Scarlet Blade Sneak Peek

by Chris Palmarozzi, March 4, 2013

Last week I had the chance to sit down in person with a variety of other media members. Aeria Games, our gracious host, allowed us to play an early version of their upcoming title Scarlet Blade. This is a mature rated MMORPG featuring scantily clad women as the only option for player characters. Scantily clad women are nothing unusual to the MMO scene, but the concept seems quite a bit more in-your-face with the costumes on Scarlet Blade. You should expect to see lingerie set to compliment your regular armor, and even a nightclub where you will not only dance but find some unique equipment character advancement opportunities. The sex appeal is certainly there and will bring some people to Scarlet Blade, but does it look like there's enough content to keep them around?

scarlet blade character gen

The backstory of Scarlet Blade is that you play a super warrior woman called Arkana that, unlike most of humanity, is capable of surviving the harsh climate of their planet that has been decimated by alien invaders. Unfortunately, humanity has made things more difficult on themselves by separating into two factions. This is unfortunate when it comes to long term viability of the race, but is great for offering PvP and PvPvE content!

My first introduction to the game itself was what most people will experience: the character creator. You are given six different class choices that correspond to healer, tank, and four DPS classes focused on area vs. individual attacks and ranged vs. melee. After choosing my Shadow Walker it was time to customize.

scarlet blade character customization

In Scarlet Blade you are given a reasonable amount of options for character creation, but nothing revolutionary. You have a few clothing options with double digit choices of faces, lips, eyes, and hair choices. After you name your avatar you are on your way. Speaking of avatars, the character you play in Scarlet Blade is meant to literally be 'the character you play'. Technically this character is just following your orders which can make for some fun dialogue when they decide to sarcastically interact with you.

scarlet blade tutorial

Your avatar enters this world much like a newborn baby, naked and confused. Luckily there is a nifty tutorial to get you up to speed. The game isn't complicated and any MMO vet will breeze through the tutorial. The quest dialogue offers some funny moments if you decide to read it, even threatening you if you skip the text. Scarlet Blade features automatic quest pathing so the tutorial is very easy to navigate. Once you leave the tutorial you will never see that place again; bid your friendly teachers adieu and get ready to face what's in the real world!

I didn't get to spend a lot of time here because we wanted to get in some PvP action - it is the content Scarlet Blade is focusing most gameplay around. However, most of the leveling up process seemed fairly typical. You'll go from place to place killing mobs, turning in quests, earning rewards, and fighting gradually harder enemies. As you level up you will open up more skills or strengthen existing ones to somewhat differentiate your character from others in your particular class.

scarlet blade pvp

After playing around with some early level PvE we were given control of level 39 characters, all with different classes so we could see most of them in action. Engaging in PvP is a simple affair that involves joining a queue from anywhere in the world (provided you meet the level requirements). Scarlet Blade does cap the roster so one team can't gain a new member that would give them more players than the other team. I ended up behind the eyes of a medic in PvP which is a good test for whether the game views healers as robots or as someone who can also pack a punch.

My impressions on the medic were split. My damage output didn't match the other classes, but I wasn't expecting that. Instead my mix of healing, damage, and buffs let me legitimately engage in a 1v1 against any class. The case might be different when playing as or against someone with more than an hour experience, but for now the PvP as a medic seemed quite viable. On the downside it felt very uninteresting. My buffs lasted some number of minutes, I could cure debuffs, and everything else was more or less damage and healing. I find long term buffs to generally be annoying because it requires you to stare at a clock to see when you need to refresh. They don't add any tactical element and basically my gameplay was to do damage when I could and heal when I was low. Not all classes were that way. The defender (tank) had a larger variety of moves that seemed to vary in usefulness depending on the situation.

In the instanced battle scenario where we were engaged, players had a few options for points and kills felt like only a small part of the experience1. For example, I led my team in kills and kills/death ratio but ended up 3 of 4 on contribution points. There are some different objectives depending on the map, but the most important one involves infiltrating the center of the enemy base. If you can best the defending players and NPCs, this can net you an immediate win. It was hard to visualize the tactics players will use when the battles are 80vs80 and it feels like things get way too chaotic for that to work. At the very least the ease at which one gets into - and contributes to - PvP is great. Players also earn dog tags by delivering the killing blow to opposing enemies which is a useful currency for some of very rare items in Scarlet Blade. With a variety of maps and the obvious attention paid to these battle arenas I think it's obvious Scarlet Blade will be a PvPers game.

scarlet blade dungeon

One tactical element that medic, as well as every other class, does receive is the ability to enter a mech for a short period of time. The mech offers a greatly increased survivability while offering improved damage to boot. Mechs aren't overpowered though and just because someone enters one doesn't mean they will rampage through everyone walking around on their own. They strike a nice balance of power.

An especially useful case for mechs is when challenging a boss in one of the PvE dungeons. The extra firepower and armor you gain can make a huge difference, and I could see situations where tanky characters swap aggro and use their mechs as defensive counters. Dungeons typically involve running through with six players, but can be done with less depending on gear and levels.

Speaking of gear, a lot of your improvement will depend on using materials to enhance equipment one level at a time. Enhancements can fail, resulting in lost materials or equipment degradation. This is a pretty typical system used in a lot of MMOs and while it is simple, it's not my preference. However, instead of breaking your item from an unsuccessful enhancement, in Scarlet Blade it only goes down a level so the risk is a bit mitigated.

scarlet blade final

Once Scarlet Blade is available for public consumption, will it be worth sinking your MMO hours into? It's way too early to tell and a short time of playing the game doesn't really make me an expert. There will be more to the story once closed beta ends and release rolls around, but for now there I can at least say that there's definitely legitimate content behind all of the nearly-naked women. The translations I saw were well done, the combat felt fluid, and everything worked as expected. Those are all good signs for Aeria Games and Scarlet Blade enthusiasts.