‘Naraka: Bladepoint’ hands-on: wholesome, stabby, fun

Bladepoint could be your new favourite battle royale

Naraka Bladepoint is a battle royale game that’ll feel incredibly familiar to anyone who’s delved into any of the other offerings in the genre, to begin with. You jump into a match, run around and grab loot, and try and kill everyone else off so that you’re the last one standing. Unlike most though, Naraka Bladepoint has a far heavier focus on melee combat, and that really changes how your average match will go.

Each match has sixty players, all playing as one of several heroes with their own special moves, fighting it out to see how well you can avoid being stabbed in the face or shot with a cannon. The current selection of heroes all feel as though they’re designed to fit different playstyles, but also so that they can complement each other if you’re playing with a team.

Once you’ve gotten through the tutorial and learned the basic ropes, it’s time for a proper match. Matches start off with you on a separate island, and you can then choose somewhere to spawn on the main map. You can choose to start with or away from your teammates, and you even get to see rough positions of your foes as well. The strategy comes into play straight away, because Naraka has something special up its sleeve to encourage players to jump into battle as soon as possible.

Naraka: Bladepoint
Naraka: Bladepoint. Credit: 24 Entertainment

Up until the first time the shadows (the ring, which is actually a giant snake demon) start closing in, you can actually revive yourself once. You can always revive teammates if you can get to them in time, but during that first round, you can bring yourself back to life too. It means that you should always be charging headlong into battle to try and scoop up better loot, but also that you need to be wary of players seeking revenge.

Aside from that, the flow of battles is similar to what you’d expect; you have to stay inside the circle, there are hot zones where extra loot drops, and you’ve got to try not to die to everyone you see running around. The combat is where Naraka Bladepoint shines though.

Ranged combat has you using weapons like pinpoint accurate bows, explosive arcing cannons, or the charge shotgun-esque pistol, to take foes out from afar. The ranged fights feel quite good, but the weapons take a bit of getting used to due to their behaviours and ideal usage and range. The cannon, for example, hits like a truck, but gravity pulls on the shots you fire harder than anything else, so you need to learn to compensate.

Naraka: Bladepoint
Naraka: Bladepoint. Credit: 24 Entertainment

The melee combat is a little more involved. Rather than heavy and light attacks, your attacks are split into horizontal and vertical. You can bash away at either for a combo or mix them up; either way; you’ll flow from strike to strike. You can counter attack too, which is probably the most important thing to master when it comes to your close-ranged battles.

You can also charge your attacks, and the results differ based on your weapon type, how long you charge for, and also what Souljades you have equipped. Souljades are gems you can find that grant passive buffs. Sometimes those are things like an increased resistance to ranged attacks, or more health, but others grant buffs to specific weapons.

For example, there’s one that allows you to perform a blink strike with your katana. Basically, it changes your charged attack into a strike that’ll hit someone in range of you via teleporting. Not only does it look incredible, but it’s incredibly hard to counter. These gems are the kinds of things you’ll not see until near the end of a match, but they’ll shift the scales heavily in your favour.

Naraka: Bladepoint
Naraka: Bladepoint. Credit: 24 Entertainment

Naraka Bladepoint is, despite being two months from a full release, already a huge amount of fun. The combat feels slick and stylish, movement is augmented by a cool parkour system and a grappling hook, and the team balancing, and character customisation all mix together to allow you to make a playstyle of your own that’ll keep you coming back for more. You can even make your own private battle royale matches, and there are a few other modes to play as well. Put simply, I’m excited to see what Naraka Bladepoint can do, and I think it’s going to become one of my regular games once it’s out in the wild properly. It’s about time all the energy I spent studying the blade paid off, and having wiped out over a third of the combatants with my teammate in a match earlier, I’m starting to feel like this could be my forever battle royale.

Naraka Bladepoint has a demo you can play right now. It launches on PC on August 12. 

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