Closed Beta Hands-On
Echo of Soul has been out for a few years now overseas, finally making its way to North America and Europe courtesy of Aeria Games. A traditional theme park MMORPG, complete with now “old school” tab targeting, does Echo of Soul pack enough punch to make you take notice? Read on for our first impressions from the closed beta.
The first thing that sticks out about Echo of Soul is that all five of its base classes are gender locked. The Rogue and Warrior are men, while the Guardian, Sorceress, and Archer are all women only. This will likely turn a few folks off immediately, and frankly it did stop me from making an archer. I’m not sexist, I just prefer playing my own sex in MMOs.
Ergo, I went with the Warrior, picked from a few basic character creation options, and was off into the world. Like any recent theme park, there are quite a few cinematics to lay out the story. Bad evil stuff is invading the world, and it’s your job to stop it alongside your fellow players. Questing and killing and roving through the zones are the name of the game. Yep, exclamations and question marks are all over the place here. So far, in a few hours’ play, it’s nice that the quest requirements aren’t steep or grindy. Kill a few of these, a few of those, or collect these. They may be the same ol’ thing we’re used to, but at least they’re not superfluous.
EOS, like the other imported MMO coming this summer in the form of Cabal 2, is also tab-target when it comes to combat. And, you guessed it, there are combos too. Successfully land a Cleave with your Warrior, and 50% of the time it’ll let you use a shoulder rush to follow up. Enemies die quick, and aren’t too dangerous, but I am only 10 levels into the action so far. I wouldn’t expect too much difficulty or need to group yet.
Another thing that struck me as a problem in the beta so far has been just how “zoned” everything is. Your first starter area seems like a decently big area for a tutorial zone, but then it seems that Echo of Soul offers up a bunch of really small instanced areas between bigger hub areas. So to take go from one “bigger” area to another, you’ll travel through several much smaller narrow instances, zoning between each. It’s a really odd setup, and one I’m not sure I’ve seen anywhere else. So when the marketing speak says there are over 68 areas, they’re probably not lying… just don’t expect 68 epically beautiful vistas. If you don’t like zoned/instanced MMOs, EOS won’t be for you.
The namesake for the game, the “Soul System” is kind of neat, but I’m not yet sure how deep it goes. You get “Chaos Souls” for every enemy you kill. Then you take them to a Soul Sanctum (usually in towns) and purify them, they become powerful skills to use in battle. Like a consumable but large boost to attack, defense, crit, and so forth. Hopefully things with the Soul System become a bit more robust, as of right now it’s just a minor gimmick.
Crafting is something I’ve just started, but cooking seems like an actual useful mechanic already. Like TERA, your characters will get tired and hungry from combat and adventure. But luckily you can cook your own food to recharge the stat and gain beneficial bonuses to HP and attack power. The other more complex crafting professions I’ve yet to dive into. But I’d expect something traditional like crafting weapons on par with quest rewards, and the like.
Visually, EOS isn’t too shabby. There are certainly better looking games out there, but at highest settings EOS runs at a smooth 100 FPS on my laptop, so I’m not complaining. Everything’s nice looking enough, just none of it really stands out. Like Cabal 2 last week, my first impression of Echo of Soul is that’s it’s a nice enjoyable theme park MMORPG… it just doesn’t do that much to make itself stand out from the crowd.
Aeria was kind enough to provide us with some founders packs to play the game, and I will say that the Tiger Mount and pets I received are nice little perks, but since you get a free (arguably cooler looking) Llama within the first hour, I’m not sure it’s worth the price. EOS is in closed beta right now, and I did confirm that there will be a wipe, so if you’re really interested in trying out the game I’d wait for a beta invite or for the Open Beta test to begin. Anything you achieve or do in the CBT will just be wiped before the OBT.
Echo of Soul, at least so far, is a decently enjoyable theme park ride through a familiar landscape with systems any MMO vet will quickly pick up. But its familiarity may be its downfall with readers here at MMORPG, as most MMO gamers are looking and waiting and hoping for something truly unique to come along. As an in-between game though, you could probably do a lot worse. Obviously we need a lot more time with the game to offer a full review, but it’ll take a big change of pace to surprise me with EOS. Aeria’s latest is definitely not bad, it’s just not great either.