Early Access: Bella Legend of Crystal
By Darren Henderson (DizzyPW), OnRPG Editor-in-Chief
Hey OnRPG viewers. It's been a while since my last Early Access column and this time I'm covering a game that is likely still a long ways away from a westernized launch. As such my facts are based on rough translations and I apologize in advance if I've interpreted any information incorrectly and will update the game profile should I come across such inaccuracies in the future. With that disclaimer out of the way let's get started with our Early Access coverage of developer MacroWell OMG Digital Entertainment's upcoming MMORPG, Bella Legend of Crystal!
The general concept of the game is that players spring to life as representatives of Flaya, the Goddess of War. Flaya is one of many gods sacrificed as martyrs in an endless war since the dawn of time. Her final act as a god was to set in motion the summoning of many brave heroes containing a portion of her spirit to protect the world from the once benevolent God of the Underworld. The God of the Underworld was responsible for saving the world once from a great dragon lord, but in his weakened state following the battle he submit to the darkness of his realm upon returning. He now bides his time and licks his wounds preparing for a new affront on the world to redeem himself following his clash with Flaya. It's up to the players to use the time bought by Flaya's sacrifice to collect the crystallized soul essences from the various slain gods to unlock the full potential of their power as a guardian of the world. This system of collecting and utilizing the crystals of the gods makes up a majority of the gameplay in Bella Legend of Crystal.
Soul Crystals and the Classless Class System
As a world guardian you basically start the game off with a clean slate, similar to a novice from Maplestory. However you will quickly come across the system of Soul Crystals which play the most important role in shaping your character's development. Of the Soul Crystals, the Major Crystal is the most important one you will acquire, and you may only have one equipped at any given time.
After unlocking your first Soul Crystal, your character will gain access to 6 skills, appropriate stat bonuses, and ultimate skills dependent on the god represented by your Major Crystal. This will essentially determine your role in any party, decide your character's elemental attribute, and set in motion the type of armor and weapon you will be acquiring.
The official website lists the following 6 primary classes acquirable through Major Crystals, which I've translated to the best of my ability:
Tank: The tank is specialized in absorbing all damage from magic to melee and everything in between. However their serious lack of agility, intellect, and sense will leave them reliant on allies to hunt down more agile crafty foes. Don't underestimate the warrior though as with its strength stat topping the charts, one lucky blow can ruin any foe's day.
Mage (Support): Support mages are surprisingly tanky for a caster class. Their high sensory and constitution along with decent vitality makes them durable enough to take a few fireballs and sneak attacks and keep on fighting. However their strength is near nonexistent and the majority of their int is focused on supporting their allies.
Mage (Elemental): The elemental mage is the definition of a glass cannon. While they can stand up for brief periods against other mages, that is the limits of their survivability. However with proper support from their allies, an elemental mage can dish out some of the most devastating skills in the game with their maxed out intellect stat. They are capable in specializing in various forms of elemental magic to adjust their utility to your style of play.
Battle Mage: This mage warrior hybrid is sure to be a popular pick. With high hp, and a devastating combo of strength and intellect, they are sure to wreck worlds.. if they can get in range to do so. Agility and sense are the limiting factors of this class, allowing more agile characters to dodge around the battlefield just outside of their reach.
Rogue: The rogue puts all its eggs in one basket, throwing defense to the wayside and focusing on pure agility and sensory expertise. This allows them to dart past the heavy hitting melee fighters and assassinate squishier back line characters like elemental mages with devastating critical strikes.
Ranger: Rangers are a jack of all trades that represent a hybrid between the rogue and tank, with precision ranged strikes at their command. The benefit of range comes at the price of lower damage output compared to their rogue cousin. but they still perform well as mid-range dps in any team formation.
In a system reminiscent of Eden Eternal, the Major Crystal is not the only deciding factor to your class specialization, nor is it a permanent fixture of your character once it is equipped. As you venture through the lands and complete key storyline quests, your character will unlock the ability to equip Minor Crystals, with a current cap in place of 8 total. Each one of these crystals carry elements of the various gods in them, yet the essence is impure and lacks the full potency of Major Crystals. As such they won't impact overall build but will grant you 2 new skills per crystal, as well as related stat bonuses that will either give you greater mastery over your strengths or balance your weaknesses depending on what crystals you acquire. In addition they carry their own elemental alignment as well that can help balance your weaknesses further. While solid evidence of switching crystals isn't available to me at this moment, it seems the limiting factor is an energy system and the cost of changing your primary crystal is much more draining of your energy than if you were to switch out a minor crystal.
The following are currently announced minor class crystals you can acquire:
Swordsman, Thief, Spellsword, Warrior, Dark Stalker, Priest, Monk, Sacredwing Guardian, Hunter, Flame Swordsman, Pirate, Water Sorcerer, Water Shaman, Shield Guardian, Ranger, Mercenary, Darkflame Knight, and Warlock.
Some of these class crystals are actually advanced hybrid classes formed through the fusion of soul crystals. For instance by merging the warrior and thief together you gain the hardy nature of the warrior and deadly accuracy of a thief to become a ranger. Likewise mixing the priest and swordsman together forms the Monk crystal offering you the support power of a cleric but the battle-born readiness of a front-line swordsman.
Equipment Smelting and Soul Crystal Infusion
This is the part of the game that I'm still most iffy about so bear with me. Rather than simply acquiring strong weapons and armor over the course of your adventures, players can choose to grow their current equipment with them to unlock its full potential. This is done partially through standard MMORPG equipment refining and partially through integration of minor soul crystals into your Major Crystal specific weapons and armor.
Heavy Armor Progression
The fascinating part of this game feature is that Bella Legend of Crystal doesn't merely add glowing effects to your armor and leave you hanging. It actually puts your armor through noticeable growth, portrayed in beautiful Japanese stylized graphics allowing you twice the bragging rights among your fellow gamers. For instance your caster may gain an armored corset and upgraded charms, or your ranger may gain Native American styled fur armor overlapping their standard fatigue wraps. Similarly, dull blades will undergo transformation into retextured bright broadswords. This theoretically combines to make an interesting effect of differentiating yourself from other players through both unique skillsets and appearances.
In an MMORPG it all comes down to the numbers and Bella Legend of Crystal doesn't disappoint here. They follow a standard primary and secondary attribute system in which primary stats combine with equipment bonuses to create the various secondary attributes that determine a character's power in combat. The primary stats are vitality, intelligence, strength, agility, concentration, and sense.
The main secondary attributes are level, HP, MP, vigor, rage (system used to access more powerful skills through combat), energy (possibly related to soul crystals), melee power, ranged power, and magical power. However other secondary attributes also exist including defense, magic resistance, MP and HP recovery, block level, ward level, attack speed, crit chance, target hit level, and dodge. This abundance of character stats incorporates popular stats from various games and should ensure plenty of variation in crafted armor sets between players.
Graphical Presentation and UI
If there's one thing that immediately comes to mind when considering Taiwanese developed games, it's their user interface. Taiwan has access to some top notch software for analyzing player eye movement during game testing and Bella Legend of Crystal clearly shows that this software has been put to good use in crafting the user's experience during gameplay.
Alpha State User Interface
Even though the game is still in Chinese, the menu placements, design, and easy icon based access to everything you would need in-game ensures that you won't need to search through endless menus to get a hold of what you need. The dual hotkey menus also make organizing your skills and potions a breeze.
In terms of the artstyle we are talking about a distinctly Anime look transplanted into a 3D environment. While these are usually words I dread when discussing an upcoming MMORPG, Bella Legend of Crystal does it in a way that I can say is pleasing to the eye without becoming so detailed as to alienate its intended target audience. In an attempt to make the game world feel more alive, characters will automatically change their facial expressions to mirror the mood they are in at the time. While the teaser trailer emphasizes the more over-the-top zany expressions known in anime styled games, thankfully the majority of expressions are subtle and naturally express the emotions of your character as they perform various attacks or react to ever changing situations.
Although no official release date is scheduled for the western market, OMG Digital Entertainment definitely intends to send this game our way in the foreseeable future. The features seem sound but until we experience the gameplay I won't make any further judgement on this game. Look forward to more detailed coverage once the game comes to the western world.