Review: Echo of Soul

Echo of Soul is a free to play MMORPG developed by Nvius and published in EU/NA by Aeria Games. It is the very first game that I’ll fully review on this blog. My main is lvl 60 (max lvl), I’m playing both PvE and PvP but I haven’t cleared the 100% of the game.

Graphics and Sound

Echo of SoulCharacter creation isn’t too advanced like in Blade and Soul but it offers at least: hair, face, eyes, tattoos and body customisation.

Graphics and music are nice, but repetitive after a while. Sometimes you have this deja vu feeling when you go to some locations. The NPC are repetitive too.

Skills look great. A good thing is that you can change displaying the characters to default model and switch off the skill animations, making it easier to fight in a raid or PvP. Muting sound is not advised – there are sound warnings/notifications, useful when fighting bosses.

The game starts with a BOOM, you’re in a war-torn region and you see how the world changes after you actions (although suddenly). It quickly ends, unfortunately. The history is often shown in cinematics, but luckily there isn’t too many of them and you can stop them.

Classes

Echo of Soul
Echo of Soul: Hunter (Archer) skills

There are 5 base clases: Warrior, Rogue, Archer, Sorcerer and Guardian. There is no healer class. At lvl 10 you have to choose your subclass (one of two) – one of them is more dps-oriented. For example Warrior becomes either Protector (tank) or Berserker (damage dealer). The classes are gender-locked. Every few levels you choose 2 of 3 skills. These things aren’t really new in MMORPG.

The characters skills can be divided into 4 skill pages which allows you to choose separate skills for PvE and PvP from both of subclasses. You can switch between them outside of fights. Your skillbar will be different each time. The guides on the internet are usually made for pure PvE or pure PvP builds. Tricky, as for free you can have only 2 skill pages. If you want to pay for the possibility you have to be really lucky (paying real cash for a possibility to get the unlocking item)  or make several thousands of gold (1 gold = 1000 silver) as of now (and increasing with inflation) and buy from lucky players. I don’t like this unlocking system.

I have mixed feelings about this system. Sure, it’s easier to try out the different class, but if you just unlock another class at lvl 60 you have full access to skills and no experience in playing them. Learning how to play at 60 can be expensive for a casual player.

One character can also pick only one of those professions: resource collection (gathering), jeweller (necklaces, bracelets, gems) and alchemist (ring, earring, potions, buffs). There are also two hobbies: cooking (buffs) and soul expert which can be taken additionally. If you’re a PvE player, you can’t go wrong. Unfortunately the game doesn’t warn you that collecting resources at 60 is possible only after killing the dungeon boss. If you’re mainly PvP player, don’t pick it.

Souls

Echo of Soul
Echo of Soul: soul’s buff

Souls are supposedly the thing that differentiate this game from the others. The game offers a good introduction to the system at lvl 7.

The souls are good to have, both in PvE and PvP – except buffs (15s) they add moving speed and free you from a stun/sleep. Too bad its cooldown is 2 mins and unlike skills it never kicks in after pressing the button. You can have only 4k of purified souls at once so use them often, the limit isn’t too big.

Soul expert hobby will use the souls you purified for crafting other things. I don’t see any major difference between souls and resources dropped by monsters – and used for crafting – in other games.

World

Echo of Soul
Echo of Soul: map of Heliana region.

The world is mostly open, except for dungeons. The world map is divided into 4 big regions and those in smaller regions which are still further divided by a portal. You can’t cross the portal if you’re fighting. The first big region is PvE only (which you should leave around 18 lvl), in others you can PvP. From time to time when crossing the mid-regions you get loading screens.

History and Levelling

Story

Usually I do read the quests I do. I did read to a degree here. There is a visible story going from the 1st level to 60, with the same NPC moving from place to place – for example an older brother whose sister was killed by monsters is trying to get revenge on the masterminds in another zone (If I can say so). Unfortunately rebellion and struggles with Imperium aren’t as visual as two first areas – Breya and Mnemos. If you wouldn’t read the quests, you wouldn’t be able to notice they’re suffering. If you missed the quests’ text, you’ll get recap of history in the quest window anyway.

Quests

Echo of Soul
Echo of Soul: Hidden Cavern (solo dungeon at hero difficulty). When you’re doing quests, you’ll eventually be directed to this one.

Quests 1-59 aren’t too long or too troublesome. It’s either: gather some items (up to 10), kill some monsters (up to 10) or transport something from one NPC to another. Majority of the quests are one-time, some quests are repeatable, some are daily. Most daily quests are on 60 lvl. The only daily pre-60 is the battlefield (15 vs 15 PvP) quest which is a good source of exp and gems for enchanting equipment.

Quests are mostly chained. Unless you do a certain quest, you might not have an access to other quests in the area. Every 3 levels, starting from 13, you have an access to new quest area. You go there by using scroll from Quest Assistant in every major town (Mnemos, Ignea being the first two towns). That is very handy as you can also level up your character through PvP (battlefield) and outgrow the quests. And quests (or dungeons) are the only source of equipment.

Some quests are very irritating, if you are duoing with a friend. Sometimes its doubling your work as some items (plants and some monster items) disappear at once after any person gathers them, so you need to wait for a spawn/another mob. The maps aren’t too big.

What is really bad with quest is the quest marking at mini map. The game shows only 1 item/monster at a time, which can well be already claimed by another player (first hit) or even killed, but the body haven’t disappeared yet. The game doesn’t show monsters in another zone nor the finishing NPC until you clear the quest. The mobs are usually (!) in the next zone too. If there is somebody else in the same zone, you will end up fighting for mobs, if you don’t party.

At level 60 you just have daily quests. Both PvP (separate battlefield for lvl 60 characters) and PvE (dungeons), mostly for parties. No more armour/weapon/jewellery given up in the quests.

Levelling up

Echo of Soul
Echo of Soul: levelling up by battlefield daily quest.

It’s said you can go to lvl 60 in around 20 hours. Party system is one of the most broken things in this game. If one of you skipped PvE for several levels, the other did quests, and you go together to a new zone, you might not have the same quests available.

There’s not much room for powerleveling, which is a minus when you have a friend with a higher/lower level character. You level up by quests, not grinding. Asking lvl 60 to help you kill mobs isn’t too efficient – the quests are done quickly, and you spend time talking to NPCs and going from one to another or collecting items. There isn’t much space for AoEing too – the distance for pulling and between mobs isn’t good in most places. Generally quests and leveling up isn’t too party-friendly.

The most broken thing in party system are: Smart Matching (for PvP and dungeons) and dungeons. Party dungeons are 5-people only. At least, to enter the dungeon. Did I mention that sometimes it’s hard to get in, despite players being allocated from 3 servers? If you kick other player’s characters in the dungeon, you can finish the dungeon anyway. Why kick people at all? There are several reasons: you want to party with your friends or guildees, the character’s class is doubling another person’s class,  they don’t want to share money, the character is not geared well enough or doesn’t do enough damage. Even if there are 5 friends who would like to go together, they will break the 5 people into 2 parties of 2 people and 1 person entering alone. If everybody request Smart Matching at the same time (by using Team Speak or similar program), there is possibility they’ll end up in the same party. If not, kick the randoms and try again. Eventually, everybody will be together in party and will enjoy the Smart Matching buff for extra experience and money.

Levels 1-59 and 60 are like different games. There isn’t a lot of grind on early levels and you can do as many dungeons you want but level 60 is all about grinding and limits. You got max level, but instead you level up your armour’s item level which opens the door to another dungeons/raids. After quick and enjoying level 1-59 you discover a boring and repeatable lvl 60. Enjoy!

If you want to level up by crafting, it’s not possible in this game.

Equipment

Echo of Soul
Echo of Soul: Hunter (archer)

Equipment brings a bit of difference to other games. All equipment has item level, apart from the character’s level to be able to wear it. At lvl 60 it’s the item level that unlocks new PvE content – dungeons and raids. There are separate sets for each subclass (different stats), but you can wear it as long as you’re of the same base class. You can get equipment from: quests, dungeons, exchanging “secondary currencies” in game. Those currencies are gotten from completing some quests or from PvP.

The equipment can be enchanted with gems (dull at first, lucid later on). Gems have colours and can be placed only in specific part of armour. The higher level of gem enchanting, the less chance to successfully enchant it. You can of course use cash shop items (also sold by players) to boost the enchantment but the enchantment rate still stays low. If you spend “enough” real life money, you will get them more easily/quickly. The +5 lucid gems (random) you get from battlefields isn’t enough for pvping. The gem rant can be often heard in game or on forums.

Until level 59 all equipment is PvE only, at lvl 60 there is PvE and PvP armour/weapons/jewelry. PvP/PvE efficiency in the other set is 20%. That means that if you’re helping a lowlevel friend in PvE on map and your guild’s enemy comes up in PvP set (and skills) both of you die quickly. Not fun.

Solo dungeons give items for your class only (both subclasses at random). Party dungeons give any subclass’ armour/weapon, including the classes not present in the dungeon. 60 lvl dungeons give violet sets… which are bound to the character who picked them up. You can either sell them to NPC for a small amount of gold or destroy to get some souls. If you go on Protector and another player on Berserker (base class Warrior) and there is a Protector equipment looted from the boss, both characters will be classified as “class priority” and get a roll on the drop. See the reasons for kicks? Anyway, if you’re unlucky, you can get no full set in weeks.

The 60 lvl armour/weapon has tiers of items also. For example three identical items with item level 81 can be exchanged for item level 84 (with better stats). Pay a lot for more inventory/warehouse space!

If you have an active guild, the Smart Matching might not bother you too much, but getting full set is bothersome.

PvP

Echo of Soul
Echo of Soul: one of two maps for battlefield. It’s either: taking towers or resources (this map).

The guilds can be either peaceful or hostile. The latter meaning anybody can freely attack them in most of the open world map (except first area, towns and camps) and in GvG places. If you kill a player character, you get points in guild ranking. You can’t attack characters without guild and those with a peaceful guild (green names). Unfortunately, I like the Lineage 2 system, where you could attack anybody you wanted. But I admit, having something liek this is way better than only arena in town.

There is a drawback if your guild is peaceful. The only chance to get Essence of Courage, an item needed for lvl 60 crafting, is from farming them in Valhalla – big area for guild vs guild battle twice a day at 12:00 and 21:00 server time (for an hour). Well, unless you buy them from other players at item broker. To participate in Valhalla, the guild has to be hostile. It can be switched on and off outside the Valhalla hours but your guild looses some points from ranking. I think it’s a nice idea to do it like that.

If you’re in a peaceful guild you can still participate in PvP: battlefields (15 vs 15) and arena (5 vs 5). If you’re serious about PvP, you will be doing daily grind too (for better equipment). If you’re PvE player, you should still do at least the daily PvP quests – you can get good rewards from it.

Battlefield is supposed to be a random 15 people party (on each side). In theory. There are 3 servers both for NA and EU. A 5-man party will be assigned to one side. Premade party and Team Speak gives advantage in battle. Free arena (5 vs 5) can either be done totally random or in pre-made party. Having pre-made party (even duo with a friend) will match you with other pre-made teams, and those can be serious about PvP and better geared. So if you want to go with a friend to do arena, you should time your matching with TS or another communication program.

Summary

The game is not revolutionary. It’s easy to level up to max level, even solo but at max level you need to grind on a daily basis (repetitive) both in PvP and PvE. You also need a lot of luck to have good equipment. Players most often criticise: the luck based equipment, PvP imbalance, Smart Matching and inflation (everything is so expensive and getting more expensive every week).

I was close to leaving the game (equipment issue), but in the end I’m still staying. Probably because of my guild. It’s not a bad game, but it isn’t good either.

What is your opinion on Echo of Soul?

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