There is a thin line between frustration and fun and players who take to Arche Blade will cross that line a lot. Besides the extremely steep learning curve and balancing issues, this free-to-play game will make players suffer through the lack of matchmaking and server issues. That said the game has immense potential, featuring a decent range of customisation options and deeply satisfying fights (when you actually do land a kill).
Gameplay wise Arche Blade is of mix blood. It bears elements from fighting games like Street Fighter and multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games like League of Legends. Throw in options that change the way how your character looks and plays (ie adding armour X adds more health) and voila, you have the base premise that is Arche Blade. Also, the game is apparently based on a Korean novel. As such, be prepared for a ridiculous amount of fan service as well as anime-esque design, graphics and visuals.
The first major quip I have about this game is that it has a horrendous matchmaking interface. There are no queues. Players cannot queue for matches while browsing through the item store. It can be unplayable at times, with one constantly refreshing the server list. Additionally, at this point of time the servers on steam are unstable (hopefully they’ll get more stable) and have a tendency to disconnect everyone mid fight.
Now when you aren’t wasting time trying to get into a server and getting rejected, you’re going to get your head handed over to you on a pretty silver platter after the opposing team uses it for a short game of soccer. On other words, this game is tough. The learning curve is harder than that of Chivalry:Medieval Warfare. With no dedicated matchmaking system in place to ensure that more higher ranked players don’t face off with newbies, players can expect to go through the Arche Blade University of Hard Knocks and repeat several grades. To make matters worse, while each of the 14 characters theoretically have feasible movelists in game, it doesn’t transfer well when it comes into practice. The basic move (ie hitting LMB thrice) translates into a massive hard hitting AoE for some characters (ie floating skeleton dude and wannbe lich king Cezanne La Gatal) and into a rapid fire punch attack for another(ie ice queen and zombie girl Renny Glacier).
Perhaps the single most game-breaking, rage-quitting inducing feature (or bug) in the game is how some characters have a plethora of stun-locking moves. This, coupled with rush/swarm tactics mean that many new players may find themselves being – as it is often so colourfully said in MOBA games – gang banged.
As such, when one successfully manage to – with skill – block, bob, dodge, weave and successfully land a kill, it is deeply satisfying. Fights range from patient, tactical duels to messy brawls to full blown, foot on the gas, fist in the face melees. Winning a match earns you “Mecena”, an in-game currency that can be used to purchase various customisation options. Besides changing the visuals of the character of choice, said customisation options allow for a slight degree of control over the character’s specs.
One of the more common complaints on Steam about the game is that the customisation option allows for players to pay-to-win. This is unfortunately true to a certain extent. Certain armours are cannot be purchased with mecena. However, trust me when I say that skill and team work will still outdo flashy armour. I had, with some luck and a lot of blocking, dodging and exercising of the tenets of “float like a butterfly”, managed to beat down an opponent who used the same character as me. My doppelganger was entirely decked out in armour bought with real cash. That said, I have yet to meet and beat the more imbalanced characters that sport armour bought with real moolah.
At the end of the day, Arche Blade is pretty decent, especially considering its Free-to-Play. However, the servers and matchmaking are really bad. Until that’s fixed – this game will be a 50-50, maybe yes, maybe no affair for many players.
Customisations galore – players can choose from a variety of items to deck out their characters. Unfortunately some of the better items can only be purchased with real money.
I rolled out with Renny Glacier (not to be confused with Flame Renny, a colour swap with a slightly different move list). Note the ridiculously over sexualised clothing. It was not my choice. Cept maybe for the tail because it was discount.
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