and dodges to maneuver out of harms way. The game uses a semi lock-on combat system, with the flexibility of switching targets in the midst of combat.

It is imperative to know all the skills of the enemies, especially at the later stages of the game. Every class is simple to pick up and play, yet complex to master. With the addition of the 2.0 skill system, you can experiment with different skills combinations to fulfill the roles you play in different combat scenarios. The fluid execution of skills, decisive attacks and precise movement crowns this game as one of the best in its genre.

Feel like wearing that two-piece swimsuit to the scorching desert to take on that Gigantic Scorpion? No problem! In Blade and Soul, costumes do not provide any combat statistics. Players derive their combat abilities from the various items, Bo Pae Plates, Accessories and Weapon. All items can be enhanced to a higher level by “feeding” your items with other items.

Instances. You will enter many instances throughout your journey and instances are classified according to colours. The difficulty ranges from easy to deadly, with the latter requiring a well-equipped and experienced party to clear. With the introduction of 6-men party, harder difficulty dungeons become do-able and becomes a practice ground for the harder 4-men party. Players run 6-men parties for Weapons and Bo Paes plates and 4-men parties for necklaces, earrings and rings.

When a rare item is dropped, players will vie with eachother by placing their bids for the item. The item goes to the highest bidder and the money is shared among all the remaining players. There is a minor flaw to this as sometimes the action is interrupted by two blood thirsty traders trying to outbid eachother. There is also a rewards player with an item when the final boss of the instance is killed. This is a very well thought out reward system so every player walks away with something in the bag. No longer, will you exit a dungeon run with nothing more than a damaged weapon.

Wild Bosses. Wild bosses populate the area with its minor mobs and adds a nice touch to the theme. Wild Bosses are there to help players geared up by providing essences that can be used to exchanged for Weapons, Bo Pae Plates and Costumes.

The end game instance will be the Pohwan Instance, one of the largest pirate ship ever docked and Mushin Tower, which pits your skills against the veteran Bosses on every level. All in all, the instances do not isolate casual players yet provides the hardcore players with a challenge on the higher difficulties.

While leveling, I am able to play between 4-6 hours on lower levels and 2-4 hours on higher levels before my energy value is depleted. How fast you consume your Energy Value depends on the number of quests you hand in. Every quests will consume a fix amount of Energy when you complete them in return for experience points. You will take between 1-1.5 weeks to reach level 45. Some players have resort to grinding specific mobs which I strongly discouraged if you are playing the game for the first time. The economy system rewards you financially through completing side quests and main quests, grinding your way to the top penniless is depressing and not fun. For example, one of the most popular farming dungeons is at level 36 and not at 45.

Partying up with strangers is relatively easy. For instances, there is this flaming dragon-like pillar in front of every instance and by clicking that, you automatically put yourself up for partying. So far, there is no discrimination in 6-men parties so its very easy to joined up.

As you progressed through your quests, you will encounter Faction Quests and PVP Quests. PVP can be pretty challenging especially if you are up against a China player as their ping is way better than ours. I see myself as more of a PVE player so I usually steer clear of PVP quests. Faction battles are fun and you can farm items to exchange costumes.

Sub Professions are so important in this game. By joining guilds, you are able to contribute to the huge marketplace (or trading house) where people trade items and resources on a daily basis. You will learn to become a merchant by fulfilling market demands or choose the correct Guilds to become self sufficient. This is way better than farming mindless mobs for mere copper. I applaud the game, which allow players to seek fortune through many different ways other than blindly farming mobs.

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All in all, this game gets more hits than misses. The maps are medium size to large, with secluded bosses like Monkey God tuck away under a waterfall and hard to reach herbs or rocks you need to harvest for your Guild. Most areas are great for sight-seeing and exploration just like Guild Wars 2. After Patch 2.0, Weapons now appear in different colours in accordance to the grades of the weapon. This game is very user friendly and appeals to both casual and hardcore gamers. Having committed so many hours into the game, I am still very much addicted to Blade and Soul. The combat system is a big hit for me and Solo-ing instances are so much fun. I would highly recommned this game to anyone. These are one of those games you need to try before you die. XD

I hope this review has provided enough insights on the game and manages your expectations before you sign up for the ride. The ride might be bumpy, funny or frustrated but this is one ride you will never forget.

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