mmo-a-week: week 7: eden eternal

Aaand here’s another half-written review – this article was written the first week of June 2011. I’m really great at this sort of thing, but whatever. CONTENT! I don’t have impressions recorded, so will let my playsession monologues speak for themselves this time.

It has been something like 18 months since the last article in this series. Week 6 happened some time last summer, when I reviewed Allods. In a failed attempt to get my kid brother involved in the exercise, I wrote the review in such a way that it really depended on his input to be worthwhile… I will have to sit back down and play the game again in order to make things work. So I plan on revisiting them next.

This week, I did Eden Eternal, another title made possible by Aeria – one of my favorite publishers of F2P games (the game is developed by some Chinese studio I’ve never heard of). I really like Megaten and DoMO; Grand Fantasia was on my todo list and might be slated for a future installment if I can keep this up.

I heard about Eden Eternal through a Massively article and had pounced on their beta key giveaway a few hours before noticing that a few people I occasionally banter with online were playing the game over their lunch breaks 😛 That’s good enough of a reason for me and I downloaded the game that evening.

Registration and Download

So I didn’t sign up on a Wednesday as is traditional for my weekly exercises – beta launched on a Thurs. Good enough.

Since I already had an account from previous games, I didn’t have to worry about registration. I did, however, have a problem trying to find the correct form to enter my beta key into. I eventually found it in a stickied forum post – because there sure wasn’t an obvious link from the official web site.

I will also go as far as to admin that the biggest problem I had with registration was actually having forgotten my Aeria password and needing to reset it 😛

The download itself is 1.74gb via an Akamai downloader. This is awesome (Akamai is a major CDN and has excellent presence). The whole thing took maybe 30 minutes, though it liked to taunt me by alternating its estimates between 15 minutes and 4 hours every few seconds.

Research and Waiting

Since the download was so fast, I didn’t have time to go looking for 3rd party information – I had barely finished exploring the official site and taking notes when it finished and I was able to launch the installer.

Their promises for races are interesting. I’ve got a soft spot for frog-people, so that’s a plus. While they are only launching with humans, I can excuse this because none of the other races in game are human-like. Everything comes in interesting colours and shapes that make things much more distinct in appearance. Hopefully other playable races will be launched “soon”.

The first thing I noticed when looking at the class list was their use of modern terminology. No fluff about “striking to deafen the heavens” as an archetype’s primary description. No, warriors are actually described as tanks. There are 15 classes listed, 3 in each of 5 categories. This seems to promise modern grouping mechanics (as opposed to the FFA of classic F2P games)… but I’ll have to see it to believe it. I have rarely seen healing managed in a sensible manner by one of these games, and tanking is frequently just as bad.

Since I played a psion in Allods (cc/dps) and my main in RIFT is a tank… I need to play pure DPS. Looks like there are only two choices at start. Fighter or mage, so mage it is.

Wait… “active class”? I am intrigue… Tell me more… Yup. Multispec. Awesome. Looks like you can actually level every class in the game ala Final Fantasy. Excellent. So yeah, little nooblet is definitely going to be a mage on the off chance that dps wins over durability versus newbie mobs.

This is probably a fair bet since any game I’ve played that even gives the vaguest nod to western mmo design seems to be very reluctant to kill newbies off in their first hour. And this class page is giving me that sort of vibe. I think there will be some interesting choices to be made as I play.

Combat page promises multi-mob pulls. That will also be a nice change.

Screenshots promise a full featured quest journal with objective tracking on the map. This is nice, but not surprising though, since DoMO had a decent map, I can’t really see this game coming along a few years later with less features.

Summon monsters looks like it might be an interesting alternative to grinding crud in the middle of nowhere. This mechanic has a sort of Mabinogi feel to it.

The web site also mentions guilds and (more importantly) guild towns. The twitters are all abuzz with the possibility. Investigation of the official site says that towns require 30 members. Guilds are promised an in-game message board in addition to the standard chat line. No indication what the basic requirement to found a guild is, though.

Also… Llamas! Erm, Alpacas? Hmm. Llamas! Appropriately goofy mounts for a game where people might be playing as both ogres and anthropomorphic mice.

Installation and Startup

Bog standard installer. No localization problems here, not that I expected any, especially after how smooth the download went. My only beef is that it wanted to create a desktop icon by default. Really? I mean… really? Yeesh.

Ooh! The music is stored as Ogg files. I love when games do that. I wonder if the music is any good. Let’s have us a listen, shall we?

BGM001 is a bog standard fantasy rpg title screen slash capital city theme. BGM002 is some sort of faerie tale bedtime music, complete with bagpipes, drums, and windchimes. There are at least 39 songs here. I wonder how many of them I’ll encounder in game, or if I will even notice or care about them? I remember absolutely loving RO’s music back in the day.

My but this installer is going slowly. I think the download was faster.

005 is generic battle music. 007 is full of wind and synth like the intro to Captain Spacemen and the Galactic Mountain Climbers of Purple Destiny or something… 009 evokes an empty spooky house or ruin… 010 is a beach marketplace…

Wow, okay, it sped up and is done. Only had time to click through 10 songs. They all seem to be about 90 seconds long and I didn’t listen all the way through any of them; so the install took maybe 10 minutes all told on my machine?

Launching… Hmm. What, no patches? Could it be possible that they actually served up a current file for this? Yay! Ooh. Graphics options. 1920×1080 baby!

Oh nice. The game is completely alt-tab friendly.

First Session

First impression once the game launched is that some of the loading screen textures aren’t scaled for high resolution, but actual game graphics are gorgeous.

Second impression is that they used the generic ugly kmmo ui chrome. Sigh.

Character customization options are decent, and yes, they allow you to preview the different class costumes at various tiers. That’s a nice touch for a game that probably isn’t going to alter my appearance when I get a new pair of gloves.

Apart from facial appearance and starting class, the big choice you get to make is which ‘heroic trait’ you want. This is a surprise to me, I didn’t see any mention of it on the webpage. Basically, it’s a set of core stat bonuses that you receive. There are several, and they seem to target the full gamut of build possibilities. I’ll go with +magic DPS.

Hmm. The intro is an interesting slideshow. Oh, look. An esper in a crystal.

Waitaminnit. Apparently I was that esper, just like the 30 other random schmucks killing things in town square. Awesome 😉

Let’s see here. Before I go anywhere, I wonder if I can find my accomplices… nope. They’re not on. But I was able to add friends by name without any trouble, so that’s pretty nice.

Aside from a few coins here and there, it seems that the first real quest reward is… random clothing dye? Awesome. And I shall kill 6 mushroids. Sounds uncomfortable, but I will prevail. In a minute. Something else is not right. The world is… fuzzy.

A bit more graphics tweaking finally reveals that a ‘blur’ filter enabled by default sort of just smudged the whole screen just over the line into the headache zone. The game looks phenomenally better without it. Go figure. I also find it interesting that they didn’t enable the filter through character creation. It took me starting to find something to kill before I really noticed it.

Well, those mushrooms aren’t going to kill themselves. 6 kills later, I get my first item drop. A sword. Yay fighter equipment. My starting spells are a standard spammable fireball sort of attack plus a stun component and an instant cast lightning nuke on a cooldown.

Ding.

Oh my. An honest to goodness skill tree? Say it ain’t so.

Hmm. I need a better way to take screenshots. Let’s see if I can launch the game via Steam… yup. That’ll do the trick.

You know, I’m going to level up a bit more before spending any points – just because the first couple are so quick. I think +casting speed and as many ranks of abilities as I can buy will work.

Interesting. I have to click to move abilities around – dragging doesn’t work… and clicking doesn’t work to activate, so I am forced to use keyboard for everything. But on the bright side, I just added a second action bar.

Ding again. New spell, a stacking frost dot with a snare component.

Whoa! Autopath to quest objective? Nicely done there. Hmm, and that turnin rewarded me with a title… which provides stats while equipped. I am one of 10,000 other freshly hatched “Gift of the Crystal” and I get +5 agility for proclaiming myself as such 😉

Oh. And this is interesting. My second real quest (kill 4 differently named but as it so happens, identically skinned mushrooms) is actually inside an instance. Inside the instance, there is an NPC who gives me a follow-up quest and explains a boss mob mechanic – certain mobs have damage type weaknesses that are proclaimed by icons next to their portraits when targetted.

Oh, and I earned an achievement for killing the instance’s boss. Cool.

Ding 5. OOOH CLERICS CAN AOE!!! This is nice, I start with 4 spells this time. A direct nuke with a debuff component, a direct heal, a heal over time, and the whirlwind aoe. Too bad there’s a cooldown – but at least the AoE is instant cast 😛

Puppy? Puppy! Quest for dinging level 5 gives me a pet pug. It looks like everyone else has one too. Thankfully they really are inconspicuous enough that they aren’t annoying. Oh, nice. The puppy autoloots for you. Yay.

It also looks like there’s a pretty decent portal system in the game. That will be convenient.

At level 7 I encountered the game’s first dungeon content. I got a quest to kill the bosses of a 3-man instance and hung out by the entrance for a few seconds and was able to find a group pretty quickly, despite the late hour – yay for first day of beta 😛

Our group consists of me in the healing role, a level 8 mage, and a level 18 hunter to do all of the actual work (was probably just bored or something, I didn’t ask). And of course, the mage died seconds upon entering the instance because I got stuck on autorun when we spawned… and wound up pulling the first group before the hunter had a chance to zone in. Mage had to corpse run since I can’t rez yet.

Healing the instance was rough. The hardest part of the healing was not actually healing output, nor was it mana. My HoT is pretty efficient and the direct heal was big enough and fast enough to keep up with the damage. F-keys target party members by number, but in the absence of any sort of actual tank, aggro was all over the place. Nearest thing we had was the hunter’s pet tiger – which seemed to hold aggro well enough on a single target. But many of the pulls involved more mobs. And when you take damage, you automatically switch targets to whatever’s hitting you – which means unless I can shake aggro, I can’t reliably heal anyone – including myself.

After the instance, I pored over the UI and finally found the option to self-cast in lieu of a valid target.

Of course it's a giant mushroom...

Suddenly, cleric is very awesome, and surprisingly durable. They can spec for shields. And with the efficient heals… yeah. This could be fun. Oh, and I learned to rez when I dinged off of the quest turnin for finishing the instance 😛

The game has reputation vendors in every zone it looks like. Each quest hub (zone?) has an associated faction with whom you quietly accrue fame as you quest on their behalf. A treasure chest in the middle of town lets you buy cool gear if you have enough rep. I got a nice caster ring for my first zone.

Ding 10. Unlocked hunter. May as well try him out now.

Oh, hmm. Certificates are interesting. Basically little buffs that are provided by advancing classes. The first cleric certificate provides +10% wisdom. That’s nice. It looks like you can use a combination of certs from other classes.

At level 10, hunter starts off with 5 abilities. Two 30 second self buffs, a snare (on a long cooldown), and a pair of shots to alternate between.

And it turns out, that snare makes it very possible to kill things without taking any damage at all. It also turns out that advancing subsequent classes is very fast. I am rank 5 before I know it and am given a pet tiger. My experience in the instance repeats itself – the tiger is quite the passable tank. I am using my snare as more of a detaunt than anything else now.

He moves fast when you tell him to attack. I like it. Even if the tiger does look kind of goofy. My only downtime now is in waiting for the pet to heal. I have to pause every 4 or 5 kills to avoid losing my meatshield.

Ding 11. Hunter is rank 8 by now.

Oh, interesting. Finally got my first quest to do something other than kill mobs and talk to NPC’s. Someone wants me to examine the wreckage of a raided caravan. Not the most original premise in the world, but I’ve never seen it in an F2P before.

The quest text is actually pretty good. Someone took time to write the quests, and there is story to be followed… but the fonts are so bad, and my WoW-induced OCD is so strong that I just can’t bear to read them but occasionally.

Okay. Downside of hunter. There is no way to call off the pet. Telling the tiger to attack is an ability of mine… and I don’t have any other pet commands.

And now I’ve encountered what appear to be the game’s first “aggro” mobs. They’re a bunch of red orc/ogre bandit types. But it’s strange. I don’t know if they are actually aggressive or just assisting? I’ve walked right past some without being attacked.

Ooh, and I got my first un-auto-routeable quest objective? This is kind of jarring. I had not only stopped reading quest text, I’d stopped reading objectives. A quick check of the text I’d ignored shows that I need to acquire 3 pieces of meat (which wound up having a lowish drop rate) and then take them to be cooked to provide the item listed in the quest.

Hunter ding 10. His cert provides +10% to crit damage, and my new ability shoots 3 arrows at a single target. Yay for increasing the complexity of my rotation.

Feh. It’s 3am. I should probably go to bed now…

Ding 12. Interesting, a quest dialog popped up out of nowhere telling me to go talk to an npc in town. Not that I read or remember why. But whatever, I’ll see to it when I’m done out here.

Oh my. I just ran out of mana for the first time. It took chain pulling 6 mobs with my bigger stronger rotation and without pausing, but it is possible now. By the time I recovered from the surprise and took a screenshot, I’d regenerated 12% of my mana back 😛

Hmm. There’s nothing like quest text discussing the handwriting analysis of a evidence in a police conspiracy to finish the night off…

Oh, nice. Item upgrades. Classic kmmo style. You can always add more plusses, it’s just mathematically very expensive. The first +4 are guaranteed to succeed. Then the upgrade to +5 has a 36% of failure. It’s nice that they tell me this in plain numbers on the upgrade dialog. I never knew what the chances were in Ragnarok. Oh nice. Apparently +6, +8, and +10 also proc an extra bonus (like an extra keyword or something?) on the item when they succeed.

Ooh. Pretty. Plusses make weapons shine.

Gack. It’s 4am now. I really need to go to sleep.

Additional Sessions

You know the game’s got something going for it when I manage to come back after the second long session in a week. This game is one of those. I came back for a 3rd and a 4th…

What’s next?

Allods. I plan on digging up “Week 6″‘s article and revisiting the game to see if they improved any of my gripes with the game. All told, I liked it quite a bit when I first played it, which is why I dragged my brother into things. I had a lot of critiques because I liked the game too much to ignore its failings. “Week 8” will hopefully be a new set of playsessions that allow me to produce a relevant article on the game.

Also, I need to play more RIFT. I’m still not 50 with my main yet because I keep getting distracted by alts (I have 3 around level 20 in addition to my 40+ cleric). I don’t plan on writing any mmo-a-week style review of RIFT, especially since I’ve already done 3 posts on the game. My next post will probably be an analysis of leveling builds and the level 6-20 experience with all classes, or something similar.

Also, I am working on another project that got derailed by a problem with my WordPress hosting but has since been resolved and should hopefully be ready to launch next week.

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