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Eden Eternal Review

Eden Eternal Review


Developer: X-Legend

Release Date: Q4 2010

Genre: Anime-style MMORPG

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The first, most striking thing about the free MMORPG Eden Eternal is just how nice it looks. Cel-shaded graphics, anime inspired character models and one of the most colourful worlds I’ve ever seen in a fantasy MMORPG, set to a beautiful orchestral score that almost narrates your adventure.

It’s not very often that you can say that you really feel you’ve had something of value for free, but Eden Eternal, in its opening hours, offers more than I’ve seen in a long time. But for all this praise, there is one pretty major fact that it is difficult to overlook, Eden Eternal is a World of Warcraft-clone if there has ever been one.

The game begins by introducing the mythology of the world you are entering. A new country of anthropomorphic animals is plagued by racial strife and general meanness. Out of nowhere a collection of mysterious humans appear to save them. Legend has it that these humans were ‘born of no mother’, released from the living blue crystal itself.

Legend become myth and people laugh at the old stories. That is until a miner is going about his daily work and comes across some of the blue crystal containing the unmistakable outline of a human deep within the rock.

This is where you come in. You are the person they found in the rock and everyone is pretty surprised to see you. At no point in this part of the plot do the NPCs acknowledge that there are literally hundreds of people roaming around the place, presumably just as much from the blue crystal as I am, but they treat it like a special, unheard of event nonetheless.

And really, when I say there are hundreds of people roaming around, I mean it. I’m not sure if I accidentally found myself on the busiest server, but it seems very rare to be in a place and not see another user, a ‘problem’ I haven’t found in any other MMO, even World of Warcraft. It’s only annoying if you strictly want to solo the game, usually, if you’re struggling, you find that help is usually quite near-by.

You aren’t forced to play as a human character – there’s also the option of playing as a frog person or as a mouse person. I tried out the frog person (belonging to a race technically called the Anuran) quickly and was surprised how similar it was to the human story. You wake up, you don’t know your name, you must discover your identity through questing. Obviously there are differences in locale and exact specifications of quests, but similar enough that if you didn’t like playing as a human, you’re unlikely to enjoy playing as a frog.

As I mentioned in the introduction, graphically Eden Eternal looks absolutely stunning. (and it's a free MMO game) As you run around hitting giant mushrooms with a variety of overly decorated weapons, it’s hard to imagine there’ll ever be a portion of this game that feels dark, like you’re in trouble.

Perhaps part of this easy-going feel the game has is thanks to fact that there are options to have your character automatically travel to a location. Since beginning playing I feel I’ve played quite a significant part of this game without actually pressing more than one button. This allows me to do something - say write a review to the sounds of my character slaughtering a Limestone Golem – without having to keep my eye to much on the game.

Auto-route is a feature I wish to see more often. It sounds like the sort of thing where a bunch of lazy people (i.e me) could get far through the game without much effort, but in fact I see myself playing the game all the more because I don’t need to focus so much on it.

The game runs exactly as would be expected from an MMO in the same vein as WoW. You take on a quest, usually involving defeating a monster and finding an item, and then return to an NPC who gives you experience and reward. On the way you’ll level up your character, unlocking further attacks and skills, and find new equipment with which to make yourself more powerful.

Eden Eternal tries to make this more unique by having the story of your crystal-based heritage told through these quests, but in reality this gives little incentive to continue with the story. For the most part you’ll either learn things you already know or learn things that are so mundane that you probably could have gone without the knowledge either way. This is obviously down the sheer amount of quests available in the game and you end up taking baby steps.

At least in terms of the story, that is. In terms of gameplay you’re thrown right into the deep end with zero tutorials. This isn’t too bad a thing, the controls, as you may expect, are identical to the controls for other, similar games (without mentioning names…).

Quests can be relatively repetitive, giving next to no pretence that all you’re doing to playing to level up, playing to fight monsters, playing to level up some more. If you’re not fighting monsters then you’re fighting monsters to get items.

In terms of online, the first dungeon you come across is supposed to be a 3 player dungeon. I had little trouble finding two strangers to run the dungeon with me. When I subsequently died, I imagine they regretted bringing me along, but I didn’t even need to ask to be invited to a party and dragged into the mines.

As with many other MMOs of this type, there are always people willing to help out with the dungeons, usually high level players who have completed the main quest. As you’ll see in the screenshots, the guy helping me looked exactly like Iron Man, a fact that I’m quite proud of.

The dungeon was definitely something of a surprise difficulty-wise. For the most part I have found the Eden Eternal holds your hand for much of your early adventure. The monsters you come across aren’t difficult to beat, some may almost beat you but you never feel you’re going to die. This continues on for as long as I’ve been playing and takes out any aspect of risk.

Other than running the dungeon repeatedly, I’ve yet to come across a reason to stray too far from the scripted path, although of course I’m still relatively close to the beginning of the game.

And what a long, long game it’s going to be: hundreds of achievements to unlock, a host of locations to explore and lots of those marvellous quests. Eden Eternal feels massive from the get go, just another reason the auto-route is such a successful feature.

It’s not just the exploring and achievement hunting that will keep you busy, however. You also have multiple classes to choose from. As you level up, you unlock other classes (you have either a warrior or a mage to choose from at the beginning of the game). You can change to other unlocked classes at any point in your adventure. Levelling up your classes is different to levelling up your character and I imagine you would need many, many hours to fully explore each option.

With everything from Martial Artists to Bards, there are lots of different ways of seeing the world, lots of different ways of completing quests and lots of different skill sets to unlock. If you want to get settled into an MMO and don’t mind the occasional piece of monotonous grind, this is a game you could really get your teeth into.

And when you’ve finished unlocking and completely levelling each and every class, you can start the game again with a new character of a different race. My guess is that if you enjoy levelling up each class for your character, you’ll probably enjoy starting again with a new character and doing the same.

That’s an awful lot of value for a free to play game.

Despite its flaws, Eden Eternal is a really pleasant MMO. There aren’t many games, let alone MMOs, for which the descriptor pleasant would work. Like a mix between Final Fantasy IX and World of Warcraft, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Eden Eternal was child-friendly, but it definitely seems less battle intense than other MMOs.

That may put off some hardcore fans who want a more action-packed experience; I definitely wouldn’t suggest even downloading the installer to people who think cute and cuddly equals lame. But for people who are bored of some of the more testosterone based MMOs, free MMORPG Eden Eternal offers a nice, and free, alternative. Much advised as a first MMO for those family members onto which you want to inflict this terrible disease known as MMO enjoyment.



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