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Soul Calibur: Blades of War is an action-adventure game. The perspective is in third-person, and the camera angle can be freely rotated around the player character.
The game is divided into three different parts of the story, of which each part consists of a primary character (Zayn and Leandra, respectively) who accumulates companion characters along their journey. All characters from previous sections are playable by the end of Leandra's part of the story. The player may choose up to three companion characters on the field at a time, leaving remaining companion characters in reserve.
In battle, the player can switch control between any active playable character at a time. Blades of War uses a "Freeflow" combat system similar to that of Batman: Arkham City, enabling the player character to automatically lock onto nearby enemies and also counter enemy attacks.
Battling increases a playable character's experience, which is used to unlock new combat abilities. Playable characters, however, cannot permanently increase their own damage output or health points.
- Lions' Pride Warrior (multiple)
- Lions' Pride Spy (multiple)
- Wolf's Rain Warrior (multiple)
- Xie Di
- Xie Ren
- Xie Tian
- Xie Yu
Yearning for having his hands on Soul Edge, the shapeshifter Zayn sets off on a journey to claim several shards of the weapon's remains. Requiring help for his quest, Zayn asks the help of Sakura to help him obtain Soul Edge. Believing that just the two of them would not be enough for the task, Sakura brings Zayn to Helen to request the aid of the Lions' Pride mercenary clan. Helen, however, refuses to help Zayn, telling him that possessing such shards would only drive him to madness. Helen was, however, not going to stop Zayn, trusting Sakura enough to end the shapeshifter if he ever went mad. Zayn and Sakura continue their task together. Once Zayn's ring blade transforms into an incomplete version of Soul Edge, he and Sakura are attacked by multiple Astaroths. Before they can be overwhelmed, Helen and several of her mercenaries arrive at their aid. The allies able to work together to kill the golems. In order to prevent Fygul Cestemus from obtaining Zayn's Soul Edge shards, Helen brings Sakura and Zayn back to her outpost.
Several days later, Leandra and her son, Luke, are sparring with one another. Their sparring is interrupted by a small group of malfested soldiers led by another Astaroth. Together, mother and son slay their enemies, but realize that the attack meant that the Fygul Cestemus cult is rapidly rebuilding itself. Deciding that they need all the help they can get, Leandra and Luke consult the Lions' Pride regarding the matter. While Leandra, Luke, and Helen discuss what they should do about the increasing activity of Fygul Cestemus, malfested soldiers of the very enemy attack the outpost. Helen tells Leandra and Luke to escort Zayn out of the outpost and asks Sakura, who is also present, to accompany them. Hanako and Hitoshi also volunteer to join. Desiring to accumulate more help to protect Zayn, Leandra begins to form her own mercenary group, which she names Wolf's Rain. Leandra personally travels to recruit more warriors willing to fight for her cause.
The many skirmishes against the cult are able to unite the forces of Wolf's Rain and the Lions' Pride. Eventually, Owen and Yuner arrive to help the mercenaries, having detected the concentration of evil energy. Together, the allied factions are able to locate the new Shrine of the Snake God Palgaea and manage to discover a secondary, less-guarded entrance of the shrine. The leaders of the allied forces agree to have Leandra and Helen lead Luke, Zayn, Sakura, Hanako, Hitoshi, Marja, Alexandra, and Owen through this secondary entrance, while the rest of the allied warriors harass the shrine's main gate. The small force led by Leandra eventually fights its way to the center of the shrine, where it encounters the priests of Fygul Cestemus and even Palgaea himself. The heroes soon realize that Palgaea was able to collect even more Soul Edge shards than Zayn was able to, granting him more power than he already had. Regardless, the heroes must stop the God of War, and prepare to face one of the toughest fights of their lives.