Blade: Sword of Elysion gets at some of the most important parts about loot-based action RPGs. Although there’s a lot of hacking and slashing in this mobile game, there’s always a broader goal of improving your character above the minute-to-minute action. It’s that clear motivation that could hook you if its end-game player versus player combat is successful.

Because without that, I’m not sure what else Blade: Sword of Elysion has to offer. It will have cooperative dungeon missions, where at least two players can work together to swipe and magic-cast their way through waves of enemies. The tightness to its controls, a God of War-like satisfying feedback to each hit, and your ability to quickly fling out powerful attacks seems built to be used against other, similarly skilled players. In fact, this is what primarily made the game so successful in Korea, where it’s already released, the developers told me.

The PvP has a matchmaking system and runs on dedicated servers, so if lag doesn’t become a problem, Blade: Sword of Elysion competitive multiplayer could stick. It’s set up like a fighting game, health bars on the top, the arena below. It’s not as readable as a fighting game, many of the magical abilities briefly cloud the screen, but what I played suggests a level of finesse that might overcome traditional expectations.

“without PVP, I’m not sure what else Blade: Sword of Elysion has to offer.”PAX_Dungeon

Those battles are fueled by the rest of the game’s loot and increasingly difficult dungeons. There’s rewards for finishing these dungeons with skill, like carefully timing the game’s counter-attacks, which are devastating to enemies when pulled off correctly, and executing combos. Blade: Sword of Elysion even has a 100-level marathon mode where you can either play yourself to see how far you get or turn on an option that plays your character for you as far as it can. It’s a clever way to keep the game going on a handheld device and a smart way to let players essentially benchmark the power of their characters.

All of these things feel built as training for the online component. They each teach you the skill and timing the game requires, which is surprisingly responsive for a game that uses on-screen thumbsticks and buttons, and earns you the right loot to get you equipped for its tougher battles. That means it’s going to be vital for that side of Blade: Sword of Elysion to work. Whether or not it will is difficult to tell right now, but we’ll know soon, since Blade: Sword of Elysion is due out in the next few weeks on iOS and early next year on Android.

Tyler Colp has been writing about games as a journalist and a critic for over five years. He's curious about film, music, pop culture, food, and anything related to Dark Souls.