PAX West 2018: Bless Unleashed

Sunday, September 2nd, 2018

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During the lead-up to PAX this year, Bandai Namco approached me about scheduling an appointment to check out a then-unannounced MMORPG on Xbox One. I was interested, since I’ve enjoyed Bandai Namco’s other recent games, and agreed to schedule the appointment. Not long thereafter, the company revealed the game to be Bless Unleashed, the free-to-play fantasy MMO-action-RPG, and even though it made me lose some interest I still wanted to go ahead and check the game out.

Bless Unleashed | Mage combat

The demo I played is quite short, the same as the PAX floor demo for the game. It shows off the combat and three of the game’s classes, the Berserker, Defender, and Ranger. I only got the chance to play as Ranger and Berserker, playing through the demo twice to see the differences in how the different classes approach combat. The Ranger focused on ranged attacks with a bow, while the Berserker uses slow, powerful melee attacks. They each have their own unique skills, such as the Ranger’s arrow reloading and aimed shots and the Berserker’s rage.

Bless Unleashed | Archer combat

Bless Unleashed has two attack buttons, using repeated presses to use a combo with a third as an ender. Characters also have a dodge roll that they can use to avoid incoming attacks, although the usefulness of the roll seems to vary between classes. It’s pretty standard fare as far as modern action-RPG combat goes, with the flow of combat largely focusing on attacking for a while before rolling and moving to dodge the enemies’ telegraphed attacks. The specific ways different classes approach combat is naturally different, as one might expect from using different weapons, but fundamentally it’s all based around taking advantage of opportunities and avoiding attacks, like most other recent action-RPGs.

Bless Unleashed | Dragon

The demo has the player fight through a group of orcs before fighting a two-headed giant, and finally a cyclops. The bosses have an annoyingly large amount of health, and I died once to the cyclops both times I played the demo. It’s clearly meant to be played in a group, given that it’s an MMORPG, but taking it on solo in the demo is incredibly frustrating and takes a long time. Even with the little experience with the combat system you get before the boss, seeing the cyclops’ health bar when you engage it is daunting, and tells you immediately that you’re going to have a long, annoying fight ahead.

Bless Unleashed | Dragon guardian combat

It’s impossible to get a sense of Bless Unleashed as a whole from just the demo, since it’s very short and the final game will have multiplayer as well as gameplay beyond just combat. That said, it doesn’t present a particularly interesting combat system, with endless mashing and dodging gets boring when there’s so little else to it. It’s possible that the game will be more interesting with friends, but that will remain to be seen until the game launches starting on Xbox One in 2019.

About Chris Melchin

Chris is a computer science student who has been gaming ever since he knew what to do with a Super Nintendo controller. He's a fighting game player, with a focus on BlazBlue and Under Night In-Birth games. His favourite games include Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Persona 5, and Little Busters. He started watching anime in high school, and his favourite series is Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. He also writes Vocaloid music for his personal YouTube channel, and has a (slight) obsession with Megurine Luka.