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Blue Protocol seems like a slick anime MMO, if an extremely predictable one

Amazon Games, back at it

A pink-haired Blade Warden raises her shield in Blue Protocol.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Bandai Namco Entertainment

Another day, another Eastern MMO picked up by Amazon Games and repackaged for a Western audience. What's the grind this time? Blue Protocol, an anime MMO developed by Bandai Namco that's already out in Japan, and is due out in the West sometime in 2024. I played it for an hour and I've come away thinking it's a slick operation, with some slight Monster Hunter edge to its combat. While the future sounds promising, questions remain around a world which seems a bit eh, and the ever looming march of the microtransactions.

As someone who's played a lot of anime MMOs and RPGs, I've become familiar with their opening gambits. You, a nameless protagonist, get into a fight where there's a lot of "yuh" and "uah" noises as swords clash, followed by a win or a loss (it doesn't matter). You wake up with amnesia in a starting town. A squeaky girl with demonic tendencies becomes your go-getting guide and asks you your name; this is usually the bit where you enter character creation. Blue Protocol follows this exact pattern to a T, and to be totally honest with you I didn't really have time to absorb the game's story. All I know is that you're on a planet called Regnas and it's your job to uncover its dark secret. Fairly predictable stuff.

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There is, to be fair, a banger of an animated opening, followed by a character creation tool with those nice class selection screens where a little box plays a preview of each skill. There are five classes to choose from, all names you'd never want etched on the side of your bidet: Aegis Fighter, Twin Striker, Blast Archer, Spellcaster, and Foe Breaker. Naturally, I went for the one called Foe Breaker because it gives you a warhammer that doubles as a portable cannon.

I can't speak for the other classes, but the Heavy Smasher had a proper Monster Hunter feel to it. Swings were heavy and deliberate, with some of my cannon blasts gradually depleting a line of shells I'd need to reload, much like MH's gunlance class. It's too early to say how much customisation is on offer, but franchise lead Mike Zadorojny tells me that you're able to "kind of blend each class" towards a role you're more keen on, whether that's tank, DPS, or support. Although, I didn't get a sense it quite had the depth of MH's interlocking combos and complex inputs - but then Blue Protocol is an MMO reliant more on ability cooldowns so it's probably unfair to compare the two too closely.

Still, from the combat I sampled both in a dungeon and out exploring the world, it felt snappy and my hammer swings had a satisfying clunk to them when I belted boars and goblins. The heaviest hits stemmed from my abilities, two of which involved a slam dunk explosion, while one of my faves summoned an angry boar that barreled into baddies and was seemingly unrelated to my class, which granted it some added chaotic pizazz. All in all, I'd say one of the game's big strengths is how it feels nice in the hands, whether you're on the warpath or trotting about on your mount.

The Foe Breaker from Blue Protocol, swinging their massive war hammer.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Bandai Namco Entertainment
A massive demonic boar pulses with purple energy, as a group of players from Blue Protocol close in.
The dungeon was a fairly simple crash through some corridors, in a relatively uninspired grassy zone. While it was fun to team up with folks, I didn't get a sense strategy was all that important? Zadorojny tells me that they're designed for "any combination of classes", so here's hoping that if class picks are less important, that later dungeons require a bit more finesse tactically. | Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Bandai Namco Entertainment

As for the world of Blue Protocol, I'd say my first impressions are a bit… eh. From what I saw of Regnas, all of it sort of meshed into the stereotypical anime blend of wavy green grass, clear blue skies, and jagged mountain ranges tipped with blue fire instead of snow because that's fantasy, baby. Towns might have a cozy feel, with warm lanterns and the embrace of tinkly music, but they felt a bit devoid of any true personality. I have fond memories of World Of Warcraft's earliest zones, like the calming golden hue of Elwynn Forest or the still waters of the lovely Loch Modan, but I'm unsure whether any of the spots I visited in Blue Protocol tickled my whimsy receptors.

Granted, the build I played didn't really let me participate in any major questlines, so perhaps my whimsy receptors would've gone through the roof had I earned some big chunks of EXP and gathered seven bat eggs or something. My only experience of questing lay in some guy asking me to find his precious rock and a fetch quest where I gave a bard a handful of tomatoes and celery, which then inspired him to compose a song for his town. Not exactly awe-inspiring stuff, but then all MMOs are guilty of tedious fluff so I can't hold it against Blue Protocol for falling in line.

When it comes to the EXP grind, Zadorojny explains that it's about folks "proving they're the best of the best", with challenges like time attack where you race to get to the top of this murder tower as fast as you can. Over the next four months, we can expect a "new class", a "new chapter", "new areas to explore", and "hardmode dungeons", with rewards for folks who manage to get through the toughest tasks. There seems to be less of an emphasis on an intense endgame grind and more for an approachable time, with the word "welcoming" used a lot in our chat.

Montegnor Valley from Blue Protocol, green grass, jagged peaks, and blue skies stretch into the distance as the player sits on their mount.
Much like Final Fantasy XIV, Blue Protocol's map are split into various zones, all marked by dotted lines which let you know that crossing their thresholds means a load screen. | Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Bandai Namco Entertainment

During my time with the game, at least, it didn't hammer me with a zillion currencies or any inkling that I'd need to stick my gacha coupons into the all-consuming money machine. I liked how my screen wasn't riddled with pop-ups, but there's an underlying worry with any MMO whether you're going to get fleeced one way or another. I posed the question of monetisation to Zadorojny and he said there's one main currency called "rose orbs", with a second currency called "BBB" which lands in your pockets if you receive a duplicate item. Essentially, then, we can expect a gacha system similar to Tower Of Fantasy or Genshin Impact without quite as many currencies.

Going off my brief spell with Blue Protocol, I reckon it's a sleek anime MMO with an interesting, slightly Monster Hunter-esque take on combat. But while it looks and feels the part, many question remarks remain around whether its world and questing will inspire anything more than an experience as predictable as a train delay on the GWR line. We'll have to see, eh?

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