NetEase's mystical, martial arts-focused battle royale game Naraka: Bladepoint is going free-to-play next week. The game is marking its PS5 launch by throwing its doors wide open, letting everyone give it a try without forking over its current $20/£18 price tag. The change takes effect on Thursday, July 13.
NetEase has put together a whole FAQ to explain the decision to go F2P around two years after the game's 2021 release, but the key bit of info is probably this: "All in-game content is available to free players, including all game modes, events, cosmetics, character customization," so you won't be siloed off from paid players if you download the game after July 13.
That doesn't mean the game is becoming an egalitarian paradise, mind you. Players who bought the game—and players who decide to fork over enough in-game currency to upgrade their status—will get access to a few perks and benefits relative to the F2P hoi polloi. In particular, free players will find the rate at which they can unlock new heroes markedly curtailed: They can only earn 35 Hero Coins per week, and it takes 100 Coins to unlock a new guy. Paid players, naturally, can horde all the Coins they want.
Paying up will offer you a bit of a head start, too. While both free and paid players start out with access to heroes Viper, Tianhai, Zipin Yin & Matari, people who have spent money will get 300 Hero Coins (which translates to three heroes) to splash about as they will. Paid players will also get access to ranks at level 20 and lobby chat at level 5, versus level 50 and level 20 for free-tier folk.
You can get the full details about the transition over on Naraka's Steam news page, including a new 12 vs. 12 mode and info about discounts, special unlocks and a collaboration with a streamer called "Maximilian Dood" who I have definitely, 100% heard of. Otherwise, you just have to sit back and wait for July 13 to see the transmogrification take effect.
Naraka: Bladepoint currently sits at a Mixed rating on Steam's user-review charts, but that doesn't seem to have hindered it any. It boasts around 90,000 players at time of writing and holds a top-10 position in the Steam most-played rankings. I gotta admit, that's a surprise to me. I don't think I ever hear anyone talk about this game the way I do stuff like Fortnite; I suspect it's probably bigger outside the Anglophone world.
Its popularity is no bad thing: When PCG's Tyler Wilde took a look at the game for his Naraka: Bladepoint review, he scored it 73% and remarked that, "when it gets down to two healed-up players stalking each other through the trees, Naraka's thrills match the genre's best".