Neowiz has a new dev blog up on Steam today featuring none other than Bless Online’s dungeons, which include episodes relating to the main storyline, low-key jaunts for soloers, and hardcore raids for 10 bodies.
“The most basic reason for exploring dungeons is for the special items, but clearing dungeons with friends and party members is also a fun and worthwhile experience!” the Korean studio says. “Dungeons, one of Bless Online’s strengths, are places that utilize the strategies and tactics of each class, and are designed to maximize players’ pleasure and sense of accomplishment.” A real sense of accomplishment, mind you, not this kind.
Bless is slated to launch in the west on Steam later this year as part of a global rollout by Neowiz, which plucked its game back from planned western publisher Aeria following an apparently botched partnership last year. We recently included it in our list of top MMOs to look forward to in 2018.
We’re taking a time-machine back through our MMO coverage, month by month, to hit the highlights and frame our journey before we head into 2018!
Easily the high point of the year, June saw the launch of The Elder Scrolls Online’s Morrowind and Final Fantasy XIV’s Stormblood, along with the relaunch of The Secret World as Secret World Legends.
Meanwhile, Shroud of the Avatar launched a controversial equity crowdfunding campaign, Cryptic announced a Magic the Gathering MMORPG, and we got a look at Skull & Bones, Sea of Thieves, and Anthem at E3. We also confirmed that Neowiz and Aeria had cut ties, leaving the former to bring Bless Online westward alone.
Read on for the whole list!
It has become a long-standing tradition as Massively OP and our former site that we like to end the year by creating a list of titles that we anticipate for the coming one. It has always been a devilish list to create, full of loose dates and fast guesswork about which titles will and won’t be releasing during a 12-month window (just read last year’s list to see how spot-on I was).
This year we’re changing things up a bit by tossing out the qualifying factor of “will see a hard launch in 2018.” Instead, I drafted up a list of 20 MMOs that have the potential to do or be really interesting next year, whether that be a launch, a long-anticipated beta test, or some other significant development. Plus, hey, you get 20 for the price of 10, so no complaining now!
As an aside, this list isn’t going to cover some other exciting-looking multiplayer games that are arriving in 2018, like Anthem, Sea of Thieves, The Crew 2, Monster Hunter World, DayZ, Red Dead Redemption 2, Stardew Valley, Conan Exiles, and State of Decay 2. And you old school fans won’t want to forget that Ultima Online has a new free-to-play option coming this spring.
Doesn’t it seem as if we’ve been watching Tencent’s wuxia MMO Moonlight Blade for half of forever? Keep watching, but maybe watch a little closer, as Nexon’s South Korean edition of the game is finally launching open beta in the region on January 25th following the closed beta that’s run off and on this fall. According to Steparu, who broke the news for English speakers, the game has undergone intense localization, specifically with Korean-language voiceovers.
Nexon has previously hinted that it’ll bring the game westward with English servers, and though we don’t have details or even confirmation yet, it seems likely that Nexon might turn its gaze toward us once its home region is settled.
What do you guys think – will Moonlight Blade or Bless give Black Desert a run for its money, or is it all about A:IR?
Pretty psyched that Bless Online is coming to the west on Steam in 2018? So are we! But there are many questions about this launch that are still unanswered, even after reading through Neowiz’ recent FAQ on Steam.
Neowiz said that the early access launch will happen globally and initially include English, German, and Russian localization. Some players will be invited to check out the game prior to early access, although the studio didn’t clarify how it would select these lucky few.
The studio was also non-committal on a business model but made the expected statement against pay-to-win tactics: “While we are still determining what the right monetization plan is for Bless Online, you can be assured that we heard everyone’s feedback loud and clear to avoid any P2W elements. We promise to continue to solicit and gather your feedback and choose the business model that works the best for Bless Online.”
NEOWIZ announced on Steam today that the global release for Bless Online is indeed still happening, with a Steam launch planned here in the west at some point in 2018.
“Will this mean Bless Online is coming to Steam? Is it being released globally? The answer to both questions are… resounding ‘Yes!’ We are so glad you are here and are grateful for your support. Bless Online development team has been busy for the good part of this year. We’ve taken all of the feedback from our community to make the game better. Our intention is to return to you when we have the game we are all proud of. The development team will be working night and day to improve and polish the experience until the launch in 2018.”
You’ll recall that the game was once intended to launch here last year under the Aeria banner, but that deal was dissolved and NEOWIZ committed to launching the game itself. The gorgeous MMO, having just gone what it called a “rebuild project,” is currently in testing in Japan and South Korea.
Let’s take a moment to take stock of Bless Online, shall we? In South Korea, the game is testing its complete rebuild. In North America, the game has abandoned its previous publishing deal and is being self-published here following that testing. And in Japan… the game is moving into its second closed beta, with absolutely no word about any sort of rebuild or associated delay. So it’s a grand time to be a fan of the game living in Japan, then!
The second closed beta will run from October 12th to October 16th, with test registration open through October 10th. This phase of testing is expected to let in 10,000 testers, all of whom will get a special costume for use in-game, if you want your character to wear a hoodie with the game’s logo on it. The important thing, though, is that the title is plowing right along in at least one region with plans for launch.
Over the weekend, the studio behind crowdfunded RvR MMORPG Camelot Unchained released a hefty chunk of its ongoing beta one document, revealing extensive insight into the way the game’s social systems will be laid out. Parts of those social systems will look familiar to MMO players, such as groups (Warbands), guilds (Orders), and raids (Battlegroups). But there are more layers to contend with, including perma-groups or mini-guilds (Permanent Warbands), as well as project-oriented raids (Campaigns), all designed in the service of an ambitious RvR-centered MMO that makes space for soloers and small guilds by not over- or under-privileging the largest teams in the genre. That’s the goal, anyway!
CU boss and MMORPG veteran developer Mark Jacobs, whom many of you know personally thanks to his ubiquity in our comments section, gamely answered about a thousand of my questions over the weekend, which we’ve compiled into an absurdly long interview about how to properly smush together all these groups into a social system sandwich that makes everybody happy. There’s even a Star Trek quote and a bonus question about Warhammer Online’s development and CU’s budget at the end!
I strongly urge you to check out the original doc first, as the interview assumes knowledge of the basic terminology and structure of the game. Fair warning: While Camelot Unchained’s document is almost 6000 words, this interview itself is close to 4000. You put Jacobs in a virtual room with me and my questions go on forever, and damn if he doesn’t answer them exhaustively. It’s a whopper, but it’s worth reading for a glimpse into what could be the future of MMO community planning.
So, let’s talk a bit about Bless Online. It’s been a long, strange road. First, the game’s Western version gets cancelled. Then it’s getting published here again by Neowiz. Then we were told the entire game was getting rebuilt, and we even got a look at some of the rebuild ideas. Now the rebuilt version of the game is in testing as of August 1st in South Korea, although it’s not the localized version of the game, so you’ll still have to deal with the language barrier.
Two classes, the Mystic and the Ranger, will not be available for this testing round. You can find out a bit more in the video down below or just download the client, although you’ll need a Korean account to do that and some knowledge of the language to puzzle your way through the actual game. We’ll hopefully learn more about the rebuild as we get closer to the localized release for the game; it’s not like rebuild projects are never successful, although they do have mixed track records.
Following the cancellation of the western version of Bless Online, Neowiz surprised everyone by announcing that it would be publishing the game here in the west on its own. Then last week, it announced a “Rebuild Project” for the whole game, which is expected to allow Neowiz giant do-over on everything from making gear feel more important to character progression, plus the revamped combat, unique class skills, better mount and pet content, a non-sucky crafting system, a tighter UI, and new PvP content. We’ve presumed that upgrades to the game overseas will eventually make their way to the version being promised for the west, particularly given that it was supposedly canceled originally over “quality standards” and “technical difficulties [that could not] be overcome.” Indeed, the long delay was at least in part a result of the combat system do-over Aeria said the game needed.
Since then, the entire official Korean site has been taken over with a huge “REBUILD” banner and Neowiz has published a fresh dev blog outlining the project’s seven main goals and homing in on the first: character growth. Google Translate isn’t exactly trustworthy here, but the gist seems to be that the studio finds the leveling up process both opaque in terms of power and limited in that gear capped progress. Under Rebuild, items themselves will pick up durability and reinforcements, what sounds like an evolution system for weapons, plus a disassembly system for junk.
Check out the whole thing on the official site — just bring your Korean dictionaries!
Back in June, Neowiz and Aeria Games/Gamigo confirmed that they’d mutually ended their partnership to make Aeria the western Bless Online publisher. While initially the studios stated the MMO had been canceled for our region and wasn’t coming westward at all thanks to “quality standards” and “technical difficulties [that] cannot be overcome,” Neowiz quickly moved to suggest that it would be publishing the game here in the west on its own, presumably with the combat system do-over Aeria had begun and Neowiz said it was continuing.
Now we have a better idea of just what that means.
Yesterday Neowiz announced what it’s calling the “Rebuild Project” for the whole game, which will allow the studio to “abandon the current structure and make it from scratch,” gutting some of the game’s underlying systems and content and adding new. Specifically, Neowiz says it’s making gear feel more important to character progression, revamping combat, retooling class skills and unique feel, creating variety and fun for mounts and pet content, adjusting crafting to not be “useless,” and improving the UI experience. New PvP content (a capture-the-flag map?) is also under development for August; the screenshots in this post show the new area.
On this week’s show, Justin and Bree talk about FFXIV: Stormblood’s early access launch, Destiny 2’s PC delay, Elder Scrolls Online’s next DLC drops, breaking up the trinity in MMOs, and more!
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Last week, both Neowiz and Aeria Games confirmed that Aeria is no longer serving as the western Bless Online publisher — worse, Bless appeared to be entirely canceled for our region. “Gamigo announces that the MMORPG Bless Online will not be published in Europe and North America,” read the formal announcement. “The collaboration had to be cancelled because after extensive testing the game did not meet the quality standards of both Neowiz Games and the gamigo group. […] Together with Neowiz we have come to the conclusion that the technical difficulties cannot be overcome, so we agreed not to complete the game for our respective markets.”
Done deal, right? Apparently not so much. “The game will not be published” turns out to mean “we will publish the game ourselves.”
“You must be curious about future Bless in EU/NA as we ended our contract with AG,” Neowiz told MMORPG.com. “NBS believes the EU/NA Bless fans are very valuable to us so we commit to deliver game updates directly to you. We will surely present you with improved Bless in the future.”