Released on: August 26 2021 (Open Beta)
Available Platforms: PC, *PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and Series S, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 (At a later date)*
Price: Free (Has Microtransactions)
Sometimes I find out about games by sheer chance. I hear about a game either from an ad, a Youtuber or even from friends. I tend to dismiss them in most cases, as I usually have a handful I play through at a time. An example of this idea biting me in the butt is with The Messenger. I ignored it for years until I finally gave it a shot years later (which made me wish I had played it sooner.) When my coworker told me about Blood of Heroes, a new game in the medieval-esque combat arena genre, I had to learn more about it.
Last weekend was Blood of Heroes’s Open Beta. I looked up what the game looked like, and it seemed intriguing, so I decided to take the plunge and downloaded the installer. I want my readers to keep in mind that I’m reviewing a game in Open Beta. Ergo, the game will undoubtedly get some patches in the future that will add content, fix bugs, or improve the gameplay experience. With that said, does Blood of Heroes’ Open Beta hit the ground running?
In Blood of Heroes, three heroes (at the time of writing) met their unfortunate end and are now perpetually stuck in eternal conflict with each other. The player brings one of these heroes to the battlefield to prove that they are worthy of victory. On the surface, I like this as an introduction to the world of Blood of Heroes. That enthusiasm quickly faded as I played through the tepid tutorial. While an actual story isn’t necessary for a multiplayer game like Blood of Heroes, I can barely remember the names of any of the heroes without any reference.
I found Blood of Heroes’ visuals impressively bland. The game goes for a “hellish” art style (incorporating many shades of black, white, and red). The Domination map I played was more verdant, but it too looked like a generic forest clearing. I understand the color pallet choice, given the game’s theme, but I never pictured hell to be so dull to look at.
The moment the game beings, Blood of Heroes has the player choose between three heroes (when I played, there are six heroes currently). As mentioned above, I can’t even remember their names, so I called them the tank (Ratkha), the healer (Vorga), and the damage dealer (Renar). As my nicknames might reveal, Ratkha has the most health and has a giant shield that makes blocking easier, but he moves the slowest. Vorga is the only character that can heal himself and his allies and is the fastest, but is not great at fighting. Renar has the best damage-dealing potential but has no healing abilities and average running speed.
From the first moments of the tutorial, I noticed a striking resemblance to Dark Souls’ combat. The player has a light and heavy attack, a dodge, and a block. Like Dark Souls, doing any of these actions will deplete the player’s stamina. Running out of stamina will make the player’s attacks laborious, disables the player’s dodge, and stuns a player trying to block oncoming attacks. The heroes do have one ability and an ultimate they can use during battle. Both abilities have a cooldown period, with the ultimate ability taking longer to recover after each use.
I see what Blood of Heroes was going for with this style of combat. I hate using the comparison to Dark Souls so much, but I feel like it’s appropriate to help describe Blood of Heroes’ gameplay as it has many similarities. In Dark Souls, however, everything was unforgiving to the player, which, oddly enough, is what made Dark Souls fascinating. Blood of Heroes has the look but does nothing with the world, and the multiplayer-centric gameplay fails to convey the message of helplessness it tries to impart to the player and left me disinterested.
I have difficulty remembering the last time I experienced a gameplay loop as shallow as Blood of Heroes. In the game’s three versus three mode, both teams would fight until they are almost defeated. When they have nut a sliver of health left, it became an infantile game of tag until the last minute of the round. At that point, it becomes a contest to see who can capture a random section in the map for their team. This made the rest of the round pointless. It made me wonder: why not have the capture point from the very beginning?
The five versus five mode has three sections for each team to war over. Claiming one of these points for the team will generate points for said team. The team that reaches the set number of points first wins the match. This was a better mode, but it fails to stand out. Many other similar have this very mode but on a much larger and more exciting scale. It made the six-and-a-half-minute wait between matches unrewarding.
Wait… I hear something… It’s the microtransaction alarm! Yes, dear reader, the cost of free is here, but I feel like it isn’t fully implemented to its fullest (at least not when I played it.) There are decorations for the player’s base that they can buy using premium currency, and I saw an option in the menu called “Chests,” which seems like the game’s lootbox/gacha system. I already have a lukewarm opinion on the visuals, and from what I can tell, the current selection of goods looks just as drab as its free alternatives.
I want to give credit to the developers of Blood of Heroes; it looks like they are hard at work improving things and adding content to the game already. While writing this review, they added three more heroes. Despite my many criticisms of Blood of Heroes, I believe there is a game to be enjoyed there somewhere.
As much as it pains me to say, Blood of Heroes has a long way to go to stand out from its contemporaries. Forgettable characters, tepid gameplay, and dull visuals made Blood of Heroes a trying experience to play in its current state. Those thinking about trying out this free-to-play player versus player (PvP) game might want to wait until substantial content and polish gets released.