Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bloodlines Champions Review

Gameplay: Bloodlines Champions is a topdown (think Zelda: A Link to the Past) arena-style combat game. There are three kinds of games; artifact, conquest and arena. Artifact is just a fancy name for capture the flag, where conquest is a fancy name for a control point map, very similar to Arathi Basin in WoW. Arena on the other hand is a series of three rounds where you just go to kill off the other team and whoever wins three games first wins and this format is BLC's bread and butter.

To get a game in BLC, you click on what format you want and click search for games. The games internal matchmaker will take 6 people and arrange you as it sees fit. Usually it will try to balance the teams evenly, setting up better players on opposite teams and weaker players on opposite sides as well. However, this doesn't always work out well. Often groups of very skilled players will party together and queue as a team and you can get three rank 20s vs. a handful of rank 5s. Not even a close fight. Thankfully, this only happens rarely.

When you do get into a match, you pick a hero (out of 24) and you try to win best out of three rounds. Each round is timed at 2 minutes apiece before sudden death occurs. It doesn't sound like much, but the pacing of this game is fast and furious and two minutes is more than enough time for the vast majority of matches. When you win three in a row, match is over and you go back to looking for a game. Because of this setup, this game is very, very good for people looking for a quick pick-me-up gaming experience to burn 10 minutes. Very easy to pick up, very easy to put down.

As far as balance goes, there are certainly some heroes who are weaker than others and others who are stronger, but the overall balance is amazingly good. You can take nearly all of the heroes and make them work. That's a big plus in my book. Shows you the designers cared about quality when making the game.

There are currently 24 heroes in BLC. If you're playing the free-to-play version, the game itself picks 4 random heroes, one of each class (tank/healer/ranged dps/melee dps) every day and you are allowed to choose any one of those to play for that day. Tomorrow the lineup will be different. It can pick the same hero day after day, but it doesn't do that very often. You unlock one bloodline permanently for free for doing the tutorials.

Cost and Fees: BLC is a free-to-play microtransaction game. That is, anyone can download it and play it for free but there are things you can buy if you want. The thing that leaps to mind first are the bloodlines aka, the heroes themselves. They cost $5 dollars apiece for permanent availability. There are other things to buy as well, such as different looking weapons and costumes for your heroes. They have no impact on the game itself, they just look neat. Or ridiculous, such as thorns christmas tree uniform.

Yes, he's wearing a santa suit. They're all fairly cheap transactions, around 5 dollars or less. While you play the game, though, you get a currency called blood coins. Every game you win, you get a lot of coins. Every game you lose, you still get some coins, though only about half as much as if you win. Blood coins are used to buy almost everything you can buy with money, the exception being certain weapons, titles and costumes. Again, none of these affect gameplay itself.

Now you might be asking how long does it take to save up enough blood coins to buy a 5 dollar item in the shop? The game gives you incentive to play every day by doubling up to 400 of your blood coin earnings each day. That means for the first 5 or 6 games you'll make double. Doing this every day, it will take you about a 12 days to get enough blood coins to get a new bloodline. You can make this faster by playing more than the 20-30 minutes a day to get your bonus, or by getting achievements. At first you get tons of achievements very quickly, so you'll get your 2nd permanent bloodline very very quickly. After that it's 12 days or so of milking the bonus coins for you! A well-balanced system in my opinion. Don't you hate those games that give massive advantages to paying players? I know I do.

The Good: Fluid graphics, easy to pick up and put down, controls are simple and intuitive, able to unlock all almost all content through gameplay, good party game, thought-out pay system, (potentially) free! Also, unlike a lot of free games, this one doesn't bombard you with ads or force you put spyware/adware type things on your computer. That's worth noting too.

The Bad: Steep learning curve, occasionally bad matchmaking system, demands a lot of time to unlock everything by in-game play, not too many game modes, no offline play.

Overall Opinion: Pick this up! It's a great game for being free, it's microtransaction system is balanced and reasonable and the gameplay is smooth.

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