Blue Protocol: Everything You NEED to Know Going Into 2022
You know that feeling you get when you.. send someone you’re really into a confession of undying and unrelenting love and.. sit there waiting for a response? Only to never get one.
Yeah, that’s how I feel with Blue Protocol right now. It’s been months and we’ve heard nothing at all from Bandai Namco. Which could realistically mean they’re just hard at work and not ready to make the final form of the game public until they’ve added the final touches to it.
Today, I want to go over everything we currently know concerning Blue Protocol. Hopefully answer some questions you might have. And hopefully get everyone ready for what could potentially be a great year for the genre! But for those of you that don’t know what Blue Protocol even is..
WHAT IS BLUE PROTOCOL?
Blue Protocol is an upcoming Anime MMORPG developed by Bandai Namco, the same people behind games like Tales of Arise, Elden Ring, and God Eater. Blue Protocol was announced back in 2019, and has been slowly growing in popularity every year.
It utilizes an action combat system, has a large, segregated open-world, a variety of customization options and could genuinely bring the “Anime MMO” back into the spotlight, after PSO2 and PSO2 New Genesis both failed to.
HAS THE GAME BEEN CANCELED?
Definitely not. As far as we’re all aware, Blue Protocol is still under active development, with over 100 staff members working to finish the game.
Sure, the development team has been fairly unresponsive the last 6 months, and Bandai Namco seems to be prioritizing other games like Tales of Arise and Elden Ring, but an MMO is a very difficult game to get right.
Given the Japanese audience were mostly unhappy with the state of the game when they played the last Closed Beta test, as opposed to us Western players that had a lot of fun, Bamco have gone radio silent as they overhaul various issues Japanese players had.
If they cancel development after investing tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars into it, and years worth of time and dedication, then we’d know about it, don’t worry.
WHAT IS THE BUSINESS MODEL?
Bamco have confirmed that Blue Protocol is going to be a completely, 100% free MMORPG.
It will not have any premium purchase price, but given the games they’ve released in the past, I’d wager a guess they’re going to include various Founder’s Packs for players interested in the goodies they’ll include. Likely including something like a type of early head start access.
It’s unconfirmed if they’re going to charge players for DLC or expansions like Guild Wars 2. I wouldn’t expect you to be required to pay additional fees to access future content.
WILL THERE BE A CASH SHOP?
There will 100% be a cash shop present. Now I know your first thought when I mention a cash shop is “OMG STIX PAY TO WIN!” and that’s a reasonable conclusion to come to.
Bamco have confirmed that – and this is subject to change at any point in time – the items located within the cash shop are going to be purely cosmetic.
They noted that they understand players’ concerns with pay-to-win and pay-to-advance, and to put players’ minds at ease, they’ve promised they’ll refrain from inserting anything that could have any impact or provide any type of advantage outside of cosmetics.
My main concern with that is if cosmetic items are going to profitable enough. Pets, outfits, quality of life items. But if there are no items to motivate whales to spend money, then I don’t foresee that large of a return on their investment with the game.
WHAT TYPE OF COMBAT DOES IT UTILIZE?
Blue Protocol has a fast, ability-focused action combat system. Mrs Stix and I got to play a single class each: I played the Archer, and Mrs Stix got to play Mage.
And even back during their first Closed Beta, the combat was so smooth, so fluid. It looked absolutely gorgeous – the higher you got and the more abilities you gained access to.
I’ve mentioned this repeatedly, but we streamed our time in Blue Protocol and chat forced me to go Archer – a class I loathe in video games with a passion. And even though I didn’t really enjoy the class that much, the Mage was incredible.
Summoning down enormous meteors from the sky, not requiring a target for your abilities, just spamming your magic at whatever is in front of you. Targetless action combat is the best.
I always find it restrictive having action combat, yet lacking the ability to use my skills out in the middle of nowhere. Like, what if I want to take an epic screenshot? C’mon, man! Some of us need these for our thumbnails!
Since the Closed Beta, Bamco have confirmed they’re expanding the combat. First with the introduction of a new mechanic that allows players to utilize terrain to their advantage, with monsters taking additional damage depending on how high you were when you launched your attack.
And second, with the new Evasion Attack mechanic, increasing your chance of survival if timed correctly.
Evidently they’re still working hard attempting to make sure players have as many options at their disposal as possible.
HOW MANY CLASSES ARE THERE?
Unlike most MMORPGs, there is no “holy trinity” system in place in Blue Protocol. Meaning no dedicated healers, no dedicated tanks.
When it was announced, Bamco confirmed there were 4 classes: the Aegis Fighter that wields both a sword and a shield, the Twin Striker that wields dual axes, the Blast Archer that wields a bow, and the Spell Caster that wields a staff and elemental magic.
In their stream on May 27th, 2021, Bamco confirmed they were also adding the new Heavy Smasher class at release. It’s unconfirmed if they have plans on releasing additional classes when they roll out the game or if they’ll opt to stick to 5 and work on future classes over time.
They did note that they’re interested in introducing more at some point, and working on multiple different classes presently.
IS THERE MUCH CLASS VARIETY?
Each class both looks and plays completely different.
They have their own unique skill trees that are specific exclusively to them, and can choose a path that feels comfortable for their playstyle based off of their own distinct selection of abilities – real-time and passive.
As an example, players can opt to play a full Fire Mage or spec down an entirely separate element, making every choice important and altering your role entirely.
Thankfully, you have the option of changing your class at any time, meaning you can play every single class on the same character, much like Final Fantasy XIV.
IS THERE CHARACTER CREATION?
More often than not we’re not given much in the way of creativity or originality when it comes to Anime games, and more specifically, Anime MMOs.
However, Bamco have not only given us a very large selection of sliders with which to design our avatar, but they’re working on not only creating entirely new sliders, providing us even more creative control, but also expanding on how much each slider affects the overall look of your character.
You have options that affect your eyes, your nose, your mouth. What you’d expect. More expansive options, like multiple layers of hair and hair color, directionality of facial features and structure, new angles. Overall the inclusion of a larger array of options.
And as confirmed earlier, there is going to be a lot in terms of outfits – helping your character stand out even more.
WHAT PLATFORMS WILL THE GAME SUPPORT?
At present, Blue Protocol is going to be launching onto PC. The dev team have confirmed their interest in developing the game for more than just PC players, potentially releasing onto PS4 or PS5 somewhere down the line, but that is highly dependent on how the game does.
If it doesn’t perform as well as they hope, it’s unlikely they’ll bother investing the time, resources and money into porting it to additional platforms. It’d be a waste of money, given most MMO players don’t play MMOs on their consoles.
And no, there is no interest in having a Mobile version of Blue Protocol. Thankfully.
IS THERE PVP?
The developers have stressed that they do not want Player vs Player combat in their game. They want players to attempt to compete with one another in PvE content only.
PvP in Blue Protocol takes the form of “Party vs Party,” where groups of players fight waves of enemies in an arena in an attempt to achieve the best time on their respective clear.
Whether this is going to be enough, with the inclusion of dungeons and raids to keep players content long-term remains to be seen, but at least we don’t have to be concerned with open-world ganking.
WHAT TYPES OF PVE IS THERE?
Traditional forms. Dungeons, which can be run solo or with a group of other players. The dungeons specifically scale to the number of players in the party, so you’re never forced to group with players to run them but at the same time, it will remain challenging even for a full group of people.
Honestly this is something more MMOs should adopt. Optional co-operative content is a huge step in the right direction. Sometimes we just don’t wanna group up with people, y’know?
Then there are raids, which seem to take inspiration from Final Fantasy XIV’s as opposed to World of Warcraft’s. Featuring individual bosses as opposed to large instanced dungeon-sized areas with a plethora of different bosses and raid wings.
Party vs Party arenas where players, as noted earlier, attempt to clear faster than any other group.
Crafting, Imajinn hunting.
WAIT, WHAT ARE IMAJINN?
There one of the things that make Blue Protocol different. On the one hand, you can collect Imajinn and utilize them in combat.
Alternatively, you can refine them and use them as a catalyst when crafting weapons. Or upgrading in general. We sill don’t know the exact limitations they possess or every use for them, but I’m sure in time we will.
IS THE GAME INSTANCED?
Blue Protocol is not instanced. It’s not a sandbox game without loading screens like Black Desert Online. Rather, it’s a game like Guild Wars 2, Final Fantasy XIV or Blade & Soul.
You have large cities that have a small loading screen when you leave them. Zones themselves have a short loading screen to separate them, but you’ll be able to find other players out wandering, gathering, questing. It’s a fully-functional MMO with an open-world occupied with plenty of individual players.
The only instanced content that I’m aware of are the PvP Arenas, Dungeons and Raids.
WHAT MAKES THIS GAME DIFFERENT?
A lot of things, actually.
You don’t farm gear from bosses. Either dungeon or raid bosses. Rather, you farm materials via a variety of different methods and use those materials to craft your own gear.
Meaning you don’t have to worry about a specific piece of gear you’ve been waiting for to drop.
Imajinn are going to drastically alter how you go about playing, upgrading and building your character.
This is a large, AAA-budget, full action combat Anime MMO. The only one of its kind other than PSO2 New Genesis.
It’s going to be narrative-driven, with a lot of story-content.
You’ll be capable of playing every class on a single character without the need for alts.
And so much more.
IS THERE PLAYER HOUSING?
Bamco confirmed that while there is going to be no player housing when the game releases, it is definitely a feature they’re in the process of expanding upon.
It’s unconfirmed specifically when we’ll see the feature, or if we’ll even see it. But it’s something they’re definitely interested in including.
ARE THERE GOING TO BE GUILDS?
Yes, Bamco confirmed that while there was no functional guild system present during the Closed Beta, there will be when the game launches.
IS THE GAME CONVERTING TO UNREAL ENGINE 5?
This is actually an interesting rumor going around, that I honestly think doesn’t hold much weight. Yes, it’s definitely possible they’re converting the game to Unreal Engine 5, but Bamco recently revealed they’re working on an entirely new game engine for their future games.
Thus it makes no sense to make such a drastic alteration to something so close to being ready.
IS THERE GOING TO BE ANOTHER CLOSED BETA?
This is purely speculation, but I would expect so. Given their interest in crafting a game their players will want to actually play, they’re going to need to showcase in a playable form the alterations that have been made.
Otherwise, why would they have delayed the game to make these alterations in the first place? I’d wager a guess we’ll see another type of Closed Beta test this year, and if Japanese players are happy, that will be the final one before the official launch.
DO WE HAVE A CONFIRMED GLOBAL RELEASE?
Bandai Namco were hiring a Localization Director last year to help oversee distribution outside of Japan.
They’d also stated they wanted to release the game Westward after the game successfully launched within Japan.
Recently, they confirmed that Smilegate – the devs behind Lost Ark, would be handling the release of Blue Protocol within Korea. They’ve also confirmed they’ll be expanding into Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau. Nothing on North America or Europe yet, but it’s only a matter of time.
WHEN IS THE GAME LAUNCHING?
I wish I had an answer for that. They were looking to release within 2021, which got delayed into 2022 for reasons outside of their control. But given we’re already moving into March 2022, I daresay that might be a stretch as well.
It might be more accurate to assume we’ll have a final Closed Beta test this year, with a full launch some time in 2023. As for North America and Europe? Who knows. If they’re localizing the game, we might get a worldwide release. Otherwise, I’d expect some time in 2024.
WILL I BE ABLE TO RUN BLUE PROTOCOL?
And that’s everything we know about Blue Protocol in 2022. I hope it answered all your questions, and has you excited for a potential Closed Beta later this year. With a full release either in 2022 or 2023.