ArcheBlade – Closed Beta Impressions
By Michael Sagoe (Mikedot), OnRPG Journalist
Fighting games have always had a very niche appeal in the F2P Gaming market, with many of them sticking to very traditional gameplay mechanics. One F2P fighting game, however, is attempting to break the mold by offering a multiplayer fighting in a fairly uncommon perspective.
The game is called ArcheBlade, a 3rd person fighting game developed by CodeBrush Games, a South Korean based developer group that has been working on the game for well past three years. The game is set to include 10 different characters, each with their own unique fighting styles, along with several beat ‘em up and FPS inspired game modes, all brought to you by Epic’s Unreal 3 Engine.
I've actually been tracking this game ever since I found it on YouTube a couple of months ago. Fighting games are right up my alley and I was more than willing to give this game a try. The developers were nice enough to lend me a beta key even though I missed the initial sign up period. With a quick download on Valve’s Steam platform, I hopped right in.
From the main menu, players can choose to join a random match by pressing the “Start Game” button, start a training session or join an active game server through the network play button. There’s also an options menu, but several features were locked away for some reason, and I couldn’t change any of my key bindings or raise my resolution above 1920x1080.
The first thing I tried out was the training mode and from there, all 10 characters were available to try out. The training mode was… very simplistic. The only thing that was available was a training dummy to try out different attack combos and that’s about it. You can press the H key to bring up your move list, but what’s here is surprisingly limited.
Rehiney Rich'Lich was the first I decided to try out in a live battle. She’s a magician fighter than uses martial arts, teleportation and ice attacks to deal out quick damage and heavy combos… Or at least that’s what it seemed from the gameplay demonstration videos. When getting a feel for her attacks I found her ranged attacks seemed very hard to aim, but when they connected they had a status effect that would slow down enemies for a short period of time, so I wanted to use this to my advantage when it was time to fight against other players.
First match in: I played on a map called Under Siege, which was also a team deathmatch map. On my team, I was set up with players that were using Dick the Megaton (yes, that’s his actual name) and Elrath Nazaruth, both have a balance between close and ranged attacks. My opponents, on the other hand, were two gunners named Elichea Bayer and Renoah Collintz. When the match started, I would quickly realize that these two were possibly the most overpowered characters available.
Elichea Bayer’s basic combo attack has so much range and does so much damage in a short amount of time, all while firing shots in random directions. All Elichea players need to do spam their left mouse button combo and they’ll have no trouble getting kills in. Renoah, on the other hand, is the only character that can aim their attacks in a third person shooter fashion. Her attacks have a moderate range and bullets need to be reloaded after several shots are fired. When she’s out of bullets, though, she can perform a quick melee attack to knock enemies back, allowing here to get in some reload time.
She ALSO can perform an attack that allows her to pull out a rifle and fire shots from a long distance. These attacks have a charge up time before being able to fire, but players can also perform an EX version of the attack to eliminate the charge up time. Both Elichea and Renoah were very frustrating to deal against (Renoah not so much as Elichea, since she had the whole reload mechanic to deal with.)
The gameplay mechanics in ArcheBlade take a few nods from modern fighting games, including elements such as hitstuns, juggles and EX-moves. What the game needs to go along with these mechanics, however, is a much bigger move list for all characters and more combo opportunities. At most, characters in ArcheBlade only have up to 5 different attack variations. There’s not much room for experimentation here, as the combos are very short and simple. For a game to call itself a multiplayer fighting game, and not have the main emphasis of modern fighting games is truly baffling.
After playing a few more matches on Under Siege, I tried out the 2nd map and game mode: NetherDale. This map and mode was set on an active volcano and the objective was capturing pylons and holding them in order to gain points, much like conquest modes that you would find in FPS titles. I actually decided to play as Elichea myself, just to get my own feel for her and try to figure out if her attacks had any openings.
Most of the opponents I went up against didn’t have a clue of what was going on in this mode, but I did despite it being my first time playing. Walking up to pylons and capturing them was a breeze, because no one on the enemy team was around to defend them. Taking a moment to hunt down a few enemies, I did my best NOT to spam Elichea’s basic combo. I tried to experiment with her by performing some juggles, but in the end, the basic combo was the most effective. There’s some balance issues that need to be looked into, and Elichea needs to be the first one on the chopping table.
Other characters on the roster either feel somewhat underpowered or VERY underpowered, likes Cezanne La Gatal who’s a demon that can only attack with incredibly slow ranged attacks, and Gaspar la Velfanar who has a decent ranged attack that can be fired in the air, but has to be reloaded after every shot.
(These are some really weird character names, by the way… It kind of makes me wish that they should have gone with something more generic like Rick, or Brittney or something that’s easier to pronounce!)
To conclude: ArcheBlade is a bright new title with a lot of potential, but is way too rough around the edges. With very poor character balance, lack of modes and lack of… well… just about everything, there was very little replay value to be found in its current state, and it was very evident due to the lack of people playing in the closed beta.
The development team, however, is really looking to take a stand and address these issues before the game launches in March of 2013. They’ve already taken community feedback into heavy consideration and will be making changes for the second beta test planned for early next year.
For more information on ArcheBlade, check out our profile page here at OnRPG.com