What is Blade and Soul? A Brief Overview.
NCSoft’s Blade and Soul is a free to play Wuixia inspired Korean action MMORPG with a PVP focus. Leap, float, glide, dive, hack and slash your way through your foes while seeking revenge for your master’s death. As the last surviving student of the Hongmoon school, if is up to you to carry on your school’s name and fulfill a prophecy meant for greatness. Will our lowly cricket avenge his master? Will he succumb to the dark chi? Play and find out in later expansions!
The graphics are beautiful, fluid, and each especially clear so there is minimal confusion as to what is going on and or what has been casted. In PVP, I can tell what is happening based on the visual effects happening on screen. The outfits are unique and beautiful, more and more are coming out each day. The Character creator is above average so I would give bonus points for that; you can make some pretty silly and/or beautiful characters.
Blade and Soul is constantly being updated and expanded at a rapid rate, with the first expansion “Silverfrost Mountain” coming down the pipe. Albeit, the reason for the quick releases is that the Korean server is already a few expansions ahead of the US server. The main focus of the expansions are to add content, raise the maximum level, to balance out the classes, and add new ones.
PvE is your standard kill enemies till they die and fetch quests, but there are two parts of this equation where Blade and Soul Shines. The combat is quick-paced, energetic and fun; especially if you are doing multiple pulls and not just grinding enemies you are overleveled for. For the second feature, I would have to highlight the amazing Cross-Server Dungeon function. The Cross-Server Dungeon function handles all your dungeon daily and partying needs. I have never had to wait more than 30-40 seconds to get into a dungeon unless it was one of those niche dungeons, and even then it was like 2 minutes tops, on a bad day.
While PvE usually gets repetitive after a bit of farming and dungeon hopping, PVP is where most of the action’s at. Naturally, you have the overworld PVP between the Cerulean Order and the Crimson Legion. Overworld PVP is also divided a little further between other area factions such as Bamboo Guards vs Blackram Marauders and Stratus Empire vs Tyrian Cultists but Cerulean order vs Crimson Legion is the main one. Put on your uniform and have at them! If you were looking for something a little more organized, you will unlock arena PVP. Currently you have 1 vs 1s and 3 vs 3 team PVP which is the game’s main focus for balancing. Equipment and soul shields have no bearing in arena PVP as all of the stats are normalized to the class, the only difference is the skill build of the characters and the skill of the players playing the characters.
Currently, at the time of this article, they have the following current classes.
Blade master: The blade master cuts and disables his opponent with a flurry of fancy footwork and overwhelming skill. This class serves as the “Middle line” class providing a good balance of attack and defense, but please note that this does not make this an easy class as this class is considered to be one of the more difficult classes to play correctly.
Kung Fu Master: The master of up close and in your face combat. The Kung Fu Master’s arsenal contains Punches, Kicks, Grapples and split second counters. Considered to be the hardest class to play at the moment, the Kung Fu Master relies heavily on positioning, countering and disabling the opponent. It is hard for a Kung Fu Master to recover after making a mistake or two, but a well played Kung Fu Master can be a nightmare for any enemy.
Force Master: Duel wield the elemental fury of fire and ice. Make it rain destruction upon your foes as you freeze them in place and burn them to ash from a distance. This class revolves around balancing your stance between fire and ice attacks and cycling through their cooldowns. This class is one of the more customizable classes as adding skill points can completely change a skill, and in some cases will turn a fire attack into an ice attack, or vice versa.
Destroyer: Big, Slow, and strong are all the adjectives you need to know about the destroyer and their massive axes. Currently considered to be one of the easier classes to play, the destroyer overwhelms their opponents with their giant axe and their sheer strength, often grabbing them with one hand, lifting them off the ground, and delivering a one sided beat down before slamming them back onto the ground like a ragdoll.
Assassin: The sneaky invisible class everyone hates playing against. Surprisingly, also one of the harder classes to play as; a bad Assassin is a sitting duck outside of stealth, but a good Assassin will make you stop playing for the day. A great assassin is always several steps ahead of their opponent, setting up traps and preparing the area for the next combo.
Blade Dancer: Currently my favorite class; the Blade Dancer is an offensive mesh of Blade Master and Force Master, fusing magical sword shenanigans and a whirlwind of slicing and dicing. This burst heavy class revolves around cooldown and focus management as it is full of actions that both fill and deplete focus at a rapid rate.
Summoner: Currently one of the easiest classes to play and regarded as the strongest PVE class, the summoner is a powerful “pet” based class. While the summoner plays second fiddle to their summoned pet, their auxiliary abilities make them a tough nut to crack.
Warlock: The newest class, currently the center of balance patches and the new “Rush to 45” event; The warlock is a flashy fast casting skill class that revolves around area of effect spells, soft Crowd controls and their summoned thrall.
Qi Master / Soul Fighter: Not released on the US server… yet! The Qi Master / Soul Fighter is a hybrid class which fuses the Kung Fu Master and the Force Master. Get in close to pummel your foes with quick strikes, or hang from the back and use some of your more supportive abilities. This class’s main focus will mainly be cooldown management and stance dancing while being able to function at all distances.
Each of the above classes has its own unique set of skills and branching skill trees where investing into certain skills can give them different effects or transform them into completely different skills altogether. This allows you to pick a play style even more specific to how you want to play than just picking a class like in other MMOs. Patches and level increases may add more skills or diversity to the builds to keep everything fresh, balanced and hopefully away from “The One Build” situations.
At the moment I have seen “Flavor Of the Month” builds pop up here and there outside of balance patches, and that is a great sign of balance. My favorite feature from the game is that you can refund your skill points at any time for no cost, so just in case a patch has rendered your build ineffective or you feel like trying something different, you can just refund and re-spend your skill points however you like.
Crafting in Blade and Soul is currently unbalanced and non-existent as an activity. You locate a certain object on the overworld based on your job which allows you to place an order to gather it. You craft and gather better and better stuff until you get to the best stuff. Crafting is a great way to get off the ground money wise, especially in the beginning. To be honest, the game isn’t exactly set up for a robust crafting system so the ordering (and remote ordering) system is excusable, but I hope some balance does come to it soon-ish.
For those of you playing Blade and Soul. How are you liking it?
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