F2PMeter: Is Blade & Soul Truly Free to Play?

Blade & Soul - F2PMeter headlogo - EN
Blade & Soul is a martial-arts MMORPG from NCSoft in which players can star as the vengeful hero in their own personal quest looking to hunt down those that destroyed their friends and family. With exceptional cinematics, character customization, multiple classes and a story driven content, the entire game is provided as free to play… or so the developers say; let’s put Blade & Soul through our F2PMeter and see for ourselves!
Does the game require an initial purchase?

'No'

Users can download the game and play it for free.
Does the game require any continued paid subscription?

'No (but...)' takes away 10%

Whilst there isn’t a mandatory subscription, players can purchase a Premium Membership subscription (30 days, 90 days or 365 days), which grants a variety of benefits from gold and XP boosts from quests, cooldown reduction on certain skills, as well as an allotment of Hongmoon Coins with the quantity increasing the longer your paid subscription. Premium Membership also provides Premium Membership Points which determine a players Premium Rank (ranging from 1 to 10) that grants more benefits the higher your rank; Premium Membership Points can be acquired by spending Hongmoon Coins in the Hongmoon Shop (cash shop).
Does the game require spending money on DLC packs or expansions?

'No'

The game provides all expansions, like the new Ebondrake Citadel expansion, for free included in the core game as new patches.
Does the game support micro-transactions? Can anything be purchased in-game using real world money?

'Yes' takes away 5%

Players can spend NCCoins (cross game currency) and Hongmoon Coins (in-game premium currency) to purchase items from the cash shop, everything from different starter packs for exclusive cosmetics, to materials for crafting, keys to open different weapon chests, and a whole host of cosmetic skins for weapons and character costumes.
Do any of the micro-transactions give players an advantages?

'Yes (but...)' takes away 5%

There are a variety of hard to attain items, or hard to craft consumables, that can be purchased as a micro-transaction in the Hongmoon store; realistically these purchases are convenience only as all items can be gained through gameplay.
Is the user interface customization restricted to paid options?

'No'

The UI is not restricted at all.
Does the game give access to all available classes and/or races?

'Yes'

Currently the game has four races and nine different classes, all of which are free to play, however certain class-race combinations are restricted by the game to all players regardless of their membership or free to play status.
Does the game require have limitations to how the 'Auction House' /Market/Trade system is accessed?

'Yes (but...)' takes away 5%

Although the auction house can be used by all players those players that have Premium Membership do get reduced fees when using the service.
Are personal inventory and/or bank slots limited at all?

'Yes' takes away 10%

Inventory can be expanded with Dragon Pouches, which are extremely hard to get through conventional means and generally only available as a rare random drop from rewards chests. In reality this item is mostly limited to the cash shop making it a bit of a premium purchase (though not completely). Premium Members get exclusive access to a Wardrobe Deposit feature that allows them to store costumes in it, essentially relieving space in their inventory and allowing them lots of cosmetic clothing changes.
Are all dungeons and zones accessible without purchases?

'Yes'

Players can travel to any dungeon or zone without restriction.
Does the game restrict high endgame content (PVE, Raids or PvP)?

'No'

There are no end-game/high level play restrictions to free to play accounts.
Can the game be fully enjoyed without ever having to spend a ‘penny’?

'Yes' adds 10%

Whilst the cash shop has some convenience items, and some items might be extremely hard to loot/craft conventionally, nothing is exclusive to paying players that provides any significant advantage. All game content, quests, dungeons and features are free to play and players can enjoy the full quest storyline from start to finish as any of the classes.
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