2015 looked promising as a year for MMORPGs, with the massive announcements such as Skyforge, Black Desert, Lost Ark, Lineage, etc., but Echo of Souls was not one of those I was truly expecting. However, as I always do, I applied for closed beta and got an invite, and, my very first impression was: Wait, I quit playing Tera. Fuck damnit.
You can consider Echo of Souls to be a “slower” child of Tera. It’s placed somewhere in-between World of Warcraft and Tera on the spectrum of gameplay speed, with a bit dated graphics (not something I’m too keen to judge in MMOs so that’s fine), narrow customization options and THE WORST questing I have ever experienced in any MMO since the day I first found out what MMO is.
Let’s start with first impressions though – they are important. They weren’t … bad?! I guess … but that’s as best as it goes. Nothing in the first ~1h really had any impact and it felt as generic as anything you’ve ever played. Its first hour reminded me a lot of Neverwinter, in the terms of storytelling and a general set-up. They do a decent enough of a job to introduce you to the general gameplay, hotkeys, what is what and how is who, and by the time you’ve gone through the generic relay that is the beginning, you do have a general grasp of the game’s mechanics, if nothing else. Unfortunately, however, the more you play, the more you get reminded that this looks just way too much like Tera. From the UI design, characters, armor, even creatures and scenery, I was often just baffled at the similarities. This game didn’t do many things right, so I feel obligated to mention those first:
Gear progression seems fairly decent. You’ll be exchanging your gear at good pace, and, while some are not that interesting to look at, most of them do vary to certain extent. Just as with gear, leveling (at least up until maybe 20-25) is fairly fast. Creature design, in SOME cases, can be good, but for the most part is average, at best. Like Rifts in … well, Rifts, there’ll sometimes be random ‘raid’ events whereas the group of people that are currently gathered in this particular place will have a single, slightly more stronger creature to kill, which will earn you some rewards. Honestly, at this point, I’m stretching it. Some skill effects are nice, you can do PVP from rather early on and earn the most XP through Daily Quests (around 70,000; whereas regular quest, even at the levels of 30, earns you 20,000 at best), but that’s really about it.
Now, onto the things that are bad. And I mean BAD.
Developers seemed to have some misconception about spell-casting because my class, Guardian, literally gets overwhelmed by the sheer number of spells I HAVE to (not in choice, but have to) get. You must be thinking: wait, what? More spells is always good! No … no it’s not. This isn’t combo-based combat where you need to chain skills to deal more damage. Instead of upgrading 5 spells that I’m always using, I’m FORCED to pick another one and just leave it there, just so I can progress to the next tree. This isn’t what people mean when they say “WE WANT SPELLZ!” – besides, I’m not a freaking mage. I’m a guardian, wielding a huge lance-like axe, decimating my foes with my strength, not my secret magical pony that lives inside my soul.
Next on the list is a minor complaint: classes are gender locked and customization seems to be lacking (they’ll probably take the route of Vindictus, whereas they’ll lock anything that looks decent under cash shop).
Next, and this is probably the biggest one: game, for the most part, just seems … uninspiring. Questing is THE WORST I’ve ever experienced in any MMO. There are literally 2 types of quests, and slight variations: Go pick up something, and go kill something. It never changes. Nothing new, nothing interesting. The only thing that changes is that, sometimes, you have to collect things from the things you kill. And the number of things you need to kill. It literally feels like you’re doing the same thing, over and over again. Lack of inspiring creatures only emphasizes this problem. For instance, two stages (yes, this isn’t open world, it’s separated into stages; I’ll talk about it a little bit later) in a row, I’ve got wolves. They are different types of wolves, sure, but what the fuck? You seriously couldn’t think of anything else besides “Black Wolf” and “White Wolf”??? Are you fucking kidding me? You’ll be pressing “F”‘s (Accept/Continue/etc. button) so much and so fast you’ll feel like you’re playing a weird version of “How fast can you type”. There’s a decent amount of backtracking and, when that’s not the case, you are not given the freedom to explore and find adventures yourself: from point A to point B, and it never deters from that formula. N. E. V. E. R.
Moving on: dungeons. Party dungeons are available only after reaching level 35. Why? What the fuck? I get it – most folk nowadays prefer MMORPG to be more like solo-RPG experience, but at least gives a fucking option. Leveling up to 35 takes about 15-20 hours, during which you just do the same shit on your own. It would be a great change of pace and would be a great counter-part to PVP (which you can access as early as level 15 I think), so what the fuck? Also, dungeons are REALLY short, but it’ll take you long time to clear them because creatures have 10x HP of those you regularly kill, so you’ll just be sitting there, sucking your own dick and clicking 1, 2, 3 into infinity. Bosses in dungeons aren’t challenging, since all attacks that are remotely deadly have a HUGE, EMPHASIZED circle and take like five fucking seconds to charge. Even blind could evade them. I mean, they even tell you in letters on screen: MOVE AWAY FROM THE ATTACK. Too much hand-holding for my liking.
Next: currency. There is literally 0 satisfaction in this department. You get 1 silver by selling anything, making EVERYTHING in this world EQUAL IN FUCKING VALUE. So … a broomstick that I use to wipe my diarrhea with is worth the same as a shiny, golden fucking sword that deals 50 damage per hit? Gimme a break. Vice-versa, anything you buy is worth the same. What’s even the point of currency in this game? It doesn’t fucking matter.
Next: inventory … sigh. I know it’s not just Echo of Souls that does it, but it really pisses me off. They give you this small, shitty inventory that gets filled with crap within first 5 minutes of the game, and, after EACH fucking quest you have to go in there and clean that shit up. It isn’t fun, it isn’t remotely interesting, and, quite honestly, I don’t want to spend 5$ just so I can be frustrated a little bit less.
Next: I don’t know what it’s like for other classes, but taking on a mob-group larger than 3 means death as Guardian. When quests asks you to kill 10 things, I, usually, in every game, just round ’em up and spam my AoE. Here? Nope. You have 1 AoE spell worth a damn, and potions are weak (maybe that’s why they’re cheap) so it even takes longer to finish quests. I understand that Guardian is a single-target specialized class, but, come on … you give me a new spell every 2 levels, at least gimme some AoE that I can spam to clear group of mobs instead of spells that I’ll never use in my life.
For now, I’ll end this rant. I’m currently sitting at level 30 (half-way through) and will update this as I see fit (most-likely after I reach party dungeons, high-end content and Raids, as they eventually get released). So far, though, it’s quite disappointing – more so since, most of the stuff I mentioned above, won’t be changed even if it is closed beta. Like questing for instance. You will be bored out of your fucking mind quite quickly into the game.
Thank you guys for reading and, if you have some counter-points or even additional points about it, feel free to post it into the comments. Also, if you’d like to party up sometimes, I’m on Europe (that first server, whatever the name is), and you can see my name in the picture above. Cheers.