Player vs Player (aka PvP) in Blade and Soul is divided into two modes of play: World PvP, which is based on an optional flagging system regulated by specific costumes, and Arena PvP, which is based on 1 vs 1 or 3 vs 3 matches.
- 1 World PvP
- 2 Arena PvP
- 2.1 Victory Conditions
- 2.2 Rating and Ranks
- 2.3 Arena Quests
- 2.4 Arena Rewards
- 2.5 Tactics and Strategies in the Arena
- 2.6 Current Issues in the Arena
Players who wish to actively engage in player battles need to equip faction costumes and will be "flagged". They can then battle freely with the players who wear the opposing faction's costume. The character's name changes to red as well as the names of other players wearing the costume of different factions. Players are not be able to attack players whose names are not red, and when flagged they will be open to attack by any flagged players of the opposing faction. A player not wearing a faction outfit cannot be attacked.
Swapping out gear while in combat is not allowed. Changing from a faction costume to a neutral costume takes 5 seconds, whereas changing from a neutral to a faction costume is immediate.
- World PvP is not equalized.
- There is no penalty for killing any player of an opposing faction.
- Putting on a faction costume also unlocks daily factions quests and faction-specific Windstride locations.
Once an opponent within a valid level range is successfully taken down, the player is rewarded with a temporary currency known as Prestige Points, which accumulates with every kill. These points can be stolen from other players when defeating them. Prestige points are reset to zero when the player is defeated, removes their faction costume, changes channels, takes a Windstride, leaves the zone, or logs out of the game.
Prestige Points can be traded in for faction contribution points within a faction. All players start at Faction Rank 10, and through acquiring points, will progress all the way up to Rank 1. The maximum amount of Prestige Points that can be collected increases as Faction Rank increases. Players can swap factions at any point, but will lose all accumulated points and begin from Faction Rank 10 if they ever choose to swap.
The locations where the Warring Factions are fighting over resources are noted on the map by the red and blue tents. These camps also have PvP quests, vendors, and faction NPCs to battle.
- Wispwater Spring - Basic quest that functions as an introduction to Faction Quests
- Soulstone Scar - Multiple quests that provides insignias for various rewards
- Drywing Gulch - Multiple quests that provides insignias for various rewards
- Shipwreck Shallows - Multiple quests that provides insignias for various rewards
- Talus Forward Base - Multiple quests that provides insignias for various rewards. In addition to the abundance of enemy faction players, there are also field bosses in the area. One of them, Blackwyrm, spawns in two locations and is static, the other two, the terrors, patrol in a circuit in the base itself. Blackwyrm requires a sizable group of players to take down due to his massive HP pool as well as lethal attacks. The terrors are relatively easier but no less lethal due to their overlapping patrol routes as well as their tendency to pull numerous adds. All field bosses can be attacked by both factions, encouraging cross faction violence.
- Soulstone Plains - Multiple quests that provide large quantities of Soulstones and contribution points, as well as the only place outside of Whirlwind Valley to farm Moonstones. This is heavily populated by either or both factions throughout the day as the material earned here are needed for end-game gear. Terrors and Captains patrol around the faction base entrances, as well as inside the faction bases. The main terror guarding each base is considered the toughest bosses in the game to date; Ak Bul for the Cerulean side, and Kang Gwi for the Crimson side. There is also the Battlefield Elder for both factions; Yachum for Ceruleans and Heuk Bulmu for Crimsons.
Participating in Faction quests provides both XP and contribution points. Higher level quests require a higher rank before they can be accepted.
|Squire||Private First Class||700||25||1250|
|Elite||Sergeant First Class||3000||50||8350|
Players can use the Arena lobby in order to do arena PvP, either 1v1 or 3v3.
- No items are allowed
- Stats are normalized and are not affected by any equipment whatsoever.
- Players get a minimum of 10 beans for losing and significantly more for winning, depending on rank.
- There are items awarded at the end of the season to the top 300 players with the most prestigious outfits being rewarded to the top 30.
- Matches are timed
Unlike open world PvP, arena matches have victory conditions.
Matches are won in one of two ways:
- Defeating the opponent: In 1v1, the winner is the first to win 2 rounds, but in 3v3, the last team standing is the victor.
- Time Out: When the timer runs out, the player or team that has dealt the most damage is declared the victor.
The damage calculation on time out discourages players to play too passively or defensively.
Rating and Ranks
There are five tiers that are based on the player's performance. The ranking is based on the total arena participants in a given region (i.e. North American servers have their own list different from the European servers). The zen beans and soulstone bag rewards are determined by the tier. However, when it comes to exchanging beans for soulstone bags, they cost the same for each tier but give different numbers of soulstones. Gold rated players and above will have their ranking displayed next to their names in chat. Note that while 3v3 matches provide more rewards, each match is generally longer. (Some data may be outdated due to the recent level 50 patch)
Note that as of this writing, the ratings are inflated due to the bot problem with many players who should have lower ratings getting boosted by their victories vs bots who hover around Gold. While this also has an effect of pushing down many players, classes that have a natural advantage versus destroyers are able to accumulate easy victories.
There are several daily quests associated with the arena with one being the most lucrative in terms of Zen Beans but requires a special item to activate the quest.
Zen Bean Dragon Trader
|n/a||2000||Provides up to 25|
|n/a||5000||Unlocks one Hongmoon Skill branch depending on the class.
Can be bought more than once but only usable once in the current patch.
|Tag Match Rank - Diamond or Higher||3x (15k zen bean total)|
Seasonal Rewards (F11 Hotkey)
At the end of the season, the top 300 players of each from each region (NA and EU) are rewarded soulstone bags with varying soulstone contents (up to 90). Those who managed to place extremely high in the ladder and have proven their superior skills are also rewarded with exclusive PvP costumes. The costumes are rumored to have a limited lifetime of 90 days which means a high ranking must be constantly maintained if you wish to keep using the outfit. Some classes have lower representation in the platinum tiers and above and thus are easier to get in the top 300.
There's also a button for "Weekly Rewards" but as of this writing, is non-functional.
Tactics and Strategies in the Arena
Basics and Tactics
Blade and Soul is very similar to fighting games and borrows many elements from them, especially in arena combat. Many of these concepts are applicable in fighting games and some are even taken directly from real life combat.
Many guides refer to different phases in the game during an arena match. This applies more so to 1v1 than 3v3.
- Opening Phase - Very important since it sets the tone for the rest of the match. More so for some classes as opposed to others, but a proper open stacks the deck for you whereas a poor open can put you at a severe disadvantage that may cost you the round altogether.
- Neutral Phase - When both sides are not actively doing something to the other player and neither side has an advantage. While in this phase, one must pursue a more advantageous situation before engaging.
- Engagement Phase - Players are actively attacking each other or otherwise doing something that will provide them with even more advantage.
- Late/End-game Phase - Either the timer's running out or someone's low on life. The match intensifies in this phase and the smallest mistake can lead to disaster.
Combos and Tab Escape
There are regular combos, and then there are kill combos. Kill combos are only usable when the opponent has blown all their escape mechanics and are unlikely to be able to retaliate in any meaningful way. Some combos involve forcing the opponents to use up an escape while others just outright prevent any recourse (Kung Fu Master 3RF, Summoner Cat's Sit).
All common escape abilities share the same length of cooldown and many powerful skills have longer cooldowns. This creates rhythm and is the basis for instinctual reaction to the developing situation in the match. While there are cooldown indicators for your own skills, there are no such indicators for your opponent's. It's important to develop a sense for when the opponent can use a particularly dangerous skill as well as their ability to escape from your combos. Unless your opponent is hacking, you should not expect them to use their tab escape more than once every 36 seconds.
Optimal Range (Maai)
It's very important to learn all of your skill's range and area of effect. While there are indicators for your target's distance to you, it's often not a good idea to focus on this in the heat of combat. Additionally, it's important to be in your optimal range while staying outside of your opponents. This is called maai, a name taken from Kendo, but a concept that's almost universal in combat arts. It's often not a good idea to be far away in front of someone with a knife when they have a gun but more specifically, in close quarters, it's a terrible idea to be at the range that furthest end of a bat hits you rather than the middle or better, the handle.
In the context of Blade and Soul, a lot of long range attacks cap out at 16m, and the more powerful ones often have a minimum range. On your end, you want to be at 18m but no more than 20m. This prevents your opponent from attacking you since you can back up when they approach, but you can also step in and then use your own ranged attack.
For melee classes, it's often a terrible idea to be in middle range (6m ~ 16m) since your most powerful skills are not in this range; and inversely, it's a terrible idea for a ranged class to be less than 5m since they're allowing their opponent the ability to retaliate. There have been many melee players who have lost since they weren't aggressive enough and many ranged classes who lost because they were aggressive in the wrong way (melee range).
Camera control is very important in Blade and Soul to the point that a lot of skills lock it in place. It's very important to be aware of the shape of your skill's attacks since many non-locking skills can be rectangular, square, circle, or cones (or more accurately, a semicircle). It's important to note that you can hit with a cone attack if your opponent is in front but off to the side but will not do so with a rectangular attack which tends to be more frontal. In high level play, you'll run into players who have a tendency to turn around and launch an attack blindly. This generally works great unless the opponent was attacking from behind but slightly to the side.
A mandatory concept in every combat theory. A feint involves a misdirection of intent to force an opponent to react in a specific way. This is often used to provoke players into using their tab escape prematurely or in the wrong context. Most tab escape involves a reversal which then turns the situation in the user's favour. This effect can be countered with invincibility frames (aka iframes), negating any advantage the escape would have given. The most basic form involves a stun or daze followed by an iframe of sorts, depending on the class. This involves a fair bit of guesswork, reading of an opponent, or outright fast reaction time. The last option is often the most attempted by players despite the very low chance of success due to humans not being able to react that fast past a certain age. Attempting an iframe before they use a tab escape isn't overly harmful in of itself but it does sacrifice about a second of the opponent's stun time which you could have used to damage them as well as puts your iframe mechanic on cooldown.
There are several viable strategies in the arena and each one is very context dependent. The myriad of classes and builds allow for different gameplay strategies. Note that some classes can be very aggressive with little to no consequences, other classes cannot do the same consistently; some classes are more durable, while others have better escape mechanics; and finally, some classes are able to self-heal better than others. While this is the case, all classes can employ all these strategies depending on the context of the match (i.e. an Assassin can afford to be very aggressive with a Blade Master but can't do so versus a Summoner because the summoner will out-heal their damage). Note that no competent player stays with one strategy and will switch from one mode to another on the fly during a match.
The following are some examples of strategies that are common in the arena:
Aggro (aka Rushdown)
The berserker's route. The main goal is to get in your enemy's face and hurt them as much as possible, regardless of the consequences. Some classes have their attacks overlap with their defense and can afford to be very aggressive. The spinner classes, especially the newer players, tend to spam spin since it functions as a defense (immune to most CCs for a moment), stun, and damage. When utilized properly, it gives the opponent little room to maneuver and can overwhelm newer players. It's an effective counter to the sustain strategy since it focuses on outdamaging any health the opponent regains. However, this is particularly dangerous against an opponent who keeps away and stalls. The Keep Away opponent will essentially wait for the Aggro to run out of Focus or to make a mistake.
Sustain (aka Turtle)
The healer's route. The main goal is to out-heal the enemy's damage. The key part of the sustain strategy involves dealing steady damage while making sure to mitigate or out-heal the damage incurred. While all classes can self-heal in some way or form, the Summoners are the strongest in this aspect, with the Force Master coming at a somewhat distant second. Blade Dancers and Destroyers are also quite good at self-healing but due to their melee nature, tend to sustain more damage than they're capable of healing. This strategy is particularly strong versus the Stalling strategy since it negates most of the damage that's occasionally incurred. Being left alone is the best way to regenerate HP, providing a life advantage that somewhat pressures the opponent. This strategy however isn't as effective versus the Aggro strategy since it can cause the Turtler to lose more life than they can heal. And since they're not able to deal as much damage while focusing on healing, can end up losing if the time were to run out.
Stall (aka Keep Away)
The Wait and see route. Assassins are particularly strong in this regard since they're unseen and able to wait for an opportune moment. Many low rank destroyers in particular complain about this strategy since it's often used to counter their spin spam. This strategy is especially powerful versus overly aggressive players since it focuses on waiting for an opening that could arise from a mistake or naturally occurs when the opponent burns out all their focus. The strategy can be deemed cowardly since it puts the Staller in the safest position but note that all combat theory is based on the premise of harming an opponent with the least harm to oneself. An array of advantages are sought via this strategy from better positioning (everyone), attacking in the shadows (Assassins), attacking from the blind spot (Force Masters), or simply avoiding damage that can possibly be lethal. A particular drawback to this strategy is that it allows a more savvy opponent to also use the staller's disengagement to create their own advantages with a sustain strategy proving particularly disastrous for the staller since they're unlikely to have dealt enough damage if they stay in this mode for too long.
Current Issues in the Arena
As of this writing, the NA and EU servers have quite a few issues:
- Servers regularly hiccup, causing the unstable and undesirable gameplay reported by many. While the overall ping may be low, there's a consistent burst of lag spikes reported by many players.
- Memory leaks: being logged into the cross server lobby or playing too many arena games in a row eventually leads to a memory leak that will cause frames per second to dip to unplayable levels. The only known solution is to exit the arena lobby and return as normal.
- The gold ranks are flooded with destroyer bots that may discourage new players from learning the game. The class is already naturally damaging and durable. Having it play near perfectly can be devastating to players who don't know how to handle an opponent who blows all their cooldowns at once. The best way to kill one is to use a relatively safe and low cooldown crowd control and i-frame the subsequent tab escape. The bot will generally use Fury or Persistence giving it some immunity while it then blindly attacks the payer. Wait this out and start a combo afterwards. Some classes will have an easier time than others.
- In addition to destroyer bots, there are also Kung Fu Master bots and Summoner bots, the latter of which can be particularly devastating due to their natural damage spam. One thing to note that's common with all bots is that they always know where the player is, ignore stealth and are able to spin in place even when stunned.
- There are some unscrupulous players who use scripts or hacks to gain an advantage.
- The most common of this is an animation cancel that is unrealistic in every way and can cause a player to lose 100% of their life in the span of 2 seconds. This is very hard to deal with since they activate it as soon as you blow a tab escape. Most common with destroyers but have also been seen with Kung Fu Masters and Blade Dancers.
- Position hack that was common with the Force Masters which involved them floating in the air at all times or jumping around the screen as if teleporting in a very short time. This seems to have been patched or have otherwise been reduced in occurrence.
- Last but not least, and possibly the most dangerous of the known hacks is the cooldown reduction hack where a class is able to essentially spam a skill despite a long cooldown involved. Some destroyers are suspected of using this but it's for the most part hard to prove. It is an unfortunate state of affairs and currently threatens NCSOFT's aspirations of making Blade and Soul a competitive eSport.