I am always looking for an excuse to forget all of my social engagements/ interpersonal relationships and my excuse of choice for several years was a certain MMO made by a certain developer whose name suggests…inclement weather. I have tried many MMOs in the last couple of years looking for the next great scratch for my particular itch but none of them really stuck with me. One problem is that most MMOs take years to develop and when their project starts they are shooting to fit into the current market, not the one that will exist three or four years in the future. Echo of Soul is a Korean MMO that has had time to bake a bit before its US launch so when I had a chance to roll up a rogue during PAX East, I accepted.
Echo of Soul plays much faster than your standard North American MMO – with your character dashing all over the place in order to avoid damage and to get better attacking positions. Also, it let me make my character look like The Joker from the Batman films, which should be enough info for any game, really, but let’s press on. Now may be a good time to mention that you can’t really learn anything about an MMO in 10-20 minutes other than its general direction and aesthetic. You more or less have to make assumptions based on what you are seeing for a bit. Okay, now that that is out of the way, I can say everything seemed to gel really well.
I was running from quest to quest and getting new gear immediately. My rogue had a set of skills that were fun to use after a few quest turn ins, even at these early levels, the combat felt well paced and engaging. When I switched to the Guardian class that was much higher level; I had a small panic attack. There were so many things to push it was more than a little overwhelming. Luckily, Tom Nichols, the VP of PC Games at Aeria Games, was able to help me focus on the important skills. While I naturally assumed I was doing a great job, he pointed out that there was an ideal combat rotation since certain skills and spells played off of each other. After his brief guidance I was making monsters explode at an even faster rate.
One weird thing is that you can’t pick your gender in EoS. Each class corresponds to a specific gender, but you can still customize your class a fair amount (having a The Joker face from the Batman films) in order to get a look you like. The classes are then further diversified with subclasses, allowing you to focus on different aspects of battle. Since EoS doesn’t follow the traditional Tank/ DPS/ Healer model you have to coordinate your team to use your defensive and healing cooldowns in order to survive the sixty plus dungeons and one hundred fifty plus bosses.
Since Echo of Soul is already popular in Korea, where it launched in 2013, the May 2015 beta launch should hopefully be smooth and enjoyable. I hope that my small time with the EoS was representative of the final product since it was genuinely engaging. Of course, there are so many factors that go into a successful MMO that we will just have to wait and see once everyone has had a chance to really sink their teeth into the hundreds of hours Echo of Soul offers.