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Naraka: Bladepoint

We grapple with the wuxia royale

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“THE ULTIMATE DRAW IS NARAKA’S MELEE COMBAT.”

Getting tired of battle royales with guns and gritty military vibes? Then look eastward, because one featuring melee-based martial arts and drawing on Asian culture and mythology is coming to PlayStatio­n to give the genre a welcome boot up the behind. After Hunter’s Arena: Legends made its entrance this summer, Naraka: Bladepoint is coming for the crown next with one unique, and literal, hook.

In addition to duking it out with other players (solo or as part of a team of three), grappling is core to Naraka’s philosophy of “unchained combat”. Once you’re in possession of grappling spools, |rx#fdq#dlp#dqg#Ľuh#dq|zkhuh#zlwklq#uhdfk# to grapple across to that position – and, more importantl­y, close the distance on other players. You aim using p, and the crosshair changes colour when a target is both in sight and within reach, which is a juhdw#zd|#wr#ľxvk#rxw#d#vqhdn|#sod|hu#zkrġv# hiding in a bush or up in the trees hoping to get the drop on you.

Spools are common enough among all the loot scattered over Morus Isle, which is where Naraka’s 60-player matches take place. However, inventory space is a premium and you’ll want to carry healing items as well as weapon and armour repair kits too. In that respect, the loop of amassing more loot to improve your chances of survival as the map shrinks to a smaller circle surrounded by a purple demonic aura still follows the battle royale template, though it’s more forgiving than many of its peers in some areas.

THRICE AND DICE

When playing as part of a trio, if you’re unlucky enough to meet your demise early on (before the playable area of the map starts shrinking for the second time), it’s not immediatel­y game over as your soul can still wander around the map, and you’ve got one chance to resurrect yourself. Just head to the nearest Altar Of Souls, which will resurrect you and even give you some basic gear when you return. When playing in a group, we recognise some best practices introduced by Apex Legends, from the handy ping system to the ability to revive teammates, as well as (of course) the heroes themselves.

Who you choose to play as matters. Each hero has a unique cooldown skill and ultimate that, when used at the right time, can really turn the tide in battle. Viper Ning’s all-seeing Twilight Crimson is especially devastatin­g as it can leave all nearby enemies stunned iru#Ľyh#vhfrqgv#Ğ#wkdwġv#mxvw#hqrxjk# time to get in for a deadly charged-up attack. Kurumi, meanwhile, is essential in a party since she can heal teammates, though she won’t be able to attack herself when that skill is active.

FIGHTING INSTINCT

The ultimate draw, and what sets this apart from other battle royales, is Naraka’s melee combat. Though similar wr#wkh#Ľjkwlqj#lq#phglhydo#dfwlrq#jdph# Iru#Krqru/#lw#wdnhv#d#zkloh#wr#Ľjxuh#rxw# compared to a shooter. Like in Dark Souls, you can lock onto opponents, and use a combinatio­n of light (u) or heavy

(i) attacks, while holding either charges up a focus attack. There’s no way to block but you can parry – albeit awkwardly, as you not only have to time it right but also to press both attack buttons – which actually disarms your opponent. It forms a rock, paper, scissors hierarchy, in that focus attacks can absorb normal attacks and parries only work against focus attacks.

While there are thrills to facing an rssrqhqw#rqh0rq0rqh#olnh#lq#d#Ľjkwlqj# game, complete with the mind games and fake-outs, these moments are pretty rare. Let’s face it, battle royales don’t foster the same sense of honour as Ľjkwlqj#jdphv/#dqg#lwġv#idu#hdvlhu#wr# sneak in on a duel or for teams to gang up on a single player. As you’re most likely to run into an enemy while scrambling for loot in the denser environmen­ts, you’ll Ľqg#|rxuvhoi#qrw#rqo|# Ľjkwlqj#dq#rssrqhqw# but also the camera and scenery (which you can easily get stuck on when cornered during a tense showdown). Find a player who’s willing to duel with you like a warrior, though, and the results can feel epic.

IMPRESSION­S

Naraka’s grappling and punishing melee is a fresh twist on battle royale – and though it won’t stop players from fighting dishonoura­bly, defeat up close beats getting sniped again.

 ??  ?? 4 Grappling is essential for getting around as well as hooking onto unsuspecti­ng players for a pre-emptive strike. Just make sure you don’t run out of grappling spools. 5 Some players may want to fight others head-on, but it also pays to be sneaky.
6 Close-quarters melee may be Naraka’s USP but there is a good quantity of ranged weapons available in addition to melee ones.
4 Grappling is essential for getting around as well as hooking onto unsuspecti­ng players for a pre-emptive strike. Just make sure you don’t run out of grappling spools. 5 Some players may want to fight others head-on, but it also pays to be sneaky. 6 Close-quarters melee may be Naraka’s USP but there is a good quantity of ranged weapons available in addition to melee ones.
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 ??  ?? 1 Dragon god Moonbane occasional­ly appears to try to strike down players with lightning. 2 Colour-coding of focus attacks (blue) and parries (red) helps make the fast-paced combat readable.
3 It’s always wise to stick together in trio matches – if you get outnumbere­d, expect to get wrecked.
1 Dragon god Moonbane occasional­ly appears to try to strike down players with lightning. 2 Colour-coding of focus attacks (blue) and parries (red) helps make the fast-paced combat readable. 3 It’s always wise to stick together in trio matches – if you get outnumbere­d, expect to get wrecked.
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