Here's a possible preview of the kinds of promotions we might see from Bless Online when (if?) it arrives here in the west. This month, the fantasy title is holding a "Project Up" event on its Korean servers that will help both new and current players in leveling up their characters to the cap.
Any character that manages to hit level 45 or higher by March 16th will be treated to a nifty gift pack that includes a potion to instantly take a character to 50 and deck them out in purple gear. To get any potential new players to 45, Bless is also gifting lowbies with a gear box and temporary flying mounts to assist with their journey.
Even if you don't read Korean (for shame), you can get an idea of the leveling rewards from this promotion by eyeballing the following graphic.
When the NDA is away, the cats will play -- and take screenshots! Bless our dear community for documenting upcoming MMOs as they venture into these virgin territories.
ZulikaMiNam had some fun in one game that I haven't seen much from readers yet: "Since there are no NDA restrictions imposed for this alpha weekend kickoff over at Shards Online I will post some pics from there. I accidentally healed a skeleton while trying to heal myself. So my name turns grey and anyone can kill me now. Time to lay low for a bit."
Are you still laying low? You can... probably come out now. That skeleton owes you a life debt for that heroic action.
It looks as if Bless Online's Korean operators are merging servers again, though they've opened one too, so the total tally will seemingly hold even. Pmang says that it's opened a new server, Lumen, and merged the Tania server into it, completely with compensation rewards for those affected.
This won't mark the first time we've seen merges for the Korean-born MMORPG; we reported a round of "server integrations" in both February and June of 2016. The last round brought to the total down from at least 10 to just two, where we apparently still sit -- just with a different two.
Over here in the west, we're still awaiting news from Aeria Games, which is expected to publish the game here later this year, though the release has already been hampered by delays. The studio strongly rejected rumors in December that the game's launch had been canceled, telling Massively OP that its devs are still "working closely with Neowiz on the gameplay improvement aimed for the North American and European version!"
We deal with a lot of rumors here, and while we generally filter out the entirely implausible ones, usually there are a lot of rumors that might be true until it turns out they're completely true or utterly false. This time, however, the Bless Online rumor mill has produced a rumor that turns out to be nothing at all.
Over the weekend, the teaser site for Bless Online being published by Aeria went down unexpectedly, with no official word as to why. That prompted players to panic and spread rumors that the title had been quietly dropped off of the schedule. However, other fans on Reddit were skeptical of the rumor, and with good reason.
We reached out to the studios involved ourselves; here's what a representative for Aeria told us:
"This maintenance is due to a migration to a new data center for all our services from game to portal, so there is no need to be worried. It'll improve the experience of the players. However, we are still working on it and the website will be back online soon! On the side, we are working closely with Neowiz on the gameplay improvement aimed for the North American and European version!"
Right now we are in a strange place in MMORPG history. Following the backlash of WoW clones and several high-profile titles that underperformed, major studios are becoming extremely risk-averse to creating big-budget titles the way that we saw not five years ago. Many former MMO teams are diversifying with shooters, MOBAs, and other safer and trendier titles.
Yet all is not lost! MMO features continue to ripple out into all types of game genres and new titles continue to be produced -- just not from the usual suspects. Instead, most of what is on our immediate horizon comes from either crowdfunded indie teams or eastern giants. The good news is that 2017 should see the culmination of many of these long-brewing projects and adaptations, hopefully resulting in a bumper crop of interesting online RPGs for us to play.
So let's run down the list of games that either are or possibly could be coming to you in 2017. We will provide an overview of each title, why you should care about it, and our best guess at the odds of its officially launching during the calendar year. If an upcoming MMO is not on the list, then it is our opinion that while we'll see it eventually, a 2017 release isn't happening.
As we learned last month, Bless Online is being delayed into 2017 as the team continues to work on bringing the title over to the west. So what is the hold up, exactly? Why aren't we getting our grubby mitts on it in time for the holidays?
Aeria Games explained some of the reasons behind the delay this week, saying that developer Neowiz is concentrating on improving game performance and adjusting the combat system:
The game performance is currently being improved for large scale contents such as Siege of Castra and Raid. The loading times for persistent world content are also being improved for textures and monsters to be loaded more quickly. This should provide a more seamless experience to all of you.
Bless Source has got its mitts on a new English language Bless Online trailer promising the game's "coming 2017 with a completely overhauled action combat system," though it's decidedly low-rez and we're not entirely clear on its provenance just yet.
The vague and distant date won't surprise anyone: Back in September, Aeria admitted that it had postponed announcing betas and the launch "because the project is bigger than expected and the game needs a couple of tweaks to be able to penetrate the western MMO market and to have a stable and sustainable future in there." At the time, the studio also pinpointed the combat system as needing a major rework for tab-targeting: "The combat system as of now feels unresponsive and the action combat is not on par with current generation action MMORPGs."
Across the pond, South Korea's Bless was updated with The Blazing Fire patch earlier this month; a bit closer to home but still a language-gap away, Russia's Bless open beta began this past weekend.
The Russian version of Bless Online is hosting an open beta event this weekend, from October 28th through the 30th. According to the description, players will be able to level characters up to 35 and enjoy special PvE and PvP activities before the beta test concludes.
You might not be able to play in the beta right now, but that doesn't mean you can't get a taste of it through the Russian trailer. It's waiting for you after the break!
The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!
This week we heard the sad news that Korean action MMO Aima will be shutting its doors next month. We’ve got that plus stories and videos from Elder Scrolls Online, Conan Exiles, Aion, and more, all waiting for you after the break!
Wishing Bless were already here in the west? Want to join me in staring wistfully at the Korean version's steady stream of updates while we wait for Aeria to get it in gear? Let's do it!
The latest patch, dubbed The Blazing Fire, introduces the Mystic class, a druid-like class that "uses the forces of nature, flowers, water, grass, [and] animals." The level cap was bumped up to 50 just in time for the addition of the new Burning Desert region, which is aimed at level 46-47 players, along with a lab-themed, five-boss, level 50 dungeon.
Prep your trust Google Translate and go check it out on the official site.
Are you in Russia? If so, your English reading comprehension is really great if you're here browsing Massively OP! In any case, we have some good news for you: Bless Online is preparing to launch its closed beta test in your country on October 25th.
The game is being handled by 101XP in Russia, and Steparu postulates that Bless will operate with an IP block as it's being rolled out in other regions by different companies. 101XP advises that fans stay tuned for more information about the closed beta test, including a schedule of events and ways to obtain a key.
Not in Russia? The rest of this post is for you too! There are a pair of gorgeous trailers that you have to check out below to whet your appetite for when (if?) Bless arrives in your region.
You came for the insightful discussion on MMO news and culture, and you'll walk away with Bree's recipe for Hobbit brownies! This week on the show, the co-hosts consider the joy of cooking in-game and why it's the most underrated crafting profession.
It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.
You know what would be a great way to grind salt into the wounds of western players waiting -- even longer now than before -- for Bless Online to make its way overseas? Announce a massive update that Korean players will get to enjoy next month.
We'll have to speak up over the howls of "unfair!" from fans to report that Bless is indeed preparing an October patch that covers everything from a level cap increase to a new mystic job to additional exploration zones. The devs are planning on rolling out updates every three months or so following that.
You can check out the Blazing Fire patch trailer after the break.