Welcome to the 18th installment of the Game Design Spotlight! This column is your weekly dose of my analysis of game design elements across many multiplayer titles, such as Final Fantasy XIV's clunky house decorating feature and the battle cry mechanic in Chivalry 2 that adds to the body-slinging chaos.
Last week, I examined Splitgate's wall portals and how they make PvP matches feel fresh after hours of playtime. As for today, we return to the battle royale madness of Naraka: Bladepoint. This time, I'm analyzing the wide cast of weapons that populates the maps randomly, forcing players to grab what they can to survive the landslide of bloodthirsty players.
With the recent release of the Staff in Naraka: Bladepoint, the game now has 15 weapons players will rotate through while battling over the small handful of zones. That diversity is one of the main draws to the battle royale for me. How I played one match with Nunchucks and a legendary gem will be drastically different with a super rare Bow in another, making for a rather riveting experience because you don't know what weapons you'll come across.
That's a really standard gameplay loop that keeps battle royale players glued to their seats, aside from the competitive edge. Although, unlike Fortnite and Call of Duty: Warzone, Naraka's fighting game-styled combos alongside situational weapon inputs throw in skill-based complexity. Married with the simple goal of surviving a shrinking map, players must juggle learning and adapting to weapons discovered once they hit the ground running, for better or worse.
Whether you queue for casual trio matches or contend with hardcore players in ranked solo, there's always that pressure to excel in many weapons because your enemies are lethal with them and won't wait for you to get better.
However, I believe developer 24 Entertainment's expectation isn't that every player must be a master of anything to overcome all the odds. Instead, fans will get molded into that role through experience, loss, luck, and success. The same could be said about any game that requires skillful play, but I found that the random nature of weapon drops mixed with their nuances in fight-or-flight scenarios makes Naraka's battle royale a challenging teacher on the way to mastery.
Better Learn Quick
No matter where you aim to land, whether inside a high-tier loot area or in the thick of multiple teleporting players, rushing to grab any weapon is priority number one. Depending on who's around, you may have to stick with the Cannon you picked up right away and fend off someone with a Longsword.
In these moments, where you probably have no armor or grappling hooks - but your opponent does - you either rise to the occasion or get virtually cut down. The amount of times you may be on the back foot or coming down hard on someone who can barely scrape by is a familiar sight in Naraka. Wading through these encounters, fluctuating from prepared and unprepared, you learn to make the best of what you have when the going gets tough.
At the same time, you have to learn quickly. That doesn't mean you need to be proficient at nailing the Spear's special attacks or have a handle on the optimal way to mix and match light and strong attacks. You must learn how to size up the competition and effectively exploit their weakness with what you have in your hands.
As you jarringly adjust to someone grappling or charging dead at you, quick thinking in the heat of the moment does a lot to save your skin. Even better, you've been in this kind of icky spot with the same weapons in your last match and won, so you know the right trick to get out of dodge and come out on top.
The Way Of The Master
Everyone starts as a jack-of-all-trades because that's the nature of the game. But to win, Naraka requires more skill from the player, forcing them out of settling on being average for the sake of glory and the enjoyment of besting someone. For myself, wracking up wins with the oddest combination of weapons taught me more than sticking with what I was most comfortable with.
I love how it feels to use Dual Blades, but many players just like me rely on their charged attacks to catch someone by surprise. By avoiding using them as much as possible, I faced several opponents playing in this repetitive way, which I learned to punish pretty hard with timed parries. Most of the time, whatever weapon an enemy player has will tell you what you should expect, but their skill level is always hard to gauge on first contact.
As you and another person throw out attacks left and right, everything you've experienced becomes second nature. All the times you were out hunting for better equipment, items, and gems but stumbled across someone are your stepping stones, gearing you to be more mindful. That same continuous reminder applies to weapons, slowly building you up to be the master you will able to become someday through practice and mistakes.
That concludes another week of the Game Design Spotlight! Do you have a favorite weapon from Naraka: Bladepoint? Are there any weapons you struggle with mastering? Let us know below! Also, feel free to comment on games you would like me to cover for future stories if you have any suggestions!
About the Author
Anthony Jones is a gaming journalist and late 90s kid in love with retro games and the evolution of modern gaming. He started at Mega Visions as a news reporter covering the latest announcements, rumors, and fan-made projects. FFXIV has his heart in the MMORPGs scene, but he's always excited to analyze and lose hours to ambitious and ambiguous MMOs that gamers follow.
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