Title: Naraka: Bladepoint
Developer: 24 Entertainment
Release Date: August 11, 2021
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: NetEase Games Montréal
Genre: Multiplayer Battle Royale
Naraka: Bladepoint from developer NetEase is a 6o-player melee battle royale inspired by Chinese folklore. It is a new online multiplayer game focusing on parkour movement, stylish hand-to-hand combat, and ranged weapons. Launching on PC with full English and Chinese support and translations in eight other languages, Naraka is looking to compete with existing multiplayer Battle Royale giants such as Apex Legends and Call of Duty: Warzone.
The world of Naraka takes place on Morus Isle. This massive island provides for large-scale battles and numerous engaging locales to fight it out. Traveling across one of the shortest routes across the map took over six minutes to traverse. The landscape is realistic, detailed, and immense, featuring distinct locations such as temple rooftops, mining towns, and ship-wrecked coves.
Much like other prominent battle royales, combat takes place on an open-world map. Health-reducing darkness slowly envelops the aisle, pushing fighters closer together as the playing field is reduced. You can pick your spawn location, and all players begin the match evenly with no weapons, shields, or health items. All of these tools are acquired in the game at certain locations or looted from freshly defeated enemies. Playing in a trio helps you become accustomed to the game, and shadowing your team provides you with valuable backup when attacked.
Similar to Fromsoft’s Sekiro, Naraka features a grappling hook for seamless travel. This tool can also be used to highlight and capture enemies and for a prompt escape if a battle isn’t going your way. Moving on, there are seven heroes to choose from, each with their own unique backstory, skills, and ultimate moves that help to define your playstyle. Although there are only seven characters, each one is standout.
There is a robust character modification screen, and you can even upload a photo of your own face for some terrifying results. Playing a trio of the same character can lead to three completely different-looking versions of the same character, too, funnily enough. This varied cast comes into play with characters like Matari, a female assassin who can teleport and become invisible. Temulch can summon the winds to deflect projectiles. Kirumi is the healing master who can replenish health and shield. Tianhi, the monk, has a counter bell that can deflect blocks and turn into a four-armed enemy smashing Titan Vajara. Viper Ning is another female assassin who can stun and lock down enemies. Yota Hime is a busty crossover ninja wielding a demonic blade from the game Onmyoji. Lastly, there is Tarka Ji, a defensive drunkard who can set himself on fire.
Each character can use any weapon available on the field. Your main melee weapons are daggers, longswords, greatswords, and spears. Each weapon has its own unique playstyle and attack strength. Additionally, there are ranged weapons that allow you to keep your distance from the melee mayhem. Bows, pistols, cannons, and crossbows are all available throughout the map. Weapons have common attacks and blue-charged attacks that can’t be interrupted by common attacks. Counter attacks and special moves round out the melee action creating strategic and dynamic action gameplay.
There are also in-game collectibles called Souljade. These act as buffs to increase attack, defense, as well as melee and ranged resistance. These collectibles are continuously traded, and, towards the end, some of the best and most rare Souljade grant greater benefits. At the end of each round, though, all buffs are lost and must be re-acquired.
There are three game modes available. You can party up with friends or choose quick play and match up with players online. Quick match is the traditional battle royale mode and can be played either trio or solo. The Heralds trial mode is battle royale, but you can collect six Lucky Daruma in the opening lobby.
Once they are all collected, a Giant Daruma appears, and everyone playing receives an immortal treasure. In this mode, you are also able to track your global score and level. Finally, Bloodbath is a classic solo timed deathmatch providing you with unlimited lives. The hero with the most kills wins this game mode.
Naraka has extensive customization and collectibles available. Character and weapon skins, as well as outfits, are unlocked through in-game daily and weekly challenges. Once level six is reached, Talents are unlocked. These increased attributes that help you to cater to your playstyle. Weapons have levels and unlock as well. Characters’ background lore and key art are also unlocked once surpassing certain levels. Loot boxes, know as Immortal Treasure, can be acquired after certain levels and by accomplishing in-game challenges. An in-game currency called Tae is used to unlock the Immortal Treasure, upgrading glyphs and some cosmetics.
Naraka: Bladepoint is addictive multiplayer mayhem. This game is beautiful and a blast to play. However, some aspects took away from the final experience. UI and in-game menus were difficult to navigate using a controller. Items on the field can become so tightly packed together that it becomes bothersome to try and find the item you’re looking for. This often leads to you having to run away to drop your weapons in items in other areas to go back and sort through the pile of items. There was quite a bit of poor connection from servers that could hinder gameplay too.
When Nakara: Bladepoint runs without performance issues, it’s a highly-polished, technical hack n slash Battle Royale. Its extensive customization options made each character unique and left me wanting to play just one more round to level up and collect a few more cosmetic items. For those tired of traditional “shooter” Battle Royals, Naraka is an addictive and fluid action-packed direction for the genre.
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