Numerous websites are reporting that the open beta test for an upcoming Korean RPG title, Blade & Soul, achieved higher users percentages (20.35% vs. 17.74%) than Diablo III, last weekend in Korean Baangs. Is Diablo III on the way out in Korea, with its first weekend under 20% play time? No, since the concurrency figures from last weekend are a bit misleading, as explained in a short post on GeekOSystem.

    Blade & Soul came in on top because it had a good weekend with no interruptions for server maintenance. While Diablo III was down for Patch 1.0.3 over the weekend, NC Soft was heavily promoting Blade & Soul at PC Bang with a huge event, resulting in 240,000 concurrent users. To put this in perspective, Diablo III had 300,000 concurrent users during its open beta, and its servers crashed. Evidently, “No Server Crashes” is the new buzzphrase in advertising.

    Subscription MMORPGs may be deader than dead in the US and Europe, but apparently they’re still viable in Korea, as Blade and Soul is set to debut June 30th, with a $19.77 monthly fee. There are no Western release plans for the game, so if you want, you’ll need to find a way to buy a Korean copy and connect to their local servers.

    You can see some gameplay footage from the game below, if you’re curious.

    It’s got pretty graphics, though I think the arty style is absurd. But it’s very Asian/anime/FF style, so that’s just a personal preference, and obviously it appeals to the target demographic. Seriously though, the hot female character is about 2.5 meters tall of which 2/3 is legs and she’s going into combat wearing nothing but a Cheongsam style dress which fits very loosely and sways side to side with every step, and yet somehow clings tightly enough to show off her ass and even a butt-crack?

    As for actual gameplay critiques, which are probably uninformed as they’re based entirely on watching like 4 minutes of this video:

    1) The tracking camera has big angle and display issues and often points at nothing off to the side when in closeup under a cave roof. 2) The monsters do not pop out from the background at all, making for unclear visuals. 3) The monsters seem to have zero AI or vision, as some stand motionless while others are in combat a step away. 4) Healing/regen requires you to just sit down your char and rest for half a minute of real time? 5) It looks like WoW-style combat, in that you can’t ever dodge or miss with projectiles. (Which is an intentional design intended to be very lag-friendly, but one that sucks, from the the fast-movement, positioning-matters, Diablo player mindset.)

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