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

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Ultimaniacx4
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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.

Crow God
Guest
Crow God

Gas Chamber Gerhan agemyth I don’t think the Chinese version is near AoW’s level of money grubbing and the CN version from what I heard is terrible. Hopefully our’s will be based on the Taiwanese version.

Ekphrasis
Guest
Ekphrasis

Cyroselle

It is. I’d liken it to the freedom of movement that you have in a superhero MMO like CoH, DCUO and Champions – to a degree.

Cyroselle
Guest
Cyroselle

Moving around, for me. I’m the explorer type. I hear moving around is fun in B&S.

Cyroselle
Guest
Cyroselle

If not more so.

Cyroselle
Guest
Cyroselle

I play for the journey, and often go to make a new character when my first hits level cap. I’m not sure, but I think it’s possible I may not be the only one.

Cyroselle
Guest
Cyroselle

End game gear in TERA (and ArcheAge, come to think of it) is dependent on a heavy RNG enchantment grind, where the ‘enchant’ simply improves upon the bonus stats of the item, and content (and party eligibility )gets gated based on how far along you are in said enchantments.
I dearly hope this ‘weapon leveling’ in Blade & Soul bears absolutely no resemblance to those murderous enchantment grinds.

Cyroselle
Guest
Cyroselle

Lynception! Where’s my token?

Cyroselle
Guest
Cyroselle

Great run-down, thank you so much!

Cyroselle
Guest
Cyroselle

They look…… Oddly derpy. I’m not sure what they did to the faces and those proportions, but I don’t like it. The KR version looks much closer to the Hyun Tae Kim concept art.

ClassicCrime
Guest
ClassicCrime

oh ffs finally

Gas Chamber Gerhan
Guest
Gas Chamber Gerhan

agemyth well as long as it isn’t like age of wushu’s crazy money grab model ill be happy.

agemyth
Guest
agemyth

mr_justin DubiousContact Most players quit at the endgame.

agemyth
Guest
agemyth

DubiousContact Sounds like an average MMO that western players are drooling for mostly because they currently can’t have it (in English).
How many times will people go crazy about “action” combat systems only to realize they can be just as shallow as the classic MMO combat systems?

AngelBlack
Guest
AngelBlack

Eliot…California’s beaches are better.

agemyth
Guest
agemyth

Maybe I’ll wait for all the jerks who hop in early and quit early to get all the complaints about monetization and broken this-or-that before I try this out.

DubiousContact
Guest
DubiousContact

mr_justin DubiousContact I usually try various different classes and races until I find one I like, but since every story, quest line, starting areas are exactly the same I get bored quick and quit.

imperialpanda
Guest
imperialpanda

Nice, they translated one of the races to be the same as my name.

imperialpanda
Guest
imperialpanda

Satyros  It’s not 2012, but at least it’s coming…. soon.

kgptzac
Guest
kgptzac

usagizero cursedseishi Second Coming of a hot dog truck maybe. Very delicious hot dog.

kgptzac
Guest
kgptzac

ManastuUtakata Ekphrasis Sigbjorn If you mean an optional subscription on top of cash shop, then it’s mostly certain that will be the case. Source: CN server.

Craw
Guest
Craw

Vexia Greaterdivinity I am not a big fan of eastern style, but this is the one game setting that HAS to have that style.  Any other style would be downright wrong for it.

kgptzac
Guest
kgptzac

Takane Shijou The chinese version simplified the weapon growth system quite a bit since its launch, and I think it’s a better change.

kgptzac
Guest
kgptzac

RiddleMeThis I’m pretty sure when the English version of the client come out more stuff can be ported to other regional versions.

kgptzac
Guest
kgptzac

usagizero It’s only roughly 7 million years[1] yo.

[1]: http://massivelyop.com/2015/05/14/rumor-blade-soul-is-being-tested-internally-for-us-release/

karmamule
Guest
karmamule

mr_justin DubiousContact Me

imayb1
Guest
imayb1

Ekphrasis xania I’m in the states and played BnS China. I could play PvE fine until ping got around 450; then I’d have to give up. Most of the time, my ping was around 200-250 and I didn’t have problems. It’s a different story if you PvP, when every millisecond counts…  still, I think you could play several classes without sacrificing all your fun. If you’re worried about latency, I’d say summoner (pet class) is your best bet for playability.

Vexia
Guest
Vexia

Greaterdivinity Vexia I think since the game has so much character customization, they shouldn’t need to change anything within the game itself. The only thing I could see them doing is maybe redesigning the presets to be more toward Western tastes (but arguably anyone turned off by Eastern stylization won’t be interested in this game anyway).

zyrusticae
Guest
zyrusticae

Celestia The game does not use the trinity, if you didn’t know, so that’s out. 
What we have instead is a completely different set of roles that each class fills at different amounts. 
You have your CC specialists – those are the Destroyer and Lyn Blade Master. They’re the ones responsible for holding the boss in place so the others can wail on them non-stop. FM and Warlock also fulfill this role in a different way – they can root the boss, but they don’t provide INFINITE CHI REGEN the way LBMs and Destroyers do.
You have your tanky types – but they’re not tanks in the traditional sense. Rather, whoever has aggro is the tank. There are no aggro boosting skills so whoever does the most damage typically gets to be the tank. Every class has defensive skills but some (particularly Blade Master and Kung Fu Master) are specialized in this. 
EVERY class can revive other players. Unlike in GW2 you have no HP when you are in your ‘downed’ state, nor can you attack, though you can slowly crawl away to safety and go into your meditative trance to revive. Other players are only needed to speed up the process (and three players on one makes the revive instantaneous). However, if you die while in ‘downed’ state it takes a long time for a player to revive you and multiple players no longer speed things up. 
The summoner is unique in this regard because, as the pet class, they’re the only class that can keep fighting while the pet revives someone who is dead (not downed), or they can revive two people at once. The pet also has the only actual aggro skill in the game, making them good for use as meat shields. If you like to support that’s probably the class to go to. 
Warlock also has the single most powerful group buff in the game – alternately translated as “Spiritualization” or “Awakening”, it gives players a MASSIVE DPS boost over its duration. It only lasts 20 seconds, however, and the cd is 3 minutes with a 1-minute global cd so parties with multiple Warlocks only benefit up to the third Warlock in the party. The rest of the time their pet helps by providing additional damage, some minor buffs, and occasionally by drawing aggro temporarily. 
I, personally, love playing LBM at least partly because Force Choke is one of the most useful CC abilities in the entire game, and they’re a huge asset for any party for that reason alone. That they also put out some nice DPS is just a nifty bonus. 
Anyway, the game works very differently from most traditional MMORPGs, but it works quite well, I think. You’ll have to give it a shot to see what I mean, but it’s WAY better than GW2’s implementation, I promise you that.

mr_justin
Guest
mr_justin

DubiousContact Who plays mmos for anything but end game..

Greaterdivinity
Guest
Greaterdivinity

Vexia Apparently that’s just for the art on that page and the in-game models are untouched, but I’m still trying to confirm that. It’s all confusing but I guess we’ll find out more soon enough.

Vexia
Guest
Vexia

Greaterdivinity Hm… I’m not sure, but it’s kind of hard to tell just from the promotional stuff. In-game might still be the same as always. Doesn’t BnS also have crazy-amazing character customization, as well? I remember from a video that players can make all kinds of adjustments to the character’s body including oft-ignored stuff like hand size although I’m not sure about customization for fine details of the face. I would assume it has that, too, since it’s fairly common in Korean MMOs that don’t even let you adjust your character’s physical build at all. They might have just made some more “Western-friendly” looking characters but left the actual in-game options the same.

Armsbend
Guest
Armsbend

zyrusticae welp, makes it very easy to skip then.

AdeptusEnginus
Guest
AdeptusEnginus
Vexia
Guest
Vexia

Khalith ManastuUtakata *scribbles in notepad*
This is brilliant! I’ll add it to my list of potential guild names. :P

Leilonii
Guest
Leilonii

Greaterdivinity Yea wtf is going on with those faces? Granted some of the Korean faces and bodies for that matter were a bit too much so I do think they needed some adjustment. But I think they went too far. Looks like they’re doing a livestream in 5 minutes so I’m going to tune into that and see how they look.

Leilonii
Guest
Leilonii

Celestia Uhh…they don’t really have the trinity. There are classes that can spec to have supporty skills, but they don’t have any that are pure tank or healer.

Greaterdivinity
Guest
Greaterdivinity

http://www.bladeandsoul.com/en/

Is it just me, or did NCsoft alter the models for the Western release? These look different than the ones I remember (and just looked up) from the Korean version…and I’m not a fan of the changes…

Khalith
Guest
Khalith

ManastuUtakata More like “Lynvasion” AM I RIGHT!?

Vexia
Guest
Vexia
Celestia
Guest
Celestia

I have to admit, this looks damn fun.  How are the support class(es) in B&S?

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