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Hands-On With Bandai Namco's Beautiful Anime MMORPG

I wasn’t sure what I was getting into during my Blue Protocol hands-on, but it certainly didn’t play out like I expected. I found myself riding a fantastically large, colorful horse up a narrow cliff path swarming with what looks like giant dragonfly hornets, then I careened too close to the edge and accidentally plummeted into a lake. I pulled out my bow and started firing, then summoned a spirit animal to help me fight the oncoming swarm.

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A few minutes later, me and four other players (each of us a different class) ran a dungeon together, raining fire down upon enemies and dropping healing shields for each other before besting the big bad guy at its center. The dev helping us through the demo was shocked at how fast we’d done it. Though a 30-minute hands-on is nowhere near enough time to understand an MMORPG like Blue Protocol, I’m surprised that, as an anime hater and rare MMORPG player, liked it.

Bandai Namco

Blue Protocol hands-on

Blue Protocol is a free-to-play online anime game that’s being co-developed by Bandai Namco and Amazon Game Studios. It was first revealed at the 2022 Game Awards and is out right now in Japan, but its western release was pushed to next year and has no set date. It’s got a gorgeous anime art style with beautifully rendered cutscenes, set in a world on the brink of destruction due to endless conflict and an overreliance on technology. It has five classes you can choose from: the crowd-controlling Blade Warden, the ax-wielding Twin Striker, the archery-focused Keen Strider, the magic-using Spell Weaver, and the heavy, brute-ish Foe Breaker.

I went with the archer during my hands-on, and found it to be a perfect match for my FPS skills and mediocre MMORPG experience. I could easily take on swarms of enemies using my abilities, and also take cheap, far-away pot-shots at them from across chasms. When fighting with a squad, I’d nestle into a good spot just far enough away to avoid AoE attacks and poke and prod at enemies with my arrows until a bigger, burlier teammate could swat them to death.

I also made sure my character was a cool, green-haired, gray-eyed chick wearing an impossibly short skirt for combat, though there are more customization options promised (and likely part of Blue Protocol’s free and paid battle pass tiers).

I expected I’d come away utterly unfazed by Blue Protocol, but was pleasantly surprised by my brief stint with it.

It’s unclear how well all of this will translate to a large-scale, global MMORPG, however. Blue Protocol is live in Japan right now, and according to Japanese YouTuber AetherSong and other reports, had some pretty impressive numbers at launch (over 200,000 peak concurrent players). It’s a fun game to pick up and play with friends—at least it was during my hands-on sesh with a few other journalists and devs; the state of the servers on launch day will obviously be very different and incredibly important.

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