Whenever I start up a new MMO, my first and favorite thing to do is make a small army of alts to play around with new classes until I settle on a main. I tend to do some prior research on what class could possibly appeal, but there’s no substitute for experience for me. That said, I also feel like the class descriptions offered for Blade and Soul are a little more…well, boisterous, we’ll say. To that end, I’d like to outline my own primer for the classes of Blade and Soul. It’s my hope that this little bit of personal experience will help in anyone interested in playing the game to pick a class that works for them.
A few points I want to make before I begin: I’ve played each of the Blade and Soul classes to about level 15, and so these are early impressions. That said, I feel like I got a pretty solid handle of how each class operates and the style of play they provide. It’s entirely feasible that the classes themselves could metamorphosize as the Skill Tree is unlocked. To that point, this is being considered a primer instead of a full-on class guide. It should be used as a part of a collection of impressions from various sources to help potential players make an informed class decision…and since character slots are limited at the outset, I feel that coming in to the game with the right expectations is important. Also of note, these impressions are solely based on PvE performance, as I am an awful PvP player.
With that all said, let’s begin!
Blade Dancer / Blade Master
These two are typically lumped together by virtue of the fact that they appear the same. They both wield one-handed swords, both have similar skills and both are damaging classes. However, there are some subtle differences between them. The Blade Dancer emphasizes a sense of incredible speed and swift hits, while the Blade Master feels more balanced and nuanced.
Both classes have Basic and Draw stances, but have different ways of utilizing each. Dancers alternate stances in order to use elemental abilities as well as provide different types of attack, providing a few different ways to carve up enemies. In either case, the class is best suited to someone who likes to rush in and blend an enemy to ribbons. Anyone who has played a Scrapper in City of Heroes will likely feel very much at home with a Blade Dancer. Blade Masters use Basic Stance for standard attack and Draw Stance for avoidance maneuvers, allowing them to adjust their tactics based on an encounter. In the case of a Blade Master, it felt initially like a remarkably balanced class, but also not an exactly dynamic choice. It would be my suggestion to try the Blade Master if you’re first starting out with Blade and Soul’s style of combat, as it has a feeling of solid offense and defense balance.
Blade Masters are available to the Jin and the Yun, while Blade Dancers are exclusive to the Lyn.
This is easily my favorite class in the entire game, so I’m probably going to come off as a bit gushy here. That said, it also is the class that best illustrates the strengths of Blade and Soul’s style of combat.
Assassins employ distraction, diversion and avoidance in their playstyle, making use of position and getting the drop on an enemy either before the encounter has started or even during a fight. They use explosives and decoys to catch enemies off guard and position themselves for a fatal strike. They have stealth abilities, but nothing that operates like a toggle. Instead, they either need to be behind an enemy or have a decoy cover their dodge. When an Assassin is in the right place at the right time, they can spear through an enemy with huge hits or catch them off their feet to deliver punishing blows. However, they don’t have a great deal of multiple target tricks, so it can be easy to be overrun if you’re not careful. If you’ve played any sort of avoidance class or like to be the sort to set up a fight before pulling the trigger, this is your class.
The Assassin is exclusive to the Jin.
The Destroyer is another personal favorite, though for different reasons than the Assassin. It provides a sense of juggernaut power, making you feel like an avalanche made of impossibly huge axes. Oh, and you get to pick up and body slam your opponents.
The Destroyer feels like a tanker class, but not so much for durability as it does for incredible hitting power. Following that old “Best defense is a good offense” ethos, the Destroyer has abilities that let it cleave in to multiple foes at once as well as use a target as a weapon. Singling out one poor sucker for a slam in to the ground actually does damage to everyone else, meaning you get to pick up, pummel, punish and just outright…well…destroy your foes. It feels like a class that’s been made for tanking but would rather just get to the business of running through enemies instead of provoking them and herding them in one spot for everyone else to do all the work. What’s more, seeing a boss creature get picked up, attacked by everyone else then thrown in to the ground is probably one of the more satisfying moments I’ve had in MMO combat.
The Destroyer is exclusive to the Gon.
Alright, so full disclosure. I really don’t like ranged classes. They never really stick with me, and kiting feels less like a tactic as it does an exploitation of crappy A.I. The Force Master has done little to change my mind, though it does have a couple of interesting tricks.
The Force Master, as this game’s Mage class surrogate, is your glass cannon that uses a mixture of ice attacks to slow and control and fire to burninate and DPS. The pacing of the class is pretty high, on par with the TERA ranged classes, and switching between ice skills to lock down enemies and fire to take them out is pretty much the bread-and-butter of the Force Master. Still, it didn’t have nearly the same level of panache as other classes did. The Force Grip ability which grabs an enemy to you and lets you hit it with hurting before slamming them to the ground is pretty fun, and the alternating lockdown to DPS rotations could be fun for those who love that sort of style. I just am not one of them. Definitely for those who love to back-line and hurt things or enjoy soft control, and very possibly a late-blooming class.
Force masters are available to the Gon, Yun and Lyn.
Kung Fu Master
If I had to describe this class in synopsis, it’s “Assassin Hard Mode”. The Kung Fu Master has a very high skill ceiling, but is also probably one of the more rewarding classes to play in the game by virtue of its challenge.
Against many of the other playstyles of classes in Blade and Soul, the Kung Fu Master isn’t about moving swiftly or charging in as it is about planting your feet, waiting for an attack and punishing those who do. You are, basically, every anime fighting master who stands there stone-faced as they effortlessly dodge punches. The Kung Fu Master relies on reaction, with most of its combos coming by way of countering an incoming blow and either stunning and beating the opponent down or tripping them up to mount them for follow-up punches or grapple maneuvers. The window to counter incoming blows is very small when compared to the Assassin’s Decoy skill, meaning you have to time your abilities pretty precisely. However, when you do manage to get the timing down, the ferocity of a Kung Fu Master’s counterattack is very impactful. Definitely not a class for those with bad reflexes or bad ping rates.
The Kung Fu Master can be played by the Gon, Jin and Yun.
Finally we have a pet class. More specifically, a pet kitty class. Take the field with a battle kitten in tow and become the most adorable destructive force in the field! Seriously, this class is cuter than hell.
The Summoner, as one would expect, relies on your Familiar to be the primary damage dealer while you augment their attacks. Standing back and offering up some DoT’s, bursts or heals to your War Kitten is the name of the game. The A.I. of the Murder Purr Face seems, mercifully, to be pretty competent, and I didn’t run in to many instances where it pulled things needlessly. It also seems like a late-blooming class as the skills didn’t really have a lot of variety or depth that I haven’t seen in other pet-based classes. However, if you adore having a Pretten Kitten along on your wuxia adventure, then this is definitely your class. Especially if you like dressing your Killer Puss-Puss. Yes, seriously, there’s exclusive kitty clothes. So many cute kitty clothes…
The Summoner can only be played by the Lyn, because of course. How else can you have that much cute?
There you have it! My thoughts on the various Blade and Soul classes. Obviously, these are my opinions and should not be regarded as gospel, as there are some classes I love that others may despise and vice-versa. Ultimately, there seems to be a pretty broad variety of classes in this game to suit most any MMO player’s preferences. Some strike familiar notes while others are wholly unique. Choosing which one is best is a matter of research, and I hope that this was helpful in yours. Until next week, see you out in the fields or soaring through the air!Related: Blade & Soul, Classes, Column, Guides, New Player Guide, Tower of Mushin