First impressions of Elyon’s western closed beta: Day one and a dungeon run

    
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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.

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.

Artist depiction of players trying to login this morning.

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.

The character and armor designs take a “less is more” approach. This is a good start.

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 thereThere 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.

The hotbars are kept to a minimum. The UI doesn’t feel cluttered.

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.

I love how colorful this game is!

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!

The four wind tiles in Mahjong open all sorts of winning combinations for players of this ancient game – and the “Asian” MMO subgenre is just as varied as the many rulesets in Mahjong. Join Massively OP’s Carlo Lacsina here in our Four Winds column as he covers the diverse assembly of MMOs imported from the East!
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Wil Warin

I can say with complete confidence that this is going to be one of the MMORPGs that’s going to define the decade.

AHAHAHAHAHA straight up BDO clone is going to revolutionize mmos. Good one.

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Natalyia

I thought it was a nice enough MMO, but I didn’t find anything about it “exceptional” or likely to define “the future of the MMO.”

The combat is nice, but for me had none of the visceral feel of BDO’s combat. The skill system was very good (the ability to customize the skills in various ways in particular.)

The character creator was serviceable, but I would have compared it to GW2 rather than BDO – the set of options available were nowhere near as extensive.

I think it’ll find a niche, but I can’t see it being a game other people try to emulate. There seemed like nothing new under the sun here. A perfectly serviceable refresh/retread of things I’ve seen done in other games, competently executed.

In a group, the story fragments into instances all the time – hardly a “next gen” experience, although again – understandable – many MMOs in the past have made the story beats solo, but I’d have hoped for better in the 21st century.

I’ll probably pick it up, but it’s not going to suddenly become my “main game” or have me pestering other developers with “why aren’t you doing *this*” – it’s just a nice, competent, current-gen typical MMO. Nothing *wrong* with that, but hardly something to trumpet as the Future(tm.)

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melissa lewis

After reading this, I’m wondering if we were playing entirely different games. At best, the combat feels like Tera. I most definitely did get stuck on things, even things I couldn’t see. However some things I should have been able to stand out let me go right through them. And as others have mentioned, the voice acting is terrible.

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Jo Watt

I feel more like the ideas surrounding Ashes of Creation will be the decade defining mechanics as long as they actually follow through with everything.

I agree in that Elyon is shaping up to be a decent game finally and I know we have not had promising mmos for a while but this one is already showing wear and tear from just it’s age plus old engine use. Most things seem to be pretty standard mmo 123’s it’s just a new coat of paint.

I think the only way they may end up defining a decade is if they pull off really good dungeons and raids with the action combat. That might push it into a start of something but others are already developing that at the same time.

Edit. Actually not just Ashes, but even New World to some degree if they can pull off decent dungeons and raids with action combat.

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Solaris_N7

Voice acting is atrocious and it’s the same old tired ‘You’re the Saviour’ storyline.

BUT

Combat is so satisfying. They really nailed combat and ability effects. I’ve also had some of the best PvP over the last two days than I’ve had in years. Elyon does a lot right. Leveled a Gunner then a Mystic for healing. I got to skip the 1st 20 levels on my alt which is something all MMOs should offer. My alt was also already in the Clan, and had access to my prior characters gold. These little things just made me all the more impressed.

I thought the game would be trash and some of it is. But overall it’s been a great MMORPG. Huge game world. Treasure hunts are fun. Exploration is excellent. Little side quests all over the place. Great classes and races. I’ve got a good 24 hours in and I’m going to be sad when CBT1 is over.

I’ll be playing this until Ashes of Creation.

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HighGuyTim

Nothing tells me more the article is trash than saying “game of the decade” followed by “only played 3 hours”. Especially with an MMO. Hopefully future articles choose a more experienced journalist.

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NeoWolf

I am curious as to the reasons behind the following statement?

” I can say with complete confidence that this is going to be one of the MMORPGs that’s going to define the decade”.

What made you think this Carlo? what was it about that game and its systems that brought you to that conclusion?

I am genuinely curious as reading the article it all sounded fairly run of the mill action combat MMO, nothing mentioned particularly jumped out as new or innovative or groundbreaking in some undefined way?

Action MMOs are fairly uninspired and repetitive at this point, what makes Elyon different and stand out?

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psytic

Sounds all ho hum to me to. Another Lineage 2 but in U3 which is already outdated? Not seeing the appeal.

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ghoulas

I don’t agree with any statement of this review.

Game of the decade – you have got be joking. Old UE3 is showing everywhere in that game. Movemnt is floaty UI is a mess and everything blends in to one poop. Combat is ok, but BDO eats this game for breakfast without chewing. It will be a gankfest with massive grind and you should state that. Every system that is in the game is a grind chore, gearing is RNG based with possible P2W elements. I hate people posting reviews after 2h of game, I also enjoyed the first 3h but than the game started to get on my nerves as I saw deeper and deeper into it.

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ForsetiGod

I have to agree, UE3 in 2021 is a deal breaker for me, not to mention I have zero faith in the companies behind this to create and keep a fair cash shop and class balance environment or do anything interesting enough to break it out of the generic k-grinder category in my mind.

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Hikari Kenzaki

We were just discussing it after about 5 hours of play tonight.

We’re liking it. Don’t think it’s a game anyone is going to quit their favorite game over, but it’s fun. It’s definitely going into the rotation of regular games when it comes out.

There was some serious ganking on the MMOByte stream, but I think they were being stream sniped cause they had nearly 1000 viewers. We didn’t run into that tonight.

The best part for me is the flexibility and customization of the skill system. Your class has a bunch of skills they learn, but then you can use your gear points to morph them into entirely different abilities in the same vein. So, like you could start out with a kick attack, then morph it into a jump to target kick. Or you could have a grenade and morph it into a stun grenade or a poison grenade. Or a spinning PBAoE turns into a leaping strafe attack. It’s pretty wild. Reminds me of the flexibility of the old TSW system where any build seems viable.

Like Carlo says, it hits a lot of the best parts of some of my favorite games (GW2 and BDO) and I chuckled a lot that many of the gameplay elements resemble LoM so I definitely have an advantage on the learning curve there.

The camera controls for taking screenshots are absolutely pants… but I know tricks.

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Toy Clown

Generally, I ignore beta/alpha reviews since most of them are incredibly negative and I feel that alphas and betas are about finding bugs, giving feedback to devs, etc. However, I pushed that feeling aside as I’ve been jonesing to play something new. The MMO market has been rather dry of late, with the exception of survival games.

I’m still on the fence, but thank you for giving us a few highlights. I enjoy action combat/camera movement (if that’s what it is?). I use a rollerball mouse and this type of gameplay is the most comfortable. But if that’s not what it is, I use Mouse-X on every game I play where its not present, which allows me to convert the camera to action movement.