It's not surprising to see a new battle royale game these days. With the massive success of Fortnite, PUBG, and Call of Duty: Warzone, it's not too surprising to see more games released that try to capture that initial wow factor that made battle royale’s so popular in the first place. Now that we’re a few years away from the launch of the previously mentioned titles, it's about time something came along and tried to do something new with the genre. Naraka: Bladepoint may be that game.
At first glance, Naraka: Bladepoint may look like nothing more than another battle royale game with a different coat of paint. The aesthetics and general art direction of the game are very true to its developer’s Chinese roots and, quite frankly, this totally works for a battle royale. The games combat and anime-like movement system separate it from everything else out right now in the best way possible.
How’s It Play?
In place of ranged explosives and machine guns, Naraka: Bladepoint emphasizes the use of close quarter-bladed weapons and its dynamic movement system. While there are quite a few ranged weapons in the form of cannons and rifles, after a few hours of gameplay I found myself preferring katanas and grappling hooks due to the ability to parry and zip around an enemy. If you’re a fan of action games like Devil May Cry and Bloodborne you’ll feel at home with the combat system in Naraka: Bladepoint. Blocking and parrying are a must if you plan on lasting long in a sword fight and with the game's intuitive and accessible tutorial, it's not too difficult to pick up and master the game's mechanics before your first battle royale.
The grappling hook is the main gameplay mechanic in Naraka: Bladepoint and after a bit of a learning curve, becomes one of the most efficient and fun new mechanics I’ve seen added to a battle royale since the gulag. In a game with ranged weapons, the grappling hook is a great way to balance gameplay between swords and guns simply due to the fact that I’m able to quickly and efficiently close the distance between me and an enemy, which solves one of the biggest gameplay problems in most third person action games. The grappling hook isn't free though and every use will cost ammo that you will need to scavenge off fallen enemies or the environment.
There’s an added element of strategy to the game due to the fact that you will also need to regularly repair your weapons and armor. I frequently found myself escaping tougher fights or trying to lure enemies towards each other so I could get a moment to fix my katana and reload my cannons. Because of this added element of strategy, I found myself enjoying every battle and trying to make every hit count so I didn't get stuck with broken weapons mid sword fight. As frustrating as that may sound at first, this inclusion of a slower gameplay mechanic balances out the chaos of a multi-directional fight and is easily one of the highlights of the game.
Naraka: Bladepoint has a buff system included in its loot. While you will get to equip various tiers of weapons and armor as well as expand your inventory space like other battle royale games, Naraka: Bladepoint introduces glyphs that give small but meaningful buffs ranging from health and damage output to more meaningful weapon and class-specific enhancements. There's something satisfying when you pull gold tier glyphs off a defeated foe and make yourself stronger in more ways than just having the nicest sword on the map.
At its core, Naraka: Bladepoint plays like all other battle royales. You choose where to drop into on the map (you spawn there instead of fly-in), loot resources around the world, and avoid the ever-so-shrinking circle. The game is also a pseudo-character-based game where each character will have their own skills and super abilities. While this is definitely in the early stages of development, theres a lot of potential here to make the game more engaging and dynamic every time you drop into the map.
Progression And The Battle Pass
During my gameplay preview with some of the games development team, it was clear that the dev's at 24 Entertainment are huge fans of the battle royale genre. There’s a lot here that just makes sense and it's clear that there's a sense of “if it ain’t broke don't fix it” with the overall design of this game. This also carries over to how the game's micro-transaction and DLC model will play out.
Currently, during the games demo period, you can use in-game currency or a premium hard currency to buy cosmetic skins for characters and weapons. While some of these have to be earned in-game, most of the cosmetics can be bought at any time. What makes this fair is that you can earn anything in-game by playing and there are plans for a premium and free battle pass as well as loot boxes down the line. I didn't get too many specifics on how that will work out exactly, but I was reassured that the game and its cosmetics will be accessible to players who want to buy the premium currency as well as those that would rather earn it in-game for free.
Naraka: Bladepoint is one of those games that comes along and instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, just improves it in small but meaningful ways. From its fast-paced but thoughtful combat mechanics to its intriguing world-building and aesthetics, and its fair cosmetic and loot system. Naraka: Bladepoint may very well be the next big battle royale, and in a genre that's vastly overcrowded with uninspired copy-cat rehashes of what made the other games successful, its a breath of fresh air to play something that not only maintains the standards of what makes a battle royale fun but also pushes the bar in a positive and meaningful direction.
Techraptor played Naraka: Bladepoint in both a closed demo with the games development team as well as during its open alpha on PC. The game is set to release on PC via Steam and Epic Games Store on August 12th.