With the Soul Fighter being added on June 22nd, I got thinking about the future of Blade and Soul. At least, not in the way I perceive it; that ship has pretty much sailed and I’ve settled in to my feelings about the game already, I mean the actual bits and bobs being added on. The future changes, the updates, the new shiny. Since Blade and Soul is being developed further in advance in Korea, we actually have the benefit of seeing into the game’s future, which is what I want to focus on today.
First and most immediately relevant to the future of Blade and Soul are the class changes. As of this writing, there’s a new patch being tested on the Korean PTR with a planned release of June 22nd which includes some new content and other stuff, including a whole slew of class changes that have been outlined. Of the classes that are currently in the game, Destroyer, Warlock and Blade Dancer remain largely untouched, though every class will be receiving a skill that will remove themselves from Frost Prison…which will likely enrage many Force Master PvP players.
The heavier focus of this adjustment is on the Assassin who is receiving a number of changes. Specifically, Assassins are getting a Plague Mist skill path in place of the Bolt Strike path. They’re also seeing several timing changes to their skills, such as the cooldown on Stomp changing to 30 seconds and the cooldown on Hook Kick adjusting to 12 seconds. Lightning Pierce also seems to be getting a great deal of attention, as it will no longer apply poison, do more damage to a target with five poison stacks, or more damage to grabbed or phantom gripped targets. In exchange, the skill will be receiving a buff to base damage and the focus cost reduced to 1. It is going to be really interesting to see how this affects Assassins in both PvE and PvP content.
There also looks to be some big changes coming to the Blade Master, with Five Point Strike now offering a flat two Focus recovery for every hit and Dragontongue reducing focus generation from four to two. Blade Masters will also be getting a replacement to Blade Guard now called Blade Hit, which is removing deflection and threat increase in favor of a full frontal block for one second that can apply Correction Stance unconditionally to proc a Scorching and Blade Chi effect at Tier Three. However, Correction Stance will be removed after blocking three hits, which sounds like an adjustment to make the Blade Master a bit less of a tank, which could be the sorely needed change Blade Masters have been waiting for.
Of course, these changes are still undergoing testing and could always shift from now to Korean release, and could also see further iteration when the changes arrive to Western shores. Still, if you’re interested in the potential for adjustments to your favorite class, you can click here to read up more details.
New Content Coming
In addition to the class adjustments, there are always new things to look forward to in terms of content, such as the heroic dungeons Naryu Sanctuary and the Automaton Lab of Blade and Soul China. There was also talk about a new open world map called the Basin of Heaven which features more of the same sort of gameplay as other open world maps that we already have in Blade and Soul. Unfortunately, this also seems to feature the ever-expanding pile of extra currencies and baubles needed to harvest in order to get upgraded gear, furthering the problem of currency management. Still, the track record of content that Blade and Soul is following seems to be working well for NCSoft and the developers are very good at adding more of these types of updates.
Watching one of the fights on YouTube from the Automaton Lab, the new boss fight looks to be pretty fascinating mechanics-wise, as there are a series of jumps you have to avoid in a very specific order to avoid serious damage. It also amazes me how the boss in that fight can absorb five-figure damage without so much as a flinch. That is terrifying for someone who is still moving through normal content. Regardless, the heroic dungeons and open world maps coming up are something to look forward to and remain a goal to reach for. My only concern is being utterly left behind on advancement.
What’s Not Next
So the first thing that I was sort of hoping for but did not see was new classes. I suppose that should be expected, considering how difficult PvP balance must be for the classes the game has going on now, especially since it fancies itself an eSports title. Still, it would be nice to see another class or two, maybe somewhere down the line.
Speaking of PvP, there also wasn’t any mention of any new PvP areas or battlegrounds being added in the digging that I did. There is definitely still lots of time left in 2016, but more PvP modes and maps would certainly be a welcome addition. That is, of course, assuming Blade and Soul isn’t content on simply making PvP a pure 1v1 arena fighting game. That would make sense from an eSports standpoint, but it also sounds spectacularly boring for PvP players who want more team-based or more battleground-style options.
Also of note was an abject lack of adjustments to leveling content, as the game’s direction is purely endgame focused at this point in time. Again, this is not surprising, but if Blade and Soul wishes to court any new players it would seem to me that making changes to leveling content would be a smart decision. Perhaps the Western version of the game will think to do something in order to make getting to the ever-expanding endgame buffet a little faster. Or at the very least, they may put a sale up for XP pots.
Overall, the future of Blade and Soul looks very intriguing, if not terribly inventive. The design ethos of “more of what’s being played” makes very obvious sense, and is a design edict that a game like Final Fantasy XIV is living very well off of, so Blade and Soul beating the drum steadily is a good idea. Whether major adjustments between the Korea client and Western client are done is always something to consider, but being able to divine the future of a game is not an advantage many MMO players can boast. It’s good to enjoy what’s here now, but it’s also fun to peek behind the curtain from time to time.Related: Blade & Soul, Classes, Column, MMORPG, NCSoft