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Bless Online: More of the Same Old

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By jefferyDate: Nov 21 2017 Views:

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If you’ve been playing MMOs since as long as you can remember, there are certain defaults and biases you have when hearing about specific titles and developers. World of Warcraft and Blizzard would more likely trigger ideas of “classic,” “best MMO,” “crap MMO,” or “waste of my childhood.” RuneScape and Jagex are more of “classic,” “best MMO,” or “holy moley, why is this still alive?”

Then, you come to “Korea,” and you have gems, including Black Desert Online, Blade and Soul, and TERA, and you might think “cool graphics,” “free-to-play,” or “generic Asian MMO.” Yes, that’s purely subjective, but you certainly can’t deny the similarities of many Asian MMOs.

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Gameplay, especially, becomes generic and repetitive, even with the fantastic combat of BDO, they can still become quite droning. Now, comes our wariness of the upcoming MMO, Bless Online, developed by Neowiz Games, a South Korean company. Does Bless Online bring something new to the table, or is it just another Asian MMO with pretty girls and an obscene vertical progression treadmill? Please keep in mind that the game hasn’t been released so this is just a sort of first impressions based on the open beta it has had in the past.

Clear Cut Korean Stylistics

Bless Online is, well, blessed with the same sense of graphical stylistics and fidelity that many of its peers have. You can fault Korean MMO developers with anything you want, but they certainly have an eye for excellent aesthetics, and they certainly know what they’re doing.

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Right off the bat, the character creation screen is where you can find the great-made character models, armors, and their appropriate looks per class. Although it’s not as extensive as Black Desert Online’s character creation, Bless Online comes close to it with all the sorts of sliders and other available options to tinker with your character’s appearance.

Once you head into the game, the environments are awe-inspiring considering that Bless has an open-world without invisible borders where you can go anywhere gravity allows. The graphics department of the gameplay is quite well. If there’s a similar aesthete from other Korean games that Bless is identical to, then that’s TERA. From the feel of the atmosphere to the appearance of gear, and architecture, it’s unmistakably similar to TERA.

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Quest Linearity and Clunky Combat

Bless is a theme park MMO and nothing more. Questing is as little as tired-old breadcrumb quests similar to many other games like WoW, SWTOR, and FFXIV. The story is linear, and everybody encounters the same cut-scenes (regardless of how good they look), and side quests are nothing more than activities to sponge XP.

However, Bless’ greatest sin lies in its combat system. It’s not a bad fighting system, but it’s one that feels dated and close to obsolete even though it’s not a tab-targeting game – not by a long shot. Games like WoW, SWTOR, and FFXIV still exist to this day and do amazing on their parts. Bless Online simply fails at making the standard tab-targeting system more interesting or innovative. In an industry loaded with WoW-clones, it’s even more critical t to set yourself apart from the competition.

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On the other hand, generic tab-targeting combat isn’t at all a sin, as long as you implement correctly. Bless’ combat system feels clunky and unresponsive, especially for classes with long cast times like the mage. It has a free-targeting mode, a combat approach that discards tab-targeting and instead, integrates a crosshair system similar to modern day ARPGS. 

Unfortunately, combat is incredibly clunkier as if your skills still react in the same manner as if you were using tab-targeting. The first mob that was in your sights as you cast a spell or use a skill will be hit regardless if you quickly swapped targets before the cast finishes. This mode also gives you a false sense of its ARPG-ness with classes that have dodge mechanics like the Berserker that can’t dodge any attack as one would expect invulnerability frames from games, such as BDO, ESO, or TERA. It’s a half-baked feature that feels tacked on for the sake of being in with the current trend of action MMOs.

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Beautiful But Dated

Bless Online looks like a decent time sink similar to many other MMOs before it. A beautifully detailed world and fantastic character creation are its strong suits and the fact that the game was developed in 2011 and on the Unreal Engine 3, making these strengths even more impressive.

However, questing and combat fall into the mundane, wrecking any chance for Bless Online to be the MMO of 2018. With quest ultra-linearity and flogging, dated tab-targeting combat, Bless isn’t about to impress any seasoned MMO gamer. Still, the game is in its beta stages with a full, worldwide release in 2018, so lots of things can even change. On the other hand, as experience tells us, core mechanics rarely change without a full overhaul of the game’s internal systems, which doesn’t sit well for any form of combat changes in Bless Online.

Asian MMORPG

Probably about 4 years ago, many people would have opened their arms gladly to something similar to Bless Online, but the industry climate as of late might only meet it with a resonating “meh.” If this looks like your type of thing, then why not pick it up? However, until it shows any form of improvement in its PvE content and combat system, it’ll just be another WoW clone with a fancy Korean skin.

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