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A Strangely Guilty Pleasure – Earth Eternal.

Okay, so I used to play an old Iron Realms MUD back in my early college days. It was fun, deep, engaging and typical of any well-run MUD with a standing community. (Even came with factions, hah!) The company mentions that they’re making a MMO in the future. I get excited again. I play it. Dropped it as fast as I could and ran.

If you don’t know about Earth Eternal, the main beef with the game is its character creation. It is effectively a furry game, anthropomorphic to the point of being titled “the next Furcadia” by some. Strangely enough, that wasn’t what scared me off. (If you’re honest with yourself, the only way they could create a reasonably viable diversity with their extremely low polygon count was to go the distinguishable animal/bird/reptile route.) Really, the game played slow and the client chugs at sub-optimal speeds on rigs that play more graphically intensive titles at a constant 60.

Regardless, I picked it up again on the grounds that I wanted to think positively for once. It’s been taking a lot of that stuff. The fact is, I’m not used to browser MMOs and the general lack of quality that is caused by working within a browser. That being said, Earth Eternal, at times, felt like I was playing a real MMO. Really, the only thing hampering Earth Eternal is the fact that it is a browser MMO, because most of its design components just plain work.

The class system is solid. Four classes, warrior-rogue-mage-druid, each having their own skill charts. Skill charts are divided into primary and secondary. Your specified class gets access to the entirety of its own chart plus the secondaries of all other classes. Awesome. You can be a mage with a small suite of melee skills. You can be a rogue with heals. You can be a warrior with rogue interrupts. You can be a druid that, err, well is like every other druid in every other setting.

Range is insane in Earth Eternal. It really is. I can’t explain it to you better than the game client can. You shoot roughly as far as you can see, well outside the range of aggro. Humorous to the max. Consequently, melee is clunky and strange, mostly because of a small delay post-skill usage and the sense that your abilities come later than your inputs.  As far as tactile feel is concerned, the game doesn’t feel polished like most good MMOs are, but it’s forgivable because, once again, it’s a browser MMO.

The big question I ask myself when playing EE is “Am I playing a kid’s game?” The answer, unfortunately, still remains yes. The theme is soft and cute, the world hasn’t really revealed anything particularly moving and it is very clear that these ‘flaws’ are intentioned to keep them within a certain age range. If you’re going into EE and you’re looking for a fight, you’ll probably find yourself in the desperate loser category.

Still, after all this, the community does not suck. As much as I really dislike the game’s lack of depth and subpar presentation, the presence of a friendly region chat is so dangerously alluring that it is keeping me in the game. I wish that this kind of community existed in better games, but it’s fairly clear that games with a competitive streak tend to attract the worst crowd as far as MMOs are concerned. You really cannot have your cake and eat it too with MMOs.

EE is a good browser MMO. I reserve full judgement on the technical aspects based on its current existence as an open beta game. On paper, it has some really solid ideas and executes them successfully, but the theme might deter people, especially boys with an ego. Less gimicky than Free Realms and more polished than Runescape. I don’t know if I will play it, since I thrive in places that allow me to be mean, but part of me really does want to participate in the game for purposes of relaxation.

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2010 in Earth Eternal