Bless Unleashed Preview – Bandai Namco Xbox MMO

Bless Unleashed Preview – Bandai Namco Xbox MMO

PAX East 2019 was a crazy turn of events for us here at Marooners’ Rock. Even with so many games to check out and appointments to be kept though, a majority of the Marooners’ Rock staff took the opportunity to visit Bandai Namco’s booth during our free time to play Bless Unleashed. Although I was ultimately the only staff member to have a hands-on press appointment with the Bless Unleashed demo off-site, that did not stop our team from returning to the Bless Unleashed booth each day. While at PAX West our writer Mike Robles, encouraged us to check it out, immediately putting Bless Unleashed on our radar.

So what exactly is Bless Unleashed? Bless Unleashed takes players on an epic multiplayer journey across a vibrant, ever-changing world and tasks the brave with battling and surviving vicious monsters that inhabit this untamed landscape. This is packaged in a free-to-play action MMO that is scheduled to release on the Xbox One in 2019.

While the majority of our staff had already played the Bless Unleashed demo at PAX EAST 2019, I went into the press appointment with as little information as possible. Part of this arrangement, however, was due to a last-minute scheduling change that left another staff member unable to make the appointment. For a point of reference, I do not typically play MMORPG’s and typically lose interest in shooters that have MMO elements, however, Bless Unleashed stunned me with its beautiful visuals, fluid game mechanics, and ease of play all running on the modern Swiss army knife of engines, Unreal Engine 4. For our off-site hands-on preview, we met with David Jaloza, producer for Bandai Namco for Bless Unleashed.

During the introduction, David informed us that we would be playing the single-player combat demo. Before diving in, he provided us with additional information about the game and what players should expect upon release. Bless Unleashed will grant players with varying quest lines, crafting, dungeons to clear, field bosses, 15 vs 15 PVP, and the ability to party up with friends.

The developers of Bless Unleashed want it to be open to the casual crowd or new MMO players while also making the game deep enough for hardcore MMO players. The game’s setting is similar to ancient Greece where different deities are using the humans as their champions. The player is guided by visions and dreams and must find out their role in this mythical world.

As with most MMOs there are non-player characters to interact with. At the moment, the game does not feature voice overs for each quest but the developers are looking at  where they want to apply voice lines. Similar to other MMO’s, players will follow varying quest lines ranging around a variety of tasks. Bless Unleashed looks to create a story similar to a Dungeons & Dragons adventure, where players are not always in combat but have a variety of tasks to complete to show off the deep and immersive story.

As players complete dungeons and quests, they are rewarded with in-game currency or treasure. Bless Unleashed will feature a marketplace but will not allow player-to-player trading. Bandai Namco aims to keep a steady hold on the marketplace by setting prices for items. This management is meant to prevent players from crafting specific items and holding the market ransom while constantly raising prices. The developers want to keep the game and the in-game market fair and friendly.

Although the developers look to keep the game fair and friendly, they will be offering players the ability to purchase a currency called Lumena with real-world currency. Lumena is specifically for in-game cosmetics and convenience items. A few convenience items mentioned during the interview are double XP potions and the ability to fast travel. Players will be able to pre-order Bless Unleashed, which will grant players founders packs and the ability to play the game before anyone else. Founders packs will provide unique armor, special mounts, and other cosmetic items. Players who pre-order will also be granted a “Head Start” by starting a few days before everyone else.

Bandai Namco is looking to avoid the pay-to-win trappings of many MMO games. They would rather “invest in the long game rather than make a quick buck.”

During our hands-on preview with Bless Unleashed, we were given the option to choose between five classes: Crusader, Berserker, Ranger, Mage, and Priest. The Crusader is a mix of offense and defense with medium speed and sword-and-shield attacks. The Berserker is a tank, slow-moving with heavy armor and really big attacks. The Ranger is a hunter using agile ranged attacks and light armor. The Mage is a glass cannon that focuses on powerful offensive base spells. The final character is the Priest, a spellcaster that focuses more on defensive spells such as a protective bubble and an A.O.E heal.

Bandai Namco is looking to move away from the traditional tank, healer, DPS sub-classes and more towards having each class being able to hold their own; this mindset is to allow players to play the game solo. As players team up and create parties, the enemies scale up to meet the new challenge. The developers wanted to avoid a situation where players have to wait around for a specific character role to join the dungeon or raid, an issue many an MMO player have faced at least once.

During the roughly 20-minute PAX exclusive demo, I played the mage, a temptress with pretty black armor. As the mage, the name of the game is to kite while unleashing powerful combinations. While I was playing, I attempted to jump to avoid attacks however I ultimately found it more beneficial to roll rather than jump. Jumping ended up being more visually fun than mechanically beneficial. The game does feature ranged indicators for spells and allows players to respond to quick-time-events in order to get out of CC (or crowd control attacks for those unaware). The Mage gains battle momentum by charging up their mana by killing enemies or by focusing targets. On the very top of the screen is a multiplier bar that shows the number of combinations they have done and this may lead to increased damaged once the game releases for those playing skillfully.

Controls for the game were rather simple with the D-pad controlling consumables such as potions. Potions did have a cooldown (60 secs in our build), so I was advised to drink responsibly. Foolishly, I did not heed that advice, later resulting in a death. The left trigger is used to give attacks a boost, almost like how many sports games feature a Turbo function. The Right bumper is used to choose between the four class skills. For the mage, the four abilities we had enabled were Slowdown (X), Knockdown (Y), Teleport (B), and Meteor Shower (A). When not holding RB, the player could combo other spell attacks to create more powerful spell options. By altering the button combination, the type of spell changed.

The developers are aiming for players to use combinations of attacks rather than one big attack to defeat enemies quickly. The game uses a crosshair mechanic to indicate if an attack is in range. A lock on feature is currently being adjusted. However, the developers were noticing that the feature made PVP unfair in current builds.

Towards the end of the demo, we faced a boss and I quickly realized that attack patterns and special abilities change as its health was lowered. At one point, the Mage was caught in a lethal attack and barely managed to survive by the use of a last-minute health potion. Sadly, this narrow escape would prove to be for naught as the game freaked out as we had triggered an error.

When I asked what had occurred, David explained to us that technically we were dead but still alive. This was due to the in-game mechanic where players can revive each other when down, however, since we were playing the game solo, a minor bug occurred. Luckily after a few seconds, the game realized the mistake and corrected itself. We died in that run but luckily we did not have to start from the beginning.

At the end of the demo, players were rewarded for completion with random loot items such as a scarf, flask, shirt, and other things. Because of this random loot reward, we awarded Bless Unleashed the Marooners’ Rock Best Swag Award.

Overall, I can see why Bless Unleashed was rather popular at PAX East. The game’s easy-to-understand mechanics mixed with its laid back MMO style allows for new players or inexperienced players to jump in and just have a fun time killing creatures. Visually the demo looked stunning and I was at awe with the highly detailed armor, environments, character models, and enemies.

At the moment, no official release date has been announced for Bless Unleashed aside from the 2019 window. Bless Unleashed was originally announced at PAX WEST in the summer of 2018. According to the Bandai Namco team, Bless Unleashed is scheduled to have an open beta within the next few months, however, the team is wanting to make the game as polished as humanly possible before they set a date.

Blessed Unleashed ended up winning the Team Choice and Best Swag Award along with a Nomination in Best of Show. Needless to say, we were impressed with the game so far and cannot wait to see how the game develops.

For more information, check out the official website for Bless Unleashed. We also have lots of coverage from our time at PAX East 2019 such as some hands-on time with Rad by Double Fine or our quick take on upcoming ports of PS2 Final Fantasy titles that are headed to the Switch.

Hardcore Gaming Enthusiast, Cosplayer, Streamer, Tall pirate (6ft 9), and a die-hard competitor. I have been a Pop-Culture Journalist since 2011. A former writer for Gamersbliss.com, VGGaming HQ, and The Nerdy Con Artist. One day, I hope to travel the world while working in the video game industry or as a professional gamer. Do you want to join in on a game or see what I am up to? Come follow/message me at Twitch.tv/KillerKDemons or any other social media as Killerkdemons.

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