Echo of Soul, an upcoming Korean MMO developed by Nvius and published by Aeria Games. The good news is that if you’re looking for a unique, engaging, and exciting MMO to dump dozens or even hundreds of hours into, there are lots of options out there to pick from. The bad news is that Echo of Souls is not one of them. As several of us pointed out in impressions pieces from the Closed Beta, it’s not really a good game, but it’s not really a bad game either. It’s just kind of... there.
There are an absolute crapload of MMOs that serve little purpose other than to exist and it’s looking like Echo of Soul is headed for that category very quickly. It has a lot of promise: big publisher backing, catchy title, solid mechanics, lots of features, and most other things you’d want. The problem is that not only does it lack the unique flair needed to stand out, it suffers from several other issues holding it back from really being a game worth recommending. All is not lost however, perhaps there is still time to right those wrongs, so we’ve put together a list of 5 ways Echo of Soul could improve.
5) Better 3rd Party Applications
This usually isn’t something that should ever be a factor. Most of the time, if a 3rd party application is being used to protect you or the game from hackers and other issues, you don’t even realize it’s running in the background or you just have to sit through a short loading sequence at the game’s launch. But in the case of Echo of Soul, I’ve seen a lot of people running into issues.
Nvius uses XIGNCODE3 as its application and on a few different occasions (including people from MMORPG) the program would shut the game down for seemingly no reason. These programs are usually designed to identify and eliminate harmful programs, but on many cases it misidentifies all kinds of other programs and force-quits the game. The mere fact that this has to be mentioned at all is a pretty unfortunate sign.
4) No More Gender-Locking
I’m really, really sick and tired of gender-locking in games. I know it saves a lot of money to only have to design and animate 1 character model as opposed to 2 for any given situation, but that’s really not a valid excuse for me anymore. Especially seeing as how this game has been out for a while in the East, you’d think they could have worked it into their update schedule at some point.
Gender-locking is just such an outdated way of designing your class. There is never an in-game explanation for it at all and it just comes off as being sexist. All of the masculine classes (like warriors) are typically locked as male and the less-masculine classes (squishier roles like casters) are locked as female. How is it even considered roleplaying if my gender is predetermined based on skill set?
3) Larger Zones
A lot of games nowadays are either embracing a more open-world design or have massive zones for players to explore. Guild Wars 2 has some absolutely huge zones – you can play for hours without ever seeing a loading screen – while other games like Neverwinter still use a hub-like structure. It seems like Echo of Soul sort of tried to do a hybrid approach but failed to capture the benefits of either.
Many of the starting zones are quite large and seem to be a good preview of what’s to come, but just like everything else in the game, it goes downhill fairly quickly. Zones start to get smaller, time between large hubs grows longer, and the incentive to keep exploring all but disappears. I fear that even if more large zones were implemented, there wouldn’t be enough life in the game to fill them all.
2) Clean Up the Visuals
Echo of Soul isn’t really a bad looking game, I guess. You can put it on par with a lot of other MMOs on the market like Archlord 2, RaiderZ, or Black Gold Online. The only problem is that it just doesn’t have anything unique or identifiable going on that makes it really stand out. Granted, Echo of Soul has been out for a little while, but even by those standards it doesn’t look all that great.
Games like World of Warcraft get a pass since they’ve been out for so long, but even that art style is timeless to a certain degree and ages incredibly well. Updates are incredibly important for an MMO stay relevant and in virtually all cases the first impression anyone will ever have with your game is a visual one. I would say don’t judge a game by it’s a screenshots, but Echo of Soul is about as bland on the inside as it looks on the outside.
1) Something (Anything) to Make it Less Generic
I’d definitely recommend watching HiveLeader’s impressions video for a visual aid to this point, but the biggest things that stands out to me are just how overwhelmingly bland and generic all aspects of Echo of Soul feel. From the generic combat and boring visuals to the repetitive quests and soulless inspirations, it’s just not a game I can recommend.
Take a look at virtually all other similar MMOs on the market. Guild Wars 2 shakes up so much of the MMO formula to deliver a unique experience. Games like TERA have incredibly well-done combat, RaiderZ has a hunting gimmick that’s a lot more entertaining than you’d think and the list goes on and on. Echo of Soul has none of these things and fails to create its own image.
I don’t typically enjoy being overly negative in my lists. However, I felt like it was important to draw specific attention to these aspects of the game. We try to keep you all informed and the best way to do that sometimes is to highlight the bad in hopes of future improvement. Echo of Soul had a lot of potential, but it ends up feeling like nothing but an echo of the games it emulates, rather than making a sound of its own in the crowded MMO market.