Before G-Star 2018 begins in a couple of weeks, the big game companies will usually hold their own conference to reveal their new titles, such as Nexon. I am not sure if NCsoft is taking part in G-Star this year, but it held its annual NC Media Day earlier today, revealing several mobile games. Yes, all of the announced products are mobile MMORPG titles. I can already hear the loud cries of protest from many gamers, so here’s a quick summary.
Aion 2 takes place 900 years before the PC game, Aion: The Tower of Eternity. One main feature is the appearance of dimensional cracks, allowing players from different servers to engage in large-scale PVP. Gliding and wings will no doubt be there as the IP’s signature element. NCsoft even claimed Aion 2 will have features which could not be realized in the PC game, and that its vision for the game is “no longer a dream”. Such big lofty words.
Perhaps the biggest difference is that there are no longer the 2 opposing factions, Elyos and Asmodians (due to the timeline). Players are free to choose to invade others of defend. Another eye-opener is the claim of not having “class segmentation” in Aion 2, with players able to wield different weapons without restrictions and choose their playstyle. NCsoft claims that Aion 2 will “showcase a new battle system that did not exist in the old Aion”.
Finally, another huge change is the removal of gliding constraints found in Aion. While this was not explained in detail, NCsoft is aiming to make gliding part of the combat loop to create a “three dimensional battle system”. NCsoft did not mention what engine Aion 2 is developed on, but my guess is Unreal Engine 4. Stay tuned for more updates on the game!
Blade & Soul 2
NCsoft formerly announced Blade & Soul 2, an official sequel to the original PC game. Skipping past the PR talk about stylish action and high end graphics etc, the game takes place in the future where heroes from Blade & Soul have become legends. New characters will be introduced, along with expanded areas not found in the PC game. The first new feature mentioned for Blade & Soul 2 is smarter monsters… They will not repeat the same actions, but behave differently based on player’s actions. NCsoft says this will offer players a new combat experience in using the right combination of skills according to situations.
With smarter monsters, players can also expect smarter NPC characters roaming the world of Blade & Soul 2 as well. No longer just static quest givers, NPC characters are said to be “part of the ecosystem”, affecting the game based on how players interact with them. This is similar to a relationship system, and different users will trigger different quests and events with the same NPC. Finally, Blade & Soul 2 aims to have a “free community” system, where players are not bind to systematic factions like previous games. NCsoft is preparing various social features which will aid players in mutual communications.
Note: Blade & Soul: Revolution from Netmarble is launching in South Korea next month.
Blade & Soul M
The second of three mobile MMORPG titles based on Blade & Soul, Blade & Soul M is apparently a re-work of the original PC game designed for mobile devices. Development of Blade & Soul M is led by Team Bloodlust, the original group who made the PC game. NCsoft claims it will bring together the “original work and high-quality graphics” to mobile. New features include “advanced forms of combat” and “actively changing environment”.
Made using Unreal Engine 4, players will experience “realistic expressions based on environment changes such as time, weather, and topography”. Another new feature mentioned is a story branching system, where players might have different outcomes based on their choices made. Each choices made by different players will affect the overall game world. It seems weird that all these features might not make it into the PC version…
Blade & Soul S
The third mobile game based on the Blade & Soul IP, Blade & Soul S is aimed at a wider audience with its super-deformed (SD) character designs. Once again, this game is based on the original Blade & Soul PC title, featuring a dynamic open world that changes in real-time which will affect combat. The story of Blade & Soul S takes place 3 years before the PC game, making it sort of a prequel. Basically, players can collect different characters found in the IP, with new ones added as well. Unlike other hero-collection mobile games which uses the stage-clear system, combat in Blade & Soul S takes place in the open world.
With Lineage 2: Revolution making big money for Netmarble, NCsoft is probably wishing it launched Lineage 2M first. The developer claims Lineage 2M has “mobile’s largest seamless open world”, and the game is designed based on a reinterpretation of the original PC game, Lineage II. Players are free to explore the world without being constrained by rules set by the developers, with over 100 million square meters of land to explore. Sounds awesome!
Another key feature will still be Realm vs Realm, a large scale PVP battle. A three-dimensional battle system is touted, with the height of terrains and obstacles affecting overall combat and allowing players to devise various strategies. Raid bosses is said to evolve from being a simple target to something more challenging, though this was not explained in detail. I assume this is the smarter monster AI mentioned in the titles above.
The development team is also working on original classes not found in Lineage II, as well as attempting to recreate all 31 existing classes. On this note, they are aiming to have several growth paths for players. NCsoft claims Lineage 2M will not only satisfy players of Lineage II, but also those gamers who have yet to experience Lineage II on the PC system.
Missing-in-action: Project TL
Project TL, the only significant new PC MMORPG which NCsoft is working on, was not mentioned at all during the media conference. More details about Project TL here.