On the final day of E3, Gamania sent a shuttle to drive me from the convention center over to their headquarters in downtown LA to check out their upcoming title: Core Blaze. Given that the only previous showing of the game took place in Taipai, I was pretty excited. Yes the game is an MMO, and yes the MMO market is utterly saturated. However, Core Blaze has some features that look to set it apart, including weather effects and it’s usage of the Unreal Engine 3.
After a quick video preview of the game, we got to sit down and actually play the game. Myself and three other journalists were guided by several of the game’s developers as we selected from four default characters. (Eventually there will be a Create-Your-Own option). I chose the slow guy who had a big-ass sword, which I came to regret as we played. (See right)
We started off in a village, and I spent a few minutes checking out the terrain and NPCs. NPCs behavior was rather normal, but I did have some problems with the terrain. There were a LOT of invisible walls, which really limited the area I could get to to specific paths. After playing things like The Elder Scrolls and Assassin’s Creed, it felt constraining. That said, it wasn’t too annoying because I was busy being wowed by the graphics. Using Unreal 3, Core Blaze looks amazing (for an MMO).
We eventually left the village and headed off into the forest to fight some small bad guys, which weren’t much of a challenge, and eventually got to a boss, which also wasn’t much of a challenge. We finally got to a bigger boss that took a while to bring down. Not much storyline, so I’ll focus on the gameplay.
It was fun, and given that you actually had to fight the bad guys, you couldn’t just button mash. I ran into some problems though. The game is set up so that each player has a regular default attack, and then special moves. Special moves take energy of one type or another, mostly Mana (magic). The problem is that the regular attacks are so utterly nerfed as to be practically useless, and I had to fight entirely with special attacks. This wasn’t a problem in the demo because we started with 100 mana and health potions. In the actual game, players won’t have those potions, at least not 100 of them.
Additionally, when starting a special attack, a player mostly loses control of movement. Some special attacks are in place, others charge forward in a specific direction. It’s fine except that monsters are great at dodging. Since a player can’t change the focus of an attack once it’s started, I ended up missing more than half the time. It might just have been me being a terrible player except that two of the other three had the same issue.
Given that the game is still in beta though, the need for combat tweaks and balancing is not really unexpected. When I asked, the developers were quick to confirm that those tweaks are still coming, based partly on our feedback. The only real problem that I have with the game then is how constricted the boundaries of the world are. Aside from that, Core Blaze is pretty great and also visually impressive. Even better, it’s going to be released under the free to play license, so there is no reason not to give it a try.
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