Blade and Soul First Impressions

Screenshot_151125_001Normally when I am previewing a game I like to throw up a quickie writeup after my first day of playing. Just an outline of the first things that grab my attention for good or bad. I’m a few days late on this one, however, and it isn’t due to Thanksgiving or health concerns – no, it is simply that I am having a difficult time forming an opinion of this game. I really want to say I’m not enjoying it. That’s what I do say when asked how it is – nope, I’d rather be playing something else.

Six hours in on day 3 of my Thanksgiving marathon play session, not even I believe that even as I’m saying it. ¬†Actually, I have very little that isn’t positive to say about it. So let’s have a more careful look.¬†

Performance

Installation went very quickly and easily. I was able to get the download and install the game several days before this beta weekend happened, so I was all set to go once servers opened. I did have a few problems once I tried to play, however. The first noticeable and very annoying thing is the ‘repair’ stage every time the game loads up. For some reason it feels the need to verify all files every time I launch the game, and it sits there for several minutes in some kind of repair status.

The biggest complaint that I have in terms of performance is a problem that I’ve had with most NCSoft games I’ve ever tried to play – GameGuard. I loathe GameGuard. And once again, it caused headaches for me with Blade and Soul. Every 15 minutes, crash went my game. The forums were of no help, customer support for BnS does not yet exist – all attempts to get support direct you to the technical forums – and so I spent a very frustrating first 2 days of play crashing every 15 minutes. Finally annoyed beyond measure I did some heavy duty googling, and found a conversation on the PSO forums about GG crashing every 15 minutes because it thinks you’re hacking. So I shut off my programs one by one and rebooted a lot, and discovered that I could not create any videos of my play as I’d been intending; GG stops every recording program I have as well as a utility program that I use for general computer maintenance. I had to go into msconfig and change my computer startup settings, and then reboot my computer before every Blade and Soul play session. Not a way to make a good first impression.

I had no problems with framerate once in game, even on maxed settings. Although I do have to note that I haven’t yet updated to Windows 10, and from what I hear, Win10 and Win8 cause very large performance lag to the point that a few players I was speaking to reverted back to Win7 for the weekend to play. Take that as you will, obviously I cannot confirm it firsthand as I’ve been too lazy to upgrade thus far.

Character Creation

Screenshot_151124_003Love it. Love it. Tons of hairstyles, all the sliders an appearance whore like me could ask for, settings to change the background, lighting, character pose, look at several outfits, even to compare different body types in one go! There are a bunch of presets for those who just want to get in and out quickly – it is really a brilliant character creation. You can even save appearance templates – I spent a half hour tweaking sliders only to have something come up that required me to log out. Ordinarily this would have annoyed me to no end, but no worries here! I simply saved my work and started it back up again as happy as a clam.

I’d love more hairstyles and hair colors naturally – there was no red hair?! Seriously? No red hair?! But that is something I’ll say no matter how many hairstyles I’m given, so it’s not a bad mark in the least. I made a ton of characters,¬† and not once did I log into the game, see myself in the game lighting and hate the character enough to delete it and try again. That is a first and a major high fives for the character creation.

UI

Screenshot_151124_005We’ve come a long way in terms of game UIs. Game designers seem, as a whole, not to be adding in all the fancy scrollwork and designs that so irritated me in the past. Clean efficiency seems to be the design of the day, and that is no exception here. I had a moment of panic when I first logged in as the UI took up nearly my entire screen (as seen in the screenshot to the right), but after a few moments of spluttering I checked the settings and calmed down as I noticed it had started with a bizarre resolution as default and the UI scale was cranked all the way up.

But once the game was put in the proper resolution and I set the scale down from max, it was lovely. I decided to post the image with the grotesquely large UI to make it easier to see as I discuss it – it’s crisp, clean, provides all the information I need at a glance, plus there is a nice built in customizer that allows you to move the pieces around as you please as well as what to display. I recommend waiting to customize rather than doing it immediately however, as the game does a good job with introducing you to class elements over time, so you may want to wait to move things around until you have all aspects of gameplay unlocked and visible.

Questing

This is, sadly for me, a questing and instanced dungeons game. I much prefer the slow leveling and sprawling dungeons where you spend weeks leveling games of the past to the modern watch a cut scene, kill a few monsters to get to the next cut scene and run through a dungeon in 20 minutes. I don’t want to run through someone else’s story – if I want a story, I’ll go grab some dice, some friends, and sit at the table for roleplay and make my own.

Screenshot_151124_008But I do have to admit, the story in Blade and Soul is one of the better ones I’ve come across. If you like story in your video game – this is a good one. I was literally moved to tears at a few points, and at the end of the tutorial I really wanted to kill the bad guys. Story-wise I would have to say it beats out SWTOR hands down. But I’m not a Star Wars fan, so you may find it’s on par. But either way, for anyone who enjoys a good storyline in their video games, Blade and Soul is well worth playing for that alone.

I especially love the leadins important characters get when they are introduced. Meet Dochun! I wish I could create a splash screen like that for my character that plays whenever I log in. That would be epic.

Visuals

This is a beautiful game. Simply stunning. I’ll let screenshots speak for themselves.

Screenshot_151124_011 Screenshot_151126_001 Screenshot_151126_002 Screenshot_151130_000

Gameplay

Martial arts wushu action. I love it. And very well done, too. Controls feel responsive, learning the combos makes all the difference in the world – player skill matters in this game, and that’s what I love to see. The classes all play very differently (I tried most of them during this beta event), which is great. Some I’m pretty good with, others not so much. I’d love to play the assassin, but I can barely walk out a trash fight without chugging a million health potions, whereas with the force master – does anyone else get star wars vibes from that name? Why not call it a sorcerer? – I can solo dungeons. The summoner is supposed to be the easiest class, but I get facerolled with it. You can see my summoner cat flying behind me in a couple of the screenshots above.

There is no autoattack, damage comes entirely from skill use and combos.

Conclusion

I am already out of space, so I will close out here for now. I will be playing it when the servers come back online (whenever that may be), despite wanting to say I wasn’t enjoying it. Perhaps it is the quest driven nature of the game? Perhaps I miss the dynamic events of Guild Wars 2, RIFT, and Firefall? I’m not sure, but I do know it’s on my list of games to play, with high marks almost entirely across the board.

Want to learn more? Visit the official page.

About Pherephassa 213 Articles
Pherephassa has been creeping around the etherspace long enough to have remorted so often that not even she can recall her original form. She loves sandboxes, challenges, chain mail bikinis and dungeons so large they take weeks, months or even years to fully explore. Currently seeking an MMO home, she can often be found on the side of the road, begging game designers for death penalties and slow leveling curves.