Don't you hate spending hours of your life that you will never get back pouring your heart and soul into a character only to find out you really don't like the class you picked? Perhaps you had a change of heart and would rather be a melee damage dealer instead of a ranged one, or the class you picked just didn't play as advertised. Regardless of the reason, this can put off many people from continuing to play an MMO. Eden Eternal, published by Aeria games, attempts to solve this problem by letting you switch classes on the fly, allowing you to put all your time and energy into a single character. Is this a great feature that enhances an already great game, or is it just a gimmick to cover up a bland experience? Hit the jump to find out.
Playing the role of a hero, born of a crystal and with no memory of their past, the player sets out into the world of Eden Eternal as an Eternal Guardian. According to legend the Eternal Guardians are the ones who will cure the world of its political strife. Right from the start players are asked to prove that they are indeed the chosen ones by doing various tasks for a myriad of NPCs, all based on the notion that as a reward the NPCs will tell them about their past, and their future.
The story of the game is told only slightly through NPC dialogue, and more in the unlock-able legends and achievements in the game. By completing quest chains you unlock both. Achievements occasionally have a small blurb, whereas legends serve to expand the lore of the zone you are in, and the game as a whole. It’s a nice touch, and while it has been done before, most notably in Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, it serves its purpose well.
In the character creation screen you can see all the classes available in the game, and what is needed to unlock them, though at level one only the Warrior and Wizard are selectable. However, you quickly unlock the Cleric, Thief and Hunter at level 5, 10 and 15 respectively. All of these are attainable within the first few hours of play. Classes level up independently of your character level, but with two separate skill sets; one tied to your character level that changes with the class archetype that you currently are (Warrior, Knight and Templar being Defensive, Wizard, Illusionist and Warlock being Magic DPS, etc.) and the other for each individual class. Even though when you unlock a class it starts at level 1, you still have access to the 6 skills of the archetype thus ensuring that it's not totally useless before you level it up. Levelling each class will also unlock certificates, which are bonuses that you can equip up to 7 of at max level. Getting two or more certificates of the same archetype will grant different bonuses, such as +4% wisdom for having two healer certificates, or increased healing and damage for your base healing and base damage spells for three healer certificates.
The class system works well, which is good, considering it is the game's biggest feature, but what about the core of the game? How does that stand up against its peers?
With its cute cell shaded style, at first glance, Eden Eternal is a joy to look at. The colours are bright, the models are interesting and the environment can be breath-taking. It doesn't take long though, to see that much of this is all smoke and mirrors. The game is strewn with invisible walls and zone borders, so a player will quickly grow tired of the interesting environments if they are completely inaccessible. It is an understandable restriction, but you can't help but want more. The teasing is what makes it worse. If more time was put into the foreground instead of the background it wouldn't be such a big deal, but the bait and switch can leave a sour taste in your mouth, especially if you are the type of person that likes to explore. Luckily however, the animation quality is good, so you are never forced to gaze longingly at the places you cannot go to, and just enjoy the moment you are in.
While a slight tweak to responsiveness would be nice, Eden Eternal plays like you would expect of any modern 3D MMO. You left click a monster to target them, right click them to start auto attacking, or spam tab until you have the target you want. Once the target is in sight you activate abilities by hitting the corresponding hot key on your keyboard, or right clicking the ability. Combat is fluid enough, though there is a slight delay when chaining attacks and an inability to use instant attacks while moving is a weird design choice. The abilities you get string together well and anyone can quickly figure out the order of use which will yield the highest DPS. Zones flow nicely with quests funnelling you from one end to the other where the portal to the next zone and the dungeon of the current zone lie. Dungeons are short and simple, but a nice way to have group content in the game. Some dungeons can be run solo only by talking to an NPC outside. You don't get XP or items for killing things in the solo runs, but having that option for an easier way to finish quests is a nice touch.
Being able to have only one character and switch classes at any time is a nice touch, but nothing new. Outside of that Eden Eternal does nothing remotely interesting with its story, game mechanics or visuals. It is a game to be a game, and nothing more than that.
I put over 30 hours into Eden Eternal and can't recall finding more than one or two bugs. There is occasional texture tearing, and monsters that will get stuck in walls and rocks, but nothing game breaking at all. The game runs smooth, plays fine, and looks good. It is a well put together experience.
Unlocking all 15 classes will drive even the slightly compulsive to slave away for a long time at Eden Eternal. Quests are numerous, if not repetitive, many are even repeatable. It embraces grind in the best of ways, rewarding players with choices at every level, even if it is as simple as which skill to level up first. Unless you absolutely hate the tediousness of levelling, Eden Eternal can keep you going for a long time, especially for a free2play MMO. The cash shop armour sets will make the first 30 levels very easy, and the XP bonus potions will make the following levels slightly faster. Besides mounts and potions there isn't much else in the cash shop, which could be seen as both and good and a bad thing.
The lacking component to make it a truly long lasting experience though, is crafting. Not introduced until level 20, (it is doable beforehand but the game doesn't tell you about it), crafting is one of the most tacked on and unpolished features of the game. It works, but that is hardly a compliment. Rather than levelling skills and adding more grind to the game, not the best method but tried and true at the very least, Eden takes the social game approach of “click and wait”. To get anything made you must first buy the plans from a vender, find the select few that drop, or get the plans as quest rewards to see what is needed. Once you have your “shopping list” you buy the needed assignments from a vender NPC and take them to a gathering NPC. Once the assignment is given to the gathering NPC the waiting begins. Low level materials like copper ore take 5 minutes for the gatherer to gather, and the time escalates from there. During that time you can go back to questing or grab a drink, cook lunch, or go gather real resources in the real world. Once the materials are ready you go back to the gatherer to collect them and hope they have enough ready. With your completed shopping list you then find the corresponding NPC which can craft your gear, give him or her the recipe and the materials, and again, you guessed it, wait.
So far the time and cost of crafting has not been worth it when the gear from venders random drops and quest rewards are just as good. Some people may enjoy the click and wait approach to crafting, but it does remove the sense of satisfaction crafting can bring when you make that piece of armour yourself. It feels lazy, like it was designed late in development with the focus being on the cheapest development cost. With such a system, all crafted gear should have just been purchasable without the wait. It may have worked for Farmville, but being forced to wait is neither a fun nor rewarding game play mechanic.
Guilds are guilds, groups are groups, and your friends list is opened with O. The lovers system is a nice touch, allowing you to get bonus XP when grouped near your chosen lover, but it doesn't add anything to expanding your social circle, only adding a bonus for two people who like grouping together a lot.
Eden Eternal is a solid game with much longevity and a cash shop model that never forces or overly rewards purchasing. As a Free2Play game you won’t get much more for your lack of payment. Ultimately the biggest sin committed by Eden Eternal is that it is safe. From the cute cell shaded visuals, to the social gaming inspired crafting, the game wants to be liked so much that it ends up lacking any sort of personality. The story is bland, but is pushed so much in your face by the legends and achievements that it creates the illusion of being for role-players, without actually giving them the substance to do so. The class system looks huge at first, but at its core it is very simple. Again full of illusions, you seem to have tonnes of choice, but at the end of the day you have access to almost everything. Had it taken more risks, Eden Eternal could have been a great game, or at least one worth remembering for a spectacular failure, but in its current state the game is just that, a game. You will have fun, you will get more than your money's worth, but in the end it will be forgotten as just another of the Free2Play games put out in the 7th console generation. Eden Eternal was a terrible pick for a title, when it is more of a in the moment and nothing more experience.
All that said, I don't regret my time with it, and the drive to unlock all the classes may keep me hopping back on once and a while. If all you want is a time sink of a free MMO, you won’t do much better.