Eden Eternal: accessible gaming

Having tried Eden Eternal recently, by coincidence this Saturday I ended up showing it to two senior relatives. I have introduced a number of my family to MMORPGs over the years, and try to find time to play with them where possible.

Newly minted heroes beginning their journey

Eden is certainly a good game for younger or older players to get into as it has some great navigational features. My relatives really liked the extensive use of auto-run (which Runes of Magic has also had for years) both to quest givers and to quest locations. It’s easy for experienced gamers to judge a game like Eden Eternal as simplistic or ‘easy-mode’ but I think it’s worth considering that not everyone in the hobby has decades of RPG/FPS/MMORPG experience when they start. Even simple things like controlling your viewing angle as you move or turn is a skill that I have learned to do without thinking (mainly from playing Quake and Unreal) – it’s not intuitive to people who have mostly played console platform games or restricted-camera RPGs before.

The auto-running isn’t the biggest advantage the game has though. Simply put the questing is very well planned out. You aren’t sent running back and forth repeatedly across vast distances to find your goals. The zones are generally self-contained, with clear breadcrumb quests to send you onwards when you have reached an appropriate level. This is important as I’ve lost track of the number of times I have been asked: “where do we go next for quests?” by these relatives when they play WoW. Even WoW does not necessarily do a good job of guiding the less-inquisitive player through the levels.

The one flaw that Eden has where accessible gaming is concerned is in the character system. It is sublimely flexible – you change class as much as you want to leveling each separately (only having one active though). Classes are unlocked by reaching a set minimum character level or by leveling a specific class to a minimum level. Beyond that you have a bewildering array of points, skills upgrades and options to choose from as you progress.

Options galore when leveling-up

It’s probable that their are über builds in the game and that such flexibility is illusory but it’s certainly plenty to confuse new players. Lots of ‘crunchy’ stats information, two tabs of skills to upgrade (one using gold, the other ‘CPs’) and you have both a talent points to allocate and class ‘certificates’ to slot.  If my relatives do end up playing this I suspect the nature of their phone calls will change; it won’t be “we’re lost” but rather “can you sort out our character”!

I’d say then that Eden is a pretty good ‘first MMO’ game. The community is pretty helpful as well and there are opportunities from a very early level to group-up since there are world bosses to fight in every zone and dungeons in each and every zone as well. I kept the zone chat open the whole time we were playing and for once I didn’t wince at the thought of my relatives seeing the foulmouthed smack-talk that you usually see in public channels on other games (WoW and EQ2 can be particularly bad for this).

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