Blue Protocol Preview: Living My Animated Action Dreams

It might come as no surprise to those who know me, but I love a good anime aesthetic, and Blue Protocol, Bandai-Namco’s upcoming MMO, is animated through and through. But more than the art style, I like games that take their true JRPGs and push them to the fore. That’s why I found myself enjoying Blue Protocol so much during my brief stint with it at Summer of Gaming Play Days last month. Bandai Namco’s hyper-anime-style MMORPG leans into its anime aesthetic to the point that it promises you a chance to “become the hero of your own anime adventure” on the game’s official Steam page.

The question is, will Blue Protocol actually allow me, a middle-aged guy who spent $30 on anime VHS tapes in the 1990s, to live out my anime adventure dreams? I’m leaning pretty heavily towards the “yes” column here, because while my time with Blue Protocol was limited to a 45-minute demo at a booth in downtown LA, everything about it appealed to me and my latent anime dreams.

My demo started with a very cool battle scene followed immediately by an anime opening cutscene, a cutscene that would have felt right at home in any serialized anime show on Crunchyroll right now. Wide shots of good vs. evil, racing into battle, gorgeous fantasy world settings, a few in-game character shots, everything you know and love about an animated series but in game form. It set the right tone, with the right mix of high-energy battles, cinematic settings, and fast-paced movement. I have to say, right off the bat, I felt like the game was already delivering on its promise of making me the anime hero of my dreams.

From there, I moved on to the character creation screen, where I had a chance to play around a bit, tweaking bits of my main. It’s nothing too surprising, but it’s really sturdy and once again proudly wears its anime pedigree on its sleeve. Your first choice is “male” or “female” body type. Of course, I chose the female body type because I’m already a male guy, so why not change things up? From there, he chooses a signature pose that once again animates throughout.

After that, I was introduced to the meat of character creation, tweaking things like eye color, hairstyle, mouth shape, things you’d all expect. I’m a good character builder, and Blue Protocol made me happy with the breadth of its options. There weren’t so many that I felt overwhelmed, but there were way more than enough to make my character creation look as good or as goofy as I wanted it to. While I tend to lean towards “goofy”, I played it pretty straight this time. Do I regret it? Not at all, I can make my real character as goofy as I want when the actual game comes out.

Will Blue Protocol actually allow me, a middle-aged guy who spent $30 on anime VHS tapes in the 1990s, to live out my dreams of anime adventures?

After creating my character’s look, I then chose one of five classes: Blade Warden, a melee and defense build, Twin Striker, a dual-wielding melee class that gets more powerful with subsequent strikes, Keen Strider, a ranged class that specializes in “support and ranged combat”, Spell Weaver, the magic class, and Foe Breaker, your standard tank that likes to smash. I went with the Twin Striker class because I think it’s the coolest.

Since this was a demo, after sorting out my character details, I was thrown headfirst into the battle, especially the “Battle at the Cliffside Ruins”. After a brief scene where my character wakes up from some sort of magical, animated sleep, I got my first taste of Blue Protocol’s combat system. This is an action RPG, and you attack enemies with the left mouse button and dodge their attacks with the CTRL key. It’s not quite an auto fight, as between dodging and attacking I really felt like I was in control of the fight, but holding down the attack button allows for a constant attack. I started by clicking the button, but eventually decided to hold it down to focus on dodging.

After my first taste of battle, I learned a bit more about my character and her motivations, as well as the true motivations of the companion I just met (mild spoiler alert: he’s kind of a jerk!). With my introduction to combat behind me and the clear setup of my character’s motivations, I moved on to the next part of my time with Blue Protocol. This is where it became more of a staged demo, because my character creation wasn’t strong enough to participate. Instead, I chose a pre-made character to replace her, which was fine. I obviously didn’t have time to polish a character, and speeding things up allowed me to get a better feel for the game, as if I had spent some time with it. Again, I picked up a Twin Striker, and headed out to the Montegnor Valley to have a little fun.

I really have to point out that Blue Protocol is absolutely stunning. Seriously, this is one of the most beautiful anime-style games I think I’ve ever played. That’s everything I love about a game like Xenoblade Chronicles 3, but it’s taken it up a notch. The colors and saturation of the scenery are so appealing, and the character animation is fast and smooth. Admittedly, I was playing on a demo computer, but I have to imagine that the aesthetics of the anime are beyond all bounds. It looks amazing.

I really have to point out that Blue Protocol is absolutely stunning.

I explored the valley, gathered resources, and traversed stunning scenery, engaging in a few battles willy-nilly. I got pretty good at attacking and dodging random enemies I encountered, though I may not have been so good once (and had to respawn). I’m not afraid to admit it.

Once I respawned, I then participated in the “Dragon’s Rive: Resurvey” mission, the requirements of which were simply for me and my party to defeat a boss within a certain time limit. There were 6 of us taking part in the quest, and I had an absolute blast as we weaved our way through the mountain pass, climbing higher and higher towards our objective. Combat in Blue Protocol is awesome, and while I won’t say it’s revolutionary, it doesn’t have to be. It’s new, it’s fast, I felt like I was having a significant impact on my group’s success with every encounter, rather than blindly flailing around and hoping for the best. Most of all…it’s just fun as hell.

We worked as a team, albeit a little off balance, and managed to defeat the boss. It was a really good fight, and although I fell maybe more than once, I was revived by my teammates (thanks to the real ones), and then the demo was over. Which sucked because I really wanted more!

Most of all…it’s just fun as hell.

I’m not usually an MMO guy, mostly because I know I tend to go a bit overboard when it comes to how I spend my free time, but Blue Protocol got me seriously considering becoming one of those “MMO guys”. The combat is super fun, but aesthetically it ticks all the boxes for me. Blue Protocol won’t officially release until 2024, but you can sign up for the beta right now on the game’s official website. If you like a good anime, a fast-paced MMO, or a combination of the two, Blue Protocol seems to have what you need.

Seth Macy is an editor, IGN Commerce, and just wants to be your friend. You can find him hosting the Nintendo Voice Chat podcast.

Leave a Comment