Welcome to Tower of Mushin, our weekly article for all things Blade and Soul. I will be your pig-tailed kunoichi guide through this realm of swift swords, fiery fists and physics-defying fighters. Or sometimes I’ll be a really tall axe-swinging juggernaut. What I probably won’t be, though, is an animal-tailed child-critter. Though they are adorable as all heck.
If you’re reading this, then you are maybe fall in one of two columns: those who already play Blade and Soul and enjoy it, or those who are curious and are looking to collect opinion on whether or not a download is worth the time and disk space. It’ll be those folks I’m speaking to here, though the former are certainly welcome to chime in with their own thoughts in the comments below. Specifically, though, to answer the question of whether one should play Blade and Soul, you should probably consider the answers to a few questions.
Do You Like Anime?
Blade and Soul is a Korean-crafted MMO, so its art and design style are heavily influenced by Japanese anime, as well as a combination of Chinese kung-fu film and Korean style cues. As such, you can expect to see lots of fascinating wuxia fantasy locales and a huge amount of turned-up-to-anime-level character models and movements. On the one hand there are beautiful, ancient world places like temples and bamboo forests, but on the other you can place a landmine or disappear in a flash, leaving a wooden dolly of yourself behind. The game is a stew of history and fantasy, all seen through the lens of an action anime like Naruto.
Looking at screenshots and videos, it’s easy for most people to come to an answer to this question. Blade and Soul definitely has some design decisions that can be…off-putting, to put it mildly. However, as easy as it is to be drawn in to or write off a game based on its looks alone, there are still a few more questions you should answer for yourself.
Do You Like Fast Combat?
It’s important to get one thing out of the way very quickly here – the speed of fighting in Blade and Soul is incredibly high. Videos maybe can give you a sense, but actually having your hands in there and mixing it up is a wholly different experience. Depending on your class choice, you’re either going to be very reactive or very aggressive. There really isn’t any in-between to be had. There are rotations, skills and optimal loadouts that classes have, but this game definitely feels like it rewards those who can think on their feet and can input at a very high pace.
Every single class in this game has a series of combos and skills that chain together to unload a world of hurt on your enemies. There are even some classes that demand you get attacked first in order for them to get to an advantageous situation or to engage an effect. In other words, this game will test your ability to react, adapt and remember strings of combos, as well as the button presses required. Mercifully, the game does a good job of teaching and training you things, and the keybindings set by default all fall where your hand and fingers would be anyway. Still, if you have slower reaction times or issues with manual dexterity, it is something to consider.
How Important is Story To You?
Many themepark MMO’s draw you in to their world through a chain of quests tied to a narrative, and Blade and Soul definitely is no exception. Your main character is betrayed and out for the blood of those who destroyed your martial arts school, and the story has you hunting down a villain that only you can destroy while helping people along your way with their problems.
If any of that sounds terribly familiar…well, that’s because it is. Blade and Soul, admittedly, hasn’t gripped me with its narrative turns. Still, it is an interesting enough world to progress through, and the characters you meet vary from forgettable to eyebrow-raisingly unique. It’s things that aren’t arresting for me, but many others have said that they love the storyline, so it very clearly is a subjective thing. If a nitro-powered karate film vengeance story strikes as interesting to you, then this game has what you seek.
Do You Want An Active Community?
If you’re looking for roleplay, at least in-game directly, there’s not much to be had at a cursory glance. Blade and Soul lacks a lot of explanations or origins given for things that happen in this game other than “chi”, and so lore is not exactly applied well. As such, roleplay is likely on a personal invitation basis. If you’re seeking that sort of community, there are sure to be at least a few sites to cater to this need.
If you’re the sort who likes to play alongside others, then you are certainly in luck. There are indeed quite a lot of people playing right now, so finding assistance with combat is definitely not an issue. Teaming up for group content can feel a bit on the janky side with the need to navigate a couple of menus and understanding what channel you’re on in relation to party mates, but having run a couple of smaller group actions I can say that the folks who are playing together are overall warm and inviting. The beauty of a newer MMO is that not everyone expects you to be an expert in group dynamics.
If you’re the sort who would rather fight others, then this game definitely has you covered. The factional outfits system (yes, you read that right) that flags you as open to PvP in the world no matter where you are or how many guards are around you means you’ll get plenty of chances to pounce or be pounced upon. As with many open-flagging systems, however, it can be readily abused by higher-level players stalking the lowbie zones for easy kills. That said, the counter of PKK’ing is always an option. For those who like more structured PvP’ing, the matchmaking system and the arenas have got your number. Automatically normalizing stats to max level, you’ve got at least a fighting chance against those who are more familiar with their class. I’m not exactly amazing at it, but it is very good fun regardless.
Honestly, I’ve never been more impressed with seeing my butt get beaten down.
Can You Spare About 10 Levels?
If you’ve gotten this far in this article and are still on the fence, I would finally suggest that you at least give the game and its classes a shot to about level 10. Blade and Soul is definitely not a game that speaks to everyone, but if you’re truly curious, it costs nothing to take a peek. I would only suggest that you try those first ten levels to become as personally informed as possible. There are still a variety of systems that aren’t opened up to you, but it also gives you enough time to decide whether you want to follow through and uncover more. It only took me about two hours to get to this level, and that was with reading most of the quest text. Consider it a friendly suggestion for the not-fully-convinced. Should you play Blade & Soul? You have nothing to lose and a world to gain.Related: Blade & Soul, Column, Tower of Mushin