Just how many currencies are there in this game? And how the heck do they interact? Blade And Soul Gold-Silver-Copper was fine, of course.
Blade And Soul Gold-Silver-Copper was fine
I enjoyed playing ~12 hours (estimate, probably low - reached level 20) during the recent beta. I feel good about my pack purchase and look forward to playing the game at launch. The game looks great, and I enjoy the complex combat.
That said, I wanted to provide some feedback from the perspective of someone not deeply steeped in MMOs. I played a little bit of City of Heroes back in the day, and ~60 levels in WOW. Coming to this game turned out to be more confusing than I expected. Not to PLAY, mind you - that was fine. In fact, my feedback to the in game surveys was "too easy" for the PVE portions. But to actually understand what was going on? Here are a few examples of questions I asked myself:
Just how many currencies are there in this game? And how the heck do they interact? Blade And Soul Gold-Silver-Copper was fine, of course. (But strangely useless - see below) NCoins were pretty clear. But then we had Red Beans, Hongmoon Coins and Premium Points. That was less clear and required tracking down things to read and watch online.
Since I can't call the client up at the moment (Beta weekend is over), I may make mistakes in terminology here. There are what I thought of as pseudo-currencies - valor stones (of various types), Tokens (which you use in combination with other items to make Hongmoon Coins?), and I think a few other things which had no use in and of themselves, but were only used to exchange for other items. So they're pseudo-currencies.
To make matters more confusing, these are used in entirely different locations for different purposes. A few highlights:
I care less about the confusion (though it matters) than the fun. It was not fun to be unable to purchase even a single sticky bun, soup, or healing potion (wrong term, I know) until I had over 5 silver at something like level 10. It would have taken my whole bankroll. Yes, healing wasn't an issue so I didn't need to buy any, but it felt ridiculous that stores were utterly useless.
In general, finding so many things I couldn't buy was just bewildering at first. I need Five THOUSAND red beans to buy "something!?" I don't have ANY. I don't even know how you get them! Why is this store even in the early level area? (Yes, I figured it out over time, but the amount of reading/watching to figure all this out amounted to almost as many hours as I spent playing.)
Having everything be worth 1 copper was annoying. "OK, so I don't sell anything. And, oh, look - half of what I have is non-tradable!" This made limited inventory even more painful because it was obvious I shouldn't/couldn't sell anything I might need later. The whole economic experience led me to think, "Don't even bother buying or selling - that must be for the higher levels."
The number of different interfaces was surprising, and confusing. A single repeated interface across various merchants was fine. But I was something like level 12 or 15 before I even figured out what the Hongmoon Store was and how to call it up, craft coins, etc.The mail/marketplace/vault etc. in the dragon traders should probably be tabs for clarity. I literally couldn't figure out how to take delivery of something I bought in the marketplace and had to ask.
I know you probably can't restructure the whole economy before launch, but simplifying/reducing the number of currencies and pseudo-currencies (things that function only as exchangeable items for useful things) would be ideal, if possible. Or add a lot of explanation somewhere - introducing information along the way, and removing irrelevant vendors from early low-level areas.
I hope this is coming across clearly. I'm not just whining, "It's hard." I'm saying it was a BARRIER to what I wanted to do - spend my various resources to focus on acquiring and upgrading my items to optimize (or just specialize) my character. THAT was an element of fun I was looking for. Instead, it took a lot of work to even understand the economy and options, and then once I did I got a strong sense of, "Yeah, can't really do that... it almost doesn't matter what you buy." Not fun.
So, I just have one weapon all game long? No choices of style/emphasis/stats? The idea of acquiring a large number of useless weapons/accessories in 3 types (upgrade, breakthrough, evolution) to "feed" your current weapon was just... weird. I have a hard time imagining how this system even came into being.
It just isn't intuitive to think that all the new weapons you find aren't really weapons at all. They will always be exclusively worse than your current weapon and are merely crafting material. Worse, feeding your weapon will constantly be interrupted by the need for particular special weapons you can't get anywhere other than at certain points in the game...
I understand that just acquiring a large number of plain, generic, "upgrade stones," and having to spend them to upgrade each thing might be boring, but at least it would be clear.
All these mechanics were starting to feel like barriers. "Can't upgrade too fast! Whether you grind or not, you will have THESE stats at THIS level..." I'm sure it's difficult to design systems to help prevent a bit of grinding from resulting in unbalanced OP items/stats/characters - and the current system does control that. But it is also pretty dang arcane, non-intuitive, and hard to learn.
It was a pain to figure out how to get my first weapon upgraded past 5, then through the level 10 breakthrough. I didn't quite make it to the breakthrough Blight weapon - and since I somehow seemed to get it to level 10 "early," I spent many hours and level progressively getting WEAKER as my maxed, non-upgradeable weapon did the same damage to enemies, who were constantly increasing in power all the time. Variation in mob difficulty is fine. A long-term feeling of decay in power level was not fun.
I understand that weapon skins are a thing, but a weapon that doesn't really change in appearance or stats for long periods of time and starts to feel like it's holding you back, and has no variations in terms of stats/areas-of-emphasis to suit particular skill selections, play style, etc. just feels flat.
Am I ever going to find anything cool? In general terms, "treasure" felt weak. You never got much of anything of value or interest. I'm not expecting Diablo here, but it's fun and rewarding to find stuff. This is the least fun I've had finding stuff in a while. Only mob drops - and those are rare - never any chests - not much true variety, and not much value. I'm trying to remember a time I was excited to find something...
On those few occasions I got something new that looked cool, I seemed to invariably learn that it was useless in practical terms.
"Upgrades level 20+ gear" - OK, save that in my already-full inventory for later...
"Combine with some-other-thing-I-don't-have to create Hongmoon Coins?" - As I said earlier, what the heck are those, how do I create and spend them? And once I figured that out, it seemed like the things you could buy with them were either underpowered (another bun) or used in creating other stuff I couldn't create (crafting materials)
And the Soul Shield System? I didn't feel like I had real choices here. (Meaningful choices are fun.) Of the few available it always seemed clear which was better. And that was generally whatever you had the most pieces of (due to bonuses), though eventually you'd find a stronger set.
I had trouble understanding the expected experience for me as a player. Live with a mixed bag of random soul shield parts? Work to collect a nearly complete set? When I met the first auto-respawning boss that generated the tokens to "spin the wheel" you got so many soul shields it didn't take long to complete a set. It was better than what I had - especially with the 5- and 8-peice bonuses, so I used it for a long time. Found a lot of useless green ones after that.
Then I met the lobster. I got lucky, and in 7 battles against the lobster I got 7 different pieces. Then I had 7 repeats and gave up. And they were non-sellable, and thus non-buyable, so I couldn't complete my set. I don't really want to grind the same dungeon 8 times, let alone 14+.
It wouldn't be so bad if you had pieces lobbed at you left and right so you could safely presume, "My set is not complete now, but it will complete as I finish the next couple hours of quests - one way or another - as I collect soul shield pieces."
But the only way to get them was the lobster... And once you have 6 or 7 pieces, your odds of a repeat are high. You're going to need to do about 6 more, on average, before you fill that 8th spot. Maybe make them transformable - trade in any 5 of a set for a piece of your choice from that set.
(I did try upgrading soul shields, but after breaking at least 20 of them and getting 2 upgrade powders, I decided that wasn't much of an option.)
Combat is cool. But what the heck is going on!?
I enjoyed the combat. I do hope the matchmaking for PvP improves and that the player pool expands a lot. After my first bout was a serious loss against someone who clearly outclassed me by a mile, and seeing the YouTube video of the guy losing 16 consecutive fights, I decided I'd hold off on more PvP until I could find people as unskilled as I am to compete with. (It's also not clear to me how you'd improve at this without a person or system to help let you know what you did wrong. Or at least fight replays.)
I felt like I really didn't understand the combat very deeply. I'm OK with people needing to really read and dig into their abilities. But I don't remember much mention of the skill book for the whole first chunk of the game. I couldn't immediately figure out where to go read about my abilities. Character Profile? Nope. OH, it's the thing that says, "Ignore me until you've finished chapter 17..." Once I did figure it out, I tried some basic combos.
As I leveled up, the system kept adding abilities, but without really notifying me or letting me know what it did, how to use them, etc. The quests that teach simple combos felt like the came too late. Good system, but lack of clarity for new players.
Thanks for listening. Wow. This was much longer than I had intended. I'll stop here. Lots of good in this game. And I enjoyed it enough to play, write all this, and look forward to launch. But boy, did I have to work for it as a new player, and suffer through a number of un-fun elements along the way. I hope this feedback helps you polish some rough edges, or maybe helps another new player a bit.
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