What is Scarlet Blade? 2021's Best Free MMORPG?
Scarlet Blade is one of the few MMORPGs that were developed to cater to a much more mature audience.
The game was published in North America and Europe by Aeria Games in 2013 and shut down shortly after in 2016 when Aeria Games found they couldn’t milk their dwindling playerbase with the little effort they put into the game.
As of 2021, there exists a single incarnation of the game left playable for players looking to delve into the weird, slightly lewd yet wonderful world of Scarlet Blade.
Scarlet Blade does many things right, but it isn’t without its faults. Yes, initially, much like the majority of you who clicked the thumbnail, Scarlet Blade caught my attention due to the use of sexualized character models.
Korean MMOs do this all too often. Vindictus, Black Desert Online, Blade & Soul, TERA. Regardless of the type of game, regardless of the developer, there’s one resounding similarity between each and every single Korean MMO: They’re all pay to win. Well, okay there are 2 similarities: Pay to win, and their characters all look incredible.
But often, underneath the shallow surface you’ll find that the games themselves are equally as shallow in terms of complexity, depth and sheer content.
Scarlet Blade offers some beautiful classes.. all of which – with the exception of one, happen to be women. Yes, the classes are gender-locked, a staple of Korean development.
And while that was definitely limiting, you were given quite a few options for customizing your character. While nowhere near as extensive as many other Korean MMOs – with the entire Korean MMO genre priding themselves on the extent of their customization options, you could create something that looked and felt unique.
This was further solidified by their skill trees. Each class has a wide selection of different skills that they can distribute skill points into.
While I’m certain there were cookie cutter builds, you know me. I just dumped my skill points into whatever looked and sounded the coolest. But this provides you the option of making a character that is contrastingly different to the norm, and is one of the most fun parts of playing an MMO with class customization like this.
Outside of the classes, though, the world itself feels.. flat. Uninspired. There are large groups of monsters found in every direction, but the area of aggression is almost non-existent. This made it very difficult for someone who enjoys grouping together large hordes of monsters and AoEing them down to really enjoy the combat.
Coupled with the fact that every single quest I came across were either “kill 10, 20 or 30 monsters” or “obtain 10, 20 or 30 items from the very same monster you killed 5 seconds ago,” and you have yourself a very limiting, unenjoyable leveling experience.
Don’t get me wrong – This isn’t really all too different from the vast majority of MMOs out there. It’s more so the fact that monsters had such large pools of HP, didn’t really react to engagement and provided no real challenge that questing became more of a chore than anything else.
Thankfully you can both accept and complete quests regardless of where you are in the world. This means you’re not moving through centralized quest-hubs within each zone, instead, as you complete your current quests, new ones instantly open up and you can begin those right away.
Speaking of the combat though, Scarlet Blade uses mostly tab-target, but employs a semblance of action with regards to your AoEs. You don’t need to select an enemy to use your AoEs but the vast majority of your abilities require a target.
Abilities themselves were fast, they were responsive, and they looked impactful. I don’t believe I had any crowd control abilities – which I believe would’ve come in handy, but I was beginning to get stunned by monsters as I progressed through the game which leads me to believe I would’ve likely unlocked access to at least a few at some point.
I found that the class I opted to go was initially very powerful, but monsters caught up very quickly, leaving me spamming abilities 6, 7 times just to down a monster 5 levels lower than me. The HP scaling is absolutely atrocious in Scarlet Blade, especially given the enemies did negligible damage to me.
This just drew out the fights much longer than they needed to be. Maybe this was due to the class I chose, though. Maybe other classes are exponentially more powerful than mine was, and I just needed to re-roll.
Regardless, while I definitely had my issues with the combat, overall it was actually above average for a tab-target system.
I know there were PvP battlegrounds present within the game, but there was nobody around to actively participate in them with me. I attempted to queue for them but nobody was ever present, so I opted to not bother attempting to acquire any footage even though I really wanted to.
There are dungeons and raids within the game – I did my first dungeon I believe in the 2nd region I made it to. This dungeon was doable either solo or with a group.
It looked as though it was definitely scaled to be easy enough for a single player to complete, thankfully, as finding other players to run these dungeons with would’ve proven to be.. more challenging than the dungeons themselves.
I’m not entirely certain how complex the raids are as I’ve never made it to endgame to really get a gauge for it. But given that the dungeons were more or less a room or two with groups of monsters, I’d hope they provided a little more diversity.
I did note that the first dungeon was located in the 2nd region I made it to a little earlier. I’m not sure if you guys caught that, but yes, Scarlet Blade’s world is in fact segregated. Much like Final Fantasy XIV, Guild Wars 2 or Blade & Soul, the world is split up between loading screens.
This in no way means that the game is instanced. You’ll find hundreds – well, okay, let me rephrase. You could potentially find hundreds of other players around the world in any given area, grouping together, questing, fighting monsters.
It’s unlikely given the population of the game right now – which has definitely seen some better days. But one would take a wild guess here and assume after being online for going on a decade at this point, the vast majority of players are at endgame, saving the world over and over from the foulest of creatures.
I’m used to segregated zones in MMOs. Every big MMO seems to utilize segregated zones these days, and new upcoming MMOs do much the same thing: Lost Ark, Blue Protocol, Tower of Fantasy.
Not only is it easier on the servers themselves as they have less load in each zone, but it just makes more sense to not have to load hundreds of players everywhere you go.
I can forsee this being a much bigger issue for MMOs that employ open-world PvP like Black Desert or Blade & Soul, but honestly I’ve never had an issue with it. Well, okay, playing on PvP servers in WoW and riding Zeppelins, loading in dead was definitely an issue that plagued players more often than not.
But I know some people have an issue with zone segregation due to it feeling “disconnected” and “immersion breaking.”
Scarlet Blade is a game with an enormous world. There are plenty of monsters to fight, and the questing system makes it much easier to move around the world without trekking back and forth between quest hubs.
The combat is above average, and honestly both looks and feels pretty good.
There is plenty of customization over your character, both in terms of aesthetic and build.
The character models look stunning, even a decade later.
The game is aimed at a much more mature audience, and that leads to seeing more than what you’re used to from NPCs – and at times, yourself.
Scarlet Blade is a game with an enormous world. Yet the world itself feels barren and pointless. You move in a linear path between objective points, before moving on to the next zone with no need for exploration.
The AI is very unresponsive and completely ignore you even when you stand 2 feet in front of them flailing around.
Classes are gender-locked, meaning if you don’t want to play as a female.. you’re outta luck.
The playerbase is very low, meaning it’s difficult finding people to play the game with.
Ultimately, Scarlet Blade is a fun MMORPG. Is it the best MMO? Far from it. It definitely does some things right, but it does just as many wrong. It looks and feels great at times, but it definitely shows its age.
If you want an MMO purely for character eye candy, then sure, you could play this, but there are much better alternatives out there.
If you haven’t already, I to suggest giving this a shot though. What do you have to lose?