Naraka: Bladepoint is a surprising new battle royale.
The battle royale genre has now reached a point of maturity where significant new versions can emerge. I’m not just talking about games that play with what makes a battle royale vibrate, but also ideas for games that you wouldn’t typically imagine as battles royals.
Naraka: The tip of the blade is one of those games, a pleasant surprise that brings action melee combat to the genre. Bladepoint’s movement and traversal mechanics are also new to BR, a solid mix of grappling hooks, running walls, double jumps, and dashes.
Bladepoint’s fight is deceptively simple. It initially appears arcade, with bursts of rapid movement and no stamina indicators, but its depth quickly begins to show when you face one enemy after another. Normal attacks are quick and can be combined into grappling hooks for proper Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon action. You can’t block normal attacks, but you can dodge them. It can be frustrating at first, as you’ll feel like you’re infinitely dizzy, but you’re still free to dodge at the cost of a bit of stamina.
Better yet, if you spot a window and don’t mind taking a risk, you can hold your attack down to charge up a more powerful version that will cut through your opponent’s base pars. Charge attacks can also be dodged, but there’s an even more satisfying system to master here in the form of blocks. By timing your block correctly, you can parry a charge attack, but that particular move’s landing takes some getting used to. It’s not a push of a Sekiro-style button, but rather requires anticipation as you don’t have much control over the animation.
The chaos of battle royale and the first scramble for loot and gear can make these systems difficult to appreciate. Bladepoint has a basic tutorial, but the developer told me he’s working on updating it to cover more of the game’s mechanics, which is crucial for understanding the nuances of combat beyond its basics.
Naraka: Bladepoint comes from Chinese studio 24 Entertainment, an experienced team with roots in AAA game development. Ray Kuan, the game’s main producer, worked on the Meteor Blade series. After shipping a mobile spin-off in 2018, he decided to create something that builds on his background in the action genre, while also introducing something new for gamers.
The game’s fluid traversal and the freedom it affords was no accident – movement is one of the main pillars of Bladepoint. During development, one of the big goals of the team was to ‘unleash’ the players and allow them to break free from traditional movement restrictions. I’d say it’s been a success so far, and the 148,000+ concurrent players the beta has drawn to Steam over the weekend seem to agree.
“The whole team is very excited, we [were] glad to see that, ”Raylan Kwan, Marketing Manager told me.
Before the big beta launch, the developer was particularly worried about releasing another battle royale game in a saturated market, so the team expected some players to reject Bladepoint only on-site – but they knew that once gamers tried it, a lot of them would be addicted. 24 Entertainment has seen the surprise reactions in player comments on Steam, social media, and the official Discord server.
Being behind a phenomenon like battle royale does have its perks, however. Naraka: Bladepoint is a game that draws inspiration from the breakaways and triumphs of other BR games. The playing area is quite compact compared to Erangel or Verdansk, and matches are limited to 60 players. Similar to other games developed in China, there is no fill phase: instead, players choose where to appear in the pre-match phase, knowing how many more will be around them at the start and types of loot they can expect.
Other than those initial choices, what happens in a Bladepoint match has more in common with the more popular BR games. There’s a contract system that sends players on treasure hunts or after rivals if they’re feeling spicy. A unique mechanic in team games turns players, who die prematurely, into ghosts who can revive on one of the many altars. Dead players respawn with basic gear, and they are free to return to their death hiding place and pick up whatever is left. 24 Entertainment wanted to eliminate some of the apprehension and lack of action that dominates the opening minutes of a BR match, and encourage players to fight – even with poor equipment – knowing they could always come back for a. another shot.
The weapons in the game all have durability that degrades the more they are used, whether ranged or melee. This is another well thought out system that cuts down on spam and forces players to disengage and go through a fairly long animation (by BR standards) of sharpening or reloading. Bladepoint is full of design changes like this. Healing items, for example, aren’t always necessary, as you can pick up fruit and eat it to top up your health. There are shrines scattered around the world that appear to be part of the landscape, but offer observant players rewards when they pray.
And I didn’t even touch on character-specific abilities, ultimates, or the wide range of ranged weapons. At the end of my time with him, I was convinced that there was a lot of depth to his mechanics and a lot to explore.
But some things still need work. The netcode can be wobbly, and it’s not always clear whether your dodge has invincibility frames or not, causing you to take hits you thought you should have missed. I’ve seen players just dodge twice to be safe, but it’s not ideal. Stunning is another thing that could become a problem for new players. It’s part of the game, and Kwan told me that a number of bugs have been fixed in the Chinese beta, but the problem is, it’s not immediately clear how to get out of a combo and reposition yourself. . A more comprehensive tutorial – which is in the works – will certainly mitigate that.
This being a beta, there are a few inconsistencies with the grappling hook and floating / staggered movements as well, in some cases, but the core remains the game’s biggest draw. The combat was so fluid and flashy, in fact, I felt like I did. wondered if Naraka: Bladepoint had PvE or single player modes. Kwan said the team is working on PvE modes, and more.
I was also curious about the ratio of bots to actual players. On the Steam forums and everywhere else, players are wondering if the person they just killed is real or an AI. I’ve met both in the matches I’ve played, and it’s not really surprising.
Kwan was suspicious of when and how often the game decides to add bots to the mix, but pointed out that this is a skill modifier meant to make the first few hours of new players easier. Presumably, the more you play and the higher you move up the ranks, the fewer bots you will see in your matches.
The only other sticking point in my time with the game has been its free-to-play style of engagement and progression systems. There’s a battle pass, of course, but you’ll also find two currencies, various quests and challenges to pursue, Overwatch-style menus for the costumes, and loot boxes on top – the works. It was especially surprising to see loot boxes, given that so many games in the industry have passed it, but Kwan wouldn’t comment on whether or not you can spend real money on them.
It seemed a bit overkill and made it look like a free-to-play game, but 24 Entertainment has confirmed that it will be a premium title, promising to reveal the price at a later date. Kwan also explained that the specifics of monetization are not set in stone. The developer is using this beta to also gauge player reactions to this side of the game on top of everything else.
Nonetheless, Naraka: Bladepoint does have a lot to grab the attention of even the most jaded BR fans, and tweaks the components of the genre enough that it’s worth experiencing firsthand. It’s coming to Steam this summer.