Blade and Soul is a big deal in Asia. Developed by NCSoft, the game has a massive following, with it being reported in early 2014 that the game had managed to achieve 1.5 million concurrent players in China. When you take into account that it took World of Warcraft 3 years to pull in 1 million players altogether in the region, it highlights just how popular this MMO is.
With NCSoft having suffered a dent in their reputation following the disappointing release of WildStar, they're now finally bringing Blade and Soul to the West in the hope that it will attract a similar level of popularity. After initially being skeptical that a game which received its first release in 2012 could win over a modern audience, it took very little time for it to sink its teeth into me, and after only having access to the game a couple of days before its official release tomorrow (January 19th) I'm already halfway to the level cap.
So after becoming addicted to this wonderful MMO oddity, I am inclined to suggest that all (yes, all) fans of MMOs should at least try it out. By the way, if you need
, just click. Here's why:
Deep character customization
Blade and Soul features some of the more intuitive customization tools you'll find in an MMO, allowing you to tinker with the intricacies of your character's appearance. For instance, I made skunk Tom Selleck:
While I stumbled upon some grotesque player-characters during my time with the game, with the female models in particular often being given the unfortunate appearance of dead-eyed blow-up sex dolls, there are plenty of tools at your disposal for you to create your ideal hero. They won't be as ideal as skunk Tom Selleck, of course, but you can give it your best shot.
Freedom of Movement
Even traversing Blade and Soul's map is enjoyable, given the abilities NCSoft grants players outside of combat. Along with a standard sprint option (albeit one which allows players to move lightning fast), player-characters are also able to glide through the air, Dragon Jump to hard-to-reach destinations via portals, and even run along water.
For Westerners, this movement will conjure up images of martial arts movies such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and House of Flying Daggers, with it being clearly inspired by the wuxia fiction. Wuxia is a very old genre originating in China, which depicts ancient Chinese warriors engaging in superhuman feats of strength and agility. Blade and Soul clearly echoes this genre with both its setting and gameplay, and though the game's absence of mounts may prove to be a little off-putting for those who like to spend the majority of their time in an MMO on the back of a monstrous horse-like creature, you'll swiftly get over it as you clear whole regions in just a few jumps.
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