Created by the Swedish company Stunlock Studios, published by Funcom, Bloodline Champions, an Arena game (not to be confused with MOBA), was released to the public on January 13, 2011. Despite its high scores on Metacritic, Steam, and the general community, it did not live as heartily as we had expected it to. Regardless of this fact, it still retains a cult following of hardcore arena gamers and its development crew has not given in to care-bear notions and changed the game to an easier model.
Bloodline Champions promotes a skill-centric gameplay that does not allow players with tenure to carry an advantage over those without. Games are played in teams of 3 and often 2 usually including a healer. Rounds last between two and five minutes and entire games last about eight to twelve minutes, or up to 20 in tournament matches. There are no atmospheric or random mechanics to allow for sudden advantages. There is a lobby system in place and a matchmaker which follows a “grading” (comparable to tiers) system that goes up to 28.
Bloodline rotation occurs every day and following achievement lines allows for unlocking bloodlines quicker. You may also purchase all champions via bloodline packages which come with some blood coins and some bloodline skins. Right now there are 27 bloodlines with an even distribution throughout melee and ranged damage, tanking, and healing.
There is a “marketplace” in Bloodline Champions where everyone goes to spend their blood coins, tournament currencies, and real world money. There are also a set of armor and weapon cosmetics available for purchase only with tournament credits called “tokens” (bronze, gold, and diamond) and you may interchange currencies for certain items as well. At it’s worse, the only advantage you can gain over another player is purchasing experience or blood coin boosts to obtain bloodlines more quickly.
The graphics in Bloodline Champions aren’t quite as cartoonish as League of Legends, but hold to a sort of World of Warcraft caliber allowing nearly all machines to run the game with the smoothness required to maintain adequate gameplay. Character designs are relatively unique and play well alongside each bloodline’s mechanics. Because of how fast each game is going to be moving, particle effects are not over-drawn and are fitting for each ability. Many people, however, have felt that many animations may be a little glitchy looking on slightly older machines.
As is with many first generation arenas, audio can be rather redundant as there aren’t a ton of sound variations for each move you make. The good thing is, for the most part, audio is not even necessary and most players will often listen to music. For those with acute senses, and a history with Funcom, you may notice that many sounds are taken from Age of Conan starting with the launcher’s “ready” sound. Despite the redundancy, it doesn’t become too much of an irritation if you do choose to keep the game’s audio on.
The interface, both in the lobby screen and in-game are certainly adequate for the game’s design. In lobby menus, you have a homepage for BLC called the “bloodgate”. In here you will find a profile page, a knowledge base (encyclopedia), rankings, and tournament schedules (both past and future). The knowledge base serves as a great way to learn about bloodlines before you play them because the game simply moves way too fast to learn as you go.
The in-game interface is simplistic and to the point. You may also middle click your mouse to use a camera mode which follows your cursor instead of your bloodline which allows for far better vision. My first thought when seeing this was “Why do no other games use this?”, but then I remembered, no other top-down games use WASD movement. For shame.
8-way, WASD movement, may come off as a bit unfamiliar but, In the long run, a delightful experience for people who have had extensive tenure in MOBA and Arena style games. At first it feels a little bit clunky but when you’ve put in about 25 total hours it becomes second nature and begins to feel far more comfortable than the traditional click movement. While the game could have been created without this, it feels like aiming abilities which proc multiple times (as is often the case in Bloodline Champions) feel more like following the target and shooting a gun as opposed to catapulting a rock and hoping it hits, like the traditional non-target systems.
Mobility abilities, activatable with spacebar, found on every hero also allow you to be tricky with your movement and make chasing down enemies and picking which one to focus one rough experience. In contrast to the expectable time frames of each match, this provides a very hardcore experience to the game which is absolutely wonderful!
As mentioned earlier in the review, Bloodline Champions promotes a highly skill-based competitive gameplay. Every single bloodline category has its own mechanic which gives each player separate focuses that, to the untrained eye, may be unnoticeable. But don’t be fooled! A seasoned player may jump from target to target for the purpose of throwing off momentum. Even as small as these movements feel, taking a dps off a healer just long enough for them to attack you before switching targets again can give that healer the time they need to situate themselves. Repositioning is also very important so that that healers can also start doing damage without the burden of trying to heal two or more people at once. This alone is a game changing concept that takes practice to really get down.
This means the game requires a high degree of micro management and split second decision making if you are to be successful and hold your own as each individual role. For example, if you are playing as a blood priest (healer) you are going to spend a lot more time healing and CCing than doing damage. If you are playing as an astronomer (healer), you will often jump in to do some damage after CCing a portion of the team and healing your own. Instead of shielding allies as you would with most other healers, you’ll be using get-away tactics.
In Bloodline Champions, you have a left and right click ability, a spacebar (mobility) ability, Q, E, and R which all act as specials, and F, your ultimate ability. Your ultimate can be used once you have full energy which is acquired through landing your Left/right click, Q, E, R abilities successfully.. Q and E may also act as Z or X and are called “Ex” abilitys, which run on the same cooldown as their base ability. Ex abilities use energy instead and perform an either more powerful version or alternative version of the base ability. Confused yet? Good.
You also have medallions that have individual abilities as well. In total there are 4 medallions, 2 of which are active, 1 that provides a passive conditional boost, and a troll medallion… Just for fun! Troll medallions create a silly effect in-game to taunt your opponents with. I should also mention that trolling is rather condoned in this community as most people sort of just look at it as a joke.
Being launched in 2011, it used to see up to 3000 active players daily but unfortunately this number has dropped. But don’t let this bar you from playing the game. These numbers have not prevented Stunlock from running twice weekly open tournaments as well as higher tier tournaments. The numbers may not be as high, but this comes as a reward to the community because they also have not changed rewards. So as long as you are registered and participating you still get high rewards for competing.
With weekly automated tournaments, quick matches lasting up to 10 minutes max, and more skills than the average arena game to utilize in matches, BLC is easily one of my top 5 picks for arena games. The hardcore nature of the game makes it irresistible to burn several hours on. Many play for it’s unpredictable gameplay as well as it’s difficult learning curb. Watching a professional tournament match is how I originally got good at the game and I feel that (as opposed to doing internet searches) is what defines the degree of skill it requires to jump into unfamiliar territory.
This is not for the care bears! Nobody in this community wants you coming in telling everyone everything is unbalanced and too hard. It really isn’t, you just need to take the time it takes to understand the goals and purposes of each bloodline in each type of situation. BLC is definitely not spelled out for you.
- Skill based gameplay
- Twitch-style combat
- Unique character concepts
- More abilities than other MOBAs
- No mana; just cooldowns
- Automated tournament system
- Very small community
- Slightly outdated graphics and audio
- Community is split between Europe and USA servers
- Not many tournament skin variations