In an interview with premier Taiwanese gaming website, Gamebase, the Blade & Soul team from NCsoft has confirmed that a Taiwan server will see an Open Beta by summer 2012 if the official launch of the Korean server meets no delay. This is apparently the first official announcement of a server other than Korea’s. As stated in the interview, development of the game is currently at a 60% completion stage, even though the team said the game was 50% complete a few years ago.
The Blade & Soul team also revealed that the next time a major content is being revealed, the game will be nearing its Korean Closed Beta. According to various reports, Blade & Soul will be seeing its first Korean CBT before the middle of this year. When quizzed about competition with the company’s other much anticipated product, Guild Wars 2, the developers confirmed that teams working on different projects will still have a look at each other’s project plans and try to aid each to become better.
The storyline of Blade & Soul will also be ever-evolving, with quests leading players to various realms (demon, deity, spiritual etc) and interacting with characters from a diverse background. Much of the game’s environment, as mentioned before, took inspiration from structures seen in countries like Japan, China, Taiwan and Korea. Although impossible to completely duplicate the sceneries, the developers said that it is possible for players to enter a particular area and identify where the design is inspired from.
Further into the interview, a rather awesome question popped up: Players have been giving feedback about all the races being “humans”, with no diversification at all. The developers replied that the storyline in Blade & Soul is primarily focused on humans, hence the decision to make 4 human races but with totally different background. The non-human races will be deployed in the game as monsters or NPCs, each with its own cultures and habits. When asked if it is possible to allow the characters to eventually grow old, like the 2009 April’s Fool joke, the developers replied that they will be constantly implementing new content to allow players to have the same “feel”.
As for implementing new classes or races, the Blade & Soul team replied that they will be monitoring players’ responses and feedback after the game launches commercially. If players tend to party more often and see a need for a new AoE-focused class, they will design one; Similarly, if the players tend to go solo, the developers will look into creating a new ranged class.
When asked if the Force Master is categorized as a magic caster, the answer given was that the class is more of a “shooter” class rather than a pure magic caster. During internal testings within NCsoft, the feedback for all classes were generally good, whereas Force Master was deemed as too “generic”, similar to most of the magic caster classes out there. Hence, some elements of first person shooting (FPS) was added to the class.
With the revelation of the 5th class, Assassin revealed in G*Star 2010’s official trailer (see below), there is currently a total of 5 classes. During the initial planning stages, a total of 8-10 classes were originally sketched out. There will be a total of 6 classes when the game goes into its commercial phase, and there will be no problem adding new ones when needed as the other planned classes are actually done to a certain stage.
With Blade & Soul representing the world of martial arts in a certain way, the developers were asked if there will be any stage PvP in the future. If you have watched old Chinese martial arts movies, you will know that there will be such tournaments regularly, where martial artists fight it out one on one in a fair manner on a stage. The developers replied that this question was frequently brought up to them, especially from the fans in Russia. They confirmed that such a feature is in development, so far with up to the idea of 1 Vs 1 and 3 Vs 3.
Blade & Soul will not require players to find a fixed Skill NPC to learn skills other than the beginning ones. When the requirements are met, players will be prompted with a notice, letting them choose which skill and skill tree to follow. There will be other ways to obtain news skills, but not much information was revealed. The full skill system will not be presented during the initial Korean CBT phase, and more will be added throughout its CBT phases up till OBT and official launch.
What about gathering skills? The developers claim that it will be weird to implement a full gathering system for characters, as the storyline is about seeking revenge. It will be really perplexing to be killing monsters for revenge one minute, and kneeling down to pluck herbs the next. The developers are currently looking at how this system can be implemented into the game smoothly, perhaps from NPC tasks or by completing certain quests with other players to gather the needed resources.
What about mounts? In initial videos, humans were seen riding on a deer and giant tortoise. The mount system was a feature developed during the early stages, but with the “awakening” of the Qing Gong system (where characters can move super fast) near completion, there was much feedback like “why would I need a mount if I can travel faster using the Qing Gong system?” Hence, the development of the mount system is currently on hold. Further social features, like the pet system and housing functions are under development, but will only be released once the commercial service is stable.
What about relationships, one of the most common things found in martial arts novels? The developers stated that there is currently nothing planned for this feature.
Nearing the end of the interview, the Blade & Soul team were asked about the game being on multi-platforms, including Xbox 360 and the much hyped iPhone version, which was meant to be a April’s Fool 2010 joke. But video below turned out to be the real deal. They replied that while some news of what has been passed around were true, and they are looking at releasing the game on other platforms. However, they were less enthusiastic about the game being on Xbox 360, as they felt the gameplay will not be maximized on the system.
That is all for the long translation… I did missed out some small parts, but did mentioned the core ones. For me, every NCsoft game is a must-try since Lineage II, so I will be getting my hands on this… and TERA!