This week I jumped into the closed beta for Echo of Soul. EoS is a new MMO being published in the west by Aeria Games. On first look the game seemed interesting enough but I wondered if it would have enough different to keep people around for the long haul. Chances are? Probably not. At the same time, it's not a bad game, per say.
At character creation you will be able to choose from five classes, Warrior, Rogue, Guardian, Archer, and Sorceress. These classes are gender locked but the roles aren’t. Both the male Warrior and female Guardian can be either tanks or DPS. There is also a gender mix of ranged DPS between the Archer and the Sorceress. I’m not sure why they choose to lock the characters like this because I can’t really see a reason for it from a story perspective. There is an acceptable level of character customization but not as deep as you would expect from a new MMO. There are a number of other recent releases that outshine it in this department.
Once I was in the game world the first thing that struck me was just how generic everything appeared. Stylistically it looks like Aion, TERA, ArcheAge, and RaiderZ, only the graphics are not as good as most of those games. I would consider it in line with what we saw in RaiderZ, or a little better, but not as crisp as what you can find in TERA.
Unlike TERA or RaiderZ this game is not an action combat game. This is tab target and hotbars. One thing the developers did add though was the ability to use the F key to interact with items and people so you don’t have to mouse over them and click them to receive a quest, or pick up a quest item, or loot a mob. In fact you can have pets in this game that will loot victory spoils for you.
You start off the game in the Breya forest. Demons have infiltrated the area and you are tasked to stop them. You are a soul keeper chosen by the gods, along with tens of thousands other players, to bring a stop to a terrible evil that has crept into the world. This evil has followed in the wake of an ancient war between the gods and giants. The gods won. If they hadn’t been able to beat giants I’d say they are pretty crappy gods.
Combat is traditionally skill or spell based and there are skills that a player can chain together. Pretty typical for an Asian import. The game does have a very robust tutorial system that is fully voiced and stands out from the pack. It also has a few nice UI features that the min/max crowd will enjoy. There is a DPS meter and next to the quest log there is a compass that will show you what direction and how far you have to go to get to that quests current objective.
The game is going to be micro-transaction based so while you can download the client for free I can already tell it is going to lean heavily on the cash shop. One of the first tip offs is you can earn pets from achievements but only gain access to them for 3 days before you have to start buying items to extend their useful life. The shop is empty other than the starter packs which either cost 1999 Aeria Points for the beginner pack or 4999 for the themed packs, Companions, Apparel, and Dungeon Legend. An AP is basically a penny. While I don’t mind spending money on games I enjoy I can say that I don’t believe the totality of the items in the Companion Pack Aeria gave me is close to $50 USD. While the tiger mount is nice, and also permanent, the pet Brown Baby Llama is only good for 30 days. It also comes with an hourglass that will give me an extra 30 days. This really leaves me to wonder how many AP things will cost in the cash shop.
I also had some hiccups with the 3rd party app protector that EoS employs, XIGNCODE3. It killed my game for suspicious programs on a regular basis. I thought I was finally able to narrow it down to my antivirus software but in the end it would still crash from time to time and tell me it had found a suspicious program. Needless to say that was a bit frustrating. I also don’t see that being identified as a bug and changing anytime soon. I believe it is, “working as intended.”
While I did mention the game feels pretty generic with tropes such as reaching level 10 and choosing between one of two skill paths, it does seem to have one system that it can call all its own: soul purification. During the game you will be rewarded with chaos souls by defeating enemies. You can then purify these and they will become either Hope, Innocence, Courage, or Peace souls. You can then use these as crafting materials or you can merge them together and consume them to create temporary buffs.
Crafting and dungeoneering are also in EoS. This is a feature rich game and has everything you would expect of a AAA theme park MMO. Starting at level 10 you will be exposed to a new dungeon every 5 levels until 50 at which time you’ll have to wait again until level 57.
I won’t call Echo of Soul a good game. I won’t call it a bad game either. I pretty much think of it as a popcorn MMO. It’s mindless entertainment in the form of an MMORPG that you can run around in and see the sites, kill monsters, and run dungeons until you hit level cap or get bored. I don’t see anything in the game of true substance that will make anyone want to stick around for the long term. If after a few more hours of playing I change my mind I’ll let you know in a future column.