First impressions: Elyon is a boring world with compelling gameplay and customization systems

    
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I’m going to be perfectly honest, I went in to Elyon with some pretty low expectations. Watching it be transmuted from Ascent: Infinite Realm, an intriguing steampunk world with what looked like interesting airship vs. airship large-scale PvP combat and a neat-looking world, into what appeared on the surface as TERA 2, I was not really holding much hope for Elyon.

So, with that bar set rather low, consider me pleasantly surprised all the same by how Elyon plays.

Note that I wrote “how it plays,” which is easily Elyon’s strength. The game’s world and setting is about as much of a letdown as I was fearing, replacing a great deal of the more interesting aspects that were showcased before for your bog standard fantasy world… stuff. There’s something about interdimensional portals, some largely forgettable monsters, and vistas that frankly weren’t exactly engaging.

The game’s story follows some similarly forgettable territory. The titular world of Elyon is, apparently, something that both of the game’s factions want to get to for reasons that are being teased as some great mystery that I don’t particularly care about. I’m also following the Vulpin faction story, which has me helping defend an heir to the throne. There’s also some mysterious hood-wearing dude. And floating cat people. What I’m basically saying is the story and setting are throwaway.

What kept me coming back night after night to Elyon was two things, the first of which is the combat. For lack of a better comparison, this game feels very much like WildStar in its combat model but with mouselook targeting and a few important differences. Some skills paint a shape on the ground to indicate when an effect will go off much like WildStar did, but then there are certain skills that are simply instant line-of-sight or lines or conal shots, or some skills require you to “paint” enemies and then press the button again to engage. It all combines to make some of the more interesting action combat that I’ve seen. A bit like a sequel to TERA in a good way, then.

This would be passable on its own, but the other thing that kept me coming back was the absolutely meaty progression and customization systems that Elyon offers. There are some typical advancement systems at play here like slotting gems into gear to improve it, as well as polishing said gems and combining them to improve their grade, but adding and improving those gems awards points that can be spent on passives. On top of that, each type of gem has its own passive tree that unlocks the more types of gems and higher grade of gems that are slotted into gear.

And that’s just the gem system. Skills have their own points system as well, with more points earned by leveling that can be spent to wholesale change how attacks work in four different ways — two of them available from the start and two others attainable as drops or free login reward gifts (at least during this round of beta; whether that will be the case at launch or not isn’t confirmed).

And these are just the things I’ve unlocked so far. There are limited hotbar slots but lots of skills to open up by leveling, and each one feels distinctive enough that creating a class that plays the way you want feels feasible. There’s some sort of Mana Awakening system that I haven’t unlocked yet that opens up another skill slot along with more stat customization. There are ways to improve the tier of gear you have. There is a Breakthrough type of gear that can be equipped which also opens up a new hotbar button and has unique passives. In short, I feel like I’ve just scratched the surface.

All in all, the systems surrounding Elyon are crunchy in the best way, providing what feels like a wide variety of paths for creativity when it comes to character builds. I suspect this will make the game an absolute hellscape to balance for PvP, but in terms of PvE gameplay and the sensation of character advancement, I don’t think I could love Elyon more.

And that’s kind of a problem, primarily because it brings into stark relief how absolutely vanilla the game’s world is otherwise.

I already harped on the forgettable story and boring visuals, but I also have to point out that the one dungeon I’ve played thus far was very lackluster even if the final boss required me to use interrupts and dodges a bit more intelligently than I had before. There are points where the main quest isn’t available until you hit a certain level, but those are easily gained by doing side quests that you get from an NPC which amount to kill 10s for the most part. There was also at least one world boss that I took down with a few others, which was pretty fun but unremarkable.

As truly intriguing as the combat system and character customization is, the fact that everything else feels like an afterthought is a bit sad. I can’t stop thinking how much cooler this all would have been with the game’s full steampunk aesthetic instead of TERA wearing a top hat with engineer goggles.

There are a couple of other concerns that sort of nip at the back of my mind, too. For example, there are Luminus items that I haven’t unlocked the ability to get yet, but the whole system reads like it could be a huge pay-to-win asterisk if this write-up is anything to go by. Also it should be noted that Rubies were being handed out like candy during my play time, primarily because the devs wanted to test the Ruby Store, so it’s almost a guarantee that they won’t be as generous come the launch; basically, there are some cash shop worries to keep in mind.

Those didn’t stop me from getting that rocket cat mount, though.

One of the larger concerns I have, however, is with Elyon’s endgame, which appears to have a more PvP slant to it. A quick bit of research seems to suggest that the vast majority of this game’s endgame activities are RvR or large-scale PvP affairs.

This could be interesting as I tend to hide my bad play in larger PvP groups better than if I were singled out 1v1, but at the same time I sort of worry about the aforementioned balancing hellscape as throngs of PvPers wail to the devs on every possible forum to nerf X or buff Y or concede to any number of demands. Ideally, there are PvE things to do at cap as well (and a cursory glance of the game’s world map seems to suggest there are a couple of things), but I couldn’t say for sure.

Despite most of those worries and my general dismissal of Elyon as a world, Elyon as a game is extremely fun. The combat is snappy and enjoyable, and the customization of skills and stats is extremely engaging, toeing the line between ARPG complexity and general approachability though it certainly feels like it leans more towards the former than the latter. To that point, make sure you read the text quests that explain these systems. Trust me on this.

So consider me very surprised as well as intrigued and impressed. I’m very curious to dig into this game more. Just a pity about its setting.

Massively Overpowered skips scored reviews; they’re outdated in a genre whose games evolve daily. Instead, our veteran reporters immerse themselves in MMOs to present their experiences as hands-on articles, impressions pieces, and previews of games yet to come. First impressions matter, but MMOs change, so why shouldn’t our opinions?
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Adam Russell

You can always build on a world, but gameplay infrastructure is harder to improve after the fact. Youre tempting me to give it a try.

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elenie

Thanks for the article. This game sounded promising way back when it was A:IR, but the Elyon rebrand sounded terrible to me and it seems that’s indeed how things panned out. I need an interesting world and gameplay that doesn’t purely thrive on combat.
Not for me but maybe other people will love it for what it is.

Yangers
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Yangers

Even the screen shots look god awful. (The content of them I mean)

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Malcolm Swoboda

I lasted minutes.

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xagarthadaemonx

I must have missed something… So this is Ascent: Infinite Realm that everyone were hyped about when they announced it, but change the name to Elyon?

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rk70534

It is, and the steampunk aspect (and flying) was largely cut because testers’ reaction to it was claimed to be very negative.

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xagarthadaemonx

Negative? Seriously…. This was the main point along with the flying, that had put this game on the radar of mmo players. And they turned it into another generic Eastern fantasy mmo. Wow…. I don’t think this would last much in this state. I watched youtube videos and the performance was absurdly bad. UE3… what a joke.

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Scott Hauenstein

That sounds like big smelly mound of crap to me. The was the biggest selling point of the game and marketed as what set it apart from the rest of the genre. I would not be at all surprised if they couldn’t get the mechanics to work properly, tore it out of the game, and lied about testers disliking it. If anyone can provide proof of their claim, I’ll be happy to retract my suspicions, but until then, I call shenanigans.

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Dug From The Earth

Thankful for the beta key I got

Would have kicked myself if I had paid money for this.

1. the unreal 3 (THREE.. they are up to FIVE now) is super out dated and it looks (and performs) as such. The “hide” the dated look, they have applied a post process filter to give it a colorful haze/shine/theme. While you can change between a couple filter styles, you cant actually turn it off (default is still on). It just makes the game look super washed out.

2. Class customization is pretty limited. 3 Fur patterns if you wanna play one of the mini animal races. I mean… seriously? Only 3?

3. Feels like a mobile game in many ways, except for maybe combat

4. One of the most LINEAR games ive ever played. The world is 99% pointless as you basically just are funneled along a straight line. One town/camp to the next, working on just the main story until it you have to gain a couple levels to start it up again. During which you pick up generic kill quests from a quest broker, that have you step outside of town to kill the enemies densely packed around it. Rinse… repeat.

5. Every skill feels uber. So much so that after you have 2 or 3 (ie: within the first 10 minutes of the game) you dont really care about unlocking more skills. The skill customization/upgrade system is nice however. Why do you need so many skills when your first few have no issues wiping out dozens of enemies at once already?

6. The game just feels cheap? Not sure what the word is to describe it. Its like when you get one of those low budget movies, with the unknown bad actors, horrible props, and then suddenly, there is a brand new Lamborghini that shows up. You sit there going “What???” because its totally out of place.

7. Most of the game will leave you with that “ive done this and seen this sorta thing before” feeling, most of the time linked to poor and negative experiences on mobile or foreign, badly monetized games that just kinda make you feel dirty after you play them.

10. Whatever uniqueness the game may have had when it was just “A.I.R” before changing its theme and name to Elyon, is long gone now.

Zulika Mi-Nam
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Zulika Mi-Nam

I liked this back when I tried in an Alpha when it was AIR. BAH!

Those generic kill quests I assumed were just placeholders back then. I was very surprised to see them handed out in such a vending machine manner now.

Seeing that, knowing that they ditched the flying/steampunk part, the voice acting, and seeing the must login everyday FOMO award things just made me nope out.

…sadge

Celestia
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Celestia

Going through the tutorial I was struck how much Elyon felt like a monetization scheme with some game elements tacked on to it. The spell customization system was great, however.

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Greaterdivinity

Man…the stacked progression systems almost make this sound like more of a mobile MMO in design. They love stacking multiple gear/character/skill progression systems on top of each other as they can each be monetized. Depth is a good thing, don’t get me wrong, but simply adding more progression systems doesn’t inherently = depth.

Expectations are low already, but they’re growing lower as I learn more. Which is a shame because damn if the game doesn’t look pretty as hell and kinda fun to play.

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Hikari Kenzaki

I’m honestly getting really tired of this comparison.
Multiple horizontal progression systems = Mobile game.
Dozens of games are adding this type of system, not just mobile games.
It’s just a way to dismiss a game out of hand.

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Vunak

Elyon is nothing like TERA. I wish people would stop making that comparison. It has some of the TERA assets in mob look and costumes. But Elyon is as close to TERA as FFXI is to FFXIV.

Elyon has to much customization. There are so many things that completely fk the games balance out of whack because of the mana awakening adding so much. The Rune Attributes do the same thing. Elyon bombed in Korea for this exact reason. BHS couldn’t balance a PvP game because there was to much shit impacting the games combat in very strange ways.

They should have kept it to the different skill changes. Removed the rune attributes and kept the mana awakening to nothing but stat changes. But its waaaay more complicated than that and causes tons of issues.

I’m usually a huge backer of having a ton of customization. But Elyon just has way to much. Game will never even come close to balance, horrible for a PVP MMO.

UE3 was a huge mistake as well for a game releasing in 2020-2021.

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PewPewBattlemango

Elyon for me felt like one big empty world. There were enemies but the world just didn’t feel alive, I could not immerse myself, or feel like I was going on my own adventure.

The quest system is rather boring, follow the story –> NPC that gives 7-8 quest unlocks –> do these quests (20 min max to do all) and move on to the next camp.

Anyone looking at the in-game systems will see that every single one of them is designed to be monetized in the future.

BDO and Tera are the games people often refer to when talking about Elyon and frankly, I think Elyon misses the mark. Tera was a lot more enjoyable in my opinion. BDO which is a more recent MMO is just a very different experience, in BDO in the first hour you are questing, exploring, talking to NPC’s to get rep. etc. in BDO I feel like it is very easy to immerse yourself.

I would say at this point that Elyon should delay it’s western release. If you want Elyon but F2P just play bless unleased, if you are looking for Tera 2 or BDO 2, move on.

Elyon did one thing good in my opinion … it made me even more excited for New World.

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Bereman99

It felt like Elyon had a nice start, setting-wise. Spit out like some sort of clone, on a weird steampunk/fantasypunk style ship, make it to another ship with sails that reminded me a bit of Treasure Planet ships (in a good way) but bigger, fight off against various demons, there’s a massive glowing world tree looking thing, a steampunk dragon shows up and attacks…

Some humor with your character literally falling out of the sky and that’s how you end up in the area of the faction you chose…

And then bog standard “royal line, pirates, wolves, crabs, griffons, etc.,” fantasy fare.

Bless Unleashed felt like it had a more interesting world.

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Ozzie

Anyone looking at the in-game systems will see that every single one of them is designed to be monetized in the future.

This was exactly my impression and why I think it negates the excitement of this article. Customization wasn’t for the player, it was potential avenues of monetization. Sure, maybe they could be both and I only played the game for a few hours, but I got the sense that it was built to be convoluted so that they could get paid to resolve inconveniences down the line (if not sooner). I just don’t trust them to not try some monetization shenanigans when they have all these potential levers to pull that directly impacts gameplay.

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Bereman99

I think they are already trying some monetization shenanigans…

Sure, there’s all these attributes and stuff that you do with it in-game, but clearly the Luminous system is meant to complete it, and there’s a clear monetization element there. A pretty rough one at that, given that you purchase the Luminous via the Ruby Shop (their cash shop) and then upgrade it with additional Luminous…that are like 500 gems each from the cash shop.

And let’s hope that 500 gems isn’t $5 worth, or those prices are super not final…

Cause last I checked, you need around 30 total “Grade 1” Luminous of a single color to fully upgrade it, and if that’s the case, that’s gonna run you $150 to max out a single color…and then either do it again, or pay 400 gems a pop to switch the color.

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Ozzie

Yeah for sure, that’s in addition to the other shenanigans. Just wanted to point out that one of the game’s upsides is potentially a downside in disguise.