Action MMO Bloodline Champions Pre-Release Preview

Action MMO Bloodline Champions Pre-Release Preview

by Cody Hargreaves

When I hear the name Funcom used in conjunction with the
name of a new game I know I’ll soon be playing, I get a warm, fuzzy feeling
spread throughout my body. In some circles, they call this feeling love. Yes, I
love Funcom. I MMORPGs to have
graced this small globe of ours (Anarchy Online and Age of Conan, in case you
were wondering), are all about quality.

Whether you enjoyed playing their games or not is
irrelevant; one thing we can likely both agree on is that games like Anarchy
and AoC are quality. They incorporate innovative ideas with fresh and engaging
gameplay, and in the case of AoC, they use state-of-the-art game engines and
visuals, too. Knowing this, I can safely assume that any game they choose to
publish in the future should be of similar quality. And so, it is with great
pleasure that I introduce to you the latest title published by Funcom,
developed by Swedish developer Stunlock Studios, and ‘Game of the Year’ winner
at the Swedish Game Awards in 2009, the action-MMO NOW THAT WE’VE BEEN
Bloodline Champions is in essence
a ‘beat-em-up’ style action-MMO that redefines the genre by incorporating
coherent and logical controls with innovative characters, abilities and
concepts. At first glance is takes the form of any other action MMO — you
select a character, jump in the ring and beat the crap out of the opposing team.
However, things start to get interesting, like any game of significant quality,
not in the first or second or tenth game you play, but in the fiftieth and
sixtieth, once you’ve mastered the system and begin to understand how it all
fits together.

Normally, we call this style of learning curve ‘easy to
learn, hard to master’, but I was feeling creative and took the long route.
Though regardless of terminology, that exactly how WASDQERTFSPACE
One of the most prominent features of Bloodline
is its ‘old and true’ WASD movement system. The Internet has been
recommending this game to fans of both the ‘Aeon of Strife’ and FPS genres for
precisely this reason. It looks like
an RTS, but plays like an FPS. Or so
they say. In reality, it nothing like either; these Internet folk don’t know
their ankle from their elbow. It a lot more like the arena in World of
Warcraft, really, except that you play from a top-down viewpoint and don’t have
to level your characters for a bajillion* hours before you can play. Though,
yes, the movement system is certainly familiar, and fans of all of the above
genres should feel right at home.

WASD control movement, and QERTF and SPACE are used to cast
spells and abilities. From there, it a simple matter of kicking the crap out
of your opponent with one of the many heroes on offer, and making it look good
while you do. Speaking of heroes, Bloodline
has more than a few available to use (which is likely why it
being compared to DotA, HoN and LoL), except that once again, the Hero
templates are much more like the one you’d find in WoW (or any other MMORPG,
for that matter) than anywhere else.

*Yes, a
bajillion (A.K.A five to seven years of your life; it a lot like a prison
sentence when you think about it”¦).

In the ‘Aeon of Strife’ titles you often select a hero based on their
governing attribute (Strength, Agility or Wisdom); however, in BC you choose
based on their role (Melee, Ranged or Healer). See the difference? It the
MMORPG staple of class distribution, and happily, it makes the jump to the new
genre almost seamlessly.

Now, I say almost, not because the system is flawed (as once
you’ve tried it yourself you’ll see how well it works), but because of the
players that fail to utilise it. You see, it great to have a player on your
team that can heal you, and it even better when they know how to do it;
however, most players want to be in
the action, and opt to play as the melee or ranged classes instead, resulting
in an all-out-mash-fest of awesome abilities and fast-action gameplay. Which is
cool. It works in MMOs, so why wouldn’t it work here? Well, there aren’t any dungeons
in action-MMOs, so there really isn’t any need for people to play as a healer.
So for the most part, they don’t. And as a result, the tactical, intricate, enjoyable
play that could be on offer is often
a mash-fest instead.

But that not a bad thing. In fact, bring a few friends in
with you and it a non-issue entirely. So, as you can probably already tell, Bloodline Champions is a pretty cool
game, and at the time of writing, it still in closed beta. Sure, there are a
few balance issues with a couple of the heroes, but for the most part it one
of the finest quality betas I’ve ever played. There are plenty of maps, 3 game
modes, 16 heroes, an in-game region selection system (are you reading this,
Blizzard?), game options for everything from 1v1 to 5v5, a level and grade
system that helps to put you against players of your own skill level, and each
game is split up into multiple rounds, which allow for some amazing comebacks.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this:

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