Sterling Lyons, better known in some circles as "Aiayla", is an avid videogame player of all genres. From Genesis, to Playstation, to PC, Aiayla does it all. League of Legends, and other PC and MMO games remain the current focus of not just time, but also contribution to Destructoid.
One day, a friend of mine sends me an IM saying that she just got an e-mail that Aeria Games, the same publishers from a game we use to play together Shin Megami Tensei Online:Imagine, was holding a beta for a new MMO. After doing a little digging around, the most interesting thing that stood out to me about it was that you could change your character class at any point you wanted to after you unlocked that class. So we decided to jump in, and what we would find would be a fairly generic free 2 play MMORPG with a charming art style that was actually fairly entertaining.
MMO's aren't about story usually, and with good reason. That being said, there's usually enough to get things rolling, and EdenEternal is no different. You(and every other player character in the game) are a special enlightened being born, or at least found, from a magical crystal in the side of a mountain, and being so, the people of the world look up to you and your kind to help them with their problems.
It's a fairly nice structure, as it allows most of the quests to fall into the category of "these are the things you do for people", rather than trying to make a long winded set of quests that are suppose to span the stretch of one massive storyline. You do quests and earn fame within the land which make more people want to seek your aid which leads to more quests. If there is some kind of underlying major arc, I haven't found it yet. Perhaps it's because I wasn't really paying super drastic attention to the story as it was in beta, but it could also be that I didn't get far enough into it(or also, that that kind of content just wasn't in the game yet at that time).
The game plays much like your typical 3rd person MMORPG for the most part. You have a list of skills depending on your class which you target on an enemy/ally, and basic attacks are automatic after you give the command. What's nice though is that your MP which dictates the use of your skills never seems to run dry for too long(and depending on some classes, it probably just never runs dry). The normal regeneration rate for it seemed to be fairly quick normally, and worse comes to worse, you have a sit command that accelerates both HP and MP regen, which was able to get me back into the action within a minute or two.
The big differentiator in this game though is the way the classes work though. All the classes actually fall into categories within the game that are straightforwardly named after what would be their metagame roles were they in another MMO. For example, one category is Magic DPS, and this includes classes like the Mage and Illusionist. This is welcome organization given the biggest thing about how classes work in EdenEternal, the fact that you can change classes at any point you want.
You're only given two choices in classes to choose from at the start of the game: Warrior, a tank category class, and Mage, a Magic DPS class. Switching classes is as easy as selecting a class from the list of available classes while you are not in combat, and hitting "change class". The only penalty ever is a literal 20 second cooldown before you are allowed to switch classes again. You don't get the option to switch at will for a few levels though(mainly for the tutorial quests). As you progress in leveling up, you'll unlock more of the basic classes for the other categories fairly quickly.
Each class has it's own level and experience related to it. This function mostly the same as it would in any other class based MMORPG though, determining what attributes get little bonuses and penalties, as well as the skills available. As the class's level goes up, you get points to sink into making learning new skills and making the skills for that class stronger. You also get points to put into a passive skill tree of boosting effects for that class, which allows you to make that class specialize in certain areas, like perhaps making your Thief have a higher rate of evade, which allows you to have more uniqueness to your character.
In addition to class skills though, each category has it's own set of skills that ANY class within that category can use. For example, with the Support category, the basic heal spell is located here, and even the Bard class can use it. These skills can be made stronger by spending money on them, which leads to a nice sense of investing in a type of role you have a preference for, but that you're never really locking yourself into a trap that you can't get your way out of, as you can always go and find more money from quests or mobs.
The rest of the gameplay is satisfying, though it does follow that almost grind-y mentality of other free to play MMOs. Mobs of enemies are everywhere, with quite a bit of recycling the same model with a different color pallet, and we ended up killing countless amounts of them. They try to change this up a bit some by sometimes spawning a rare, usually tougher, version of that enemy that you can kill for bragging rights(aka Achievements). There are also instanced dungeons that put more of an influence in group play and cooperation.
The instanced dungeons seemed to highlight the usefulness of the class system the most to me, as you didn't have to back out of the dungeon and scrounge around for a new person to try and fill the role that you need. You could have your own team just change their classes to suit the need while in the dungeon itself.
The game's graphics have a nice cell shaded anime look to them. The art style seems very reminiscent of the work that Akira Toriyama does with relation to the Dragon Quest games, but a bit more to the chibi side. The monsters I saw all looked well realized, with fluid animations and had a great sense of personality to them, despite being replicated so many times within the same area. The music was also nice though of the typical RPG fantasy fair. It provides a nice ambiance that doesn't grate on the ears.
The interface is highly customizable. Windows can be moved around and resized to your liking. With the way classes work, one would wonder how the hotkey bar and inventory/equipment would be complicated by this. Luckilly, things are really nice on that front. The hotkey bar remembers your skill/item orientation in relation to each class, and will automatically change your hotkeys when you change your class to whatever you had set last when you used that class. On the equipment front, you're allowed to keep three sets of armor equipped, one for each category(light, medium, and heavy). These sets do not take up space from your inventory, but you can only edit a specific set when you're using a class that specializes in that set.
All in all, both my friend and I had fun with what we played of EdenEternal. It felt a little generic, yes, but it also felt well polished enough, and with enough of a unique hook to keep us interested. I say this, and we didn't even get to see other features like the unimplemented races(as you can only choose Humans atm), or player run towns(as we never joined a guild that could make one). The game is now in open beta, and I urge you to check it out here if you happen to be looking for a new MMO to play.