Last month at Summer Game Fest, I got a chance to preview Blue Protocol, one of Amazon’s latest publishing forays into the MMO space. I got about 40 minutes of hands-on time, which was enough to see the opening few scenes and then do a six-person dungeon with a boss at the end.
I remember the first time I saw Blue Protocol’s trailer, I thought it was a Tales of spin-off project. After seeing the anime opening, I can’t say I was fully wrong. The intro cutscene feels pretty reminiscent of the franchise, featuring a party of heroes fighting against great evils. It even has a great, action-packed anime opening song by L’arc-en-Ciel.
Unlike the Tales of series, this is an MMO, so instead of playing as those characters in the cutscene, you make your own person. The character customization is fairly robust, with lots of options to create your shonen hero or heroine of your dreams.
In the world of Blue Protocol, you can summon a mount to get around quickly, and you can fast travel around to major waypoints as you explore. We didn’t get much time to explore the overworld map, but it was pretty easy to scrub through the menus to get to where we were directed to go.
I spent most of my time outside of towns, exploring the wilderness or dungeons, where I fought all sorts of enemies. The combat system doesn’t include auto-attacks like old-school MMOs; instead, every click equates to a swing of your sword (or whatever weapon you’re using).
Along the bottom of the screen are hot-keyed abilities, though it’s a pretty limited selection. You’ve got four main abilities on (semi) short cooldowns, and then an ultimate. There are also two “echo” abilities that summon spirits, which have varying effects.
It’s more action-oriented than your big names in the genre, like World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy XIV, though if you’re familiar with titles like Black Desert Online, you’ll feel right at home. And much like Genshin Impact, it will be free to play.
In combat, Blue Protocol is incredibly flashy. Each ability produces a big animation that really shines thanks to the anime aesthetic. The class I played, the Foe Breaker, has an ability where they leap into the sky and slam down their hammer-gun-thing, which always felt so satisfying.
For the most part, I found myself weaving these abilities between basic combo strings, finding the optimal time to use them while managing cooldowns. When it comes to bosses, it’s all about staggering or stunning them while dodging their big AOE attacks. When they’re vulnerable, that’s when you pull out all the big abilities.
Additionally, there’s a chain gauge in Blue Protocol that counts up your party’s combo as long as someone’s hitting something. This is especially helpful in boss fights, because the higher the combo goes, the higher your damage multiplier goes.
When you combine all the flashy attacks of all six party members, it feels pretty hectic, but in a sort of exciting way. So much is happening, especially when enemies are also throwing out their attacks. It made me feel like an anime action hero during a dramatic cliffhanger battle, fighting alongside my fellow overpowered friends.
In that same vein though, it’s easy to feel a little lost in all the chaos. Granted, this is just my initial impression from jumping right into a level 20 dungeon. I imagine after working your way up to that point in the full game, it’s easier to digest all the information.
Blue Protocol is currently out in Japan, but we won’t see it here in the west until 2024. You can expect a closed beta later this year if you want to try it for yourself. The game will launch on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.
Blue Protocol was previewed on a PC on an early build at Summer Game Fest Play Days. All screenshots are from gameplay captured during the session.