Why Are So Many People Upset at Bless Online?
Those who have been bouncing from one MMORPG to the next over the years are no strangers to games that don't live up to their expectations. The industry can, of course, be as hit or miss as any other, but the MMORPG community just feels it more than others.
It's not like there are a lot of options these days. And because of that, players have to take what they can get.
Don't want to play FFXIV or WoW? Well, what about EVE, The Elder Scrolls Online, Guild Wars 2, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Black Desert Online? No? Blade & Soul? ArcheAge? Rift? Aion?
I could keep listing off games that are even further down the list and barrel straight into the completely undesirable section, but the point is that if you consider yourself an MMO player, you are probably familiar with all -- or most -- of the games listed above. There really are not a lot of options on the market today when compared with other genres.
Some say the genre is dead and that MMORPGs were replaced with MOBAs, which give players the essentials of grinding, PvPing, and item acquisition, so it's easy to draw parallels between the fall of one genre and the rise of another. This claim is especially compounded by the fact that the modern MMO aims to rush players to max level, for little reason other than to satisfy the ego of the player and to avoid having to put effort into world building.
So here we are today. Bless Online entered Early Access a few days ago, and what would usually be some light to medium whining generally associated with a game launch has instead turned out to be a torrent of tears.
Tears and a whole lot of anger.
If you're on the outside looking in and wondering why people are so upset with Bless Online and publisher Neowiz, it can easily appear as if people are just mad about server issues and a sub-par translation. The issues, however, are unfortunately much deeper than that, and the game is in a state closer to alpha than release.
I could start with how utterly underwhelming and overpriced the Founder's Packs are -- and how the $40 Founders didn't get jack but 30 days of Premium -- while only the most expensive ($200) Founders got a title, but there's more to go over here than something so paltry. If you've bought into a Founder's program before, you know how bad the above sounds.
But we're not here to dance around the bush. Let's really get into it.
People Are Upset Because...
The Translation Really Is That Bad
I'm really tired of seeing the "cooldown cooldown" image, but maybe you haven't seen it.
First off, this is unacceptable for any game launch. I've played a lot of Korean MMOs: this is the only one I've ever seen demand money for such a shoddy translation.
But the above is not the only instance. Players have had trouble completing the tutorial because the quest text doesn't match the skill text. The daily quests that ask the player to use specific emotes on another player of a certain class don't even mention the right emote to use. Shrugging and showing off are not remotely the same thing.
There are other examples, but the gist is that the game was clearly machine (read: Google) translated and does not read like native English in the least. There have been plenty of MMORPG alphas with this issue, but they were upfront about it.
There's a Big Dupe Exploit
There are people running around at level 45 (current max) with +10 gear already; do you think they all got all those Condensed Stones legitimately? As of writing, the game has only been in "Early Access" for three days.
Community Emissary Coffee recently commented on a forum post, stating: "The Bless Team will be removing the duplicated items/currency and taking the necessary actions regarding the use of duping."
Duping is a problem that still plagues the Russian version of the game and has been known about for around a year. I'm not sure about the state of the Korean and Japanese releases, but it hasn't been removed from the Russian version. With that in mind, many players have their doubts about it being dealt with.
Leveling Is Fast, and the Endgame Doesn't Exist Yet
Not having any real endgame has always been an issue with Black Desert Online. You do node wars, you grind yourself into oblivion for a chance at gear enhancement, you AFK fish/craft, and you consult databases and spreadsheets. That's what you do at the end of BDO. I don't really have a problem with that.
One thing you see in almost every Korean MMORPG making its way West these days is this: they all allow you to level at a rapid pace. Heck, even the older ones have gotten updates to fast-track players to max level with no regard for the other aspects of the game.
You may like this system. I don't. There's something to be said for the journey of leveling and exploring. That said, my distaste for this particular trend is not the point.
The problem, in this case, is that it only takes, at most, a few days to hit level 45 in Bless Online, and once it's done, there is not much of anything to do.
I will give them credit: they did admit the game would not complete upon Early Access. But that admittance is hidden away in the Steam Early Access description. Furthermore, the amount of things missing is a little staggering.
Reddit user Trix122 gave a rundown of what was missing:
- No Arenas or battlegrounds.
-No PVP Ranking system or ranking rewards.
-Honor point acquisition is broken.
-Basel canyon (main pvp map) is empty, no mobs.
-SLEVELS (for unlocking last 2 stances and trait points) are not implemented, can't progress past 45.
-Skill Gem acquisition is broken
-No migra turris hard mode (or whatever name they gave it in our version)
-Two ''end game'' dungeons with exactly same gear score
-End game dungeons are not dropping any end game gear (?) -Carthh
-No royal quest
-No honor quest
-No daily dungeon
Producer Sungjin Ko recently posted an apology letter on Steam addressing some of these issues, along with the item duplication bug and server problems. It gives hope for the game's future, but the fact is, as it stands, these things are missing, and there is no carrot on the stick to get you to keep running on that treadmill.
The "Action Combat" System Isn't Fully Implemented
Bless Online has done poorly in the previous three regions it was released in, and Neowiz promised the North American/European release would be different. One of those differences -- perhaps the most significant of them all -- was the supposed "action combat" system that took the place of the old tab-targeting standard.
Maybe saying it's "different" isn't the right way to go about it. The feature is in the Japanese version. It's just not here, despite the game being advertised with it and even getting a trailer for its action combat in mid-May.
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Some people are a little upset the Assassin and Mystic classes are missing from the game, but the above trailer doesn't list them. So those not being present isn't a huge surprise -- but the action combat not being enabled is.
As it stands, only the Berserker class can use the action combat system. Those who were hoping to get away from tab-targeting via Bless will have to wait, and it is understandable so many are upset as Neowiz never stated the game would enter Early Access without it being implemented. They didn't say much of anything at all to their consumers, actually. That's part of why we're here.
One Reddit user got a response from Neowiz about the lack of action combat, which states the developer needs to do some refining to the system for some classes before making it live. It was said they did not want to offer a "substandard feature."
So what's up with the rest of the substandard features making it into the game? Why was this one specifically highlighted as something to withhold from Bless Online's big public Early Access phase, with no indication from Neowiz until after the fact? Your guess is as good as mine.
An Alpha Is an Alpha, No Matter How You Frame It
Many a game has fallen to community pressure because the developers or publishers were egged into setting it loose before it was ready.
I don't believe this is the case with Bless, but I do believe it should have been delayed so the game appeared to be at least a mostly finished product.
For a game that's been in development since 2011 and has launched in three regions, you would expect the North American/European release to be somewhat polished. If it's not, you expect the publisher to hold onto it until it's at least sort of acceptable by industry standards or to actually put it in alpha testing.
Perhaps it's the terribly low standards gamers have for throwing money at things. You know, the whole, "I hate this company, they're exploitative and predatory. But I can't say no to GAME X. Oh no! I bought loot boxes, too!"
That whole thing. You know it. You've seen it. You've probably done it with your own series or genre of choice. If the consumer says, "I'll buy it regardless of X," you can bet the publisher is willing to take that opportunity to try to squeeze more money out of that individual.
The case of MMORPGs is a little sad because it is a long-running genre with a whole base of people who just want a world to run around in that they really enjoy -- for months or even years at a time. The genre has, unfortunately, not been kind to its base over the years.
Bless Online seems to be a combination of publisher hubris and consumer hopefulness, mashed together in the worst of ways. Neowiz has taken the obtuse route and has avoided communicating with the playerbase in any sort of meaningful way, for which there have been consequences in the form of mass-refunds. It shouldn't be that way; it should have been done better.
Neowiz needed to be more clear about the whole headstart into Early Access-into-launch thing before release; they needed to be more clear about the game's issues after release; and they needed to address those who paid up to $200 to get into Bless early just to find that the game isn't complete. Neowiz isn't Blizzard or Trion or a publisher already established over here; they're not going to get the leniency that comes with publisher fandom here in the West.
There is no doubt that the game will be improved upon in the coming months because they have no choice. Features are missing that are implemented in other regions, and they will make their way to our version with certainty. Unfortunately the mark has been made, and it's a hard one to shake off.
Bless Online will live on, but its soft launch has been nothing short of a disaster, from Steam breaking its own rules to grant refunds to the game name being lambasted as a scam. People are going to remember that, whether it's the case or not.
The consumer has the right to be angry in this instance. The lack of transparency from Neowiz, the lack of promised content in the game, and the absolute disregard for the market they are trying to pander to has come as a shock to many.
Pictured: The Bless community tearing itself apart.
Bless's current state would be considered alpha by any other publisher and kept in close testing, and they didn't even bother framing it that way. You don't get the big bucks selling alpha access.
Those who bought this game and are upset have genuine grievances. Just saying, "It's okay, they'll fix it," doesn't get to the root of the problem.
Nothing changes the fact that Neowiz is charging players full price (and then some) to test their alpha. The fact they've done it and a portion of players find it acceptable shows Neowiz this is the way to do business in NA/EU -- and that there is no reason to be more transparent, no reason to offer a polished product, and no reason to follow through with their promises.
The people who are upset about the state of Bless Online now in its Early Access period have full reason to be. They were not told they'd be getting into an alpha, but that is exactly what they got.
I will leave you with this bit of "history" about Bless in Korea and Japan. You won't be able to find any talk about this on the Steam or official forums for the game. I can't attest to the truthfulness of it. You can draw your own conclusions.