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- Blade & Soul
Blade & Soul, a self-described "Far-East martial arts" MMO which experienced record-breaking popularity in Asia, is finally getting a closed beta in North America and Europe.
After clamoring for a translated version of the game, Western fans of Blade & Soul need only wait until this Winter for a chance to explore the fantastical world based on multiple mythologies across East Asia (though mostly Chinese) and become a legendary martial hero.
What separates Blade & Soul from other MMOs, as I experienced with hands-on pre-alpha gameplay at a private showing, is that the 3D combat is more driven by action in a similar way to Dungeon Fighter Online. Spacing matters here, and abilities can be strung together for high-damage combinations.
Since there are no dedicated healers, players need to be precise with their attacks and pay attention to enemy movement. In fact, every class comes with a difficulty rating that displays how challenging it will be to master them, with the Shaolin-styled monk having the highest rating. Players can be grouped in 2-, 4-, or 6-man teams, and with group-oriented combos every player needs to be well-coordinated, especially in the cross-server dungeons.
Taken as a trope from classic martial arts films, heroes can explore environments by leaping from point to point with Qing-Gong kung-fu flair. By activating certain points on the map, as I found out while hopping about the mid-level Eastern Continent, players can see their character ascending rocky cliffsides with ease. From there, they can leap off once more and control their descent with free-gliding.
Better yet, Blade & Soul will be free-to-play with no gated content, no intended barriers at all. The only real barrier will be the adaptation being behind the current available content as it's being translated; in this case, the release will likely come with three of the six available story arcs.
The exact timing of the closed beta for Blade & Soul has not been defined yet, but the first major livestream for the game will take place on May 21 at 10AM PDT on its official Twitch channel.