Coming into closed beta, Eden Eternal is the newest property developed for publisher Aeria Games. The developer, X-Legend, is best known for their previous two titles which are Grand Fantasia and Kitsu Saga. Players who have already cut their teeth on either of these two titles will have a fair idea of what they’re getting into as X-Legend brings MMO gaming to the next level.
The graphics engine is fairly powerful, with strong special effects, highly customizable characters, and environments to spare. A narrative guides the players from their beginning point through a vast world and allows them to build reputation with the NPCs and cities through the game. Among its innovations, Eden Eternal brings a insta-switch class system and class archetypes that unlock through game play. As well as a player-housing system that allows guilds to build their own cities.
Graphics and sound: The environments are cartoonish but not cheesy and the FX are solid
Looking at the game world provides a crisp view of environments and it’s easy to navigate from place to place. Unlike many other games from this genre, the boundaries between objects are fairly distinct and the colors fit their regions. The art direction in this game worked out for the better—even if every loading screen seems to suggest this is the MMO of pastel horrors.
Mobs and NPCs at first seem to have a medium polycount but it doesn’t detract from the graphical nuance that seeps through this entire game. Everywhere you go, there are monsters of different variety and type and some of them you’ll be sent to dispatch or fleece for various quests. Most of them overland are non-aggro, but upon entering dungeons you’ll discover they can be quite hostile.
The towns are full of NPCs happy to speak with you. Not everyone in Eden Eternal is human—in fact, there’s quite a few anthropromorphic animals littered about this animé landscape. However, each person has a fairly distinct look and art decision and you’ll recognize them time and again when you come across them (not just because of their names.)
The casting and attack FX are actually quite nice. There didn’t seem to be as much particle effects in play, but more than enough to make certain you know something is going on. After multiple tries, I was able to catch some of the more subtle effects with screenshots while casting spells. Expect a lot of flashes, smashes, and swipe arcs while you’re playing.
Especially playing a mage (my favorite in many games) there’s a lot of FX to enjoy.
The sound seemed pretty decent, but forgettable. Eden Eternal may not be breaking ground with its sound FX, but they’re certainly not doing a bad job with it either. Everything that needs a sound has one and it has some workable indicators in play.
Classes: Archetypical taxonomy gets a run for its money
At the beginning of the game players only get to choose between two major archetypical classes: Warrior and Mage. As the player advances in experience and level, however, further classes are unlocked and the player can switch into them. Playing a particular class opens up experience points and skills for them to upgrade generating the ability for players to customized their own experience within any given class.
The big deal here is that once a player has unlocked a class they can switch between it and all of the other classes they’ve unlocked any time they desire. The game imposes a meager 20 second timeout to prevent people from flipping willy-nilly between classes. This function allows character to quickly change the class spread of any given group to better fit circumstances. A group gathers and there’s no tank or healer? No problem, everyone probably has a tank or healer class prepared to jump into and someone can take up that mantle without delay.
From the tank archetypes we’ve got three: Warrior, your basic starting class with a sword and a lot of armor; Knight, relies more heavily on blocking and dodging to allow them to deliver a great deal of hitting power; Templar, the armored-chosen-of-the-gods, templar are battlefield casters who bring holy judgment unto their foes through the strokes of their blades.
To support those tanks, there’s three healer archetype classes: Cleric, basic support from any game, healing, removing debuffs, and damage prevention; Bard, without a bard, you don’t have a song and a prayer—they use their music to heal, buff, and support the entire group; Shaman, using the powers of animism, shamans bring powerful charms and buffs to their team as well as the suggestion of a giant summoned animal spirit to flatten and rend enemies.
The rogue archetypes have an interesting lineup: Thief, a stealthy but light-on-her-feet scrapper who moves quickly and kills faster; Martial Artist, move aside Jackie Chan and Chuck Norris, the martial artist is the long-held RPG fighter who uses chi to strike down foes with her bare hands; Blade Dancer, perhaps she’s a combination between a burlesque dancer and a fencer, blade dancers combine high damage output with their singing blades and party-wide bonuses via talents.
Ranged DPS has a nice solid three as well: Hunter, your basic bow-and-arrow (or gun) ranged fighter who also comes with a pet; Ranger, long range snipers who rely heavily on fast attack and alpha strikes to catch enemies off guard; Engineer, an interesting addition to any game that involves a lot of mechanical enhancement, imagine steam-powered armor, grenades, and firepower.
Magic archetypes who bring spells and doom to the battlefield: Magician, as a starting class, magicians have a huge gamut of spells mostly elemental—knowing what a monster is weak against will make a magicians day a lot easier; Illusionist, dressed like a jester, illusionists act with misdirection and lockdown to send enemies into disarray; Warlock, a class with a devastating amount of firepower and fluff text that suggests that they can injure themselves with their insensate chaotic magicks—certainly their enemies won’t forget the encounter.
Social: Reputation paves the road and guilds will build the destination
Many MMOs run with a concept of reputation as a second sort of experience customization that players can take their characters through. In Eden Eternal reputation gives titles and access to different types of equipment. The system seems to run across a multitude of geographic regions starting with towns and raising to entire islands; however, communication doesn’t seem to pass between town to town, so if you get a strong reputation in one town, they might not know about you at all in the next one.
Perhaps its time for an MMO that spends a lot more time allowing reputation to bleed between nearby places—if I’m a well known warrior protecting town A, town B should really know at least a little about me.
Guilds in Eden Eternal do more than just allow players to socialize together, they will also enable players to build towns and not just player housing—basically player metropolises replete with vendors and buildings that allow the crafting of in-game items. Guild towns will be accessible through the world map, meaning that other players can come visit, and it seems likely that the vendors and crafted items available in that guild city will benefit the guild with the proceeds from sales.
The most amusing part of this is that players can also use the guild towns to receive the benefit of the crafting NPCs. These NPCs can then come along with a crafting-tax, set by the guild that runs the town, and that tax would then place coin from other players into the guild’s coffers.
It looks like guild towns will be the center of activity for competition between guilds and interesting little events as well.
So, it’s obvious that Eden Eternal will go out of its way to get players to socialize with one another and form guilds. The benefits greatly outweigh the solo game and not just because you need people with you to venture into many of the dungeons or take on boss monsters.
Conclusion: A vast world full of environments, lots of reputation to be made, and a new class system
This MMO has a solid no-frills engine with extremely fair graphics, runs without a hitch and doesn’t lag very much (although we haven’t seen what will happen when the public gets in.) The narrative appears to continue on for miles and it has a very large world to explore. Eden Eternal goes much further than the usual hack-and-slash monsters-vs-players PvE stereotype and tries to push a lot more social elements while giving players a great deal of ability to customize their own play style and doesn’t trap them into a single class.
Something tells me that players of Eden Eternal will not be as altaholic as those of other games.
Overall, it’s enjoyable, easy to look at, and promises a lot of new and innovative approaches not seen together in many other MMO properties currently. It might be worth checking out, especially with the social aspects in full force—anyone who makes it far enough into this game will probably have guilds clamoring for their membership and as with many of these games, it’s friends who make MMOs worth playing.
Eden Eternal has boasted over 100,000 registrations for the closed beta test so you certainly won’t be alone when the beta test hits the Internet.