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Ether Saga Online Preview

Blake_Morse By:
Blake_Morse
03/13/09
PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION
EMAIL TO A FRIEND
GENRE MMORPG 
PLAYERS
PUBLISHER Perfect World Entertainment 
DEVELOPER Perfect World Ent 
RELEASE DATE  
E10+ Contains Comic Mischief, Fantasy Violence

What do these ratings mean?

Gotta catch 'em all.


Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, have I got an exciting offer for you today. What we have cannot be found in any stores. It slices, it dices, it will clean your car, and it pays your taxes. Okay, so it won't really do any of that stuff. But Ether Saga Online (ESO), the upcoming MMORPG from the developers of Perfect World, does come with a no-money back guarantee. And before you scratch your head, I mean it's based off a free-to-play model, so you don’t have to spend any cash at all.

click to enlargeESO gets its background story from the classic Chinese tale, Journey to the West. Obviously, some liberties have been taken in fleshing out the material - there is already an insane number of quests you can undertake and it’s not even out of closed beta yet. Stylistically, the game has a very Ming Dynasty feel mixed with vibrant animé flair. Overall, creature designs range from the traditional demons of China lore to the more cartoonish, like a cowboy pig and robo-ostrich mount.

The game plays like a cross between World of Warcraft and Pokémon (insert your favorite color/metal/gem). All your basic RPG elements and commands are there along with a very deep pet system. Everyone gets their own companion creature at the beginning and can capture and tame more as they progress and level up. You’re also able to fuse with these creatures to unlock extra abilities. Some will leave behind cards that will allow you to transform into them as well. Collecting monsters is a key element that makes the game stand out in the crowd.

Much like Perfect World, you have a lot of options as far as customizing the look of your avatar. It’s not as in-depth, but it’s good at preventing all the high-level players from looking exactly the same, and can also help you in being a little deceptive. Your actual armor and your decorative garb are not one and the same. If you want optional attributes, fancy-looking armor, and items once you’ve started on your adventure, those can cost you some bills. Don’t worry, you’ll be able to play the game in its entirety without spending a penny. Programmers gotta keep their baby’s momma in bling-bling and keep making these games somehow.

click to enlargeThere are three races and six classes you can choose from. Classes are handled almost on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being a character who is completely a fighter and 10 being one who is more magical than David Blaine. Most have a decent balance balance between offensive or defensive magic and melee abilities, which is an iconoclastic change from the usual conventions that the MMO genre is used to. On top of all that, depending on what you put in as your date of birth, you'll receive a unique skill every birthday. No one is simply just an knight, thief, or anything like that. Not that the parallels don't exist, it just seems to work more towards a balance of skills from many generic role-playing classes.

There are a lot of features that hardcore gamers will enjoy in Ether Saga Online, and since it's still in beta, noobs will be able to get in on the ground floor and learn from the start. It's also very family-friendly, so if you've been looking for a game to play with your kid brother/sister (and not a bunch of guys playing as female elves trying to get them into a private chat), this might be what you’ve been looking for. It's an everyman's RPG if there ever was one.

And since GR is so cool, we're going to give you and your friends a chance to check out Ether Saga Online for yourselves. Perfect World Entertainment has provided us with not 10, not 20, not even 500. But 1,000. Yes, 1,000 beta keys for our loyal readers.

click to enlargeWe'll be giving them away in lumps of 1-5 to begin with, and if we still have some left over after that, we'll be letting folks come back for seconds.

All you have to do is e-mail our happy little intern, Nick Swanson, at swanson@gamerevolution.com with the subject line "ESO Beta Request" with how many keys you want for you and your friends and your own e-mail. [I predict a 62% success rate for correct submissions. ~Ed] It's that easy. No need to thank us. We're just super cool like that.

And now is a great time to get in on the Closed Beta action as Ether Saga is hosting a contest of its own, which you can check out here.


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