Developed by Stunlock Studios and published by Funcom, Bloodline Champions is a free-to-play competitive PvP game based around single units duking it out in an arena. The game was made specifically to cater to the competitive audience who wishes for a skill based teamwork oriented game.
System - 10/10
Very low system requirements allow practically everyone to play, and the game is very stable and compatible with many systems. The server is great, there are different regions, ping indicators are there, and although there is only one server currently, it's likely to expand. Good amount of graphical options to tweak, and a massive amount of options to change the game to your preferences.
Graphics - 8/10
The models and special effects are nothing to gawk at. Most of the time, you won't even be able to appreciate some of the detail of the environment and champions due to how the game is played. You're not missing anything though, and I suppose it's ok considering how most of the models are going to be viewed. The interface of the game is very appealing however, and the skill icons are well done. Although I'm not a fan of their art style, the art is still quite nice.
The calm before the storm.
Gameplay - 19/20
Bloodline Champions has done what it set out to do almost perfectly, there's not much to improve upon. The basis of the game is using a single champion and battling others using a top down view RTS-like view with point-and-click controls (Although WASD is used to move). It may sound odd the way I clumsily try to describe it, but for a reference, think of it as League of Legends, Defense of the Ancients, or any other game following similar gameplay, but with only heroes.
The champions are divided into Tanks, Melee Damage, Ranged Damage, and Healers. As you may have guessed, you have HP, and you use skills to damage and kill other players. The kicker is, there is no energy system. All skills operate on cooldown. Each champion has 6 skills, and an ultimate skill, along with 2 EX skills, which are variants of two normal skills. The control scheme used is fantastic, and gameplay flows very well, I can't emphasize this enough!
The game can be played from 1v1 to 5v5, but 3v3 is the game's intended play style, and most balanced. There are a number maps and gameplay options available too, of course. Now, when I said that the game was made for the competitive audience, I meant it. There are no chances, there are no passive "__% chance of ____" skills, everything is fixed. If an attack animation hits, it WILL hit. There are no ways to tip the odds in your favour. Every champion has the same skills and stats, and the only changeable thing about them is their aesthetics. No special handicaps, no individual advantage whatsoever. Everything depends on your teammates, your teamwork, the champions you chose, and your proficiency with the game. That said, the game has a load of statistics to give in-depth insight for players, such as accuracy with a skill.
A particular aspect I like about the game though, is that there is a healing cap. You can only heal champions up to roughly 30% of their maximum health at any time. This means that if the healers do their job well enough, they can go on the offensive, as they simply can't heal any more than they already have. It also prevents games from being prolonged due to healers, and gives healing just the right amount of importance. Something that irked me however, is the match-making/autobalance. Rarely, during ranked ladder matches, the autobalance did more of a team-stacking rather than balancing. From the stats, it would be completely one sided. I know that stats aren't a definite gauge of skill, but when the gap is as large as something like a baby versus a grown man, I'd think that the baby is guaranteed to lose.
You have the option of simply playing normal games, practicing in single player with bots, or playing ranked games. They're what you expect. A tournament system is to be implemented, something I would've expected to already be out on release for a game like this. Clans are to be implemented as well. There are levels, which raise by playing games, grade, which is the game's attempt to determine your skill, and score, which is another way to determine your skill, and how well you do. You can buy avatars and aesthetics for your champions, and gain achievements and titles. They add something to work towards I guess, aside from climbing the ranks.
Sometimes, it just feels a little unfair.
Now, while this is a free-to-play game, there are two additional account types that allow various bonuses and features. Both need to be paid for. They don't give an edge in gameplay, but offer some convenient features and things like unlocking champions to play. Yes, there is a cash shop of sorts, but it's simply a faster way of unlocking things. Most things can be unlocked in-game, but the two additional account types I mention offers a few features that cannot be unlocked with play. Nothing major though, you can definitely work with free-to-play.
Audio - 5/10
There's a lack of background music, voices, and sound effects. Background music isn't terrible, but...it's just bland. There are a good deal of parts where the game could've benefited from a voice over, but alas, no dice. Sound effects aren't anything special, and they just seem to go in one ear and out the other. I guess the game is very functional and clean like this but...it just seems so lifeless and bland.
Bloodline Champions is absolutely amazing. It offers one of the best styles of competitive gaming, pretty much perfect for the competitive types. Maybe it lacks some style and ambiance, but it certainly doesn't drag the game down very much. If you like competitive or teamwork based games, this game right here is worth your time. I'll go as far as to even say, you'll love it.
Overall - 42/50