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Blade & Sorcery’s Largest Update Yet: Crystal Hunt and Beyond

Whether you’re a longtime fan of the immersive physics simulation sandbox VR combat game, Blade & Sorcery, or a new player looking to sharpen your virtual blades for the first time, something special is coming right around the corner. On June 17, the long-awaited Progression Mode, officially dubbed Crystal Hunt, will be released for the PC VR version of Blade & Sorcery.

This is not only the biggest update yet for the immensely popular medieval combat game but it also marks the game’s full release out of early access. After several years of iterative feedback, massive improvement, and free updates, Warpfrog is ready to label the experience completed for all to enjoy.

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Blade & Sorcery has maintained its $20 price tag ever since it first released in early access and once the final update is out and the game loses its early access label, the price will increase to $30. So, if you’re a PC VR player you can grab the game now if you haven’t already and all owners will receive the new update—which is nearly enough to justify an entirely separate game—at no extra charge when it releases.

An Exclusive Interview with The Baron

To learn more about what’s coming soon for Blade & Sorcery, as well as what’s next for Warpfrog as a studio, we spoke with longtime PR Manager and community champion, The Baron. Here’s the full interview as seen on Meta Quest Blog

Can you start by just telling me what it’s like at Warpfrog right now? After all these years you’re nearing the finish line on the Blade & Sorcery saga.

The Baron: Here we are, final update. Yeah, it’s going great. We’re all-in on the 1.0 update, and it’s definitely the busiest we’ve ever been. It’s the craziest we’ve ever been. And this update was absolutely massive, and it’s been the guts of a year doing it. Sometimes I feel it should have been a different game. It gives me anxiety sometimes from a marketing point of view, but we wanted to kind of go out with a bang. This update is a love letter update to our fans, who followed us, really dedicated over the five years, and we just wanted something really special. So that accounts for why this update is as nuts as it is.

Do you remember the old home, the mirror? I remember the first time I played back in 2018 messing with the mirror, messing with the physics, and I had a kind of Steven Spielberg on Star Wars kind of moment where it was like, “I see the value here.” It blew me away and even though it was just a tiny little arena game, I completely saw it. I saw the vision there. This was back in 2018. There were no games released that were doing this. This was a real trailblazer. But I think if we could see what it is now, it would have shocked us back in 2018. It’s been kind of all consuming. It’s been a huge part of our lives and stuff. It’s like this kind of living, breathing thing that’s just evolved over the years.

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The other thing about it is, it wouldn’t have evolved if players didn’t get behind it because it wasn’t like we had a product, and then we sold the product. It was more like we had an idea, and the players bought into that vision and wanted to see it keep going. I mean, the game was ‘done’ in Update 7. That was the game. That was Blade & Sorcery as it was envisioned. And then because the fans got behind us fully, it was like, “You know what, let’s go bigger.” Then we had Update 8, and then it kept going and we kept going bigger. How about Procedural Dungeons? Well, let’s do that in Update 10. This train has to reach a station at some point. That’s when we decided we could do what we always thought was impossible. We’ll add this entire progression mode, including lore—I always hesitate to use the word ‘storyline’ because it’s not a hand holding story, but there are definitely story elements. And then that’s why this feels like the perfect kind of ribbon to close up the game, close up early access.

It really feels like this update has the potential to bring in a whole new audience of people because I know that there are certainly folks that like having a narrative and world with a story in the games they play, rather than just a sandbox.

TB: You really hit on something there because I’m not even the target audience of this update, I love the game to death, but I was happy with the sandbox content. Blade & Sorcery is known as a sandbox game, but I absolutely love Crystal Hunt, the upcoming progression mode. I’m shocked that I love it because I was not made for Crystal Hunt and Crystal Hunt was not made for people like me, but I’m loving it. I’m really excited to see what others who have pined for this kind of game mode for years will think. And it just adds this whole new layer to the experience, it’s like a whole new soul for the game. Blade & Sorcery has been out since 2018 and people think they know the game, but then you come across Crystal Hunt and it’s a brand-new element that you never really thought would ever come to Blade & Sorcery. This update introducesplenty of lore to find and the progression adds a motivation to pull you through the game while growing your character. When I was playing Blade & Sorcery previously, I would always play a certain way. But when you play Crystal Hunt, it kind of incentivizes you to play in various different ways because you start out without any abilities.

As you’re unlocking things piecemeal, you experiment and try out new play styles that you may not have bothered with in sandbox when you can pick whatever you want. I find I’m enjoying everything on a whole new level. It kind of pushes you into a space where it’s like, okay, this is what you have at your disposal and there you go. You kind of find yourself appreciating each little bit as you get it.

It must have been a major challenge over the last few years releasing and continuing to support Blade & Sorcery: Nomad on Quest. What has that been like?

TB: It’s basically wizardry to me. The Quest 3 is really cool but the Quest 2 is tough because, I mean, it’s been around since 2020 when Nomad first dropped so you have hardware limitations there. And the issue you run into with a game like Blade & Sorcery is the simulation nature of the game means you never really know what’s going to happen, you know? If you spammed a bunch of spells and it smashed a bunch of breakables and a bunch of enemies went flying, you have physics calculations up the wazoo, and how is that going to be on the Quest? That’s the tricky part because you have a baseline for performance, but you never really know how it’s going to go. I remember when we were doing QA for Nomad, I remember QA putting in a report that there were performance issues when they spawned 50 shields and the game lagged. I thought, “Well, yes, it’ll do that!” That’s the challenge with Nomad but having said all that, I mean, what we really try to do with Nomad is keep it as close to PCVR in terms of content as possible.

The graphics may look different, but we still want to make it a physics simulator and keep all the content there. The same is true for 1.0 now as its approaching. We’re going to release PCVR first and fix anything critical that might be wrong and then jump straight into the port for Nomad. I don’t know how long it’ll take, exactly. Multiple months, surely, but we’ll be fully into that after PCVR releases.

The process hasn’t really fully begun yet, but do you have any idea about what some of the differences might be? Do you have any insight into what might need to be changed or altered a little bit?

TB: Yeah, the goal, I can tell you, is definitely to be as close to a 1:1 port as we can get. That’s always been the way and even with Nomad now compared to PCVR now, I think the only real difference between the two is Nomad doesn’t have the Citadel map and I think Nomad is missing one single dungeon room. Other than that, it’s all there, all of the content is there. That will be the same goal for this update. My expectation would be, if there’s any trouble, it may be with some of the rooms in a new dungeon because they’re absolutely massive. That’s where we’ll be investing a bunch of time to do optimized versions of those rooms for Nomad. Same deal with the spells, we’ll have to do Nomad versions of some spells potentially that maybe have fewer particles or whatever it takes.

It sounds like the focus is on the player experience. You know, you might have to trim some of the bells and whistles, but you want that experience to feel like they’re still playing the same game.

TB: Absolutely. The reason we split the two games was because we wanted to make a PCVR game and we didn’t want to have any kind of hardware cap, but at the same time, some people didn’t have a PC, so that’s where Nomad came in. This is still Blade & Sorcery, it’s just for the Quest. It’s not like a mobile version of the game or with less content or anything to that. It’s still Blade & Sorcery. It’s just that it’s tailored to the Quest specs and that’s it; it just looks a bit different in a few places.

The studio is being very kind and transparent with the community, letting people know that there is going to be a price increase once 1.0 comes out, given the tremendous amount of new content and how far the game’s come since the original early access launch.

TB: Yeah, while we’re in early access and PCVR and the game is $20 and we always said we were going to increase the price on full release. We decided on full release it’s going to be $30, which is still stupid low in my opinion. But the reason we wanted to do that was because we just didn’t want to be expensive. Simple as that. We want to keep it kind of affordable. And for Nomad, same story.

It’s $20 now, and whenever update 1.0 releases for Nomad, it’ll bump up to $30. Now is the chance to get in at the early access price.

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You kind of alluded to some of this a little bit earlier, but whenever it comes to the Crystal Hunt mode, what does that actually look like from a player perspective? How is the experience different from the Procedural Dungeon Mode? What do you do whenever you log in for the first time? What are the steps in the process of the new mode?

TB: Crystal Hunt is kind of like the Dungeons mode, but with more of a point. That’s the idea of it. It’s like a motivation to pull players through the game because some players want to have a sense of forward motion through a game they play and don’t just want a sandbox experience.

Sandbox will remain exactly as you know it with everything unlocked, all your mods and all that kind of stuff will be there. But now, you can make a second character and this character will be just for Crystal Hunt. When you play Crystal Hunt, there’s a kind of an opening to it and that’s the backdrop of the game with context around what’s happening in the world. Then you get into the loop of the game, which is visiting dungeons.

The story backdrop to Crystal Hunt is that there’s these ancient ruins dotted around the Kingdom that have recently and inexplicably revealed themselves. These ruins belong to an ancient civilization, who were masters of magic, and within these ruins lie the ultimate source of magical power, the crystal core. The player is also out to find these crystals, operating on behalf of one of the several factions—but I’ll leave it there for now. I won’t go too deep into it, so players can enjoy it themselves, but that’s the concept.

The player is visiting these outposts and trying to gather intel to find these ruins. The outposts could be occupied by different factions and they all have different strengths and weaknesses. And then ultimately the loop will lead the player to find the Dalgarian ruin, which is a whole new dungeon outpost and has a different vibe to it, and seek a crystal core. And then upon return, the crystal core is like the currency of progressing the character, unlocking the skills. In between all that is of course looting, finding treasure and stuff that you can use to visit shops to acquire gear like armor and weapons, and stuff like that.

We also have lore sprinkled throughout the new game mode as well, but we don’t force feed it. There’s no narrator holding your hand through the game where the world revolves around the player or anything like that. In fact, you could play the game and not engage a single bit with the lore and just enjoy the game as a straight up action game and unlock skills and weapons through progression. But, if you’re a more invested fan of Blade & Sorcery and you want to dive into the ideas behind it all, we have that for you too now.

Yeah, it sounds fantastic. The process of making a new character I think underscores that notion that it’s almost like you’re getting a second game with this update.

TB: That is the anxiety part for me because it is like that. It’s like a new game we dropped on the old game and as a player it’s cool, yeah, but on the studio side, it’s like the amount of work this was is just bananas. It was completely insane. For a free update, it was really, really, really nuts. I mean, I’m delighted. I’m loving it. I’m so happy and I think the players are going to love it. I just can’t wait until players are playing it. I can’t wait to hear what they think. I mean, everyone at Warpfrog is just buzzing and I hope everyone loves it as much as we do.

Speaking perhaps on behalf of the community a bit, I think one of the main questions people are probably going to have is, will there be mod support in the new progression mode?

TB: Oh, yeah! You know us, not only mod support, but we really try to support modders themselves, going as far as modders implementing their own skill trees if they wanted and it would seamlessly slot into the game. In fact, a lot of the Warpfrog team are actually ex-modders of the game. Well, I say ex-modders, but they’re still current modders as well.

It sounds like the game is designed to be modular like that. Someone could play the game as it’s intended to be played, but then decide to download a mod to add another skill tree, and then the game would still be the same, but their progression could just focus on this new tree they’ve slotted in, is that right?.

TB: Exactly, exactly. And it could completely change how you play, it’s designed to be flexible like that.

I’m assuming all of this mod support will come to Nomad as well? Depending on the mod, that is.

TB: With Nomad, it’s all just dependent on the mod itself. If it’s a scripted mod, which is a mod that has advanced and complex custom code, well, then it creates a new challenge for Nomad and it just gets very complicated. But if it’s a simpler mod, simple in the sense of like, it doesn’t have advanced scripting to it, then it could slot into Nomad same as any normal Nomad mod.

In other words, the current mod support will be carried forward. It’s not like you’re going to remove mod support for Crystal Hunt in Nomad or anything like that.

TB: Oh, no, no. In fact, I think that the furthest we went with it was like, if I’m not mistaken, I think we have like a splash screen or something that just says something to the effect of, “You modded the game—it might adversely affect your Crystal Hunt experience, but if that’s cool with you, go for it!” The whole vibe of Warfrog is like, it’s not our business to tell you how to have fun. So if something is cool for you, that’s cool with us.

Well, I don’t know how much you can really speak on this, but I would love to know any teases about what’s next for Warpfrog. I don’t know if the team has even thought that far yet or what but you’ve been heads down in this one game for so long. Six plus years. Is there any idea of what’s happening after this?

TB: I’m dying to talk about it. However, I can only talk about it in a kind of limited capacity right now. The first thing to say is that we’re all-in on Blade & Sorcery, we really can’t detach from it until the dust kind of settles. The game framework we use is ThunderRoad and this was what KospY developed originally years ago as a first time developer. Many mistakes were made along that journey, and then we added a ton of people into Warpfrog. Everyone’s throwing in their little bit into ThunderRoad, and it gets messy as things do. As I say, a lot of lessons were learned.

When we move on to our next game, one of the things we’re really excited about is to move on to ThunderRoad 2, which is kind of like a chance to just start clean and rewrite the game framework from scratch. That’s so exciting. KospY has already kind of started this process and done a little bit of messing around and a little bit of prototyping. I’m super excited. It’s so much better already and it’s so much faster, which is one of the major problems we have with Blade & Sorcery right now. Currently it’s like if you change one tiny thing and you can break the whole game. The joke internally is that it’s like one day to do a feature, then two weeks to bugfix it. ThunderRoad 2 addresses this kind of problem and fixes a lot of little annoying things we had with Blade & Sorcery caused by spaghetti code.

As for what the game will be, we do have an idea, but I can’t talk about it right now. It’s a completely new IP, something just completely new. The guys at Warpfrog were all super excited about that because as you say, we’ve been doing Blade & Sorcery for a long time and we all love it to death, but it’s exciting to have a new creative outlet, something new and fresh that we can dive into. And that’s going to be really exciting.

I’d imagine that if the team is excited, then the community will likely be excited too. You guys have done an incredible job of earning a reputation for “player-first” development. Whatever you’re all working on, I have no doubt it’ll be exciting and well-received. I’m eager to find out about it, but I’m just as eager to play Crystal Hunt, so I’m happy to wait a while.

TB: Hopefully everyone enjoys Crystal Hunt and that gives us some relief to then go on to Game #2. But the thing is that all Warpfrog games will carry certain pillars. The pillars for us are physics simulation and sandbox gameplay in the sense that players can play the games how they like and we don’t tell you how to have fun, plus mods. Those three pillars will travel with every Warpfroggame. I think it can be a totally new game but you’re going to feel it. You’re going to feel the Blade & Sorcery vibe. It’ll feel like a world of Warpfrog.

They will all have that similar DNA, that makes sense.

TB: Yeah, the DNA. That’s a great way to describe it. Yeah, exactly.

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably thrilled at the prospect of all the new content and features The Baron just outlined. Make sure to grab your copy of Blade & Sorcery: Nomad now while it’s still priced at $20, so you can enjoy the upcoming major update for free when it releases later this year.

For PC VR players, mark your calendars for June 17 when the new update goes live. The price for Blade & Sorcery: Nomad will increase to $30 after the new update is released, but for now, you can secure it at the current price and receive the next update at no additional cost.

2 thoughts on “Blade & Sorcery’s Largest Update Yet: Crystal Hunt and Beyond”

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