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Blade & Soul (Episode 85)

THE GRINDSTONE TRIBUNAL:

Grindstone showed up in force for this game, but not all the usual suspects decided to stick around. However, we’ve got plenty of entries this time, now from Chachera, Dabeer, Wind, Dobar, LDJoy and myself, along with Dreskar, who’s fervor for this game seemed to drop dead at level 30. The rest of us got much further. It’s the perfect read for waiting in the queue!

Setch Dreskar:
I will keep this very simple, I won’t continue playing Blade and Soul, in fact I have already uninstalled it. Yet I will gladly recommend it as it isn’t a bad game by any stretch of the imagination and also does a lot of interesting and unique things I would love to see continued in other titles. My issue though is the game does what other games I love already do but far weaker, and I just can’t be bothered to play yet another MMO when I already have ESO and TSW, not to mention keeping up with other titles at the same time. Both have better stories and ESO has better PvP, at least for me, and they don’t have as many annoying tropes that personally bug me. Play the game if you don’t have anything else that truly has your fancy, you could easily find a title that will become your favorite and the only barrier to entry is your time.
Recommended?YES, if nothing better has your fancy.

Chachera:
So about a year and a half ago I was just randomly reading an article about Great MMOs you should play. That is when I first heard about Blade and Soul it sounded interesting enough,and a few of my steam friends were interested.So eventually  the website and new’s about it coming to the west caught my attention.So I subbed to the newsletter and waited for the game to come. On the 19th of January 2016 it finally came out, and I started playing. So I have played the game, and I have to say while I definitely do not think it is as good as the hype. However, I still find it a really enjoyable game. It really feels like Tera and Wushu had a kid and it feels like the best of both of those worlds. I generally had a good time and I definitely think I will continue playing for a least a little while more to come.
Recommended?: YES! Especially if you got some friends also interested in it too.

Word on the Wind:
Blade and Soul is a game I’ve been aware of for a while now for a variety of reasons, all of which involving gratuity. I wasn’t honestly expecting to find much in the realm of game here and was mostly just in it for the pretty. However the game succeeds at being a competent and engaging game moreso than it manages to be visually appealing and this is a game that definitely put budget into visual design. The narrative is about what one can expect if one has watched a bunch of Wuxia films or even played the Feng Shui tabletop game with a half-decent GM. Despite the somewhat formulaic setup it manages to do so in a way that, given some time to cook, ends up surprisingly compelling if a bit questionable on the front of, “Why don’t I just kill this jerk and be done with it?”
I played entirely as a Force Master which is to say a wizard that kills everything through mass thermal shock. I found this to be very satisfying as rather than running away from crowds of enemies, I was running towards them so I could alternate between freezing and toasting them en masse, wrecking entire waves of enemies in seconds where other classes would have to take them out in more individualized fashions. I feel an actual sense of power playing this game as opposed to something where it takes one 20+ seconds to kill a single level-appropriate enemy.
As someone who actually likes to throw down with other people in games, it was a pleasant surprise to have PvP that was actually well-implemented in about every regard possible. From allowing control for the when and where and also just how one approaches fighting another player, the game has a large variety of skills and abilities to choose from and specialize in allowing for builds that lend a much needed sense of surprise to what could otherwise be stifled by a strict meta of, “X beats Y if Z”.
My only real let-down is that crafting and gathering are both woefully detached and uninvolved while simultaneously being amazingly necessary to manage end-game content. One needs to have a whole guild dedicated to their crafts and gatherings for everyone to benefit, otherwise it will get very expensive -very- quickly rendering solo efforts woefully tedious and costly. This is definitely not something that I recommend playing alone if only for that reason.
So saying, I am definitely going to continue playing this game. It brings many strengths to the table that far outweigh its flaws.
Recommended?: Hell YES.

Dabeer:
I gotta say, out of everyone in Grindstone, I think I was in a unique position with this game. While most everyone I knew was all hyped up about this game (hell, I feel like I’ve been hearing about it for two years… oh wait), I really had no feelings towards it one way or the other. The only reason I even decided to install the game was because my girlfriend wanted to play it, and I figured I’d see if everyone’s hype could really lead to anything. After getting through the character creation (which I actually liked a lot more than what most MMO’s have to offer) I will admit that the first area of the game didn’t really speak much to me. It’s not that it was horrible or anything and the combat was definitely cool enough to keep me around to see what would happen, but it wasn’t until I got into the second main area of the game that I became fully invested. While at first glance it was nothing more than your standard desert level, it was here that the game’s story finally began to bloom. While I had been mostly skipping dialogue in the first area, as soon as I got to what the game called “The Cinderlands” I found myself actually stopping to read all of the dialogue in the story quests, and I was even getting excited every time another cut scene would happen. Hell, I was getting so involved that when I made another character I actually made sure to pay attention to all of the story that was happening at the beginning of the game to see how it all fit together. While it had been the combat that I had heard everyone raving about, it was rather amusing that I found the story was what kept me coming back… but oh, that combat.
While it does take a while to actually learn more of your skills in game, because of how well everything is paced you are given just the right amount of time to actually learn what your newly acquired attacks can do, and how best to combine them with what you already have. Once again, I find myself thinking back to The Cinderlands, where I was finally starting to realize what my class, the Kung Fu Master, was able to do, and realized just how much fun the class was. Of course, it’s not all about the skills themselves, or how flash they might look that had me so enthralled, but how they allowed me to combine my might with others that really got me on board. Sure, while the game does give you little cues when to use the right CC moves to stagger a big boss, it also leaves a lot of how you can work together to you the player. I think the best example of this is when me and ChaosD1 were partying together. First, his Destroyer tossed our enemy in the air, to which I followed up by leaping after them and delivering a few Bruce Lee style kicks to them in the air, until finally his Destroyer grabbed the enemy and performed a spinning pile driver right into the ground! The best part about all that being that we actually had to work together and time everything ourselves to pull off such a kick ass move; it wasn’t just a skill the game gave you to do that it planned out.
Now, while I could probably go on even longer about why I enjoyed this game… like how much fun it is to unlock the in game costumes, or how satisfying it can be to finally beat a really tough enemy, or even how nice it is that you can respec your skill points at any point in the game (post level 15) for no cost and no hassle, I think I should probably start to wrap this up.
Despite all of this glowing praise, the game does have a few drawbacks, such as a reliance on RNG to get weapons out of chests to upgrade your main weapon, a bit of an over reliance on solo story quest dungeons, a really annoying map, and a few other things I can’t quite remember. However, it should go to show you just how much fun I had with this game that I could go on and on about all of the fun I had with it, yet I have to try and rack my brain to even remember any of the problems I had with it. While this game may not be the “perfect” MMO, and you really have to like reticle based combat, I can easily say that playing Blade and Soul has been one of my best experiences with an MMO in recent memory. I can say without a doubt that I will still be playing this game long after this review comes out.
Recommended?: YES, highly.

Dobar:
I came into Blade and Soul not having the highest expectations, but I can say that I have enjoyed myself while I was playing the game.  The combat is nice, but it can get a bit tiring after a while, especially during PVP.  The story was interesting at times, though the questing itself was as basic as it came.  I would like to level another class, but having to level again would not be as fun.  The game seems to love its instances and many of the quests will have you go into dungeons, which many of them are small quests that have one boss and you may or may not need to kill it once for an upgrade item.
While the leveling slowed down in the 30s and especially the 40s, the only kind of grinding I needed to do for leveling was from 44-45, only because the current story has ended, but there is suppose to be more soon.  The real grinding comes with grinding out world bosses and major dungeons for items you need to upgrade your gear.  My biggest complaint about the game is how dungeon loot is bidded on.  While it is nice when there is a bidding war going for an item and you get to reap the benefits, it still rubs me the wrong way, especially if you need a specific sword to upgrade and someone else either forces you to spend all your money or just outbids you.  My second biggest complaint is crafting, while it is simple, it still feels convoluted and it feels like a time waster until you are leveled enough to actually make money.
Endgame feels even more grindy, with just a handful of dungeons and dailies to do so you can grind money and items you need to upgrade gear.  This game seems to focus more on PVP and I mostly play PVE, though I did enjoy the little PVP I played.  I know they are going to add more content soon to get the West caught up with Korea, but if I want to grind, I would grind on a game I like more.  This game is not bad, but it will not be my main MMO.
Recommended?: YES. While it has flaws, it is a fun game.

LDJoy:
So the loot and tagging systems are archaic, the story is nothing to write home about, and the game can’t support more than 2 people in a given area at a time. And yet the combat, by god the combat. It’s stylish, fast, visceral, fluid and fun. Despite all these years no other MMO really offers the same gameplay experience.
Recommended?: YES

ChaosD1:
There is a LOT I can say about this game, and as you can tell above me, so has everyone else. Short answer I really liked it. Like, to the point when someone is telling me they don’t like it, I subconsciously demand reasons as to why, but I don’t, because like to think I’m more reasonable than a Youtube comment section.
This is easily the slickest combat presentation I’ve played in a game. Better than Dragon’s Prophet. WAY better than TERA, and don’t even get me started on how much more I’m pissed at TERA after playing this game. I can easily see why NCSoft kept trying to go after Bluehole for asset theft. Everything about TERA seems like ideas taken from this game, and before you start in about how TERA came first, those games far too close together in the release to not have similar development cycles. In fact, the fact TERA came first seems to affirm that TERA was made as a quick-to-market rush job in order to beat their former bosses to the punch. TERA’s reactive combos felt so tacked on and clunky. TERA’s environments and fantastical elements had no logical cohesion within the world. The story was a slapdash joke. “Elin” and “Lyn” anyone? At least the Lyn have a reason to be called that.
Though, the story in Blade and Soul isn’t much better, I never had to beat up a tree for killing pigs so I could later kill pigs instead. There is a logical progression to everything. It’s not super intelligent or anything, but you have a main villain we all wanted to stab and or join. We remembered loved, and hated characters we met in the game. It still falls into a lot of stupid, stupid tropes, but it’s at least something that has reason to exist…
Which is why I have words for this translation team. I was debating on putting these words into the video itself, but every time I’ve gone on about tangential controversies, they’ve derailed entirely from the content of the video and ended up making the comments section more of a mess that it usually is. So I skipped it. I skipped the part about the “underwear” being changed from a lingerie to a martial arts inspired getup. I don’t care.
I skipped the part about the Social Justicar on the translation team that bragged about changing the context of a quest, because he disagreed with how it was played out, despite the same actions being taken (stealing a bathing character’s clothing), or how the whole of the team kept removing crucial dialogue points and plot points (like a time travel section) because they were afraid their audience would be too stupid to understand it, making a certain scene near the end of the game make no logical sense. I skipped this because, again… I didn’t care about the story.
To me the story was a few badass cutscenes interlaced with me mashing the F key to skip all the dialogue.
Of course the translation team did do the thing I hate the most… “meme all the things”. To be fair, it’s a far lesser extent than TERA and FFXIV, but it’s still pretty common, and it gets worse and worse as you go on. It’s like the localization team got tired of translating the story and just threw in more “lulzy” crap to fill in the gaps. Still pretty easy to ignore, though.
I also cannot stress how much I hate that weapon upgrades are left to the whim of RNG. Hours were spent trying to upgrade equipment by running dungeons and wasting keys to open a box for a chance to get the item I needed. I’d end up with a pile of Lynblades and every other weapon for every other class, including the class not in the game yet, except my own, until several dozen dungeon run attempts. TO call this kind of thing frustrating would lessen the impact of the word itself… yet I have to admit when I finally did get my item, a feeling of “all is forgiven” would wash over me, and I’ll continue on as if nothing was wrong.
I really do enjoy this game. It’s far more competent than Dragon’s Prophet was, the combat is a very solid enjoyable experience, and I’m actually somewhat decent at PvP for once. There’s a lot to enjoy here, but there’s plenty to stumble over, too. Then again my favorite games have always been risky messes as opposed to solid, stable normality. It’s worth a shot, and could easily suck you in if you’re not careful. I almost didn’t get this episode done on time because I couldn’t pull myself away.
Recommended?: Unquestionably YES.

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Posted on January 31, 2016, in Episodes and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. What server did you end up playing on incase late comers care to join?

  2. TBH Bidding system in dungeon loot is likely the best PVE aspect of the game. So what if you don’t win? You get the money and you are more likely to win the next bid.

  3. I REALLY don’t like the art style in this game. I’m sure the character editor can alleviate some of that Scarlet Blade syndrome, but what it can’t fix is the clothing options. I detest Hyung Tae-Kim’s art style partially for his spider leg women, but mostly for the absolutely ridiculous outfits. Pretty much all the outfits you showcased looked like your lady was shot through a clothes line, picking up random garments Tom & Jerry style, then mauled by a cougar. It doesn’t help that all women are set on perpetual high heels such that their animations are built around it.

    I hate the art style, I hate the environments – all seemingly some variety of standard Fantasy forest de jour. I hate the animations, as well. I will NEVER accept any combat system which allows you to move while you execute melee attacks unless it has special move-and-attack animations. What you have in this is basically 2000s’ Rune combat, at least in terms of appearance. If you don’t have whole-body animation, your strikes appear weak no matter how many flashy effects and contrails you put on it. That sprint is probably the only animation I like.

    Beyond that, it’s yet another Fantasy world MMO with grinding and crafting and guilds and so on. Yes, it brings an active combat system to the table, but Tera already did that in the Western market and that wasn’t very good, either. Then there’s also that Black Desert thing. and if I want a multiplayer grind with active combat and hideous characters, I can always play Warframe.

  4. Nice to see you enjoyed the game Chaos, i just have a question regarding skill keys since you didn’t mention it. Did you ever know you had skills bound to Q and E? As a Destroyer, those two are some of your most powerful attacks/buffs, Q being a buffed version of Tab, and E being a super crit buff.

  5. Yeah the class trainer was definitely handled better in the asian versions of the game and MUCH better in the anime witch i do recommend people to watch (just not episode 13)

  6. Have you considered trying out Order & Chaos 3? It’s a mobile app game with a PC version. It’s an actual full scale MMORPG with a surprisingly dark storyline. It got a few genuine feels out of me.

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