Blightbound PC Review

Blightbound is rushing out to full release without fine-tuning the ecosystem.

By Fragnarok, Posted 27 Jul 2021

Blightbound, the persistent online dungeon crawler by Ronimo Games, is finally coming out of early access with patch 1.0. The setting remains intact from earlier previews - Titans roam the land granting mystical powers to the inhabitants. While most are benevolent, the dreaded Shadow Titan became a scourge that had to be put down by humanity. However, this was a ruse and from the golem’s shattered body, a foul gas spread becoming the Blight. Now the last remains of society have huddled in the sanctuary of Refuge. Small bands of heroes are heading into the Blight to put down the corrupt beasts of the Shadow Titan.

Blighbound|Ronimo Games|Devolver Digital|Cross Play

Parties must always comprise of one of each class: warrior, assassin, and mage. Warriors are the beefy tanks that help absorb damage, assassins the multi-hit damage specialists, and mages the support healers. Each character of a class introduces different special moves, and an ultra-attack that uses a meter. New characters may be found inside certain dungeons, recruited via side quests, or hired from the Refuge shop. To advance a character’s story, players will need to enter specific dungeons in a predefined order. However, the “Blight level” fluctuates in each dungeon, resulting in locations having widely different difficulties. Teams may need to go off the beaten path to avoid being destroyed.

Dungeons of adequate level will offer a fair challenge. Teams will have to face off against waves of minions, stronger champions, and eventually powerful bosses with all kinds of tricky special moves. Areas are also filled with traps that need to be quickly dodged, puzzles that require teamwork, and locked passages that need to be traversed in certain orders. Any found items can be brought back to Refuge to equip or sell, but experience points are only retained if the mission is a full success. If all party members should fall, the team will retreat and forfeit any character advancement. This can be especially disheartening when an enemy spawns that is far too imbalanced for the players’ power level.

Blighbound|Ronimo Games|Devolver Digital|Cross Play

The big new feature of the 1.0 patch is cross-play, allowing users of Steam to team up with PlayStation 4 and Xbox One players in the same session. This even includes one machine utilizing local co-op and another going solo, for a mixture of coach and online parties. However, this mostly seems like a means of trying to entice new console players and only a temporary bandage for older early access veterans. Currently, the player base is segmented into three global servers: The United States, The Netherlands, and Singapore. Those outside these regions will have to make due, and the further away the worse connections will be.

Despite these regional pools, it can take quite a long time - up to an hour or more - to find two other allies of the needed classes and strong enough via matchmaking alone; and there is no guarantee they will stay for an entire dungeon or beyond. The biggest bottleneck comes from players needing to enter the role queue before being matched at all. Too many assassins or not enough mages means the level won’t start. Players can opt into all roles queue, but there is no bonus incentive for doing so.

Blighbound|Ronimo Games|Devolver Digital|Cross Play

These hurdles ultimately make the online-only and match-making procedure impractical. It is much faster and overall enjoyable to play with two close and trusted friends than relying on the public. Static teams can also more easily coordinate between the rigid role trinity. Even when doing so, the developers repeatedly nudge other members to own their own copies of Blightbound instead of playing locally: oftentimes menus and functions are not accessible to players two and three and require the main owner to adjust everyone’s items and stat points. Steam Remote play also does not function, but it's on the roadmap for a future patch.

Those that can’t find anyone else to play with also have the option of bots. The missing roles will be filled by random characters - including ones that players have not unlocked yet. Some of these AI heroes may have abilities that can ease a dungeon or ones that are completely ill-suited. However, players have no control over this choice and most simply gamble that their party will be useful. But, most often the bot characters will make poor combat choices or won’t even assist with crucial puzzles. The AI winds up being a liability that will get themselves killed, waste resources, or become stuck. A single bot could be used by two players that are desperate for a third character; anyone brave enough to go fully solo with two bots will only find frustration.

Blighbound|Ronimo Games|Devolver Digital|Cross Play

Currently, Blightbound’s monetization comes only from the upfront cost of the game. Unlike Ronimo’s previous titles, there is no means of spending more in-game on cosmetics or characters. This can lead to concern on what motivation there will be to update the game if it can’t generate future revenue. It is possible Blightbound may one day become defunct like so many other online-only games. Ronimo has stated that they plan to always support the game and keep the servers online no matter what happens. However, this claim may not hold up in the long term.      

Overall, Blightbound has a lot of fun dungeon crawling action and adventure at its core. However, Ronimo is throttling the game’s potential and lifespan by not offering a full offline option, creating a true solo character mode, and/or allowing unrestricted party compositions. For the full release, Blightbound is being treated like a massively populated dungeon crawler, enforcing a planned metagame, but without actual natural input from the players. It seems as if the Steam version is truly still in early access and that the “full release” moniker is to align with console mandates and marketing.
 

Kurtis Seid, NoobFeed
Twitter

comments powered by Disqus

NoobFeed

General Information

Blightbound

65/100

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, PC
Publisher(s): Devolver Digital
Developer(s): Ronimo Games
Genres: Role-Playing
Themes: Action, Fantasy, Dungeon Crawler
Release Date: 2021-07-27 (consoles)

View All

Popular Articles