Bloodline Champions

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Bloodline Champions, developed Published by Funcom and developed by Stunlock Studios, is a PvP arena game currently in some form of mass-invite beta stage.  It plays in a WarCraft 3 almost isometric view where you control a character that looks like a standard hero from what you would see in a DoTA-like setup.   There are four character types: Tank, Healer, Melee, Ranged.  Each champion has a unique set of abilities, but for the most part they play very similar.

The actual gameplay is essentially like what you would expect when you hear the word arena.  Teams start on opposite sides and the goal is to kill each other.  Utilizing your champion’s strengths is obviously important, but it’s also important to find some synergy between all the champions on your team.  Certain combinations of abilities between heroes can have devastating results, such as a well placed stun with an AoE or silence.  One champion that I enjoy playing is Vanguard (tank) who can leap great distances to stun the area where he lands.  I follow that stun up with a reflect shield which stuns the enemies once again when they try to hit me.  If my team pays attention, the damage dealers should have a lot of time to deal damage to stationary targets.

The fights can get very hectic and if you’re not yet familiar with the game you might get frustrated.  The good news is that you can only get better the more you play since each character shares the same hotkeys and it’s essentially the same style of controls for every character.  At the same time, it’s diverse enough with abilities that you can have your beefy tank that soaks up damage and stuns people or your caster dps that aims to kill people from afar.

Controlling the champions is simple.  You move with WASD and activate abilities with Left/Right mouseclicks and Q E R F Spacebar.  For example, to cast a fireball you mouse over an enemy and left click (line of sight mechanics used).  You can also point your mouse over an area and use an ability that might teleport you to that area.   Essentially, every character requires mouse-pointing finesse.  The camera can be locked on your character or you can use a mode that allows you to move your mouse to the edge of the screen and extend your view beyond where your character is to aim ranged abilities further.

Bloodline Champions is like the WoW arenas without the issues of gear or spec balance.  The only two issues you’ll run into are team composition and player skill.  Assuming equal skill on both sides, certain champion combinations will beat others.  If your healer doesn’t heal well (a skill problem) or your dps doesn’t know how to focus fire then you’ll run into the same types of skill disparity you do in any of these DotA/Arena style games.

I see a solid future for the game if they increase the number of heroes, ensure balance, and try to carve out a niche in competitive gaming.  Although they’re different, I already enjoy Bloodline Champs more then League of Legends.  Whether or not decide to purchase the game might depend greatly upon whether or not it stands up to Valve’s DotA.  While I said they’re different, you can’t ignore that they are similar enough.  It’s not like we’re comparing Counter Strike to EverQuest.  This is a game clearly inspired by the Warcraft 3 custom map era like the rest.  If someone has money to spend on one game, how do they decide which to buy?  It’s what pushes someone over the edge that I’m looking for and still can’t quite identify in Bloodline Champions.   I’m anxious to find out where they end up after beta.

Watch a recorded livestream of a match I played this morning after the jump –>

  • Have you two played League of Legends yet?

    It is exploding in popularity on the net over the past year its been out and seems to be the solid front runner in the MOBA style games that DoTA started.

    If you haven’t played it, it is FREE and I HIGHLY recommend it.

  • BLC would be an awesome game if it didn’t have such horrible server stability. I enjoyed what I could play of it, but they only open it on the weekends. That’s really far too restricted for the servers to crash as much as they do.

  • The crashing isn’t the problem. This makes the second time in the last two hours that the servers have been down. Something is wrong with the Bloodgate right now and they have no idea what.

  • Severs went down on me last night and the appear to be down right now.

    I’ve chunked a lot of time into this game over the past day or so and it hasn’t bothered me.

    Two server outages. Not a big deal. I’m fairly patient, especially with betas.

  • I’m fairly patient as well, honestly. The only thing I really have a problem with is the length of time that this has been in a VERY exclusive beta. With small population server failures to be such an issue still. It’s nothing I can’t deal with, obviously. It’s just frustrating to see those issues there with such limited intervals of actual testing.

  • You mention LOL and Valve’s DotA2, which makes one wonder, have you played Heroes of Newerth? It’s currently the best DotA clone out there by far, in my opinion. =)

  • You don’t know what their situation currently is. There could be a reasonably good explanation.

    I know you like arguing just for the sake of arguing, but having a few server outages hardly makes the game bad, population size or not.

    “BLC would be an awesome game if it didn’t have such horrible server stability.”

    I fully expect you to keep arguing despite anything I say. I’m not sure why i’m bothering.

  • I’m surprised that you didn’t mention the Beta Championship at all.
    And since it’s not been mentioned yet, the matches are considerably shorter compared to DotA/clones with each round lasting less than 2 minutes (best of 5 = 5-10 minutes each match).
    On the similarity to DotA: The only thing that makes people say it’s similar is the viewpoint and that you control one ‘hero’ unit, take a look at Nox or Mageslayer.. ( aren’t those games a lot more similar?

  • Very true, random.

    It is similar to DotA in appearance alone. It plays very differently, is faster/easier to get into and much more balanced.

  • This looks pretty good though I think some graphical polish is needed as the characters look a bit bland and blobby.

  • Actually, I didn’t intend to keep going back and forth with you. Until you decided to attack me, at least. Making assumptions, much like you always do. How long have you been in the beta? Because I was selected and have been playing since first wave of invites off and on. It had server problems then, and it has them now. I was never arguing originally. However, you decided to come at me with hostility so I have no problem with offering the same to you. Next time you want to make assumptions, maybe you should know your facts first.

  • @randompasserby: I didn’t even know about the championship, thanks for the info. And you’re right, it looks like DotA or more specifically like the WC3 custom maps but it plays like a PvP arena (WoW style or WC3 Hero Arena style)

  • BLC does share a few similarities to DoTA. Mostly because they’re both MOBAs and they both deal with controlling champions. The similarities really stop there, though. So I can definitely agree with random on that. There are no items. There are no levels. None of that in BLC. It’s a straight up, top down brawl. A really fun one at that once you get going.

  • Though it’s a love/hate thing, I personally think the art direction in BLC is one of its best features. It’s a really distinctive, imaginative game, which is rare these days.

    While the bloodlines play similarly to a degree (space is always your movement skill, for example), I think the important nuances that set each bloodline apart are actually quite different. Maybe not as much so for the melee DPS and tanks, but the healers are all very different to play.

    All that said, my biggest concern for BLC, and the reason I don’t play it much these days, is the fact that it’s an arena game. I’m just so very bored of fighting in a tiny bloody box. I really wish developers would get over the format and go back to making objective based, larger maps that are about more than class combos and mechanics – what ever happened to movement, tactical flanking, split play, power plays, skirmishing…

    As to the instability, the servers have always been rock solid for me. However, last I checked it was nearly impossible to get a list of custom games to show up. For whatever reason I was one of a handful of people who had an error that prevented the custom game list from populating.

    If you have a chance I definitely recommend giving this game a try, but try to hook up with friends and play in-house customs if you can. As usual in this sort of game, the learning curve can be rough and people get pissy if you join a ranked match and make “noob” mistakes. That said, I’ve always had a lot of luck making custom games and limiting the skill level to rank 1-5, or specifying in the title “learning new bloodlines”, “practice”, or the like, since often people will happily play a bloodline they’re bad at if they know that the server is for practice.

  • Er….theres a reason its called BETA! Why are people getting upset over server down time? oO sigh

  • @Keen: VoDs (not all of them yet) can be found on the forums (, most of them casted by 2gd and Kast. I also recommend watching 1st place trailer from WarCraftMovies contest (, it’s one of the best gameplay trailers I’ve ever seen.
    @Shadrah: I’d rather not use the term MOBA, because it’s quite misleading and by its name should include hundreds of games from Quake to StreetFighter. When you describe BLC as MOBA, DotA/LoL/HoN players will expect it to be similar to what they know and are good at and will be greatly disappointed afterwards. When referring to DotA clones most people say either something like ‘DotA-like games’ or ‘AoS games’ (Aeon of Strife, StarCraft map). For BLC I’d use Top Down Shooter, it’s much more descriptive, or maybe Arena Top Down Shooter? That will give a lot of people more accurate picture of the game, especially with the recent rise in popularity of Alien Swarm. I’m not sure what is the right term but MOBA certainly isn’t.
    @Sisyphean: Movement, flanking and zone control, (though maybe a little limited) they’re all there, but you have to look for them in high-level tournament play.

  • Thanks for those VOD links random.

    I love tracking tournaments and watching commentated replays like this. A great way to improve your game and pick up tips.

  • @Sisyphean: “Movement, flanking and zone control, (though maybe a little limited) they’re all there, but you have to look for them in high-level tournament play.”

    Oh, yeah I know there is a ton of positioning involved. I’m not really trying to denigrate BLC and arena complexity, here, it’s a very deep game. What I mean by tactical movement is like… “we can’t beat them head on, you 3 guys stall here on defense while those other two guys run around the back path and get the flag”, or “OK, four guys stay here and hold them in their base, I’m going to run back and cap some other victory points to force them out of their defensive spot”.

    Put another way, BLC and similar Arena games feel like there’s always this one goal to win – everything revolves around killing the enemy, and thus the class mechanics and counter-comping can sometimes be emphasized. Objective based games can also be won by simply killing the enemy, but if you’re failing at that strategy, you can avoid fighting and win using other strategies and tactics.

    Of course, there are more strategies in arena than “kill the other mans”, you can outlast, rushdown, control, etc. But I hope I was clear enough to illustrate why I personally want more options than just arena. Even if BLC just had some CTF (that got played) or capture point maps to play casually, that’d keep my interest much better.

  • @Random: Yeah, I thought about that myself after saying MOBA. I didn’t actually think to classify it as a top down shooter, which is basically what it is. MOBA was just the first thing that came to mind.

    @Sisy: I agree. It has three game types right now, I believe. However, the only one that EVER gets played is plain old deathmatch. I think I’ve only ever seen one server that wasn’t. I just wish it had a little wider audience closer to home for me. I find most of the servers I end up playing in leave me with at least 140-150 ping. Rarely do I find one under 100.

  • It only takes seconds to host your own server and a matter of minutes to fill it up with players. The settings are also flexible and easy to manage. I’ve had a good experience hosting my own matches.

  • @Sisyphean: There is Capture the Artifact, which is quite similar to CTF, and Conquest (3 control points on the map, if you control more you get faster respawns or something, I’m not sure). You can pick up powerups in those 2 modes (similar to Quake’s), they spawn in the middle of the map (CTA) or on each control point (Conquest). I rarely play those modes and I think they are ill-suited for competitive matches, they are fine for some fun games with friends though. The problem is that there is low casual player base because the game has no progression (good thing for me).

    @Shadrah: What Bartlebe said. Hosting a game is as easy as joining one (all games are in fact hosted on Stunlock’s server, you just have to set a few options and you’re ready to play).

  • So the servers don’t go through P2P? See, I never knew that, actually. That’s good to know. That’s why I never tried to host a room myself. My connection is no where close to being able to handle traffic. Now that I know that’s not a problem I can a room myself. Thanks.

  • I’m overly addicted to League of Legends atm. Only game I’m playing. As others have noted, if this game interests you … then you MUST check out LoL.

    It’s F2P and paying doesn’t change anything about game balance, but I’ve happily forked over $15-20 a month so far on random stuff.

  • @Qpon: Unfortunately it’s not possible to compete in LoL without buying Rune Pages for real money (they cost enormous amount of IP), not to mention that almost all of the new champions cost 3150 or 6300 IP.

  • Um … I compete just fine. Never bought a Rune Page, never needed one, and have enough IP to buy 2 more.

  • Randompasserby:

    Thanks for the heads up. Conquest is new since I stopped playing a couple months back, but capture the artifact was in (and notable in how completely it was avoided by the community) at the time.

    I’ll have to try creating a lobby with those game types some time and see if I can actually get someone to join. 🙂

  • @Qpon: Are you saying you play draft mode with 2 Rune Pages and you don’t need more of them? I play many different champions and I need different Rune Page for almost everyone of them. Having more options in draft mode is advantageous and Riot is therefore selling power.

    @Sisyphean: CTA was reworked too, but I’m not sure if you still played. Now you keep your abilities when you pick up the flag and the maps got some rework too.

  • @ Random: I spend 12-16k gold a game. The runes give me maybe 1-2k worth of item stats. There are plenty of runes that work well for multiple champs. The game is far too player-dependent to consider runes so important as to min-max a rune page for each champ. It most certainly doesn’t require you to buy additional pages to compete.

  • @Qpon: How competitive do you mean? I mean esport competitive, where every single advantage counts. Pendragon’s ‘harrdarr I have one rune page for mages and one for dps’ isn’t valid argument. What may be enough for casual player isn’t enough for me. Why are the runes even in the game, if they don’t want me to min-max? As for the number of pages, I’d need atleast 4 or 5, for mages, dps, tanks, ninjas and manaless variants of the first three, maybe a separated pages for mages with low AP ratios and for dps with dodge. If they’d built a proper client and enabled players to change runes before each match, there’d be no need for all of this crap in the first place.

  • If you’re talking esport competitive then you’re off on a tangent. The original argument was from you saying “you can’t compete in LoL without paying” … which is nonsense unless you’re talking esports. In which case, not only are you in the extreme minority of players, but you’d be playing so much LoL that you really have no excuse for not paying at least some amount of money considering you would get an absurd amount of entertainment from the game for bare minimum cost.

    Maybe one day UNICEF will get into the gaming business, until then the ‘esporters’ will have to actually pay for playing a game for thousands of hours.

  • Yeah, I should’ve been more clear.
    My ‘excuse’ for not paying is that I think the game isn’t worth it. Actually, my problem isn’t paying for a good game, it’s that I don’t think the game is very good and that they are advertising it as free to play and saying you can play on high level without paying for it. I’d happily pay for BLC or SC2, for example. Or Guild Wars, which doesn’t have micropayment or monthly fee model, yet the developers are still adding new content and updating the game.

  • To be completely fair, Guildwars does have a cash shop, but a PvPer wouldn’t be likely to find much in it they’d want other than the skill unlock pack – in fact, for a couple years I didn’t even “own” the PvE campaigns – I bought the PvP access pack and full skill/item unlocks, so essentially I owned the full PvP game, but had no access to the PvE side.

    Most of the cash shop stuff is really, really cosmetic, like appearance changes and costumes that go over your armor slots. But there are a few service things like extra storage and character slots that feel a lot like an Allods style cash shop item. However, I’ve played for 3 or so years now, and always had plenty of storage without buying any.

    Anyway, just wanted to clarify the point about Guildwars not having micropayments. It is correct that they’re still adding new content – a new PuG-forming outpost and story progressing quest line should be going in soon, and there was just a bunch of new Halloween content put in.

  • I got a beta key from Funcom and tried out the game. It was pretty easy to learn although I had some issues with the controls.

  • @Sisyphean: AFAIK Allods is unplayable without using cash shop since some patch (don’t know the number), because they decreased the XP per quest and kill by 90% or something like that.
    Waiting for GW2 beta.. they took what seems to be the right route by separating PvP and PvE balance wise.