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Blade & Soul Silverfrost Mountains and Beyond – GDC SF 2016 Preview

This past week we were caught off guard at the San Francisco Game Developers Convention to actually get access to some real MMORPG news that (for once) wasn’t under a hefty and shifty embargo. Well, I suppose it was still under embargo, but only through the weekend! At our private off site location NCSoft showcased the first localized look at Blade & Soul‘s Silverfrost Mountains update, an expansion that is bringing a little bit of something good no matter what your focus in Blade & Soul might be.

Of course the story that impacts most everyone in this update is the long awaited arrival of level 50. It’s pretty universally agreed upon that the game’s eSports focus has been balanced and balanced well for some time around the level 50 level cap marker. This update should be a shining light of hope for those looking for more fair competition, or just those trying to survive open world end-game encounters. Luckily even if you aren’t planning to visit the arena anytime soon, those already at cap can look forward to just that. Soulstone Planes introduces a new end-game world PvP region where the best of the best will be duking it out to rep the Crimson Legion or Cerulean Order. Clans will also see a level cap increase and new features as well, so let the battle for server dominance begin!

Those more into the PvE spectrum have just as much to be excited about in the Silverfrost Mountains update. Act 4 Part 1 & 2 of the cinematic story continues, which I’m just not even about to touch as I don’t want to hear the cries of spoilers from casual players taking their time getting there. Granted I will say there will be plenty of new zones to explore, monsters to battle, and of course its in the Silverfrost Mountains, as should be obvious.

Hopefully you’ve made a few friends in your journeys as 4 and 6 man versions of Awakened Necropolis, Avalanche Den, and Lair of the Frozen Fang are coming to challenge your party coordination as well. But if that’s more of the same ol’ same ol’ that you faction chews up like morning cereal, then sound the drums of war, as PvE is coming to give your guild pride a good kick in the teeth with two 24 man instances beyond anything you’ve faced yet; the horrors of Frostscale Basin and Beastbog wait.

What The Future Holds

While Silverfrost Mountains seems like an uphill battle, it seems this content is childsplay compared to the real battles to come later this summer and beyond. Sogun’s Lament and Sundered Nexus are set to bring the pain with 4 and 6 man heroic instances that are so nasty, they’re going to tease you with new tiers of weapons, accessories, and soul shields to dare you to assemble a team that can beat it.

Once you’re geared up and feeling ready, your 6 man can then move onto the Altar of Divine Will, where the final battle against Jinsoyun awaits. We’ll have to take their word on the challenge, but I have faith with how hard they bang the drums of epicness in the build up story that this hopefully isn’t going to be a simple tank and spank affair. While I could look at Korean gameplay videos and spoil it for myself, I will simply be content in imagining a JRPG inspired 3 stage brawl!

One bit they glazed over on at the end of the meeting might be met with some cheers and jeers though. A new instanced battleground known as Whirlwind Valley is in the works. This is a control point focused end-game PvP battleground that has something very different from the usual arena instances. You won’t find gear equalization here! Fans of open world PvP will likely rejoice at having a reliable place to see how they stack up to other veterans, but this mode is a bit off putting on the whole eSports focus. I guess if SMITE is any indication though, every good eSport needs a goof off mode to balance out the demands of the community.

While the wait was long and painful for Blade & Soul to reach the west, we can at least now bask in the glory of constant and tested updates. Sure bugs will still sneak in from time to time, but at least the development plan for Blade & Soul seems set to stretch into the distance future without much of a break. March 23rd marks the start of it all, so get your crew ready to face the frozen peaks of Silverfrost Mountains this coming Wednesday!

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