I can’t believe I’m actually playing Elyon on local servers. People have been excited for this game since it was called Ascent: Infinite Realm, and just from the first couple of hours of actual play, I can tell you that this game’s going to be a keeper. Published in North America, Europe, and Oceania by Kakao Games and developed by Bluehole (the folks behind TERA), I can say with complete confidence that this is going to be one of the MMORPGs that’s going to define the decade.
But of course, as the first day of closed beta, there were a few hiccups.
After a rocky start of our Closed Beta yesterday, we're happy to announce that all log-in issues have been resolved.
Thank you for your patience and your understanding. Here are some words from our CM team. pic.twitter.com/BFSznFkcP2
— Elyon (@Elyon_thegame) May 7, 2021
Curbing your enthusiasm
Yes, there were errors. And for some people, it came as a total surprise. The servers in the west coast opened at around 7:00 a.m. PDT. And the login servers didn’t hold out long before it crashed. Much crying ensued on the Discord (some might even say it was discord on the Discord). There were some pretty eye-rolling comments. A few blamed “streamer bias.” Someone requested a server rollback so players that got in earlier didn’t have a five- hour head start for a closed beta. A few others declared how Kakao really messed up a closed beta launch and was the wrong company for this. Apparently in this reality, login issues on the first day of a closed beta is a telling sign for things to come.
Lucky for us, the CMs and GMs used to have to deal with BDO players, so they were pretty well prepared. Shoutout to the CMs and GMs that had to deal with all the whining. Y’all are saints. While a few players totally missed the point, everyone else saw the value: These problems are happening during a closed beta. Moving forward, we’ve got some good data to prepare for the full launch day.
Aside from the login errors, the closed beta has revealed some pretty glaring issues. A a particularly nasty bug causes the launcher and other critical game files to get quarantined by the player’s antivirus software, which brings up some memories of the PSO2 PC launch. I personally had issues finding a keyboard with an “any” key. They needed me to press the any key to start the game! Fortunately, the game decided that clicking the left mouse button was an acceptable input. [Editor’s note: Dad joke. Carlo’s a dad now.]
A delicious mix of MMO flavors
If you enjoy Guild Wars 2, Black Desert Online, or Lineage 2, this game is for you. The movement feels like Guild Wars 2, the combat is weighty and impactful like Black Desert Online, and the familiar gameplay loop shares much in common with Lineage 2. There is no mouse movement; it’s completely focused on action combat. There’s no tab targeting; players will need to aim their attacks with the crosshair.
In fact, this game is so invested in action that the tab key is actually a special class skill. Pressing the alt key will bring up the mouse for clicking on the screen elements, but that’s all. There are only a few hotkeys, very much as how Guild Wars 2 has only 10 skill slots. I like this minimalist approach; the fewer buttons I need to press, the more I can focus on the game. It also forces each skill to have more value just by having fewer usable skills. And it all flows together with some smooth combat.
Everyone loves Black Desert Online’s character creation system, and this game took that system and made it even better. It’s way easier to edit the measurements, players only had to click on the section, a little pop-up with sliders will allow players to customize their characters to their hearts content. It’s much more streamlined than Black Desert Online, but it’s not as feature rich. But this is a pretty solid entry for those that like a powerful character creation tool.
First impression on the combat and progression
Movement feels good. Characters don’t get caught in the geometry as they do in Black Desert Online, and the familiar smooth movement of World of Warcraft and Guild Wars 2 is present. And this all blends in so well with the combat. The heft and weightiness of Black Desert Online’s combat is there. There are so many crowd control types, but it’s clearly communicated. Players who invest their time on learning their class will be rewarded with class knowledge. It really feels like Black Desert Online without the odd desyncing that happens occasionally.
As a Korean MMORPG, the game borrows heavily from Lineage 2’s gameplay loop. There are mobs to kill and rewards experience, and it’s no small amount. Grinding mobs in the open world looks to be one of the primary sources of experience, loot, and skill points. This, I like. There are also dungeons. Three hours into the game, the first dungeon unlocks. It’s a simple matter of reaching the level requirement and the item level requirement. After that, players just open their map and enter the dungeon of their choice.
The first three hours and first dungeon
After you create your first character, the tutorial starts. We learn that the world is under attack by aliens and you’re the one that’ll help stop it! No surprise there. But it’s a tutorial mission. It’s pretty straightforward. Anyone who’s played an MMO will know exactly what to expect. By the time the tutorial finishes, players will have received their first set of skills, a set of weapons and armor, and gained 20 levels. That’s the first half hour. On the first run, it’s not skippable. But after the first initial run of the tutorial by the first character, subsequent characters can skip it.
The second two and a half hours introduce the world, the various systems (which I will discuss in more depth in my next few Elyon articles), and allow players to slow down and smell the roses. Please do. The game is beautiful. It’s hard to believe this is Unreal 3. It makes sense to put it on that engine, though; it’ll allow more computers to play the game. Leveling up slows down from this point on, and with some initial testing, I’ve found just going out and killing mobs seems to be a viable way to level up. But there are other systems.
I got introduced to “the quest letters” system early on. They’re basically quest boards. I’m not sure if they refresh daily, but I like how to quest actually completes after players finish the quest itself. No need to go back to an NPC to submit the quest for rewards. It’s a nice little timesaver.
As soon as I reached level 28, the first dungeon unlocked. I can’t really say much considering it’s just the first dungeon, but Final Fantasy XIV’s first dungeon, Sastasha, is way more substantial than this. It was only a solo dungeon, and I cleaned it out in less than 10 minutes. I’ve attached a video of my run below:
It’s not super impressive, but it was a pretty fun run. My instincts tell me that the dungeon runs will be a daily activity, but most of the time will still be spent killing mobs in the open world.
It’s been a fun three hours and I’m eager to dive in deeper. I’m most interested in seeing how far this closed beta will let me level up. Join me next time as I check out the PvP and the other dungeons!