Echo of Soul is now in closed beta, and it looks to be a bit of fun. Though it does not seem to differ mechanically from most other MMORPG’s on the market, players will undoubtedly find that there are plenty of lands to explore and most importantly an intricate crafting system. In addition to that, you can craft your own character’s skills using the souls of fallen enemies. Kind of puts a new spin on drinking the blood of your enemies, doesn’t it? The game has several different classes to choose from as well as a couple of sub-classes for each archetype:
- Warrior – Berserker, Protector
- Rogue – Dualist, Assassin
- Guardian – Stormguard, Earthguard
- Sorceress – Firemage, Icemage
- Archer – Huntress, Bard
You might be sitting there thinking “Gee willikers that’s a lot of classes!”, but as it turns out the appeal is actually cut in half upon finding out that the classes are gender locked. That’s right, if you find a class you like, you have to play it as the gender presented. When the developers were asked about this, they simply said that they would much rather focus on the gameplay instead of worrying about designing a gender around every class. Okay guys, the game has been out in Korea since 2013, they’ve had time to work that out, but you know what, as far as we English speakers know, the game JUST came out, so they’re right on schedule when it comes to those characters.
What makes a good game even better? The fact that it’s coming to Steam. This will obviously mean a better download (faster), and of course automatically configured DirectX drivers for those who are technically challenged. There is no word yet as to whether or not the in-game currency system will be tied to the Steam marketplace as it is in games like Everquest. That aside, the weekend live stream confirmed that there will be both US and EU servers, meaning you won’t have to rely on a connection that’s crossed the Atlantic and fifty other servers simply to grind in yet another Aeria world.
So enough about the technical games, the big question is how does the game work? From what I could see on the live stream, it is actually pretty well optimized. In fact unlike some new MMO’s(Yes, you Archage), which are clearly designed solely to run on the powerful hardware, this one can actually adjust to the hardware you have, giving everyone the chance to play whether they’re running a next gen potato or a full-fledged gaming rig.
As with most other free to play MMORPGs you will be given a login bonus which increases depending upon how many times you actually log in consecutively. This gives players a reason to log in, and at the same time rewards those who are loyal to the game.
The next feature I want to talk about is one that may or may not work depending on the number of players that actually take advantage of it. The game features a dungeon finder, which allows players to line up for dungeons without actually waiting at the entrance. On one hand this kind of kills the social aspect, but on the other it allows players to continue questing or crafting while they wait for their turn to take on the latest boss or farm the best gear for their character. The dungeon finder works well in WoW, but in games like Everquest 2, no one actually uses the feature. Then again, it works well for D&D Online, but only because the game is essentially a giant lobby. Will the dungeon finder work well? It really depends on how well the dungeons are designed, and from the Twitch video, it seems that a good portion of the game is actually designed around those dungeon instances.
On the subject of dungeons being more interesting, they mentioned that there will be cross-server play much like World of Warcraft and Guild Wars 2. In addition to that, there will be extensive dungeon quests to allow for more experience as you finish those quests within the dungeon. One thing I did notice when they sent one of their testers into a dungeon as that the content was clearly not solo, and I was actually amazed that the guy was able to fight as many mobs as he did. That being said, those high exp dungeon quests cannot simply be solo’d unless the instance is significantly nerfed.
Aside from the dungeon quests and experience for each member, we all know that dungeons need to be about more than just a single person. They need to work out well for the entirety of the group, and for that reason, I was actually please to see that there was a built-in interface for healers. For those unfamiliar with grouping or raids in MMO’s, these features would normally be available only as a separate download, normally designed by a user. Then again, I’ve never seen a custom interface for an Aeria game, so they had to step up somewhere, didn’t they? Also, the game has no dedicated healing class, so showing the damage for each player is kind of useless unless you want to throw potions at them.
Let’s talk about loot. If you were perhaps a conossier of the original Everquest as it was in 1999, then you are familiar with loot tables that absolutely hate you. You remember farming for epics, and of course picking up equipment that wasn’t even meant for your class, right? How many times, as a tank, did you end up with a mage’s robe, or better yet, something that you didn’t even recognize? Even now in games like Everquest 2 it is not terribly uncommon to end up with things like ‘Root of the Wobbajack’ or ‘Kelba Roots’, or some crap like that. Of course all of these things are useful, but you don’t know what they are for, and you might spend hours figuring it out. This of course was all part of the mystery of the game, but wait! That mystery is going to be gone in Echo of Soul! From now on, all drops are going to be 100% relevant to your class, meaning you have absolutely nothing to worry about anymore. Doesn’t that sound great? Well to some people it does sound like a good idea, but others, who want work for their loot, are obviously going to stick with the harder games, like Everquest 2 and World of Warcraft.
As far as content goes, the developers claim that between questing, dungeons, and crafting, you will literally never run out of things to do, which I can believe, considering the game has been out since 2013. With an initial level cap of 60, there is certainly plenty of room for improvement as the cap is increased and more content is added in the future. It does, however, remain to be seen if this game can offer content to both the hardcore and the casual crowd. If they keep expanding, then why not?
Finally, we get to the guild system. I’m not entirely sure if the game features guild halls like any other MMORPG, but it does feature a war/peace system for those who are interested in taking the fight to the open world. Two large guilds at war with one another can initiate PVP anywhere in the world, and that makes the world of Echo of Soul far more interesting than many other MMO’s. For example, Guild Wars 2 has a World vs. World map, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a PVP mode where you could fight others out in the open? Of course it will never happen, but if EoS’s world is interesting enough, it might, and I say MIGHT, serve as a substitute for those wanting to unleash their inner ranger on the world map.
There are plenty of things to look forward to here in Echo of Soul, and though it looks to be another cookie cutter MMORPG in some ways, at least it manages to improve on many of the standard features, and the future might actually be very bright. The only question left when it comes to this title, however, is whether or not Aeria games will turn a potentially great title into another outright cash grab. As we said, however, So what will it be? Are you ready to take that long journey from 1 to 70 once again in an entirely new land? We’ll definitely be there, starting a guild and getting ready to declare war on yours. That is, of course, if we can pull ourselves away from the dungeons for long enough.Related: Aeria Games, Closed Beta, Echo of Soul, MMORPG