Bless Online? More Like Bless Offline, Right?
Disclaimer: This First Impressions Review is based on Early Access Head Start experience of Bless Online. The game may very well improve a great deal during it’s early access period.
So… where to begin with this.
Despite only having an all time concurrent users peak of 34,000 the servers have been overloaded and stressed to the max. NeoWiz have, seemingly as a reflex, just opened loads more servers without thinking about the issues this will cause in the long term (thinly spread population, the nightmare that is server mergers, etc).
The first 12 hours after the head start launch, the servers went down for maintenance for an hour at least 3 times, on top of the actual scheduled downtime all the servers were disconnecting every few hours, and even if you managed to connect to a server, people were met with 3+ hour long queues to simply log in and create their characters.
This of course assumes you were even able to make it to the server selection screen, as a persistent bug with no reliable fix means that you can simply be stuck forever at the title splash screen. It seems the only way around this is to constantly restart your client and see if you manage to get lucky.
And keep in mind, this is only with the traffic from the head start founders. Once the servers have to deal with everyone else who didn’t want to shell out for an extra 2 days of server stress testing, I’m sure the issues will become much worse.
But launch day gripes over with, let’s get down to business.
I’m starting out with what is most important to me in almost any game that I play: The storyline.
I selected Sylvan Elf as my starting race and, once you get past the tutorial, there is actually some measure of storytelling there.
You are a successor candidate to protect the
Deku Life Tree, and for some reason the person who had this title before you (despite looking like a young and very healthy person) decided that her time is up now that you’re here and it’s time to give up on life.
Good job hero, you just drove a poor elf girl to suicide by taking her job.
The characters are forgettable, the voice acting is average at best and the plot mainly seems to exist to drive you to different map points, but at least there is a plot. It’s not deep, it’s not meaningful, but there is some measure of story to the game.
With any game being brought over from another country that uses another language (and especially if the language uses a different alphabet) localisation is a very, very important factor.
NeoWiz really dropped the ball on this one.
The story line and fluff seems to have had a good attempt at translation with most of the story text making decent sense, but this should not have been the priority. All of the skills and anything relating to the mechanics and actual important information the player needs to know looks like It’s just been run through google translate. Just in the tutorial alone the game doesn’t even refer to it’s skills by the right skill name.
The graphics, like most aspects of Bless Online so far, is a really mixed bag.
The scenery is amazing. The landscapes, forests, cities and villages are beautiful, and while this is fantastic, it makes the not-so-good stand out even more.
NPCs feel very bland and boring. Even some of the key main story line NPCs are ones you could run straight past without noticing if they didn’t have giant quest markers over their heads.
The First Person View is also quite an experience, as you can see in the gallery.
This is the main aspect of the “Rebuild Project” that the developers tackled for the western release, and I’m not too impressed.
While it’s an improvement over what it was, the combat is still very clunky and awkward, and the new stance based comboing system is very unnatural feeling. It’s like they looked at the way Blade & Soul’s comboing worked, and decided to put that system in, but without any of the natural flow that B&S’s combat system has.
Almost all of your skills are locked behind this clumsy combo stance system, with only a handful of “on-demand” skills you would see in other games available to be assigned to hotkeys.
Well… I mean outside of combat, there really doesn’t seem to be very much in the way of gameplay.
The game lacks social features and minigames seen in recent titles, the gathering and crafting is about as standard as it can get, and the taming system is very shallow – it’s just a minigame where you have to press a button when the dot is in the right place.
There’s really not much more to be said here, sadly.
The game runs like utter arse. Even on a fairly high end system you will get constant frame drops moving throughout the world as assets load, and certain menus being opened lag the entire game out for half a second before they will load (pet menu, account inbox, etc).
The game, even if you run at the lowest possible graphical settings, is also very resource intensive – using anywhere from 3 to 5 GB of RAM. If you have a low end machine, Bless may be one to skip.
This is disappointing for another reason, which is that the developers promised us that the game would be better optimised for the Steam version’s release, and it’s very clear that that simply isn’t the case. In some instances I’d even say the other game versions run better than the Steam one.
Bless Online is your standard Asian game ported to the west, and as odd as it sounds, that may very well be it’s biggest downfall.
Bless has been hyped for years by it’s dedicated community and the developers as this amazing gamechanger that will make the genre a better one and… it just isn’t.
That’s not to say that Bless Online is a bad game – It’s not and it’s actually quite enjoyable – but it’s just not that great. It’s not amazing, it’s not terrible, it’s just an okay game that got way, way too much hype. It also still really feels like a free to play game, not one that should be purchased. everything from the bag space limitations to the per-character item mall purchases just telegraphs that they want to get as much money out of spenders as possible.
My advice for this game is to not jump in to it with high expectations, or to abandon your favourite game for bless thinking it will be so much better. Don’t look at Bless to be the saviour of the genre for you, or any pillar of quality, because if you do you will be sorely disappointed.Go in to bless as simply a gamer looking for a decent game to have some fun in, and I’m sure Bless Online will do the job just fine.
What do you think?
What about you? Have you purchased Bless, or are you going to soon? Are you enjoying it so far? Leave a comment down below or join the MMOByte Discord Server to join the discussion!