NCSOFT's international release of Blade & Soul has been steadily catching up to it's eastern counterpart. The game has seen about 13 updates in the last year to get it caught up, but now that both games are in the same place, Blade & Soul will be slowing down to a more seasonal-update scale. Like most MMOs.
The first update of year two will be called Secrets of the Stratus and that expansion goes live on April 12th. That update will be bringing with it a new Skills UI which removes the skill trees and skill points to give you a more streamlined system; the Hongmoon Training Room which allows you to practice class combos and rotations, demo bosses, and get more familiar with your chosen class without having to worry about pesky things like dying; Act VII of the story, and three new PVE areas to the game, suitable for most end-game players.
Yeah, this update is pretty damn massive.
The new game areas are as follows:
- Naryu Sanctum – The most difficult 6-member heroic dungeon to date, stuffed with incredible rewards including a new legendary bracelet
- Celestial Basin – A new open-world area for solo/casual players with new Mystic Badges
- Mushin's Tower F16-20 – The deadly boss Yunsang awaits players looking to score the fastest kill on the new Mushin's Tower leaderboards
I got a chance to play around in the new game areas, test out the Hongmoon training area, and fiddle with the new skill UI back at PAX East. The new game areas are pretty solid construction, they're easy enough to navigate while still giving you a good challenge. The skill UI and training room are definitely good updates to the system. The UI is much more streamlined, though it could be a bit easier to navigate still. The Hongmoon training area is incredibly helpful with combo and rotation hits, especially early in the game, but also as a way to preview boss fights before getting into them. Both of those features are fantastic features for a game as complicated as Blade & Soul.
The final update coming with Secrets of the Stratus is a purchasable voucher that will let players instantly create a new level 50 character. It's a great way to get a new class up to the level cap or get yourself back in the game after taking some time off, and the Hongmoon training room can get you up to speed on skills so you can hit the ground running.
You can check out the full patch notes here.