Blade & Soul is free-to-play – but how much?

We already knew that Blade and Soul is going to launch in North America and Europe as free-to-play, when the game was re-announced in May 2015. But as always, many gamers are curious about just how much free-to-play it is actually going to be, since these words are usually thrown around frequently and stretched quite a bit. In an official post, NCsoft explains the plans for the business model part of Blade and Soul, so this should be enough to clear our minds.

First, the idea is to have the game completely free, without paywalls – skill-based progression is the plan, and the cash shop is going to offer a triad of topics – cosmetics, convenience, and consumables -, leaving stuff like power, gear and permanent stat increases out of the way. The cash shop uses NCoin, the same currency that WildStar will use, and also the same from other NCsoft games such as Aion and Lineage 2. NCoin will be used to purchase “convenience items like food, potions, and repair tools; quality of life improvements such as character slots, inventory expansions, and Premium memberships; and cosmetic items like costumes and accessories.” There's also an in-game currency that is earned through gameplay and can be used to purchase many of the same items as the NCoin can purchase.

The cash shop is where you can buy a Premium Membership, valid for 30 days. This will give you plenty of benefits to enjoy the game even more, such as a special windwalk animation and discounts in the Auction House, but no boosts will be offered here. Membership comes in Tiers, with Tier 1 unlocking several benefits and Tier levels increasing with the amount of NCoin and in-game currency that is spent including on Premium Membership itself. You'll never drop down a Tier, but you need to have an active membership to maintain all the benefits – if your membership becomes inactive, you lose access to all benefits.

Finally, there will be three different Founders Packs available, something that was still being considered when the team hosted the Blade & Soul livestream. All of them provide access to the closed beta period, with more details to come soon as we get closer to opening up pre-order on these packs.

So in conclusion – while we can say that Blade & Soul probably won't be a pay-to-win game, it will sit alongside many MMORPGs such as TERA where players are able to purchase items to smooth progression quite a bit. But unless you like to play your MMO games as a race, this shouldn't be an issue at all, and this is the kind of game that will probably deserve a few purchases now and then.


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