Echo of Soul Closed Beta Review
TBD Overall Score
Familiar and easy to pick up controls, well thought out storyline, good localization/translations
Dated graphics and a generic MMORPG format that offers nothing new to the genre
This week we did a play through of new fantasy MMORPG Echo of Soul, a free to play game that originally released in South Korea in 2013 the game has now had its western European and North American launch published by Aeria Games. Falling comfortably into the theme park classical MMORPG genre we were interested to see whether the game could find its own way in an already crowded market and to see what features were on offer.
Our first big issue came with trying to actually log into the game, using the Aeria Ignite platform it doesn’t, for whatever reason, actually save your name and password and given that we had been provided a press name and password made up of random numbers and letters it was a pain trying to remember it/copy and pasting it, seriously, it’s a pretty basic feature. This was only made such a big issue because upon logging in the game launches some spyware/hack shield style third party software scanning for third party hack programs and (as is typical with these types of programs) constantly crashed the game each time we logged in (hence constantly having to re-enter our username and password) saying we were running suspicious programs; essentially we had to turn off all our background programs because by “suspicious” it meant “everything” apparently.
Starting at character creation we had five different classes to choose from (albeit the Asian servers have just released the sixth Warlock class), each of which has to specialisations that they can pick up from level 10. Honestly for a large-scale MMORPG we would expect more, even. More so because the classes are actually gender locked which as ever will leave if you disgruntled players that want to play a class but not necessarily as a particular predetermined gender. Not that it bothers us too much though. We tried out the female Sorceress and with a quick customisation where we could scroll between some premade options focusing mostly on the head we jumped into the game.
The graphics are a little bit dated, and we mean more than the 18 months since its first release or even however long prior it was in development; the textures are flat, a lot of the scenery is very angular (such as trees) instead of being smooth and in all honesty it looks like a game from over five years ago. This is a pretty big issue that is only emphasised by the fact that the content is also very similar, dare we say generic, to a lot of games are been released in the last five years and so it seems like it could quite easily fall to the bottom of the pile with nothing really outstanding to rise it to the top.
One of the main features in the game, a least one that takes precedent and features heavily on the website, wiki and during the initial quests and tutorials is the Soul System, which also ties in with the actual lore of the game that the players are “Soulkeepers”. How it works is that each time you kill an enemy you gather a Chaos Soul, stockpiling these players can then purify these souls to convert them into four different resources: Courage, Peace, Innocence and Hope. Each of these resources is tied to a single skill, players can choose which of the four skills they have active at any one time and once triggered will buff them for a few seconds and then has a long 2 minute cooldown. The skills can be levelled up over time to make them more useful/powerful and they’re also tied into the crafting system as well. Purifying the Souls was a little annoying, you could do it at a Sanctum found in most settlements, which would cost 2 Chaos Souls per time, or do it as a Co-op with another player for half the cost, which just meant clicking some random passer-by and getting them to co-op for all of 5 seconds as you would both benefit and you rarely needed to change Chaos Souls therein then so can always wait until you come across someone. It was a really pointless element to the feature. That said the feature itself is kind of underwhelming, given that most of revolves around it, it didn’t feel like with only four skills it was all that big of a deal.
PVE was pretty familiar to every other MMORPG, get quests, for your quest journal, go back and forth between NPC’s generally following a “go here and kill X number of mobs” format, though we did like the individual compass markers next to each quest journal entry that made it easy to get navigate to our required location. PVP was generally pretty easy, though we didn’t get to try out any late game content, however queueing for the Solo Dungeon that was available for our level was ridiculously hard and we can even get past the first naga mob… so not really a “Solo Dungeon” at all for us, unless by “Solo” it has the provision that you are 10 levels higher from the level recommendation or decked out in the best gear.
PVP was even more disappointing, queueing for a 15 vs 15 Battlefield fight we ended up in a large circular arena style map that was a point capture game with five towers around the outskirts of the map and a central area that held a map boss mob (that never seemed to open from what we could tell). Whilst there are a few PVP options in the game the biggest issue is that for a “Matchmaking” system it seems to heavily rely on having a large active population available as presumably once it can find players around your level it simply uses anyone that is currently queueing. For all is the result was that as level 10 players (the lowest you can be for arena PVP) we were going up against level 60+ characters that are pretty much one hit kill us. Though we had our moments in the sun where we get the best of one of the other lower level players in a one-on-one fighting over possession of a tower, this was usually cut short when one of the high levelled players came over and made short work of one of us. We actually ended up quitting the game, not through rage or annoyance as in fairness there was still some enjoyment to be had although we felt pretty helpless as our paltry spells fell upon the defences of level 60 characters, but due to the fact that the game was taking so damn long and we could actually see any time scoring mechanism to determine how long the match length would be.
Some of the things we liked were the food sustenance system, lots of games have food giving a buff but here food gave your character a Satiation value to determine how full they were, the more satiated the higher your hit point and attack buff, meaning going hungry actually have detrimental effects. We like to we got our mounts at level 6 meaning we didn’t have to do walk everywhere and also enjoyed our companion pet, initially a little white anteater, but was replaced by our brown mini llama from our press Founders Pack (as well as a Tiger mount). We also got in the pack some other goodies including gold bullion which we could sell, valued at one gold pieces each, so we tried out the Lottery Ticket feature where players have a chance of winning lots of cash (though we don’t know how much and we don’t know what the odds are..). Each ticket cost all is one gold /1000 silver, and just quantify that at level 10 we’d acquired 60 silver max, so clearly this is for high-level players, with three tickets we won 600 silver each time so we ended up with a deficit. May the odds be ever in your favour.
All in all the game isn’t terrible, we didn’t hate playing it, we just didn’t love it. There’s plenty of games out there that are pretty much the same as Echo of Soul but with better graphics and more in-depth features. For a “new” MMORPG the developers have seemed to entrench the game in a more old/traditional MMORPG style this and the graphics already need revamping.