BLUE PROTOCOL Could be the Next Big MMORPG!
The title isn’t an exaggeration. At all.
Now if you weren’t aware, last week Bandai Namco held their first large-scale Closed Beta test for Blue Protocol. I was able to participate in the Beta test and captured over 10 hours worth of livestream footage and went on to create a mini “Blue Protocol series,” which I’ve been posting all week.
So if you haven’t already, I recommend checking out Episode 1, Episode 2 and Episode 3, each of which will be linked to in the description and pinned comment below. They contain a lot of useful information regarding the game and my experience within it.
However, as I covered pretty much everything I wanted to, I feel this, which will ultimately end the series at Episode 4, will kind of be an “all-encompassing” review of the entire game based off of my participation in the Beta.
This is probably the most fun I’ve had in an MMO in a long time. Probably since the Shadowbringers launch weekend last year.
While I cannot express, verbally, how impressed I am with Blue Protocol, you can bet I’m sure as hell gonna try.
I’m a fan of story in my MMOs. I talk about this periodically when doing videos, I love JRPGs because they have a large focus on story – more so than any other aspect of the game.
Legend of Dragoon, Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Breath of Fire, Suikoden, the Tales of games, Chrono Trigger. Japanese RPGs raised me. They molded me. They turned me into the man I am today.. which in retrospect explains a lot of things, but you guys don’t wanna hear about that.
Blue Protocol plays a lot like an online JRPG. You begin your game by creating your character and selecting your class. There are 4 classes to choose between and there’s a solid selection of options when creating your character.
Bamco have confirmed that the full launch of the game will include substantially more customization options so if you were of the impression that the selection was limited, you don’t have anything to worry about.
Then you’re greeted with several long, beautifully animated, fully voice-acted cutscenes that made me scream internally. I was on Stream so I had to contain my excitement.
Our viewers, which at the time was over two and a half thousand requested I not skip the cutscenes because they were equally as enthralled as I was with what was going on.
Then we were met with our first battle to introduce us to class mechanics, which was easy enough. We passed out, woke up in an inn, and then began our journey.. which for the first 30 minutes or so consisted of running around the town, talking to NPCs, learning about the different features the game offers.
Sounds just like your typical JRPG experience, right? And that’s one of the reasons why this game is going to appeal to so many players. There are millions, tens of millions of players that love JRPGs.
Being able to play a JRPG with a ton of other players is going to be an opportunity too good to pass up for most people.
One of the most common complaints people have with MMOs, and even games in general, is the difficulty – or lack thereof.
So many MMOs allow for you to watch Netflix on one screen while cycling through your basic skills on your hotbar on the other, only looking back to see when you’ve tabbed through each of the targets and everything is dead.
Trust me, Blue Protocol is very different. This game definitely requires your attention, especially while leveling and running through dungeons solo.
While leveling, monsters hit hard and actively alert one another when they engage you in battle. This, at times, leaves you outnumbered and overwhelmed.
While we do have a certain level of self-sufficiency due to our self heals, there’s no healing through “dead,” and honestly, a lot of us learned that the hard way.
Speaking of getting overwhelmed by enemy monsters, the AI in Blue Protocol is programmed in a very interesting way.
Going back through my stream footage I realized that the enemy shield-type monsters, effectively the tanks, would often stand in front of the mage-type enemies and block my shots from going through and hitting them.
When I would try moving around them to hit the mage, or when the mage would migrate to the side, the tank monster would follow over to ensure it was protected.
The AI is amazingly attentive to small details like this and not only is it frustrating as you soak up so much more damage having to get through or around the tank, but it makes encounters so much more rewarding.
Even boss fights themselves are more challenging than expected. One boss in specific, a giant boar had a specific attack pattern he would follow.
He’d use a skill, charge at you, it would require approximately 2-3 dodges to get out of, and you’d be fine. But towards the final quarter of his life he suddenly changed strategy and began to charge almost uncontrollably.
That isn’t anything new – boss monsters in other MMOs, WoW, Final Fantasy XIV both have bosses that use different skills at different stages of the fight but this is one of the low-level dungeons, one that shouldn’t have this level of difficulty or these types of mechanics.
I was caught a little off guard and subsequently got hit by him but it taught me a valuable lesson: Blue Protocol is not like normal MMOs and I shouldn’t expect it to be.
But while yes, this game is more difficult than your average MMO and the story leaves you with an actual sense of involvement, there’s more to it than that. There’s more that sets this game apart from the norm.
In Blue Protocol there’s a gearing progression system in place. Naturally. If you couldn’t obtain gear, there would be no real sense of progression, right? You’d be leveling for the sake of leveling at that point.
However gear takes a very different form. From what I gathered over the course of my time playing, you obtained no gear – at all – from quests, from dungeons, from monster drops. Gear doesn’t seem to be a possible drop or reward from anything.
Instead, you craft your gear with materials you get as reward from quests, or find out in the world, or loot in a dungeon, or get after killing a boss monster.
But you need to be careful as these very same materials are used to also craft Imajinn, which are unique monsters that function as new abilities you can equip, and can also be used to augment your own abilities and statistics.
These Imajinn can be leveled as well, increasing their effectiveness, and are available both as monsters you can equip and use as skills, and gear that are in essence accessories.
There is no armor system present in-game, much like in Blade and Soul, which may disappoint some of you. There are outfit slots – and quite a variety of outfits planned for players to both earn and purchase, but at the very least you won’t need to worry about what’s more important between your weapon or your armor.
As let’s be honest, juggling materials to not only craft new Imajinn, but to also upgrade them, and craft and upgrade weapons as well is already going to require somewhat of a grind.
But this is an interesting way of tackling progression and I’m totally on board for it.
Final Fantasy XIV is one of the most popular MMOs right now. Phantasy Star Online 2 has been popular since it released almost a decade ago, and Blue Protocol is looking like it’ll be a combination of the two games.
Japan has produced some of the highest quality, some of the most popular MMOs on the market. Long lasting games that don’t die off a year or two after releasing, which is something you can’t say about South Korea or China and their churn ‘n burn titles released every other year.
Blue Protocol is an absolutely beautiful looking game. It’s being built for both current types of gamers in mind: You can tackle dungeons and proceed exclusively with the story on a single character, completely solo if you want to.
Or you can tackle it with friends, in a group, and have difficulty scaled for every additional player within your group. Monster AI is intelligent, with enemies actively working together to defend one another. Something I wish players in PUGs could figure out, honestly.
The world seems large with lots of personality – small little villages spread out over the zones with NPCs, quests, hidden rewards just waiting to be discovered.
Rarely do developers show the amount of care and polish that is shown in this game. But then this is being done by a AAA developer – something we haven’t seen in a long time.
I know some of you are excited for New World, but I guarantee you, Amazon have not shown remotely as much professionalism or faith in their game as Bandai Namco have with Blue Protocol.
And while New World will probably be a solid game for players interested in survival games, Blue Protocol will satiate the need for not only MMO players, but also Anime fans.
This is an MMO that I think I’ll honestly be able to lose myself in. I haven’t done this since I first played Final Fantasy XIV years ago, and WoW years before that. It’s rare to have a game like this come along, and I plan on taking my time with it.
Granted, the game doesn’t have an ETA on when it’ll release – even within Japan, so expecting a global release this year is highly unlikely.
Nevertheless, I plan on continuing to cover this whenever and wherever I possibly can.
But, those are my impressions of the game after having completed the first Closed Beta test. I’ll be around for all of the follow-up tests as well and hopefully will have even more to show all of you in the coming months!