Battle royales are everywhere. From first-person shooters like Warzone to (now-defunct) third-person spellcasters such as Spellbreak, the genre has overtaken the industry. While battle royales may be ubiquitous, there’s one you probably aren’t playing right now that you totally should. It’s called Naraka: Bladepoint, and it rules.
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Launched in 2021 for PC before making the jump to Xbox in 2022, Naraka: Bladepoint is a melee-focused, momentum-based martial arts battle royale. That’s a lotta PR speak jumbled together, so let me break it down a little bit. You’ve got your standard battle royale construction here: Load up onto a map with 59 other players, all vying to be the last one standing as an ever-shrinking circle seeks to poison everyone. However, what sets Naraka apart from other battle royales is its focus on combo-laden melee combat. Picture Devil May Cry in something like PUBG and you’ve got a good idea.
In Naraka, you fight against other players (or bots in the game’s dedicated mode if you don’t want to get bodied by better gamers) with a variety of close-range weapons ranging from dual blades and katanas to nunchakus and staffs. There are ranged weapons as well, including bows and cannons and muskets. But the majority of your gameplay will be up close and personal combat encounters with folks trying to beat you to death with a melee weapon.
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Melee for the win, grapple for the escape
You start each game by selecting one of over a dozen customizable characters, each with their own stats and special abilities. Once you drop onto Morus Isle, the main map all battles take place on, it’s up to you (in either solo, duos, or trios) to survive long enough to be the last one standing. You do this by scouring the map for loot: color-graded weapons, armor and health upgrades, grappling hooks for both combat and traversal, various stat-boosting potions—typical battle royale stuff.
After gearing up and avoiding any potential ambushes while doing so, you can then test your equipment against the game’s plethora of enemies as you aren’t just fighting other players or bots, but also occasionally world foes such as giant, multi-armed Buddhist statues or big-ass dragons. Things can get real hectic real quick, especially if you don’t take into consideration the weapons you and your enemies have. There’s a rock-paper-scissors dynamic at play here, with charged attacks beating out normal attacks, normal attacks stomping parries, and parries besting charged attacks. You can, of course, pull out a crossbow or pistol to pelt your enemies from a distance, but ranged weapons don’t do nearly as much damage as melee weapons can. Besides, all your skills are tied to melee attacks. So while you might be inclined to play Naraka: Bladepoint like a traditional battle royale, setting up shop to snipe enemies from afar, finding success in this game means staining your hands and weapons with blood.
But even if you don’t consider the mechanical tug-of-war between the attack types, the weapons are absolutely lethal. When wielded by skilled warriors, most can decimate health bars thanks to their vast movelists. Take my personal favorite weapon, the katana. With a variety of iaido techniques—in which you quickly draw your sword to slash—and unpredictable sword swipes, katanas can no doubt cut you to a million pieces. That’s where grappling hooks come into play. Yes, grappling hooks.
You can find grappling hooks all over the map: in random chests, on corpses, sitting atop destructible counters in buildings, etcetera. While primarily thought of as traversal equipment, grappling hooks can also be used in the middle of combat. Say you’re getting sliced to bits by someone with a greatsword—you can use a grappling hook, which you can carry up to six at a time, to zip to the top of a nearby tree to replenish your armor and health, then grapple onto that same enemy to do a flying slash attack before initiating a combo of your own. In this way, grappling hooks are a combo mechanic in their own right, letting you slip in and out of combat with ease to either maintain pressure or get your bearings.
Blocking is always a viable tactic when dealing with a relentless foe, but by making use of the momentum you gain from grappling hooks, you can duck out, leaving your opponent disoriented, then jump back in to fuck them up.
Movement is a staple mechanic in battle royales, particularly in popular ones like Apex Legends and Fortnite. But while most games in the genre implement mobility as a secondary or tertiary element, Naraka: Bladepoint makes movement a core pillar of its design. You’re almost required to dash and zip around the battlefield to get the advantage over your enemies. Mobility, in Naraka: Bladepoint, becomes a combat tactic of its own. By mastering the game’s movement, you can stealthily eliminate enemies and retreat back to the shadows before they even know what stabbed them in the back. It’s like a more advanced version of Titanfall.
The Naraka: Bladepoint community
While it’s likely you haven’t heard of or played Naraka: Bladepoint (yet), that doesn’t mean that this is another failed battle royale with a diminishing community. It’s quite the opposite, actually. According to Steam Charts, Naraka: Bladepoint is the seventh most played game, with over 100,000 people playing at any given time. And while there aren’t a whole lot of people watching streams of the game on Kick or Twitch, with developer 24 Entertainment updating it at least once or twice a month with balance changes and gameplay tweaks, as well as regularly introducing seasons that add new characters, maps, and weapons every three months, there’s evidently a thriving player base here.
No matter when you jump into the game, you’ll almost always be able to find a match. And even if you can’t, you can always fight against bots, who are extremely mean and don’t play around one bit.
The game’s subreddit is also popping. It isn’t as busy as Destiny, Elden Ring, or Pokémon, but with some 19,000 active members, Naraka: Bladepoint’s subreddit is full of memes, helpful guides and tips, and heated discussions about players being AFK and which weapons are OP. There’s also the official YouTube channel, which features looks at new characters, deep dives into weapon tutorials, and even cool little animated shorts for lore. In short, Naraka: Bladepoint is still going strong two years later, which is good to know when so many live-service games are getting killed off.
There’s a campaign to go with that battle royale
Naraka: Bladepoint’s bread-and-butter is its frantically chaotic battle royale mode, but that’s not all the game has to offer you. Alongside variations of its standard mode, like a free-for-all that tasks you with getting the most kills in a limited amount of time, the game also features a PvE story mode called Showdown in which you can team up with two other players to fight progressively harder challenges.
Similar to the main game, there’s no stamina bar to worry about, which means you can attack, climb, and sprint as much as you want. While you’re restricted to a handful of characters, progression with any of them carries over to subsequent runs, allowing you to grow stronger and learn new skills in preparation for the next showdown. You’ll battle AI-controlled characters, skeletons and zombies, and ethereal bugs. But the main difference here is that, aside from only being available on the weekends (dumb, I know), each Showdown chapter culminates in an epic and punishing boss encounter.
With a few different chapters currently available and more being added every few months (with new characters, maps, and weapons), Naraka: Bladepoint’s Showdown mode pits you against some truly maniacal jerks. Take Omnius, a black armor-wearing, flame sword-wielding warrior who’s both fast and powerful. Get hit a couple of times by this dude and you’re totally dead—he’s got a massive health pool, tons of defensive prowess thanks to his armor, and rarely relents on his fiery onslaught. He’s almost like a Souls boss in that way. And this is just one boss. The game features three different chapters, with three different bosses to fight. There’s plenty to keep you occupied outside of the main BR.
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It’s hard picking up another battle royale when you’re already invested in one. It’s even harder when the game, like Naraka: Bladepoint, has intricate mechanics that require constant practice to get good. You’ll die a lot, but as the saying goes, it always gets worse before it gets better. And while it’s easy to write this off as yet another typical battle royale title, Naraka: Bladepoint’s unique melee-focused combat, grappling hook movement, and rich PvE story, makes it easily one of the coolest games in the genre.