Naraka Bladepoint is set to release on Xbox Game Pass on June 23, 2022. Dexerto sat down with publisher NetEase Games and 24 Entertainment for a preview of the promising battle royale.
The battle royale genre has seen ambitious titles come and go, but the duo of publisher NetEase Games and developers 24 Entertainment are eager to make their mark. Naraka Bladepoint launched on PC in August 2021, with a mobile port heading to smartphones too.
We had the chance to see the melee-focused battle royale in action and speak with lead producer Ray Kwan and marketing executive Archer Wang about bringing the game to consoles.
We’re in an era where the battle royale genre has become saturated with more titles, and many of them often fall short of bringing something fresh to the table. Half-baked concepts in Ubisoft’s Hyper Scape and even EA’s Battlefield: Firestorm have come and gone. Thankfully, Naraka Bladepoint feels like it’s honing on the kineticism of beloved multiplayer titles like the brilliant GunZ. Naraka’s focus and celebration of movement are abundantly clear, as players will be forced to scale environments and evade devastating sword slashes.
If you’re unfamiliar with Naraka Bladepoint, the game has emerged as a fast-paced battle royale, using the wit of swordplay and mythical abilities to one-up your opponents. You’ll often be fighting multiple enemy players at once, reinforcing just how agile you’ll need to be if you aim to come out on top. One ability demonstrated to Dexerto showcased an ice-based power that granted temporary shielding at the cost of movement.
In the Xbox Series X build of the game we were shown, it was clear that Naraka Bladepoint requires players to be vigilant. It isn’t just multiplayer that the devs have their eyes on either.
“There are going to be features in this game that we’re so excited about,” says Kwan as he details plans for the future of Naraka Bladepoint. Speaking with the lead producer about the game’s Summer Game Fest presentation, Kwan explained “as you saw in our preview, we’re including a full campaign. We’re thrilled to give players more options to explore the lore of Naraka Bladepoint.”
Naraka’s gameplay currently focuses on a handful of modes, with its primary focus on solo and trio matches between 60 players. Alongside the upcoming campaign, the devs are eager to explore additional multiplayer modes. Despite there being a plentiful amount of bots in the preview, it is concerning whether the sprawling map will maintain the game’s furious pace outside of dueling.
There is potential for new locations in the future. Kwan explained that “the focus right now is on this map, it’s early to say but we may bring a rotating map to the game too.”
The way of the blade
Naraka was originally released on PC, which had us cast doubt about whether the game could translate well to a controller. “It was important for us to make the transition smooth for console players,” says Kwan on this matter. “This is a very quick game. We’ve put extra care into making sure console players can pick the game up easily.”
“Our team has done a lot of research around this. We wanted to make sure that the game was balanced for both PC and console players.”
It’s no secret that the game has plenty of information to absorb, compared to the likes of Warzone and Apex Legends. However, the devs breezily weaved through Naraka’s menus and inventory organization. As standard with the genre now, players will be collecting tiered weaponry in their travels, ranging from Katanas to Greatswords. Weapons aren’t customizable when it comes to abilities or statistical advantage, though Kwan did specify that “skins” are available to change their aesthetic.
Customization isn’t completely absent from Naraka, however. Players can tweak their characters in a similar vein to the Saints Row franchise, though it isn’t nearly as crude. Various sliders alter the player’s appearance, while additional clothing items can be purchased via in-game currency.
As the preview continued, the sensory assault of sound and vision as the battle ensues was potent. An issue prevalent in battle royales, at least for me, is inconsistent audio. Detecting an enemy’s presence is vital for survival and many games can miss the mark with inaccurate audio rendering.
We learned from the developers that Narka Bladepoint utilizes cutting-edge sound technology to enrich the experience. “The game uses Dolby Atmos to enhance player immersion. You’ll be able to hear sounds reflect off surfaces, whether that’s to the side, above, or behind you,” Wang explained.
“It’s one of the elements we’re really proud to present in-game.”
Of course, the main talking point of Naraka Bladepoint is its frantic combat. It isn’t just a case of cutting your enemy into pieces, although you can certainly give that a try. No, Naraka’s refreshing action asks the player to strategize and think about each hit. Counters and parrying are present too, giving you a brief window to get a potentially victorious riposte. It’ll take time to become a certified warrior, but the devs are elated for players to use combination attacks.
“Combat is full of combos, all of them allowing for unique moves to master as you build up experience,” said marketing executive Archer Wang.
“The goal is to lower the learning curve for new players by introducing features like the one-button counter. This was added to the PC version recently,” added Kwan.
“We don’t want to alienate any of our players and give PC or Xbox players an advantage over each other.”
Naraka Bladepoint has already built a loyal following in the Esports circuit, with streamers such as Shroud and Summit1g getting their fix of the action. With each elimination and advancement to the final circle, every sword swipe matters. It’s this kind of palpable tension that can allow a game to stick the landing in the battle royale genre. But the game will need fresh content too to keep players coming back and the devs are prepared for that demand.
“At the moment we’re able to have an update go live every two to three weeks. That will include new heroes, weapons, and more for the community” Wang said about the future of the game.
Time will tell whether the game will ensnare a passionate player base on consoles. However, the road ahead is promising for Naraka Bladepoint, as the game carves its own place within a genre populated largely by shooters. The niche focus on melee-orientated combat could be difficult for newcomers, but its whiplash pace is just what I’m looking for.
Naraka Bladepoint launches on Xbox Game Pass on June 23, 2022.