Bloodline Champions is something of a success story for those who worry that an academic game design program won’t lead to anything but a glorified testing gig. Originally developed as a class project, Bloodline Champions began life as a small, simplistic fantasy PvP adventure, and despite a number of refinements along the way, that focused experience remains intact. Impressive from it’s very first in-school school showcase, the game made the rounds from festival to festival until publisher Funcom finally saw the title’s potential. And now, less than two months from its official release, this Little-PvP-That-Could is making one final media push before it drives players into a mouse-clicking frenzy.
Obvious from the start is that Bloodline isn’t interested in providing a rich, over-developed world or an epic singleplayer, co-op or MMO RPG experience. Rather, this is a game that wants you wail away on your friends in teams of three until one such team is dead…Consequently, the design and the mechanics serve this rather fundamental, scaled-down experience, trimming the fat and streamlining the gameplay into a quick, fun fierce player-versus-player arena. The game doesn’t offer players a persistent character. You won’t level up your favorite tank or healer. Rather, Bloodline wants you to jump in and out, exploring each gametype and class without ever feeling overmatched by beefed up, hardcore players.
You will, however, collect Blood Coins along the way, experience used as currency in order to unlock new armors, skins, avatars, etc. for the game’s 16 different character types. These “bloodlines” are divided into your four basic classes – healers, melee, ranged and tanks – and come with six unique abilities as well as one ultimate ability to help turn the tide when things start to go south. Examples include the Igniter, whose abilities include fireballs and teleportation, as well as the jet-pack sporting Engineer. Each type is also balanced so that you don’t require any given class. For example, healers can only heal up to 40% of the total team HP.
The game features three basic game modes – 3v3, a King of the Hill mode called Conquest, and Capture the Artifact – spread out over 12 total maps. The maps are fairly small in scale in order to facilitate the six-player action and range from Aztec-looking temples, to desert environments, to lush, jungle landscapes. Targeting is real-time using the mouse while W, A, S and D move your character; special attacks and abilities are mapped to the surrounding keys.
Overall, the game runs smoothly and boasts some nice art design. But it’s a small, intimate affair, and while it aims to be accessible to new players, it’s likely that the hardcore PvP fans will be the most attracted to the project. It’s early yet, and there’s an ongoing beta program, but if you’re into small, action-packed, quick-lived matches and no-frills PvP action, this might be worth your attention.