Ok. Blade & Soul Gold closed beta test ended for this period. Next one is in two weeks. Entry to the Closed Beta Test (CBT) requires at least a lowest tier premium membership to play on the CBT.
I rolled a kung fu master (melee fist weapons), a blade master (1H sword), force master (fire/ice mage) and assassin (single dagger). I got the KFU, BM and FM to lvl 20ish and first 6man dungeon (Blackram Narrows). CBT ended before I got the assassin to the first dungeon, though forming a party is common as I leveled because there are many caves in the villages along the questing breadcrumb trail that are basically two-man bosses (up to six can party for tehm though) for local quest hubs.
Skill training system is engaging and you become attached to Brother Hijoon (could spend more time practicing the combos – three successfully executed combos is not nearly enough to imprint the combos – I’m a keyboard and mouser not a console game pad player so this style is totally new to me). Weapon and item upgrading is quite a new take on the same-ol’-same-ol’ method of grinding for upgrades, though there is still a ‘grind’ for ‘evolution’ materials. Weapon and item evolution needs a tutorial as currently there is none.
The marketplace was unavailable during CBT so I have no comment on it. Mailing items to my alts was a pain as highlighted items in my bag were not always accepted for mail delivery. NC could clear that up with mail-specific tooltips.
Graphics are very good (comparable to TERA… mostly) except for NPC quest sequences in which the NPC mouth barely moves (puppet like) and the hands look like mittens. The environment is extraordinary, combat animations are excellent (very excellent) and spell effects are very good.
Mobs are not very ‘smart’. Combat is solely based on maximizing combo uptime. Screwing up a combo on a ‘soloable’ boss is terribad experience. Blade And Soul Gold Group finder (Server-based and Cross-server) need a tutorial, but are effective. Cash shop: where’s the Bind-to-Account stuff? Is this a repeat of WildStar where 90% of items must be purchased separately for each character on an account? C’mon NCSoft… *sigh*