Echo Of Soul
Publisher: Aeria Games
Echo of Soul is the latest Korean Free-to-Play MMO to be brought stateside by Aeria Games. Most people tend to avoid anything published by Aeria Games but would be a huge mistake. Echo of Soul is probably one of the better Free-to-play games that will probably get swept under the rug. There's actually quite a bit going for it that outweigh its shortcomings.
When it comes to Echo of Soul's narrative, it's definitely one of the better stories I've been engaged by an MMORPG. The mythos and lore is very deep despite how little you actually engage the npc's when it comes to story telling. There are also some well placed cutscenes, usually still images, where the story continues to delve deeper about the giants of the soulstream, the gods and your role as a soul hunter.
Creating your soul hunter is one of the big negatives you will see right away upon starting the game. First you have only five classes available and each are gender locked. This severely limits character creation and negates any sense of unique when running around the world. While some items like blue skin is available, its only matter of time til you come across your doppelganger.
Despite there being only 5 classes, each has two professions that you can choose for a perferred style of play. The Guardian can become an offensive juggernaut with the Stormguard path or become a very viable tank using the Earthguard path. The Archer can use the path of the Huntress to deal high damage from a distance of buff the party and debuff monsters as the Bard. Each path's abilities are unique enough allowing for fun regardless of your style of play be it PvE or arena based PvP.
Of course the big kicker is you don't have to stick to one path. At some point you can acquire a bonus item that will let you pick the other class and you can swap back and forth either for whatever the situation calls for. This come in very handy if you have a party with no tanks and you have have one of your Guardians switch to their Earthguard path.
Aside from that, there's a soul skills that every Soul Hunter has that offers unique buffs for a short amount of time. As a soul hunter you gather souls of your defeated foes and can convert them into one of four abilities. These abilities can vary from increasing your attack power, defense power buffs and even a small experience point increase. Its a unique system that adds to the strategy of the game.
As you enter and explore through the world of Echo of Soul, one thing will become apparent. It's a really fast moving game. Not fast paced in the terms of combat or movement but by way of progression. The world is split up into zones and each one has a rather small number of quests available for each one. The early zones have maybe less than 10 each but father in the game that doubles but still feels relatively small compared to other MMO's.
Some of the quests themselves are incredible easy to complete. Most gathering or killing quests have at least a ten count minimum, in Echo of Soul, that number is maybe around four or five. Other quests like personal/solo dungeons are short lived as well early on and get slightly bigger as your progress through the game. Of course I find this to be rather relieving in a sense. I tend to get bored of an MMO when the quests tend to stretch out longer than necessary and this was a nice change of pace and allowed me to keep my focus longer in the game.
Now if there is one blemish I can think of, its the PvP Arena gameplay. Normally I don't indulge in PVP at all but something about the EoS arena struck me as something to look into. Teams of 15 have to play a game of territory and capture pillars to accrue points. The idea of this system is fine but its the balancing and matchmaking that I have issues with. While the game does put everyone on equal footing to some degree regardless of level, I felt very frustrated going up against players who had a larger skill set than me, making my efforts pale in comparison until I can level up and have more skills myself.
I've also found issues when it came to selecting a target in PvP. At times I can just hit TAB and have a target selected to attack but then at times I find my avatar not attacking or the TAB targeting failing to do its job. This left me very salty many times when attempting to change to a closer target only to not target the person attacking me but from far away.
Now I would be remiss if I never touched on the graphics. Echo of Soul is a very beautiful game, bright and colorful, While its not on the same level as Tera, Guildwars 2 and other modern MMO's, it's still has its own kind of style that I find vibrant. The character models are actually nicely polished and the attention to detail is pretty good. The environments are all unique and beauitful as well with swaying grass as you move through it, highly detailed swamp lands, beautiful metropolis cities and haunting forests.
Overall, I found Echo of Soul to be a very enjoyable game and could potentially be a sleeper hit. The action and fast pacing of the game is sure to keep you engaged. There are a large variety of dungeons out that that can be partied or soloed at your discretion. The PvP arena I am still hoping will get a fix of some kind to be a little more enjoyable as that is the only real major issue I have with the game. Echo of Soul is definitely a game I think MMO newcomers and some vets should definitely check out.
|+ Good indepth story and lore
+ Beautiful graphics
+ Fast progressing game sure to keep your attention
+ Classes have two unique paths for any preferable style of play
|- Classes are gender locked
- Lack of variety in Character Creation
- PvP is unbalanced
- Some issues with quick targetting in PvP
Overall Score: B