The Asian import marketplace fosters a vast array of MMORPGs that manage to build quite an audience. As a new offer to that ecology, Eligium: The Chosen One contains everything that we can expect for a game of its type: click-to-move, autopathing, and carpets of monsters to scythe through. The world that it presents has NPCs littered about, all of who need the objects of their aggression destroyed and affection rescued.

Published by Berlin-based Frogster Interactive and developed by Shanda Games, Eligium can be said to be a staid example of the Asian-import fantasy MMORPG; but this doesn’t mean that it doesn’t provide some unique assets that aren’t seen in the rest of the marketplace. Like many import-MMOs every player receives a pet, which is raised from an egg with skills that are earned while bringing it up; this is the same for mounts in the game.

Players themselves see a skill system that permits them to “raise” themselves via using their skills (which build as they’re used.) In fact, much of this game is delivered through players attending to their play style to bring them into the next tier of skill.

Be sure to drop your own review of Eligium here at GameOgre; and if you’re the video type, you can watch a review by Nelson Williams as well.

Graphics and Sound: As an Asian-import MMO, this is a fairly solid offering

In reviews, Eligium is described as having outdated graphics or at least a medium graphics set compared to modern MMOs. For the most part, I didn’t notice that it was all that outdated in graphics—perhaps it’s the number of games that I play that run the gamut of graphical quality. That said, it’s perfectly playable and the attention-to-detail when it comes to textures and animations is perfectly passable.

An interesting element that affects both graphics and gameplay is that the game allows players to choose their camera setting off the bat permitting fixed 2.5 or 2.8 camera (MMO and Diablo-esque isometric) or a full, free-3D camera. I spent most of the game with the free 3D camera.

The environments feel a little bit contrived but they contain more than enough reason to move about them—in fact, switching between the confines of a castle and the great outdoors gives a fair sense for the change of environment. I even found some awesome looking giant stone heads sitting around (not sure what those were about yet.)

The monsters in the beginning were a little bit generic, but they’re more than just the same model all-over-again in different colors. For the most part, they were the usual monsters we see in every video game (and I had to kill a lot of them to advance.)  There’s also a great deal of them—the landscape is awash in carpets of monsters prepared to fall beneath the heave and hew of my sword (or magic spells.) Which, by the way have interesting effects when they fire.

The sounds of Eligium are a little bit forgettable. It fits into the same niche as every other import MMO that I’ve played—except for that every now and then the characters speak in an Asian tongue that sounds a lot like Chinese. I’m not sure what triggers some of the speeches. There’s also no overwhelming music to annoy players—and I don’t recall if there’s environmental sounds or atmospheric noises. Certainly these fine details would make the game better; but their presence is not necessary.

Perhaps “outdated” is the wrong term to use for the graphics and sound of Eligium; it’s simply middle-of-the-road on everything. It’s nothing brilliant, but it’s not bad or outdated either.

Gameplay: PvE grind with a hefty scraping of PvP atop faction vs. faction and guild vs. guild

I’ve described the worthwhile camera-controls above, and the game also permits WASD movement, and even click-to-move. It has a UI reminiscent of all MMORPGs with a hotbar, health, mana, and targeting. And similar to most Asian-import MMORPGs there’s also a click-to-autopilot to the next objective. All of the above are what we expect from this type of MMO and it deviates very little from their use across the market.

There are five playable classes that cross the various races of the game. All the races can be played male and female with the exception of pandas who are only males (this is common across most MMO games, where normal hominid races get genders and strange races don’t.)

Mages use elemental combat in a sort of ranged-DPS, with a bit of support with fire and ice as they fling them across the battlefield (or ignite the enemy in conflagrations.) Warriors are fearless fighters armed to the teeth with heavy weapons and heavier armor who charge into the midst of the enemy, keeping them within arms reach and at blade’s edge. Monks use melee fighting and a type of hand-to-hand magic and but have a little bit of ranged combat as well (primarily pandas are monks.) Druids are a weird class, that seems to be able to transform into monsters; but also come with a whip weapon and lashing out with the capabilities of nature such as whirlwinds. Finally, there’s the ultimate ranged-DPS, the hunter (and elf) who use bows to let fly arrows and extreme single-target damage across the battlefield, picking their targets with extreme prejudice.

Combat is a little bit of an odd event, especially with monsters carpeting the landside. They spawn so close together that it seems like they’re just waiting to be culled. In the beginning, thankfully, none of them are aggressive—they just stand meekly like cattle to the slaughter and watch as their brethren fell beneath the crack of my whip.

Completing missions was extremely easy. I just clicked the “go-to” link, waited for my character to path to the quest giver, got the quest, and then went along to the next culling-field.

While the game seems to have a limited and grindy PvE experience, it appears to have a great deal of PvP events. In fact, there’s an ongoing calendar of events constantly popping up. In fact, upon logging I I was greeted by a window telling me that I was entering a PK server and should abide by the rules. I didn’t get high enough level to engage in any actual PvP—but from the community I got the impression that it’s a big deal to be part of that culture.

In fact, that’s possibly the most prominent part of the game is the community chatter going on. People are always getting things, accolades, and otherwise communicating about what they want to sell or if people will be in some sort of raid or PvP event. In all, for someone willing to keep up with being very social (while scything through a forest of monsters) it may be a very fun game.

Freemium: Free-to-play with a cash shop and lot of questions about how that affects gameplay

As a free-to-play game Eligium supports itself via a microtransactions mechanism and a cash shop—the currency bought through microtranasction is the “Astrolith.” An Astrolith runs between 7¢ and 5¢ depending on bulk discounts and can be bought in batches of 70 ($4.99) up to 2,100 ($99.99).

Philosophically, the game’s producers want to avoid a cash shop that will produce a controversy or make them feel like they’re a “pay to win game.” The philosophy behind the cash shop, they stipulate, will be a “convenience and comfort” approach—otherwise a way to take the grind and pain out of the various tasks that players must partake in order to advance through the game.

Since Eligium is just in open beta, it’s hard to tell by what’s available in the cash shop will forecast what we can expect from the future of the game. So far, it’s mostly aesthetic changing items, with some that increase stat generation, and skill generation, and XP delivery. The philosophy remarks made by the developers are still seen through as there’s nothing immediately visible that adds extra stats or gives a great advantage anywhere (such as in PvP.)

If all matching in the PvE and PvP of the game work off skill levels and XP levels, then being able to get a higher level will not change how people interact with each other when they finally go head-to-head.

Conclusion: It’s a basic blood-to-bones Asian-import MMORPG and that’s the takeaway

Eligium is a middle-of-the-road Asian-import MMO with all the hallmarks you might expect from such a game. The addition of a unique pet and mount rearing system does make it feel a little bit different—in that it triggers every obsessive-compulsive gamer-instinct to pick up the best mount and pet.

The game is translated into multiple languages and has a national following, which means that any player is going to find themselves in a fairly engaged community and audience to a game that’s trying very hard to make their experience memorable. Sadly, this also means that the game feels extremely cluttered with the amount of text flying about, chatting, and people receiving accolades.

If Asian-import MMOs are to your taste, you’ll enjoy playing Eligium; but if you like American-inspired games this will not work out for you. It falls very solidly into the narrow niche of its type of game within the MMORPG market and doesn’t really take many chances straying outside of it. Add that with the apparent giant-leap into PvP, if you get high enough to engage in that you’ll never be alone.

Happy gaming everyone.