Bandai Namco will be bringing Bless Unleashed to Xbox One later this year, with the game taking place in an untamed world, leaving the hardcore MMORPG players to forge their own tale. It looks stunning, will come with PvE and PvP options, and promises to have an endless amount of content to boot. With all that in mind, and with the opportunity opening up to us, we had a quick chat with Jason Park, Director of Development at Round 8 Studio, overseer of all things Bless Unleashed related, to see what was what!
Hi, please could you introduce yourself? What has been your role with Bless Unleashed
My name is Jason Park, and I am Round 8 Studio’s Director of Development. I oversee all areas related to Bless Unleashed development.
So, sell it to us… why should gamers spend time with Bless Unleashed?
There is a common stereotype that MMORPG games are boring, and a player has to invest a lot of time and effort. Most have target-based combat, and require learning complex systems. We focused on this as we started development for Bless Unleashed for console.
The classic MMO experience is very different than console gameplay. That’s why our main goal was to create an MMORPG that fits console gameplay style. For example, we emphasized the action aspect of combat, simplified complex systems, and simplified the process for players to join boss fights, dungeons, and world events. We believe these changes will deliver the best MMORPG experience for console.
One of the main selling points is that players will be found traversing the world battling vicious and lethal monsters. This sounds a lot like Monster Hunter: World in that sense. Has the game been inspired by the Monster Hunter franchise in any way? If not, what have been the biggest inspirations?
Our team was inspired by many different games from a variety of genres, including Monster Hunter: World. It is always fun to traverse the world and take down huge monsters by understanding its weakness/pattern and preparing for the fight with the right gear.
For Bless Unleashed, we focused on integrating these experiences into a MMORPG setting. We designed the field, dungeon, and world bosses to incorporate the same type of preparation and skill, but for multiple players at a time, and designed monsters to be a threat to both ranged and melee classes. Another change we made was for the monsters’ maximum health to increase or decrease depending on the number of players participating in a fight. For those who want to hunt monsters in smaller groups, we are providing Named Boss dungeon instances.
Some of our core design members worked previously on the Monster Hunter franchise. This experience has helped us to add depth to the boss fight experience in Bless Unleashed.
We understand PVP has a rather major place within the game. Is the PVP open-world based or will players go to an arena type area to battle it out?
Both exist in game. For arena type PVP, users will battle it out in an instanced arena via a matchmaking system. At launch, we will provide 15 vs 15 arena where two teams will battle for resources.
Open world PVP will also exist, and users can flag themselves as interested (or disinterested) in world PVP. There is a penalty system, so an attacking player would have to take the risk. Of course, if you are attacked, and kill the attacker in defense, there is no penalty.
Players who kill another player who was not flagged for PVP may not be able to enter a village due to their penalty score, and will be attacked by the guards. A player that finds themselves in this situation, would have to find a village for outlaws.
As with every free-to-play title, many have initial fears of not being able to progress past a certain point without spending some cash in-game. Does Bless Unleashed have any instances of this or is everything accessible from the off?
While we were developing Bless Unleashed, one of the important ground rule we agreed on is not to sell power using cash – no pay-to-win. How a player’s character grows and becomes stronger is solely up to the player, and depends on the player’s actions in-game and what experience he/she has. Cash usage does not have any role in this. Since Bless Unleashed is a non targeting action game, even if your gear spec is low you can overcome this through your skills and ability.
Based on this rule, in-game currency and cash is separate, and we don’t have plans to use cash to easily enhance gear, or sell weapons. Instead, we are preparing to sell decorative items like appearance items, mounts, and various convenience items.
How long would the average player take to reach the end of this MMORPG adventure?
We designed Bless Unleashed’s play experience largely into two parts. First of all, a player’s first objective will be reaching level 30. If a player concentrates only on leveling up, not participating on other contents such as side quests or dungeons etc., it would take 30~40 hours to reach level 30.
Once a user reaches level 30, more regions will be opened and areas to play will expand. Players will then have access to various level of reputation missions, divine quests and regions quests. These will generate all over the world and enable them to upgrade their gears. Dungeon bosses and secret treasure chest hunting will also still be available. Level growth progresses relatively slow at this stage, so a player’s main goal should be raising their gear score and collecting skill points to develop Blessings.
All of the post level 30 activities will help a player prepare for the new story in our first content update.
The game looks phenomenal visually, are there any visual differences between playing on an Xbox One, Xbox One S, or an Xbox One X?
Xbox One X is extremely powerful hardware, so there will be a visual difference between Xbox One and Xbox One X. Since Bless Unleashed use Dynamic Resolution, there are many differences between each device. such as resolution, number of Foliage for optimization, etc. Functions such as Dynamic Global illumination are only applied in Xbox One X.
How many different classes/races are there and what are the key differences between them?
At launch, there will be five different classes: Crusader, Berserker, Ranger, Mage, and Priest. There are 4 races: Human, Elf, Varg, and Ippin. In short, all classes are designed to act as damage dealers in Bless Unleashed. At the same time, we want to ensure the skills and combo sets all felt accurate to the class.
For example, the Crusader is characterized by using shields to defend, which powers up an attack. For the Berserker, it has a strong and large attack, however it has a relatively slow movement and uses their own health to power stronger attacks. The Ranger has excellent range attack capability and makes powerful damage through aim shots, but it is important to find the right moment to reload the arrows. Unlike traditional wizards with slow casting, Bless Unleashed’s Mage is characterized by speedy magic performance. The only class that can act as healer is the Priest, however it must deal damage to heal effectively.
Above all, the features and skills of each class can be completely changed by replacing Blessings. Depending on which type of Blessings are equipped and used, any class can take a completely different tactic and play pattern.
Do players need to have played the previous title, Bless Online, to understand the story, or is the narrative still completely accessible to newcomers?
Not at all. Bless Unleashed shares the same world with Bless Online, however they are different games with different storylines. Users who played Bless Online may feel familiar with the names and cities, but there is no need to play Bless Online to understand the game.
And finally, how is your road-map looking for Bless Unleashed? Are there any new ideas in the pipeline that you can speak about?
We are preparing a lot of updates for post-launch. For every major update, the story is going to be expanded and related content will be released. Another major update we’re working on is the three gameplay factions. At launch, players can build relationships with three different, to be named, factions through reputation points. These characteristics reflect the tendency of players. There will be a faction for players who spend most of their time exploring the world and enjoys gathering, collecting and housing, and another, different faction for players who focus on running dungeons and maintain a higher level of gears. And for those who like to PVP, reputation points for a third faction can be earned. At the time of the launch, players can earn the reputation points of each factions. But for post-launch, users could actually register in faction if they have enough reputation points and unlock new missions. This will allow players to enjoy content that fits their own play style, and experience competition or cooperation with natural interface with other factions’ users. I believe that this content is an important part of a MMORPG’s advantage and will be a major part of the post-launch update.
Massive thanks go out to Jason for taking the time out of his busy schedule in order to answer our questions. Bless Unleashed is coming to Xbox One later in 2019. Keep an eye on our pages for more details as and when they arrive.