I have never tried an Asian import MMO before without the security blanket of westernisation. Subtle changes you just know are there for its audience and a difference in the focus of play at times. Also, some of those characters are just plain weird. Lately this has been my experience with Blade and Soul which has no planned western release and has currently released for the Chinese Market.
Technically, it is for residents of that region only. One of those ridiculous and weird regulations and legal rules that still govern our international play that really don’t belong any more. It’s not I.P blocked of yet but there are certain parts of registration that make eligibility to play a little harder. I wanted to play though, I needed some sort of new MMO experience to sustain me during these MMO winter.
So far I’m finding it an odd experience in many ways. The gameplay itself is pretty good once you get the hang of it but everything else is so alien, it is all within a particular style and designed to appease to an audience that is not me as such it is really hard to rate the experience.
The combat is pretty much what I expected; a very polished and fast past action RPG with a ton of movement and some amazing animations. It is the same sort of modern action mmo combat with minimal skills most mmo’s have been doing lately, you maximise resources and cooldown based skills during combat. As you progress you get a certain amount of other skills that you can slot into their respective slots. There isn’t a lot of freedom but enough for you to customise and create your own style.
The combat is really fluid and the skills so beautiful that you often forget just how bland and straight forward the questing is… and it is rather terrible. It’s funny how the focus of development is so different depending on the region it’s developed in. Western games seem to have embrace the more hybrid levelling systems like events while the Eastern ones tends to be far more traditional but focus on story and setting as well as being insanely pretty.
Besides how pretty it is much of that focus really goes to waste on me. Because of the language barrier much of what you do lacks context; the story is pointless cutscenes, characters lack meaning, quests are nothing more than markers and while I didn’t think this would bother me it really does.
I’m a quest clicker, I speed read for a summary and then often rely on quest hints and map points to get me where I need to be but then, I must be absorbing the context without even noticing. You pick up the key words here and there and the rest gets filled in based on imagination or just common sense. It’s also the wider culturally context as well, I understand things as the come from relatable themes and experiences wherein, here in Blade and Soul I have no idea.
I also thought, based on the language barrier and differences in play that I wouldn’t be able to play it at all, however it seems to have a lot of the same universal mmo rules law and controls that while making other mmo’s boring actually makes this one playable.
It makes me think that the predominance and use of these same controls might actually be an overall positive for the genre. But there is also a lot of nuances these titles have that differ from other games and without these drawn out introductory periods you would understand them. A lot of players really aren’t the same as us when it comes to trying multiple titles and being immediately familiar with it. It also really helps when your unfamiliar, enabling more people to play the game. Western games seem to focus more on an international audience and this familiarity is obviously a good trait to have.
Anyway, while I did have fun trying out this new title I can’t see myself playing more in the future. It offers nothing astounding to draw me in, the language barrier is an issue even with the English language pack and it offers a similar, although polished combat experience that many of the current or future titles can provide.