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How Blade & Soul's Combat System Is Different From Other MMOs

cerberus

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I've been playing Blade & Soul's Chinese version for about 2 weeks and to be honest, I'm not impressed by the game's quests and instances as they were still repetitive and grinding like most MMOs today in the market. The combat system is something I want to talk about and I think it's something worth talking about.

Blade & Soul combat 

To ensure a fast and smooth combat experience, many MMOs with action-based combat system limit the number of active abilities you can use at a time. 

Guild Wars 2:

- About 70 to 120 active abilities, including weapon skills, slot skills and auxiliary skills, depending on which profession you choose

- Not all abilities can be used in combat at a time

- 13 to 17 buttons (depending on which class you use), including mouse buttons are enough to cover all skills 

Marvel Heroes:

- About 20 active abilities for each character

- Not all abilities can be used in combat at a time

- About 10 buttons (including mouse buttons) are used to activate the abilities.

Tera:

- 22 to 24 active abilities each class (including racial abilities and class specific abilities)

- All abilities can be used in combat at a time

- 17 to 20 buttons including mouse buttons are needed (depending on which class you use and how you chain your skills)

Blade & Soul (OBT version):

- 34 to 48 active abilities, depending on which class you use

- All abilities can be used in combat at a time

- All classes use 13 buttons to activate the abilities, including mouse buttons

What does the above mean?

It means in a single combat, you can use about 40 abilities with only 13 buttons — that's something you can't do in other MMOs.

Blade & Soul combat 

As the options get broadened, combat style varies from individual to individual. For the same class and with the same abilities, one can fight defensively and one can also fight offensively as long as he uses the proper abilities. With skill morphing available at level 15, a class' combat style becomes even more diversified. 

Practically you will just use a dozen of abilities in a normal battle and about 30 of them in a boss fight. The real big deal is the control doesn't become complicated, and with some proficiency, you can do awesome and smooth combos without breaking a sweat. 

How do 13 buttons cover 40 abilities?

The idea is pretty similar to Guild Wars 2's dynamic skill system, with which your action bar changes with the change of your character's weapon, attunement or some Utility skills. Blade & Soul's abilities have shorter or no cooldown which makes the combat faster and action bar change constantly. Besides, Blade & Soul's action bar layout is very different from other MMOs': the number keys 5 - 8 are less important because they are no longer occupied by frequently used abilities but consumable items. Blade & Soul has no normal attack and many of the game’s abilities are aligned to buttons like Tab, Z, and X, which we don't use for major abilities in other MMOs. Strangely, the OBT version doesn't allow you to change keyboard settings. 

The images below show how action bar changes dynamically.

Force Master action bar when attuned to fire
Blade & Soul combat

Force Master action bar when attuned to frost
Blade & Soul combat

Destroyer action bar at normal stance
Blade & Soul combat

Destroyer action bar at grappling stance
Blade & Soul combat

With level cap increasing in the future, Blade & Soul will have more abilities but won't use more buttons. The game is first and foremost an action MMO, and because of the unique control style, it played like a console game. 

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