Naraka Bladepoint may be in its early years as an esport, but it’s clear the sky is the limit.
Over the weekend, I was lucky enough to attend my first esports event in person (sort of, but keep reading), the Naraka Bladepoint World Championships.
A battle royale that sets itself apart from its contemporaries with a focus on melee combat as opposed to standard-fare guns and grenades, Naraka Bladepoint as an esport feels similarly fresh and exciting – both for spectators and for players.
A new perspective
It all starts with the game’s third-person camera which makes it much easier to parse the world around the player.
That’s particularly important because many of the Naraka Bladepoint World Championship matches were predicated on quick escapes, tiptoeing around mountain ranges, or grappling to safety.
Naraka Bladepoint’s maps are gorgeous, too, eschewing the browns and grays of most battle royale titles in favor of verdant plains and snowy peaks. A third-person perspective certainly helps showcase that and provides a backdrop for what can be considered the closest thing to a multiplayer martial arts movie.
Move like WASD-ter
Naturally, with high-level play, there’s an element of playing the game in a way newcomers like me couldn’t possibly manage.
For example, Naraka Bladepoint players almost never stand still, often jumping in place, or dodge-rolling to build momentum. Think of it as an advanced movement mechanic, like slide-canceling, with fights breaking out into something akin to a dance as players feel each other out, daring their opponent to find an opening.
Once it’s been found, combat can be swift and over in a matter of seconds – Naraka Bladepoint offers a variety of combos, but the first to strike isn’t always the victor. If the opponent doesn’t disengage successfully and start cartwheeling away, they may choose to stand their ground and parry an attack, leading to an opening. More than once we saw a player that looked doomed turn things around to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
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It’s a fighting game mechanic that’s been around since the Dawn of competitive gaming, but it feels transformative in a genre where so often the winner is the person pulling the trigger first.
That’s not to say a sharp eye doesn’t play a keen role, though. Seeing a player snipe another with a ballista emplacement (another reason not to stand still!) and score a kill out of nowhere makes Naraka Bladepoint an exciting esport to watch.
Naraka Bladepoint World Championships given a homely feel
Considering this is only the second Naraka Bladepoint World Championship Finals, and we’re just a couple of years on lockdowns the world over, it’s to be expected that there would be some teething issues.
Sadly for myself and other journalists, that meant not getting to visit the arena at all, which is located in Shanghai. Instead, we were among the non-Chinese players who competed from Singapore in a cozy but pageantry-free set of offices. This also raises concerns about the fairness of varying degrees of lag and its effect on competitiveness.
Here’s hoping next year things can be a little smoother and a lot more centralized because Naraka Bladepoint is a blast to watch. I just hope more people get the chance to do so, and hopefully one day I can see it played live, too.
For more on announcements made at Naraka Fest, check out the upcoming Nier crossover, as well as the game coming to a new platform.