Naraka: Bladepoint is in a similar vein to PUBG or Fortnite. Nevertheless, the title offers a lot that clearly sets it apart from the competition. We met the developers at gamescom 2023.
In the world of eSports, the Battle Royale genre is still quite young compared to others. The hype started by PLAYERSUNKOWN BATTLEGROUND 2017 and seemingly perfected by Fortnite has spawned a wide variety of games and titles in recent years. However, despite the still existing popularity for these, only very few games were and are granted to be played by countless people even years after the initial push at launch. In 2021, Chinese publisher NetEase released such a game, which still has a massive fanbase today despite the massive shadows of PUBG, Apex Legends and especially Fortnite.
Kung-Fu meets Parkour
The basic principle of Naraka: Bladepoint is not new and follows the same gait as those of the previously mentioned titles. Up to 60 players find themselves on a map, have to collect various items for defence or attack, in order to be the last survivor at the end. So far, so familiar. But unlike PUBG or Apex Legends, developer 24 Entertainment is moving into completely different, traditional Chinese territory. Heavily influenced by the legends and myths of the Middle Kingdom, the game characters within Naraka: Bladepoint act like kung fu superheroes incarnate – with nunchucks and everything that goes with it.
“We wanted to create an action game from the beginning, which then developed more and more into a battle royale game. In the beginning, there was no map that got smaller over time, as you know it from this genre. You could move freely and interact with other players. But because of the hookshot, it was easy for players to escape from a fight and it could, under certain circumstances, take forever before you caught up with your opponent again. That’s why we decided on this level limitation,” said Archer Wang, Brand Manager of 24 Entertainment and NetEase.
During gamescom, we had the chance to talk to the makers behind Naraka: Bladepoint and were particularly interested in the eSports direction. In principle, the game works very well, Wang told us. And indeed, if you look at the past few years since its launch, a large community of players has developed, especially in Asia and South-East Asia, who compete annually in the world championship for fame, honour and a not inconsiderable amount of prize money.
Sly as a fox, Tessa still has tricks up her sleeve. New ways to snatch souls and restore vitality with Tessa’s newest skill & ultimate in the NARAKABLADEPOINT update on September 6 PT. Plus, a new item is coming to Capture The Spirit Well, which can turn your foes into objects! pic.twitter.com/uJPBuEgGPb
– NARAKA: BLADEPOINT (@NARAKATHEGAME) September 1, 2023
In the first year after its launch, Corona online hosted the first World Championship. Even then, numerous well-known brands from the world of eSports took part.
European organisations were also part of the line-up. Among others, Alliance provided a trio whose roster at the time included the German player Ali “Ryomen” Osman Yildiz. LDLC OL, the former eSports division of football club Olympique Lyon, also played, as did the guys from J Team, the spiritual successor to the Taipei Assassins. J Team also remains the undisputed number one team in Naraka: Bladepoint to this day. They were able to win the world championship in the trios – you compete either solo or as a trio in the game – in both 2021 and 2022.
The prize money alone shows that this is not a small “fringe eSport”. Already in the first year, the participating teams played for a sum of just over one million US dollars. A year later, another half a million was added. 2023 will hold a similar amount
“We have not confirmed it yet, but the World Cup will finally be held in a big city in China (Mainland) this year, which we could not hold in previous years and due to the Corona pandemic.“, Wang continued.
What does the future hold for Naraka: Bladepoint fans?
Naraka: Bladepoint has been played exclusively on the PC for the past few years, but has recently become available to experience on the Xbox Series X|S. This is mainly because the company behind the game, 24 Entertainment, together with publisher NetEase, decided to offer the title in a Free-2-Play model. In this regard, Wang reiterated to us that the publisher intends to continue with the fast pace that the development of the title still demands.
“The guys are working their asses off to be able to integrate new content into the game. New gameplay, new PVP chapters, new weapons, new heroes and much more. More weapons and a new character are planned for each season. Also, the developers are currently hard at work creating a third map, which will be very different from what players have been used to so far. In the future, we naturally want to enter into further and more IP collaborations, as currently happened with 2B from Nier: Automata and Square Enix.“
But what about eSports? “Clearly, we are focusing on many different things at the moment. But basically we want to keep the eSports community and theme alive, so we want to create as many opportunities as possible where players can showcase their skills. Also, with the move to Free-2-Play, it really is possible for anyone to play and train in the game. We will also continue to have different qualifier tournaments and competitions, be it in the US, Europe, Asia, South East Asia or even China (Mainland).“
Naraka: Bladepoint is, as mentioned, available as a Free-2-Play title via Steam for PC and on the Xbox Series X|S as a download. Currently, the developer is working on a conversion for the PlayStation 5, which should be released later this year.
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