Sunday, August 26, 2018

Walking My Dog Named Cat : Bless Online

When I learned that Bless Online has a different starting area and storyline for each of its seven races I was quite excited. I found the storyline for the first race I tried, the diminutive and (optionally) furry Mascu, engaging and entertaining. The prospect of another half-dozen narratives of that quality was enticing.

When my Mascu ranger ran into a minor roadblock in the main storyline somewhere in the mid-teens, rather than grind out a level or two on Monster Books and side quests to get past it, I decided to roll another character and see what their starting area and story was like. Of course, it doesn't take much to persuade me to roll an alt.

Leather hot pants and thigh boots. I know! it's a classic, right?

Heading back into character creation, I was reminded of something I'd skipped over the first time around. I didn't think to mention it in the post I wrote about making a character but six of Bless's seven classes are faction-locked. More significantly, since this is a faction-based PvP game, you can only play one faction per server.

By sheer chance my race of first preference , Mascu, is the only one shared by both factions. I didn't know that when I chose it. I also knew nothing about the factions so I picked Hieron pretty much at random. From a few things I've read since, apparently Union is the casual-preferred faction, partly due to snazzier mount options and partly because of the lore.

If I'd wanted to try one of the Union races I could have started over on a new server (there are four, two each on EU and NA, down from fifteen at launch according to the wiki, which might be some kind of record in just a couple of months... ) but I also wanted to find out if bank space was shared so I chose what I thought was a catlike race from the Hieron options in front of me.

Young wolf, run free.

Making the character was an absorbing experience. I could spend a long time playing around with Bless's options and sliders. Eventually I dragged myself away from the controls, settled on a look, gave my new cat-girl a cat-person name I often use when playing cat-people and logged in.

Imagine my surprise to discover I was a wolf. You'd think I might have noticed, not least because the freakin' race is called the Lupus, but no. This is what happens when you don't do your research. Or pay attention.

Just for information, there is a cat-person race. It's on the Union side and it's called the Pantera. These aren't hard codes to crack. The other four racial options are two flavors of human (Habichts and Armistad) and two sorts of elf (Sylvan and Aqua). I plan on trying them all.

Spooky red glow. It's a bad thing.

The Lupus starting area is delightful if entirely unoriginal. It reminded me of both the Priden starting area in Allods Online and the Tauren newbie zone in World of Warcraft. Lots of totem poles, wooden lodges and forest trails. Everyone's drawing from the same real-world well but it's always a refreshing draught.

The Lupus storyline isn't as unusual as the Mascu's but it's a decent example of the tribal rite-of-passage that goes wrong trope. I quickly found myself drawn in to the narrative, which was interesting enough that I wanted to explore all the conversational options to find out more of the back-story.

Bless has a lot of conversational options. Not the kind where you get to choose from a snarky, noble or neutral response for your character (I hate those) but the sort where you can interrogate NPCs at some length to reveal more about the gameworld's biography, history or lore. It also has a lot of good quality cut-scenes, something I should have mentioned in my First Impressions posts.

Smoke gets in your eyes. And your fur.

Wherever the quests are voiced, the additional text options also seem to have been fully translated from the original Korean. Those are definitely worth reading. I read all the quest text anyway, regardless of the quality of the English, but the well-translated ones are good enough that it makes me wish they'd had the time, money or inclination to buff up the rest as well.

So far, so good, then. I've played two races and very much enjoyed both starting experiences. There is a problem, though. They're too short.

I was hoping the individual racial storylines would take me all the way to Level 30, which is when both factions come together to compete over the same quest content. Sadly, that's not how it works.

Look at the way she stands on the balls of her toes. And those gigantic hands. Best werewolf ever.

The Mascu and Lupus storylines merge much sooner than that, around level five, at the point where you arive in the factional capital city of Hieron. I knew it was going to happen even before I got there. It was a bit of a give-away when the same NPC that my Mascu ranger sidekicks for turned up to take my wolf-girl under his wing in the Lupus starting story.

The upshot is that there's nowhere near as much unique questing and storyline content in Bless as I'd hoped. It was a bit much to expect, thinking about it. On the positive side, however, there are still six short stories of some quality to enjoy and two full-length storylines, assuming, as must be the case, that the Union story is entirely different to the Hieron throughout.

No airship trip for me. All the way on the back of a flying lizard. Hmm... that reminds me of something...

That does mean playing two elves to see them all but you can't have everything. It's also more achievable. I don't imagine I would ever had worked my way through seven sets of thirty levels, no matter how good the stories might have been - and I'm not saying they're that good. Just decent.

And that shared bank? There isn't one. But there is a shared wallet. My wolf-girl was able to dip into my Mascu's savings to buy herself a full set of armor at level one, rendering any combat in the starting instance trivial. Also any quest rewards. I'm not sure they've entirely thought this through...


  1. I've long used this as a benchmark for a given MMORPG. The length and quality of individual racial/class storylines matters a lot to me as it's the main replay value of the game. Shame it's only 5 levels in Bless. I might pick it up next time it goes on sale though.

    1. Something SDWeasel of Unidentifed Signal Source said in a post about Bless made me wonder if the storylines duplicate across the factions. I'm going to trty to check that out this week. I hope not, because I totally agree that the more variation there is in starting areas and leveling zones, the more replayability there is.

  2. Hey you need to mess with the mount taming system. I’m level 17 and have like 8 mounts. They give you 20 taming scrolls almost right off the bat and you just right click one, then left click on any beast, play a little mini game and voila you add a mount to your stable. Pretty cool!

    1. I'm going to try that at the weekend. I've seen plenty of animals that look like they could stand a saddle.


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