As a fantasy anime fan, few trailers seemed as exciting then Blue Protocol, the is an upcoming free-to-play MMORPG from Amazon Games and Bandai Namco. Although launched to impressive numbers in Japan earlier this year, Blue Protocol remains largely a mystery to Western gamers. During Summer Game Fest’s Play Days, I got hands-on time with the game to find out why it’s garnering so much hype. While it has some rough edges, Blue Protocol could be a dream come true for anyone longing to play their own Sword Art Online.
The demo provided a solid taste of what awaits when the game finally launches in 2024. Immediately, the visuals and art direction blew me away. Many anime-inspired MMOs exist, but few capture the look and feel as faithfully as Blue Protocol. The game is like playing an anime, down to the extensive character customization.
Despite limited time, the scope for crafting a unique hero felt vast. Hair, outfit, accessories — no detail felt overlooked in enabling players to build someone that caters to their taste, with five distinct classes, abilities like archery, magic, and crowd control suit different playstyles.
Once finished with my character, it was time to experience the action. The intuitive yet challenging combat is fast-paced and fluid. Each class offers unique abilities for playstyles ranging from ranged archery to area-of-effect magic. The stunning anime visuals bring the world to life through detailed environments and smooth character animations.
Discussing the game’s design and scope, Blue Protocol franchise lead Mike Zadorojny at Amazon Game Studios said:
“The combat system is easy to get into but has underlying complexity. While you may only use a few skills at once, many options exist. Summons called Echoes are crafted items providing offence, support or defence. There are four main class skills to choose from, around 16-20 total, so you can customize your build. Passive abilities from levelling up apply across all classes too. This allows for extensive customization and playstyle flexibility.”
Early dungeon runs with groups showcase the promise of cooperative multiplayer. Players naturally settled into roles like damage dealers or healers, synergizing abilities to aid teammates. Defeating bosses requires coordination, with each class contributing meaningfully. Even in this brief demo, having a capable team felt essential for progressing through the game’s challenges. While strong individually, the onslaught of creatures in dungeons makes allies a necessity.
“Blue Protocol shows promise as a stunning anime MMORPG…”
With so many eager to dive in, Blue Protocol leverages Amazon’s cloud infrastructure to handle the influx of players. “Using Amazon Web Services provides advantages,” explained Zadorojny. “The cloud architecture scales capacity based on demand rather than requiring fixed hardware purchased upfront. AWS tools and Amazon’s ecosystem unlock possibilities for Blue Protocol’s future growth. The infrastructure supports expanding features without hardware constraints.”
While combat and graphics were on full display, story and lore remained elusive during my playtime. The premise of an advanced world on the brink leaves room for narrative depth. Gorgeous cutscenes suggest production values on par with single-player games, not just MMOs. If the storytelling matches the visuals, Blue Protocol could offer an engaging world worth saving.
“Blue Protocol is designed so content can be enjoyed solo or in groups from start to finish without excessive grinding,” said Zadorojny. “Each chapter has a clear beginning, middle and end for a sense of progression. Despite not being a live service game, the story will continue through additional chapters over time. The launch content alone provides ample investment before needing more.”
“Blue Protocol is designed so content can be enjoyed solo or in groups from start to finish…”
The Japanese launch drew over 200,000 concurrent players, but global servers will face greater loads. With few details on Western monetization, the business model is still uncertain. My demo lacked visibility into how Amazon will adapt their approach for Western audiences. However, Zadorojny provided insight:
“This is a free-to-play title focused on value over aggressive monetization. We’re not sharing Western details yet but will soon. There is a seasonal pass like other battle passes, rewarding cosmetics and items every few levels. The capsulator provides random cosmetic boxes only without impacting progression or gameplay. It targets specific outfits rather than pay-to-win advantages.”
The Japanese version offers some clues, with the main currency as Rose Orbs – obtainable in-game or via microtransactions. Costume and mount gacha banners provide bonuses after ten pulls. A dupe system lets players exchange duplicate cosmetics. A free battle pass and paid premium tiers offer expected cosmetic rewards. Major content updates are planned, like August’s new Blitz Lancer class wielding a spear.
For Amazon, bringing Blue Protocol West is an exciting milestone as players get hands-on. “The preview provides a vertical slice — character creator, exploration, co-op, and dungeon runs. This hits the main beats and showcases the depth at launch,” Zadorojny detailed.
Blue Protocol shows promise as a stunning anime MMORPG with smooth combat and engaging co-op. The previews reveal an accessible experience with depth for those seeking it. While monetization remains uncertain, Amazon aims for value over aggression.
For anime fans longing for a modern MMORPG, Blue Protocol could deliver. Gameplay variety caters to different styles, from ranged DPS to tanking and support. Solo story progression gives way to challenging group content at endgame. Gorgeous graphics and cinematics immerse players in a rich world, and I, for one, can’t wait to experience more.