ECHO OF SOUL LAUNCHES ON STEAM

Aeria Games’ latest free to play MMORPG, Echo of Soul, has officially launched on Steam. Almost two days into the Steam launch now, the reviews are coming in mixed with some of the items pointed out in our First Look video being called out as negative items (such as gender locking, a sometimes silly camera, and repetitive gameplay), while positive reviewers tend to see a more traditional MMORPG, low kill count quests, and nice single player and co-op dungeon options as positive features.

Issues with the Echo of Soul client being denied by certain anti-virus software suites seems to still be an issue and Aeria Games has posted on Steam a message about getting around that issue and why it happens.

Echo of Soul features five classes with which to explore the game’s world: the Warrior, a fearsome knight; the Archer, an enigmatic songbird; the Rogue, a solitary assassin; the Guardian, a warden of nature; and the Sorceress, a master of ice and fire spells. Content wise there are currently over 1,600 quests, PvP, and 60 party and Solo dungeons to explore.

Check it out and let us know what you think!


UPDATED: TRION WORLDS HINTS AT NEW GAME?

UPDATE: According to MMORPG.com, a user by the name of Darthem may have figured out what Trion is teasing. Now, the connection is made simply by the artwork Trion Worlds used on their teaser site, but the match is pretty much dead on. If correct, it looks like Trion Worlds could be bringing Devilian Online to the west. Devilian Online is more akin to a Diablo type game with MMO elements thrown in. Take a look at some YouTube videos of gameplay from overseas and let us know what you think!

Not much to report here but according to Trion Worlds’ Twitter, something is brewing in the darkness. We don’t have any confirmation but a new website seems to be setting the stage for a new game or new content update of some type.

Called “Devil Inside You,” the webpage features a dark demonic creature and the quote “In the shadows’ dying light let the devils guide our flight.”

New game? Free to play? New content for an existing IP? Let the speculation begin!


Halting the grind: Leveling in Aion just got easier

 

Aion is often the poster child for grind-heavy MMOs. At launch, this was very true, but NCsoft has made a lot of changes over the years in an attempt to alleviate some of that monotony, although some modifications have been more effective than others. Recent changes drew me back to see if I could climb out of the leveling ravine.

At the core of these changes is the Mentor system, where high-level players can lend a helping hand to low-level players looking to power through quests. Mentors help their mentees by increasing the power of the group, and group members gain XP based on the level of the players in the group (excluding the Mentor). It’s an effective system—I found that a group was able to slice and dice through hordes of enemies easily and increase the rewards (both XP and drops) exponentially, and finding players who wanted a Mentor was a breeze.

And that reward system is a two-way street. While I was selflessly mentoring young Daeva through their difficult journeys, I was able to complete Mentor quests, earning rewards such as unique weapons and armor. After spending a good chunk of time as a Mentor, however, I was ready for some action, so I headed toward the Empyrean Crucible. Longing for the camaraderie I had benefited from while mentoring, I chose to fight with a group, rather than taking the solo option. As my hearty crew and I battled our way through the stages (10 total, with five rounds per stage) the fights became increasingly difficult. Forced to coordinate, we fought back to back as wave after wave after wave of enemies intent on turning us into corpses rushed at us with wanton abandon.

In the end, I once again found myself overwhelmed with the continued tediousness that accompanies leveling in Aion. The mentor system is a definite improvement, and NCsoft’s continued efforts to smooth level ascension are admirable. The grind still rears its ugly head all too often, though. If you’ve taken a break, and haven’t seen the new content, then unbind your wings and take to the not-so-friendly skies. Otherwise, follow Archangel’s lead and remove those wings for good.


Aion free-to-play launches in North America, brings huge updates

In last month’s issue of PC Gamer US, we revealed Aion’s plans to go free-to-play with our hands-on impressions of the massive update. NCsoft has quickly turned around the launch of Aion 3.0, which has just landed on live servers for everyone to experience today.

Among the big updates are giving every piece of content in the game away for free, new open-world player housing, and a whole expansion’s worth of new spells, zones and dungeons. Read our article that originally ran in the March issue of PC Gamer US, check the official features guide, and download the game client for free here to jump in.

Free Bird
Two and a half years after taking to the skies, Aion is going free-to-play. But let’s be honest, it wasn’t the subscription model that drove players away the first time—it was the grind. Thankfully, 2011’s updates killed off that problem, and the massive update (3.0) coming with the free-to-play shift next month adds a ton of content and aims to widen the breadth of activities. If all goes well, it’ll make you forget that nasty “G” word ever happened.

The first big addition is housing: 1,000 ownable homes netled into expansive themed neighborhoods in the open world. Indoors, it feels like The Sims, with complex decoration and furnishing options that can be purchased or crafted with the new Construction skill. Each player also gets a small instanced apartment, just in case they can’t keep up with the undoubtedly insane auction prices for open-world homes.

Max-level players can mess around with their new skills in two new, pretty-as-always zones as they work their way to the boosted level cap of 60. Along the way, they’ll encounter the new open-world PvP fortress—an improvement on the old Abyss area that focuses PvP on the center keep, encouraging bloodshed to continue 24/7, not just when the outside towers unlock.

The added dungeons I played add some creative challenges, such as fighting a boss who moves in and out of mirrored rooms, rampaging through a fortress under assault from siege weapons, and taking control of a robot mech that flies and shoots rockets.

It’s not clear yet if it’ll hold my attention in the long run, but—at that price—I’ll definitely give Aion another shot.

How free is it?
In many ways, Aion’s free-to-play model plays it safe and sticks with what NCsoft knows players like. When it converts sometime next month, expect to be happily not surprised to find every piece of existing content—including character classes, quests, and the entire 3.0 patch—totally free for everyone. Raise your eyebrow in mild concern at the fact that some stat gear will be sold in the cash shop, alongside the usual roster of convenience and cosmetic items. Then close your jaw after discovering that there’s no subscription option, only a cash shop. It’s a refreshingly simple system: every account has the same status, meaning free players aren’t crippled by artificial limitations on bag size, credit accumulation, or grouping, as they are in far too many MMOs.