Blade & Soul Review: Lots of Blade, Needs More Soul ?

Nearly four years ago, NCSoft launched Blade & Soul in South Korea. It’s an MMO built from NCSoft’s best and brightest, featuring the art of superstar Hyung Tae-Kim and a robust action combat system. The game has since been distributed to China, Japan, and Taiwan, but North American fans have had to muddle through a different language to enjoy the game. Those fans have been asking for a Western localization for years and NCSoft West finally delivered in January. Has Blade & Soul been worth the wait?

Blade & Soul is visually striking right from the beginning. Sure, Unreal Engine 3 shows its age here with relatively poor textures if you look at anything closeup, but the general artstyle is wonderfully unique. This is a Korean MMO and that culture is painted upon every surface, alongside some heavy wuxia influences.It’s a game that you need bns gold to improve yourself. Mountainside cities stretch into the clouds, waterfalls dot the landscape, and vast deserts stretch out before you. Blade & Soul has some stunning vistas.

Getting around those vistas is equally enjoyable. There’s no mounts in this game. Instead, the player character is completely self-sufficient, able to float through the air, push themselves forward off of nothing, and walk on water. You can even wall dash! Finally, there’s static Dragon Pulses in each region that will launch you from place to place. It’s one of the game’s

However Blade & Soul’s plot is threadbare and mostly forgettable: You’re the last student of Hong Sokyun, master of the Hongmoon style. When your entire school is destroyed by the power hungry Jinsoyun, you’re found floating in the ocean and saved by an old war veteran. So begins your quest to master the Hongmoon way and bring an end to Jinsoyun. That’s pretty much the outline of the quest and while the game will touch upon your true mission here and there, it’s mostly background to the leveling experience. It’s certainly not up to snuff compared to games like Final Fantasy XIV or Guild Wars 2. 1

It probably doesn’t help that Blade & Soul’s Western release is plagued by poor voice acting and rough translations. Honestly, given the audience this game seems to be reaching, I think it might have been better for NCSoft just to leave the Korean voice acting in place, because it’s much, much stronger

But the PVP mode, which is split between 1v1 Duels, 3v3 Matches, and world PVP, is where the game shines the brightest. Tactics and tight reflexes unpin the entire PVP system, leading to some great matches if you find an equally skilled opponent. There’s a strong give-and-take, waiting for your foe to overcommit so you can exploit their weaknesses with a stun or grapple. You’ll find some very tense matches, where a perfect counter will take you from a near-loss to victory. I don’t particularly enjoy PVP in MMOs, but in Blade & Soul it’s rather fun.

Blade & Soul does allow for a decent amount of player expression though. The armor system, the Soul Shields, is completely separated from the visual costume system. NCSoft has created a variety of complete outfits for every character, usually themed. A number are available as quest and dungeon rewards, but some of the most extravagant are available through the game’s cash shop. There’s a constant infusion of new outfits in the cash shop, as that’s where Blade & Soul looks to make the most of its money. That also ends up being one of the drawbacks as some costumes are only available through random games of chance, or even worse, are random drops from purchasable boxes on the cash shop. The latter is what has the Western fanbase mostly up in arms. (It would also be cool if BnS offered a costume dye system at all.)

While Blade & Soul is free, you’ll find that you’re rather limited if you don’t pick up a Premium Membership or other add-ons. The Premium Membership offers a wardrobe deposit, increased experience gain, lower marketplace fees, and discounts on items in the cash shop. Even with a Premium Membership, you only have two character slots and a pretty limited inventory. Expect to throw some money at Blade & Soul to get the quality of life features that many players expect.

There’s also something to be said for the relative lean of Blade & Soul’s costumes. Artist Hyung Tae-Kim is known for his scantily-clad female characters with rather “healthy assets” and twisted spines, so you should know what you’re getting into already. Many players use the rather robust character creator to make pretty female characters with absolutely huge breasts that sway to and fro, via rather aggressive jiggle physics. This is compounded by many of the female costumes, which are threadbare are best and rather open in certain regions at worst. This would be better if NCSoft had stuck to its promise to provide more even costumes for male and female characters, but you’re far more likely to find someone took the shears to the female version of a costume, if there’s even a male version available. Which is to say, if you’re going to go that route, let everybody get in equally on the fun.

In the end, I didn’t like Blade & Soul.Blade & Soul is a game going in two different directions instead of simply focusing on what makes it great. That said, if you’re willing to blast your way through to level cap and you want to look flashy as you partake in some great PVP, Blade & Soul is probably the game for you. For more information, please go to