Hello and welcome to another issue of Free Play. It’s actually been a couple years since the Free Play Podcast, and it’s been even longer since the Free Play Blog. But dealing with hard financial times, it seems only natural to guide myself to F2P games. And once I’m playing F2P games, it’s only natural for me to want to blog about them, even if Andras isn’t here to do it with me. I can’t say how regularly I’ll do this, or even if I’ll do it regularly at all, we will have to wait and see. Now let’s get into the topic!
If you remember my post from a while back (also known as “yesterday”), you’ll know I was already talking about Bloodline Champions. Seeing as how I’m already on the topic, it makes sense for this to be the first review.
Bloodline Champions is free-to-play arena based game, similar to League of Legends. Although there are twenty-seven classes (referred to as, “Bloodlines”), unless you are playing singleplayer against bots, you only have access to eight on any given day. More often than not, this forces you to familiarize yourself with different classes and styles of play, which is also a pretty interesting way to ensure there’s never a match of identical teams. It also markets itself as a skill-based game; there is no element of chance like critical hits, or gear you can get for your preferred bloodline. You gain money, or “bloodcoins” as well as experience at the end of every match. Experience is used to unlock “traits” which are minor bonuses that you can choose to take with you into battle, increasing your speed or damage. Bloodcoins can be used to purchase avatar portraits or appearance-based customizations for the different classes. Also, you can purchase titles, as well as the ability to permanently unlock Bloodlines. While this may seem counter-intuitive to what I said earlier, I should point out the amount of bloodcoins needed to do this is very, very high.
Although the graphics are on the cartoony end of things, the quality is pretty good; I didn’t see any rough textures that would require anti-aliasing. Each of the Bloodlines has their own unique and fluid animations for fighting, moving around, and even standing still, giving all of them their own unique feel. Playing it on high settings and zooming in on the team line-ups can really be a treat. One thing that surprised me was the fact that there are actually emotes available for the characters. In the end, I never tried them out since I was pretty busy dying or trying not to die. Maybe it was put in there for a small number of improv roleplayers who thought that the point of the game was to play a random bloodline, and must do their best to imitate the one chosen for them, so they must compete by walking around the arena talking in strange accents and making weird noises most befitting their character type.
The gameplay is similar to many hack-and-slash Diablo-esque games, and comes with the typical hotbar that we see with many MMOs. However, its more in line with “Diablo” than “MMO”. The combat animations transition smoothly and quickly to accommodate for the fast gameplay Bloodline Champions has. Jumping right into the PVP when you first start the game may as well be suicide. To be honest I wouldn’t be surprised if your computer screen turned black and went, “What the hell is wrong with you?” before sending you to practice against some bots. While I personally spent time trying to get familiar with as many bloodlines as I could, two of my friends were determined to fight against real people as soon as possible. They told me they were absolutely demolished, and died repeatedly. So, after practicing a bit more I decided to help them out, at which point all three of us were demolished. If you want to get good at this game, you’ll need to be really patient and ready to learn…or be tolerant of being killed, at least.
Also, if you get especially good at it you can participate in their regularly occurring tournaments which earn you different valued “tokens” instead of bloodcoins, and can be used to buy other exclusive upgrades and customizations. The type of token is determined by the tournament rank you participate in, namely “Amateur” or “Pro”. It’s also worth pointing out that on special occasions there are cash prizes given out at the end of the tournament. Also, for extra coordination with your teammates, the game has an in-built VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol). Not that it helped us much…
Of course, not everything in the game is free. Really, if everything was free that would be a sure-fire sign that both Stunlock Studios and Funcom didn’t know what it meant to be running a company. The two methods of funding come from micro-transactions using “Funcom Points”, and purchasing one of two “game editions”. Essentially, Funcom Points are a pay-for alternative to bloodcoins. Though there are some things that can not be purchased with funcom points, and others that can not be purchased with bloodcoins.
While the micro-transactions are pretty self explanatory, the nature of purchasing game editions is kind of interesting. When downloading the game, you have the choice to simply download it as it is, or purchase one of two different premium packages of the game: Champion Edition and Titan Edition. The easiest way to explain it would be to say it’s like purchasing a game via digital download, and choosing “Digital Edition” (Champion) or the “Digital Deluxe Edition” (Titan). The most obvious difference would be the fact you can already download the client for free, so it is kind of hard to imagine it like buying a full game. Really, it’s more like choosing upgrades or unlocks. Many of the things that come with the game editions you can purchase with bloodcoins or the pay-for Funcom Points, so in a sense it’s like purchasing a “bundle” DLC pack if you want to get more bang for your buck. Also, the price difference between the Champion Edition and Titan Edition is striking. Arguably, so is the difference in terms of unlocked content, but damn. Although I said it’s the difference between “Digital Edition” and “Digital Deluxe” a more apt word comparison would probably be, “Regular Edition” and “God-Damn-You-Must-Like-This-Thing! Edition”. To be fair, I can kinda understand why they chose not to go with that naming convention. The usual pricing is $30 and $90. I know you’re smart enough to do the math, but I feel like I should stress the fact that you might as well be buying the Champion Edition three times when you go for the “God-Damn-You-Must-Like-This-Thing! Edition“. At the time of this post, the cost is only sixty dollars, but that’s still a pretty big jump when you make that purchase. Still, I can’t deny that you will get a ton of unlocks by making that purchase, inlcuding access to the Bloodlines you would have to pay for with bloodcoins or Funcom points, outfits for all the Bloodlines, along with titles and avatars for yourself in the chat and menus.
To fans of PVP and those of you who like dungeon crawlers and hack-n-slash gameplay looking for another challenge, you simple must try this. It should run smoothly on most computers and be a relatively short download. You can play singleplayer against bots all you like, and there aren’t any real barriers to entry into PVP, aside from the skill of the PVPers themselves.
Whether or not you should spend money on it is a different story. Of course, if you’re only reading this solely for finding free things to play the answer is obvious, but that’s not the point.
If you enjoy it enough you’re wondering whether or not to spend money on it I recommend you ask yourself, “How long do I actually intend to play this game?” If you think you’ll spend a lot of time on it and would be willing to drop some cash, I would recommend just trying the Champion Edition and maybe buying a few Funcom points if you want a little more. Even if you’re a die-hard fan I would be wary about spending almost $100 on any game, and I would suggest making sure there’s a discount deal before making that purchase. Unless you’re determined to show your support to Stunlock Studio as best you can, in which case, by all means.
That concludes this issue of Free Play, thanks for reading!
Riknas, signing off!