If there is one blockchain game that is seemingly doing everything right, so far, it’s Blankos Block Party. Currently available in early access and free-to-play, this game is solidly focusing on putting gameplay above the blockchain and NFT capabilities, ensuring the developers deliver a game that can be remembered for the right thing.
On the surface the inspirations for Blankos are stark and easy to appreciate; there’s a large dollop of LittleBigPlanet in the mix, as well as a dash of Fortnite and a dusting of the pop culture collectable, Funko Pops. It’s an appealing combination, creating a super casual, yet compelling aesthetic under which a rather addictive game can be found.
While I mention above that the NFT and blockchain concepts come second to gameplay, it’s worth mentioning these early, because yes, each Blanko vinyl is an NFT. These Funko-esque models can be bought and sold on the game’s marketplace. However, aside from some seriously limited early Blankos, few are selling for ludicrous amounts of money, which is encouraging. This points to a community valuing the game rather than the resale and flipping of the assets for profit.
In the same way that Funko Pops create rare and limited editions, there can be a limited number of a particular Blanko available to buy with in-game currency, appealing to the collectors out there. Blankos teams up with established artists to bring unique skin designs to the models, ranging from anthropomorphic animals to trippy astronauts, and these can all be personalised with accessories too.
A nice hook into the NFT concept is the ability to combine different models or use coloured orbs which permanently alter the look of your avatar model. This can be applied and kept, giving you a one-of-a-kind Blanko, or it can be sold on the marketplace.
The important factor is that you don’t have to buy these in order to play!
With so many blockchain games there is a ‘buy-in’ or ‘stake’ required from the player. This is usually funding a number of NFTs which must be purchased in order to actually begin playing the game. For Block Party, this is far from the case. Yes, your first Blanko will be plain-looking, just one colour all over, but you’ll still be able to play. Which is great, because the game itself can be as entertaining as any other multiplayer experience on the market currently.
There are two games bundled into Blankos Block Party at this early stage – lobbies filled with other players who either shoot it out for points or must foot race through obstacles to reach a finish line. There are more game types planned for the future and the community can have a hand in creating them. The shooting could be a little tighter in its controls on a controller, but it’s good enough to have an old fashioned team deathmatch.
The other ‘game’ leans towards being a very light metaverse, in which Blankos can hang out in different environments just chatting with each other or finding collectables scattered throughout, which reward XP. It’s a great place to chill between shooting or running and it’s reminiscent of game worlds from Roblox or Fortnite. The worlds on display are all wonderfully bubblegum cute, utilising big broad shapes and eye-popping colours.
That XP can be earned in several ways; in-game challenges like bouncing on a trampoline, landing a set number of headshots or collecting lightning bolts throughout the levels. This XP goes towards levelling up your Blanko in order to personalise it more, by choosing a class for it: the Wrecker uses power moves like a ground pound, a Tracer is more agile with spins and dashes and the Tanker can utilise shields and traps.
There is also a Battle Pass which unlocks emotes accessories and customisation options for your Blanko, the downside to this is the current cost, which is around $25. One can only assume this price point is higher due to the nature of the NFTs and possible fees on the blockchain.
I’ve tried so many blockchain games (seriously, there are a lot and you’ll hear about many of them soon) and a lot of them fail to capture an audience because the gameplay always seems to come second to the technology. Gaming has already gone through this with other emerging tech – virtual reality, touchscreen integration and motion controls. With these opportunities, developers tried to capitalise on the tech before having a game in place to use them. This always resulted in awful games.
Blankos Block Party is seemingly establishing itself as a ‘game, with blockchain additions’, rather than a ‘blockchain game’. If they keep the gameplay fresh and add in a bunch of new game types, perhaps even branch out onto consoles, then this could be a title that showcases how NFTs can be smartly used, rather than appear as a cash-grab.