Blue Protocol, the free-to-play MMO collab between Bandai Namco and Amazon, will no longer launch in 2023 – at least not in the West.
Per a fresh blog post, the MMO will hit Japan on June 14, but the global version has now slipped into 2024. The game still carries a 2023 release date on Steam at the time of writing, but we won't get to play it for ourselves this year without help from an unofficial translation and possibly a VPN. At least a closed beta will be held on PC later this year; you can find sign-up information at that blog post.
Blue Protocol is part of a growing line of Amazon-backed MMOs, the most recent addition being the New World studio's Lord of the Rings MMO which is still years away. But this news is particularly painful for yours truly because Blue Protocol is also the one Amazon MMO I'm actually interested in.
Runescape upbringing aside, I've never been a big MMO player apart from *checks notes* nine years of Destiny, but I have enjoyed a few other MMOs by treating them as single-player RPGs whenever possible. Final Fantasy 14 and Black Desert come to mind here, though I ultimately gave up the former because the social element became too much for me. Ever since its reveal, I've hoped Blue Protocol might be my next solo-ish MMO adventure, not just because it looks and sounds mighty good, but because it's tailored to my interests almost eerily perfectly.
I won't deny that the anime look is doing some heavy lifting here. Blue Protocol's got a chunky painterly style sitting somewhere between Ni No Kuni 2 and Tales of Arise, and I'm into it, especially with a robust-looking character creator to dig into. The post-apocalyptic fantasy world looks positively gorgeous, which is especially good news for me since exploring it on my own is a big part of the appeal here.
Speaking of Tales of Arise, Bandai Namco's involvement actually gives me some hope for combat. The company's backlog has some unbelievable stinkers in it, but it also has a lot of solid action RPGs like Code Vein, Scarlet Nexus, God Eater, and several Tales games which are still some of my favorite JRPGs.
Unlike most MMOs, Blue Protocol has actual action-based combat that instantly looks fast and fun. I'm not hating on tab-target, cooldown-based MMOs, but I know which flavor of combat I prefer. With the game coming to PS5 and Xbox Series X, there's also a chance I can play it from the comfort of my oversized couch, which I always appreciate.
Blue Protocol has been quietly simmering ever since its Game Awards announcement, so I'm hoping it picks up some steam as we get closer to its global launch. I'd hoped it might be a dark horse for the year, but I guess I'll hope it surprises me in 2024 instead.