NCSoft is one of the more prolific of the free to play makers these days, releasing high quality experiences that are worth the time to check out. Blade & Soul is a fantastic example of this. Their most recent titles, Master X Master reviewed extremely well over here, and with good cause. Throwing in a great mix of PvP and PvE content resulted in a title that gamers of all stripes can enjoy. It wasn’t lacking in things to do when it launched, to say the least. The developers are always looking to keep throwing out reasons for players to stay engaged and that is precisely what they’ve achieved with the development of their upcoming update, launching September 13.
There are two big chunks to the new content. First up is a new character, Titus. This character of enormous stature is focused almost entirely around support, especially healing. Even his main attack can be held down and charged to create a healing radius around himself to keep teammates topped off and ready to take punishment. There’s also a plethora of skills that cleanses teammate’s debuffs and prevents crowd control abilities to be used against them. To round this out is an ultimate ability that marks a friendly character, preventing them from falling in battle. Instead, should their health drop to zero, they will instantly receive a significant amount of healing. Basically, the leaves the enemy with a decision to make: wait until it wears off before going for a killing blow and potentially paying the price, or resign themselves to the fact that they’ll have to kill the buffed individual twice. Neither option is particularly enjoyable for the foe, but anyone with Titus on their team will love it. To balance this out, Titus doesn’t have much in the way of offensive abilities, so be sure to plan your alternate character accordingly.
The other huge addition comes in the form of the Natium Defense Line. This new mode is a five player, PvE tower defense where the team has to defend a base from thirty waves of increasingly hostile jerkwads that believe said base would look much better as a pile of rubble. It is also meant to be difficult, serving as a piece of end game content to be conquered. In fact, the developers have yet to beat it. (The current record is wave 22.) During my hands on time, $200 dollars was placed on the table by one of them, to be distributed should we clear the tenth wave. I did not earn any money. This isn’t to say that the balance is way off. During our losing run, I saw precisely what we could have done differently to bolster our odds for next time. It’s just that it will require a high level team that is in perfect sync to pull off, which could be seen as fantastic practice for improving teamwork amongst a PvP team, even though the mechanics are different.
It’s not just dividing the hordes properly between players. Decisions will need to be made. A rare currency is earned during an attempt at the defense line that can be spent to improve the bases defense, adding adding some fire power to buy the team some time when some of the swarm slips past the player. This same currency can also be used to repair the base, something that will be needed in short order. It’s simple enough to utilize during the flurry of the action, but adds an extra element to argue about when failure inevitably comes.
There’s also some unique monsters to battle during this mode. The team is most proud of a giant cybernetic gorilla beast. Lumbering down one of the numerous paths, he provides a shield that prevents damage to himself and his smaller minions. Players will need to work together to separate the smaller ones from this brute in order to defeat them all, something that is easier said than done when a variety of other creatures are also in the mix.
I enjoyed my attempt at this mode; it was frenetic and varied. Teamwork is an absolute must when giving it a shot, though, so try to have that voice chat going when diving in. Another tip: don’t be like me and choose a character with which you are unfamiliar. This is not the time to learn someone new. Failing to realize this cost a large portion of my teammates $200. Of course, it was another teammate who offered up the reward, so hmm…maybe shenanigans were afoot. Needless to say, the team fully expects their dedicated audience to steamroll this mode in short order, as they recognize the focused insanity of their fans. They are most looking forward to seeing tricks and the melding of skills they didn’t even consider to do so.
One final piece of news: PvP players can look forward to the first season of Ranked Play to begin on September 15. This is something that NCSoft is excited about starting, as they have loved watching the matches of high level players going at it. With the starting of the first official “Season,” they are planning on being wowed by their fans.