Blade & Soul hits western shores this winter

Remember when comic books had little call-outs on the front cover proudly proclaiming that something happened because the readers requested it? I always thought those were kind of hilarious. “Because you demanded it, here’s the latest issue of a comic that absolutely must have been scripted and planned out months in advance, thereby completely putting the lie to the idea that your demands had any bearing on it!” Kind of silly.

In this case, though, I could actually use one of those starbursts. Yes, it is indeed because you collectively demanded it. The rumors were trueBlade & Soul is coming to the West, and it’s coming despite the fact that basically everyone (including me) had given up any and all hope that the title would ever be localized. And it’s a thing to be happy about, even if you previously hadn’t figured that Blade & Soul was a game you needed to be concerned with.

The downside to this particular announcement, made at an NCsoft press event earlier this week, is that I wasn’t told why the game has taken so long to release here. A belief that Western players wouldn’t care about a wuxia game? Decisions on business models? Forgetting the game existed? No explanations were offered, and frankly, does anyone care at this point? The important thing is that it’s here, or at least it will be. The game is currently being internally tested and localized, and from what I saw of the localization, it’s still understandably rough. Closed beta testing is expected to kick off in the fall, with a release in winter.

And yes, it’s launching free-to-play.

Those of you who already know the game inside and out can now go about your day happier. Those of you who have no idea what it’s all about might want to read on a bit further because with any new game announcement, the question is why in the world you should care. And it’s a valid question, considering that this is not the first wuxia game to come out stateside and it took a long time getting here.

Surprisingly, the length of time NCsoft has taken to export the game westward is part of the reason why you should care. As was pointed out during the press presentation, the game has been out for over a year in Korea, and that means the developers have had time to balance all of the classes, add in more content, expand the game, and otherwise make it better. There are six “volumes” of the game’s story available now in Korea, but the game is launching here with just the first three, which ensures that players will have tons of content and story to explore while still knowing there’s plenty of polish waiting in the wings.

It also means that the game has had time to add other elements that you can’t generally expect from a new game. There’s a fully functional group finder in place that pulls groups together cross-server, along with a detailed breakdown of what rewards can be earned in dungeons. There are buckets of costumes. And critically, there are refinements to the game’s combat system.

Okay, yes, I can work with this.

Blade & Soul is an active combat game, and while the usual follow-up to that is that the people who prefer tab-targeting combat should keep reading, here it’s… not that. This is a game that really seeks to emulate the feel of wuxia cinema in every way, including the combat. Just watching the demonstration videos makes it clear that the combat is very much about visceral feel, timing, and quick maneuvers. (There’s more about that in my hands-on; please look forward to it later today.)

Even above and beyond the active combat, though, there are interesting systems. For example, the game allows you to level up your weapons using weapons you collect over time, meaning that you can indeed take that sword at level 1 all the way up to the level cap. There’s also the free gliding, sprinting, and so forth, which is at once a great way to explore the game and just relaxing to watch.

It’s a rare thing to get a game that’s been so long delayed over here, and fans watching from afar had likely given up hope that the game was ever coming out in the west. But it is happening, and it’s happening sooner than you think. That’s without even getting into things like the game’s clever costume-based open PvP that allows you to opt in or out as you wish, or the intriguing systems that we were only shown in brief like ability customization, or the character creator…

It looks intriguing at a glance, and you can see more in screenshots and the official announcement trailer. But how well does it play? Well, I answer that question in my hands-on piece. Stay tuned!

Disclosure: All of this information was obtained during a press event held by NCsoft in an absurdly expensive hotel directly on the beach in Santa Monica. Lodging, meals, and transportation were provided by NCsoft. I also got some swag out of it, chiefly a power recharger for mobile devices. I did not go to the beach. I’m not that far from the coast where I live; I can go to lots of beaches. Don’t tell me that California’s beaches are better. I’m not having that debate.
SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Code of Conduct | Edit Your Profile | Commenting FAQ | Badge Reclamation | Badge Key

LEAVE A COMMENT

124 Comments on "Blade & Soul hits western shores this winter"

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
Ultimaniacx4
Guest
Ultimaniacx4

Jadefox Sorry but this is completely wrong.  Korean mmo’s are plagued with fatigue systems meant for internet cafe addicts in Korea.  Koreans are used to these for the most part but some of these systems would absolutely destroy all hope of taking off in the west.  Nobody wants to be told they can’t gather a resource or craft an item in-game because they exhausted all of today’s points.  From what I’ve read, BnS is coming without it’s fatigue system.  That right there made me decide to start playing.

MetaDune
Guest
MetaDune

Gottphoenix Denice J Cook wow couldn’t have said it better myself. Yes this isn’t the early 2000s anymore and its not fair to keep referring to games that were created back then

Gottphoenix
Guest
Gottphoenix

Denice J Cook Denice J Cook, you seem to love to boast your ignorance. You are still stuck in a 2005 mindset that labels all korean games as mindless grinders. Newsflash: Games like Tera, Blade and Soul and Black Desert all have a fairly decent leveling curve and innovative and fun combat.

If you want to look at stagnant grinders, have a look at recent western mmorpgs and f2p transitions. Many of them are filled with overbloated currency prices for many useful items in addition to a mindlessly boring reputation grinds.

Jadefox
Guest
Jadefox

Korean and other Asian game makers really need to stop localizing games and just translate them. There is no need to ever change the gameplay. Tweeking the game gameplay and making changes to the game to Westernize” it, are just a waste of time and resources. Any changes from the original client are not going to change the number of subs the game will get.

spookimitsu
Guest
spookimitsu

It’s actually not a grind fest though. You must be just saying it because you heard it somewhere. Leveling is best accomplished through quests, not farming. Dungeon and boss farming only gives you roulette tokens for weapons or doboks.

MetaDune
Guest
MetaDune

Denice J Cook “cheesy F2P Korean grind fest” – I’m just going to blindly hate and generalize all games from that country and never going to try it even though I might have a chance of liking it but decided first hand not to over blind hate and generalization. 

Hey I’m not a fan of cartooney style mmos (looking at you wildstar) but I still tried it

Denice J Cook
Guest
Denice J Cook

Let’s hope they don’t pull the usual “let the NA servers get overrun with gold farmers, botters and lag and get GameForge to ruin the EU version to the point where everyone overloads the NA servers even more” stuff like they have with Lineage 2 and Aion.  Hopefully for B & S players, someone other than NCSoft will be running it here.

Personally, I could care less about Blade and Soul, and I still wouldn’t play it even if CoH and Tabula Rasa were raised from the dead because it’s going to be another cheesy F2P Korean grind fest, but to each their own.  The fact that I don’t like NCSoft is just icing on the cake.

KirkSteadman
Guest
KirkSteadman

Finally! Hype level is real.

cursedseishi
Guest
cursedseishi

usagizero cursedseishi 
I’m sorry… Where exactly did I say I spoke for everyone else for this game? For ArcheAge, I said everyone… but when it came to this game, and here’s the kicker, I said “I THINK” for this game. I never said what I think everyone else thinks for it, and I sure as heck never said I was speaking for everyone else for this game.

BhimaJenkins
Guest
BhimaJenkins

With not much on the MMO horizon save for GW2’s expansion, this seems like a great time to get this game Stateside. Looking forward to giving it a shot.