Blade & Soul: Not Mount & Blade

The one on the left is called Battlelegs. Or should be.

It’s not always entirely clear what ncSoft’s Eastern arm is up to, but they’ve at least a couple of promising MMOs in the pipeline. There’s the Cryengine-powered Aion, which we’ll hopefully have more about in the not too distant, and there’s also Project [M] – which was revealed back in August to be Blade & Soul. It’s Korean, it’s Eastern-themed high-fantasy, and it’s headed up by one of the main Lineage dudes. But wait! Clearly, that sounds like a triple-whammy of ohgodsoullessgrinding, but there are signs this might be something a whole lot more interesting than simply Lineage with prettier pretties.

Using my incredible Korean translation skills (i.e. clicking on every button until something I recognised happened), I’ve dug up the embed code for some in-game footage. Expect it to load agonisingly slowly as it’s coming from the Far East, however. It’s billed as a martial arts game, but martial arts in the way that Soul Calibur is martial arts. The fighting looks intruigingly dynamic, more akin to a God of War or Devil May Cry than a Lineage or WAR. It might be about killing identi-beasts in their thousands, but crucially that act of killing could be a lot of fun. It also seems to feature monster-bifurcation and slightly shocking scenes of giants beating tiny women into the ground.

Edit – also a Yourfaceinatube version, lower quality but faster to download:

The scant but optimistic Unofficial Blade & Soul Blog has some more details, including a painstaking scene-by-scene trailer analysis. Which saves me from doing one. Hooray! Though I kind of wish I was the one writing stuff like “The famous pounding scene. The skill includes face-punching, two-hand smash, and arm-breaking which casts like a combo. It also includes a head-butt.”

Due in 2010, apparently.


  1. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    Imagine a world where the notion of domestic violence was not discernible by someone’s bruises but by the damage numbers spouses screamed when being beaten.

  2. Tei says:

    It looks cool, but most korean mmos also look cool. My problem is that I hate non-sense grinding and and poor text fonts. And most korean mmos are lacking here. Often there also strange controls, that stop you to play these game. Other than that, most are awesome tecnological feats, in a sense.

  3. Duoae says:

    Speaking of MMOs – has it been a few weeks for that Planetside news to filter through? Did i miss it?

  4. Chalkster says:

    This is on youtube and gametrailers as well, I think, you could get a faster loading video that way.

  5. Pahalial says:

    Excuse my jadedness, but it’ll take a LOT more than trailers to convince me a Korean MMO headed up by anyone on the Lineage team is more than grind city.

  6. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:


    Took a wild shot on the Google, since something about the art style reminded me of works I’ve seen. And it turns out I was right. The art’s by Hyung Tae Kim. Which explains why it’s gorgeous and yet completely ludicrous, in that delightfully over-the-top way. (Is that one lady actually wearing anything?) Too bad it’s a Korean MMO, as that immediately puts the warning flags up.

  7. Stromko says:

    Jeeze that’s a lot of panty-shots before 10:30 AM PST. Oh Korean MMOs, is there anything you can’t make jiggle?

    Seriously I doubt much of the dynamic gameplay they’re showing, if indeed the parts that are meant to look like gameplay are actually playable at all, are actually controllable. It’s also likely that the actual fun gameplay is gated behind hundreds of hours of pure grind, and that said gameplay will be about as fun as a flaming bowel movement by time you actually get far enough.

    If it comes to the U.S. they’ll probably promise to ‘re-tune’ it, giving us hope that the ludicrous grind is removed, but just like that game with the three different sides and the giant robots, they won’t remove the grind at all. It’ll be a sad day for those who can’t get by without glistening asian pixelhotties, but the rest of us will probably just shrug and keep playing all the awesome MMO’s already available in the west.

  8. Dominic White says:

    While this looks impressive, the actual game mechanics still remain unknown. If you don’t mind me going off on an asian MMO tangent, I just wish Capcom would extract head from backside and get an official translation of Monster Hunter Frontier – the PC version of their long-running console series – out.

    link to

    An action-MMO where there are no levels, no classes, no grind. Every single mission is a boss fight (there are more boss-class enemies than there are normals) of raid-level difficulty, and the difference between newbie and endgame armor is the ability to soak up maybe 2-3 more hits before dying. It’s 95% player skill that determines whether you win or lose horribly, and it is HARD.

    The Monster Hunter series alone is probably keeping the PSP afloat in Japan. Why it has almost no representation in the west is baffling. Do people honestly WANT mindless grind in their MMOs rather than tons of challenging boss fights?

  9. Dominic White says:

    Oh, and if anyone is wondering ‘No levels, no clases? Why would you even play?’

    Because it’s fun. The actual core gameplay is highly enjoyable, and going to new places and fighting new creatures and crafting new gear out of their body-parts is addictive.

    It’s like the anti-MMO.

  10. spd from Russia says:

    Iv waited like 1 hr to dl it. looks nice, too bad it MMOOOO

  11. Grey_Ghost says:

    Well, it certainly looks awesome… but would need to know the mechanics before getting excited. Also that “Monster Hunter Frontier” mentioned above looks quite interesting as well. We do seem to get gipped on the better Asian games.

  12. Yhancik says:

    I’ve seen the blades, but it needs more Motown.

  13. Half Broken Glass says:

    Yes, it looks fantastic, but who cares? It will still be about killing one thousand red frogs for a +1. The only difference between this and Ragnarok Online(Which I like to use as an MMORPG benchmark) is that the attack animation lasts longer.

  14. Marcin says:

    If that wallrunning and leaping tall cliffs and buildings is in the game, I just might give it a shot. But I suspect that’s pure cutscene territory … in which case full warning flag mode is on.

  15. Ryan says:

    Just an FYI, that trailer it has been confirmed was ingame, but the animations were all done by an animation team, none of that action is actual ingame, just ingame graphics with staged actions. :-/

  16. Kareem says:

    While the skeptiglands are overwhelmed reading about who’s designing the game, I can’t help but feel that their take on MMO combat seems rather fresh. Hopefully the dressing around that won’t be made of pure grind.

  17. Stromko says:

    Ryan: Wow, so they just wasted about 7 minutes of our time, aside from showing what nice chachas they can draw. Yep, this’s looking right on track to not change my feelings about Korean MMOs.

  18. Julian Montebartholemieau, Esquire says:

    Gentlemen, I herewith petition to retitle the game “Boob and Soul.”

  19. Al3xand3r says:

    No grinding? I thought the majority of Monster Hunter games is about hunting monsters to get materials for better gear which will allow you to defeat bigger monsters, with some of the tougher bosses requiring uber rare stuff to even give you a chance of survival for more than a few seconds. I don’t see how people could be playing this game for hundreds of hours if no grinding is involved, surely it would get boring once you have defeated a few of the bigger monsters a few times, if there was no sense of progress with the materials and new gear you get out of that hunting and killing.

    Not that I mind any of this, I almost bought the last PSP game but now I’m waiting for the Wii Monster Hunter 3 to dive into this series, since it will include the online multi player the PSP titles lacked. It also seems to have a slight graphical upgrade over Monster Hunter Frontier since that one looks to have the PS2 games’ assets rather than be a complete remake for the PC platform, while most of the assets in 3 are brand new and it will include underwater hunting, the need for torches when hunting in dark areas, much improved AI and a more simulated ecosystem and other sweet features :)

  20. Valentin Galea says:

    ncSoft’s attention to upskirts is unmatched!

  21. Dominic White says:

    @Al3xand3r – Perhaps I’m not in the majority here, but I’ve always considered ‘grind’ to be the pointless treadmill drudgery required to get you from one bit of content to the next. My experience with Monster Hunter is that the required equipment to survive comes pretty much along with progress through the missions, but there’s always the option of farming particular targets to get very specialized gear.

    Especially if you’re playing with a full party, you really don’t need the absolute best-level equipment, so you can get by without any grind. And if you ARE repeating fights, then it’s still fun anyway, as pretty much every fight is unpredictable and difficult.

    It’s a world apart from most MMOs.

  22. Al3xand3r says:

    Isn’t every MMO like that until you start hitting end game content (or, I imagine, the biggest toughest bosses in Monster Hunter) which is when the absolute best possible gear is desired? I mean, I imagine Monster Hunter wouldn’t make people play for the hundreds of hours they do (or pay a subscription for the online games) if there really was no grind involved, I’m sure there is rare gear you have to kill monsters many times to get the materials for, as usual…

    It’s also not quite a MMO is it? All of it is instanced aside from the lobby area, no? Much like Phantasy Star Online? I don’t think this kind of interaction is possible for a full MMORPG, perhaps that’s the reason this NCSoft title doesn’t show scenes with many players either, maybe all of it is instance and lobby based too. It does look good and fun though, almost like a cross between a beat em up and prince of persia (in the later parts of the vid) plus a party.

    I’m not trying to devalue the game, I do think it’s an amazing series though I’ve yet to play it, and I do wonder why not more games like that are being made considering how popular they are when they do get made (perhaps it all started with Phantasy Star Online). Maybe Capcom themselves will expand on it if Monster Hunter 3 is popular for online gaming and bring us more franschises with a hint of this formula… Or maybe other companies jealous of their success will… Let’s hope so because the online gaming field is quite restricted, you only get a hanfdul of different game styles… RTS, FPS, MMORPG, etc.

  23. A coin says:

    Well darn, now I’m curious. Anyone have any information if the game mechanics will actually be interesting? I wouldn’t mind seeing an MMO that doesn’t have the utterly stale gameplay of “click monster, watch dull attack animations”, especially a pretty one.

  24. vigevano says:

    ryan: source please?