For most MMORPG lovers, Bless Online has been on our radar for some time. This is a typical role-playing game that focuses on the binary faction PvP system that World of Warcraft is famous for, with the obvious Asian flavour. If you’ve been hooked for years and waiting for Bless Online to finally be available worldwide, this is your chance to join it’s world. If you want to experience a game from day one, forging a name and playing without feeling too underpowered in comparison to the early birds, then you should definitely take this opportunity too!
Most players in Bless Online are people that used to play in the Korea or Japan versions of the game. This time they won’t need a VPN and a not-so-reliable translation patch, the perfect opportunity to make use of experience. However, Bless Online is a game that may feel so generic for any MMORPG veteran looking for a challenge. If you are already an active player in WoW, Guild Wars 2, Final Fantasy XIV, Black Desert Online or any other big game in this genre… well, you may have a tough time. Comparisons are odious for a reason!, and this being an Early Access game, be warned that you may end in a passive-aggressive affair.
What to Expect
To be honest with you, there’s something every new player in Bless Online should know: this game has already failed… big time... and not just once. The main reasons for the failure are two: clumsy combat and the pay-to-win method.
When people complained about the fighting mechanics being slow-paced and boring, the game’s developers came up with a revised version of the game. Still, the new version is better than before, but really far from perfection or, at least, being fun to play. Supposedly, the Steam version of Bless Online was going to be the best yet, but the animations are clumsy and slow as always, and the new chain-attack mechanic is nothing near interesting.
On the other hand, NEOWIZ has been really clear about it’s intention of keeping the Steam version of Bless Online P2W-free… that all depends on what you qualify as pay-to-win, though. This is a buy-to-play game with an optional monthly subscription, but with a level cap of 45 you don’t really need to pay for extra bonuses; you’ll be at 45 in a couple days.
As for the game itself, in Bless Online you will find your typical RPG system, doing quests from NPC and grinding/crafting/enchanting your way to the top. If you like PvE, there are some dungeons you can play solo or with a small party, and a lot of monsters and world bosses; if you like PvP you have 2 factions, Hieron and Union, that are constantly fighting for territory (and this means you may and WILL be killed on sight if you leave the starting land and visit the common areas while you are leveling a character); for Mass PvP lovers, the asian versions of the game have a Castle Siege system that it’s been announced here too.
Finally, let’s talk about one of the things that NEOWIZ wants us to love the game for: the pet/mount system. In Bless Online you can use scrolls that start a minigame to tame almost any enemy you see, and you can even tame bosses. Sounds cool, huh? Well, it is indeed! But we hope you like farming too because you have to level and grade up your beasts in order to make them useful and give you bonuses. And remember when we talked about that pay-to-win thing? Well… you can get an idea why people weren’t happy about some scrolls and runes.
As we said, the world of Bless Online is divided into 2 factions that are now in constant war. Years ago, there was the Lumen Empire, a mix of humans and elves trying to regain control of the lands against the beasts that inhabit there. With the downfall of said empire, a lot of communities emerged, until many years later came to the clash of the Union and the Hieron Holly Alliance, known as the Fall War.
Humans are now divided, with the Amistad Federation representing the Union and the Habicht people defending the Hieron; Elves are in a similar situation, with the Sylvan Elves in the Hieron side and the Aqua Elves with the Union; Lupus, the wolvish warriors, banded with the Hieron while Panteras, human-lion hybrids, fight for the Union. The only race that you may see on both sides are the skeptical Mascus, self-proclaimed immigrants.
In terms of gameplay, all this means you have 7 main races on each faction and up to 8 classes: Guardian, Mage, Berserker, Assassin, Paladin, Ranger, Mystic and Warlock… although not all 8 classes are available for all 4 races. In addition to that, at the moment you can only choose between 5 classes as some of them couldn’t be accordingly balanced and are planned to release somewhere in the future.
All in all, the story in Bless Online is intended to grow as you play, even with some events hinted for later content or expansions. Too bad this all feels just plain and generic, not even close to other similar games known for its enormous yet interesting lore. Yeah, most people will only care for gear and killing the enemy faction, just for the sake of it.
All you have read so far may give you a general idea of what you will find in the game, but even if you find something interesting enough to attract you, there has to be something to keep you playing it, right? Well… we have bad news for you. This is an Early Access game, so there are some bugs and things that will probably get better with time, but that is no excuse for a game that has a few years in the market and even asks you to spend 30 bucks in order to try it (the JP and KR versions are free-to-play, for example).
On launch day, even creating your first character was a pain in the ass, with servers collapsing here and there. When you finally start playing, then it gets worse in terms of avoiding lag, crashes, frozen menus and frame drops. Optimization is nowhere to be seen, and keep in mind that the combat mechanics are sluggish even when the whole system has been reworked, so even attempting a combo is boring when the animations are that bad for a 2018 game.
Speaking of outdated things, the graphics are not the best, but that’s something you can overlook if the gameplay itself is good and reliable. Sadly enough, even the cinematics look awful sometimes and the quests are so bland you will be skipping the dialogues more often than not. The problem with that isn’t knowing what to do, but that the texts and translations are really poor and sometimes misleading; yes, some of this translations have been fixed, but a translation error that makes you lose half an hour just in the tutorial… how can a tester let that pass by?
If you keep playing, then you will notice the experience curve makes no sense. Sometimes you kill everything in 2 hits, sometimes you die in 1 hit with monsters from the same region… either way, you will end up doing the same dungeon over and over just to power level or giving up of boredom, because there’s no way you can level your character while having fun. Again, the reason there could be bad game design or lack of content because of this early state, but whatever the case we’re reviewing the game as it is right now, after all.
Another thing we all players are hating is the fact that there are so many things that stop your natural gameplay flow, like when you have to wait to perform a chain-attack (even if you spam the keys) or when you loot something and there’s a delay of like 1 second. If you play for immersion, then this sign reading “You can’t use that right now. The skill is in cooldown” every time your nerves make you spam a skill will make you rage, and let’s not forget it has a voice alarm too.
Let’s say you still like Bless Online and play it a lot, so you will have to use the Auction House some time, right? Ok, so many games have this system as an in-game mechanic, but NEOWIZ made it into an external website, so every time you want to sell, buy or just check prices you will have to wait as the frame loads —that’s if you’re lucky and it doesn’t freeze. Oh, and you can’t avoid this pain as this is one of those games where trading between players is not a feat… have fun farming all of your materials and spending most of the time cleaning your inventory!
Moving to the PvP endgame, fights look unbalanced and some classes and races are way better than others. In combat, you can use all kinds of armor but your class will only be able to use one kind of weapon, so forget about customization applied to play-style. The objective of PvP in Bless Online is to actively take part in combat and earn Combat Points, which later translate into Merit and Combat Class according to your results in a certain period of time. For now, the benefit here is new titles/ranks and the recognition of fellow players, in addition to some medals (crafting materials) that you get weekly if you get to the top 3 ranks. Crafting is a crucial part if you want to survive an encounter with the hardest bosses or have some chances in PvP. Then again, you will have to grind a lot to enchant your gear and optimize your build.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
While it is a new option in the very small pool of MMORPG games right now, Bless Online is not the answer for those who want to see what the new generation is capable of. It is suffering the same launch problems that almost every online multiplayer game does, but there’s no excuse when this is supposed to be your third attempt to get it right. As for now, the Steam version of Bless Online is no competitor for the big names, not better than it’s flawed Asian cousins (aside of the cash shop syndrome) and not even graphically better than a game released in the last decade.
Gameplay is bearable enough if you are playing with friends or this is your first approach to an Asian MMORPG. If that’s not the case, you will spend more time looking for more errors for a good rant/laugh than enjoying Bless Online for what it is. Oh, and don’t even touch it if you want to play it casually and stay competitive…
As it is a PvP-focused game, having friends —bodyguards, mind you— is a must. On the other hand, the best exp/time rates are achieved playing solo or in pairs, so if you add the lack of a trading system there’s really no point in teaming-up. These kinds of contradictions are just another proof of how Bless Online fails in its game design. Hey, we really want this game to improve and we hope it can fulfill all that it promised us, but there seems to be a long way to go and we yet have to see if NEOWIZ finally puts on its pants and does what is necessary so that Bless Online doesn’t end in another failure.
It’s a great opportunity to start a new MMORPG, with everything that implies
The endgame is mostly PvP, so a lot of people will play it just for that
Even if the graphics aren’t cutting-edge, the cities are beautiful and some creatures too!
Do you like taming and breeding? Then this game’s for you
Lots of RNGs involved
Stay away if you don’t enjoy PvP or you prefer the “lone wolf” play-style
Lore is almost nonexistent, combat mechanics are sketchy and quest-lines are generic
Lack of content makes Early Access feel like a quick cash grab
Translations are really subpar
Honey's Final Verdict:
We’re sure you can find a lot of good things in Bless Online, and every MMORPG player can agree that the best experience is the adventure you live with your friends and enemies. In this case, having a good time will depend on your mood and how you tolerate unpolished games, as there are many valid reasons to consider Bless Online as a game not worthy of your time.
All that being said, let’s not forget we’re promised regular fixes and new content every 3 months or so, with new classes on the horizon and a UI rework (that’s why we didn’t talk about it). The Early Access phase will take 6 to 12 months and we can expect a lot of changes in the meantime, but don’t hold your breath for a complete change to the core gameplay mechanics.
Yeah, you can play Bless Online to gain time and be one of the best players when it gains steam or just dismiss it completely and wait for the next big thing. It’s obviously your call, but even if you don’t play it right now, keep an eye on it for future updates! With these sort of games, you never know...
Author: Rod Locksley
Hey! I'm Rod, and when I'm not watching anime or playing video games I'm probably writing about them, but I'm also a graphic and web designer, and I even published a comic book and worked like 4 years for a well-known MMORPG. Curiously, my favorite series are quite different from each other, so I'm still trying to understand what I really like in an anime...