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Opinions 05 August 2023, 12:06

Can Blue Protocol Challenge Genshin Impact?

Blue Protocol is Amazon Games' third attempt at conquering western MMORPGs. The Japanese game seems to target a very specific audience, though it's supposedly not just a game for fans of manga and anime.

At the end of June, I had the opportunity to go to Munich to play a demo version of Blue Protocol and to talk with the main producer, Mike Zdrojny. Of course, I wasn't able to learn every detail, and the gameplay itself didn't reveal all its secrets either. The choice of Blue Protocol, however, is a sign for me that at least now Amazon Games has a specific plan for whom they want to release a new title.

Lost Ark seemed more like a westward expansion of a game from South Korea. Eventually there was a Russian version even earlier, and the product came to our area with known imperfections. Nothing has been fixed, which is obvious from the trouble it's having now. However, New World had problems with its identity. Originally, the gameplay was planned to be focused on hardcore PvP battles, in which we even lose our equipment. But nothing happened out of it, some storyline was quickly pasted onto PvE, and with a lot of bugs this game lost the player's attention very quickly.

I should also mention that as part of the demo, I received two basic regions to explore, one instance, and a character at level 20 This allowed us to check out the beginning of a new game published by Amazon Games.

Source: Blue Protocol; Bandai Namco; 2023<br> - Can Blue Protocol Challenge Genshin Impact? - dokument - 2023-08-04
Source: Blue Protocol; Bandai Namco; 2023<br>

Amazon Games knows what it's doing by releasing Blue Protocol

Looking at the visuals of Blue Protocol, you can't escape the impression that the game is targeting Genshin Impact fans. Amazon would like to take them on board, and in my opinion there is a good possibility of that happening. Blue Protocol emphasizes open gameplay with the option to play either solo or in collaboration with others. The second is of course optional, but there are challenges here that we cannot handle alone.

During the conversation, Mike Zdrojny told me that the game leaves a choice, but at the same time it encourages you to approach and help. This includes world bosses scattered around the lands - it will take about 20 players to defeat one of these powerful opponents. Players can be freely invited into a group to explore lands together, grind monsters for experience or engage themselves with more challenging activities.

Blue Protocol will be Amazon Games' third attempt at the MMORPG market, and this time it may finally succeed. Tower of Fantasy, which could have had a strong position, wasted its potential, so there is still room for a new player. However, most importantly, this production is not intended only for manga or anime fans. Admittedly, the creators believe that their work will be just a story, like from an animated series, and the opening video actually looks like that. Despite this, the gameplay itself proves to be so enjoyable that even if someone doesn't like this style of graphics, it will be worth looking beyond. Beyond the visuals.

Blue Protocol has one advantage that makes it much more attractive.

While playing MMORPGs, I don't like to create additional characters. This often involves going through the plot again, discovering the map and fast travel points. You just start from very beginning, which always discouraged me. That's why Final Fantasy XIV attracted me and the same thing is happening with Blue Protocol.

Source: Blue Protocol; Bandai Namco; 2023<br> - Can Blue Protocol Challenge Genshin Impact? - dokument - 2023-08-04
Source: Blue Protocol; Bandai Namco; 2023<br>

The game features five classes: Blade Warden, Twin Striker, Keen Strider, Spell Weaver, and Foe Breaker. Each of them offers different gameplay style and of course uses a completely different weapon. There is no division into roles here, so theoretically everyone will be able to deal considerable damage, heal something, or tank. I don't know how much the game will actually last in this condition. Guild Wars 2 took a ride on this approach and in the end something resembling the "holy trinity" was introduced.

However, returning to the classes and comparisons to Final Fantasy XIV. They can all be had on a single character. In the creator you have to choose something to start with, but later you just need to switch weapons to transform into any of the available classes. It should be leveled from the beginning, of course, but we don't have to do any story quests, rediscover maps and so on. It's all here already. You can start and focus entirely on leveling up.

Unfortunately, you cannot change classes at any time. We need to get back to the main city, which is quite annoying. I didn't get an answer whether the situation would be the same in the case of skill swapping, but I suspect that then we will have more freedom and abilities other than the refresh time can be normally exchanged. Nonetheless, it's still a huge advantage. You can unlock everything with one character, and creating another is optional. This also contrasts with the situation in games like Lost Ark, where you practically need to have as many heroes as possible to be able to constantly dress up your main class.

The lack of trinity can be a problem

The division into the roles of tank, healer, and damage dealer is deeply rooted in the MMORPG genre. Blue Protocol is trying to move away from this, but I see a problem with it. As we traveled through the map together, we just chaotically slashed more and more beasts, and a certain blandness became fully apparent as we passed instances. Six of us went inside and had to walk a linear stage, where a huge boar awaited at the end.

Source: Blue Protocol; Bandai Namco; 2023<br> - Can Blue Protocol Challenge Genshin Impact? - dokument - 2023-08-04
Source: Blue Protocol; Bandai Namco; 2023<br>

From the very beginning, we ran together like one big bunch, threw ourselves at our opponents and cut one by one without any tactics. It was the same during the fight with the boss. At times we stood pixel to pixel and just fight with the wild boar as much as we could. Maybe it's a matter of the fact that we were dealing with one of the first dungeons. But it's hard for me to imagine it being any different in the later stages of the game.

Enemies' abilities apply to the whole group, all of them at the same time must perform the same action to survive. So what will be happening at the rallies, which are planned for as many as 30 people? It might be interesting - in a negative sense. In my opinion, the lack of a trinity works to the game's disadvantage. It's possible to choose skills focused on tanking or healing, but according to the developer, it's still not something that defines the characters.

The gameplay in Blue Protocol is enjoyable, but...

Regardless of the division of roles, playing Blue Protocol itself turns out to be enjoyable. The fight is dynamic and definitely spectacular. Of course, the best-looking skills focus on dealing damage, which involves, among other things, creating craters in the ground. Each class is characterized by something unique and for example, the Twin Striker has a special combo counter, which increases the damage he deals more and more.

A big plus is the map environment diversity. Some lands really look exceptionally nice, which helps build this world almost like an anime. I didn't get to explore much, but what I did manage to see made a positive impression on me. Although I have a certain problem with countries and here I can insert one but from the headline. Theoretically, the game is open world, but in practice it is chopped up into smaller maps. However, that's not all, because these maps are further divided into even smaller areas, where the number of players is also supposed to be limited at any one time. For this reason, there are a lot of loading screens in Blue Protocol, which in my opinion is completely unnecessary. I don't know why the undersized maps have been chopped up into micro-areas.

Source: Blue Protocol; Bandai Namco; 2023<br> - Can Blue Protocol Challenge Genshin Impact? - dokument - 2023-08-04
Source: Blue Protocol; Bandai Namco; 2023<br>

On the other hand, you don't have to run after them on your own feet. We travel on the back of the mount, which we create while creating the character. The customization options are many and everyone can develop a unique character. And there is potential for much more. If we're creating a unique mount ourselves, it would be cool if it supported us in battle, like in the Monster Hunter Rise. Or had skills to use while driving, which is available in Guild Wars 2. I hope that this will be developed further in the future.

Despite these few problems, the gameplay is still good. Mainly thanks to the combat system, which turns out to be quite flexible due to the skill swap. Clashes are dynamic and you have to move. Even the fight with a basic monster requires something from us, as enemies have more than one attack. For this reason, solo duels definitely have the potential to engage more strongly, because if a level 20 deer is already forcing me to keep moving, I hope that in later stages the next enemies will have a richer arsenal.

Blue Protocol could become the hit that Amazon Games is looking for

Why is Amazon Games so stubbornly focused on MMORPG? It doesn't hit the genres popular in current times. It's going into a niche that had its greatest successes over a decade ago. In my opinion, that's exactly why. There is little competition and each fresh MMO is welcomed with curiosity. However, it is known that players of Final Fantasy XIV, World of Warcraft or other such productions most often only check the news, and then always return to their basic titles.

Source: Blue Protocol; Bandai Namco; 2023<br> - Can Blue Protocol Challenge Genshin Impact? - dokument - 2023-08-04
Source: Blue Protocol; Bandai Namco; 2023<br>

However, this didn't discourage Amazon, which is already making its third attempt. And one could say that these 10 thousand regular players in New World or about 30 thousand in Lost Ark are good numbers. There is no denying that this is so, because with such a mass of users it is possible to play freely and not hit voids. However, both of these titles are scoring strong drops. Just a year ago it seemed like New World had bounced back, but currently it has the lowest population in its history. Although it's in much better condition than during the infamous launch.

Blue Protocol has a chance to get a much larger and more stable community. The game gives us quite a bit of freedom, it doesn't require creating many characters (like New World, but that's a bit off topic). And most importantly, stylistically it appeals the tastes of a really large group. The creators of Genshin Impact practically have a monopoly in this field and Amazon Games has a chance to get into this space.

Of course, game might turn out to be brilliant, but then monetization will ruin everything. Nothing is known about this subject for now, and for sure there will be radio silence for next months. If Amazon, in cooperation with Bandai Namco, manages to tailor something suitable for the western market, it could turn out to be a really good game, which will be an alternative for MMORPG fans from many sides.

Zbigniew Woznicki

Zbigniew Woznicki

He began his adventure with journalism and writing on the Allegro website, where he published news related to games, technology, and social media. He soon appeared on Gamepressure and Filmomaniak, writing about news related to the film industry. Despite being a huge fan of various TV series, his heart belongs to games of all kinds. He isn't afraid of any genre, and the adventure with Tibia taught him that sky and music in games are completely unnecessary. Years ago, he shared his experiences, moderating the forum of mmorpg.org.pl. Loves to complain, but of course constructively and in moderation.


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