After about 30 or so levels and an entirely different class, I can pretty much say with a fair bit of confidence that my impressions of Elyon are no different than when I first peeked in during a beta test. That is to say that the game world is wildly forgettable and its game systems are far more entertaining. The only change to that entire opinion is that even the interesting advancement systems that I found compelling before were starting to wear on a bit as I moved forward.
I’m not going to belabor the point too much in this impressions piece, but it really does bear repeating that nothing about this game’s universe has sparked anything nearing interest or intrigue. I can’t tell the world of this MMO from any other fantasy land that I’ve moved through in the years before. I can’t even begin to work myself up over its story and its characters. And while this is a nice open world without any sort of loading between areas, I’m not really inspired to explore or learn more. It’s all just completely ignorable set dressing. A stage for combat to shine.
And just as before, combat absolutely shines in Elyon. I enjoyed the heck out of my Gunslinger class when I first played the beta, but this time I elected to try the tanky Warlord out and I was not disappointed. Every attack this character lands is meaty, with heavy-sounding thuds, bombastic smashes of the hammer, and intensely impactful swings of the shield to interrupt foes or block attacks. This class is, without question, one of the angriest tanks in MMO gaming I have ever witnessed.
The playstyle of this kind of tank was supremely enjoyable as well. Sure, I could use my shield to block attacks, but the vast majority of the Warlord’s toolkit was about crowd control and interruption. Whether it was shoulder checking someone with a dash, crashing my hammer into the ground to send foes flying up into the air, or swinging my shield around like a second hammer to both interrupt and punish an enemy’s charge-up attack, I was completely enthralled. I love winning by mitigation and attrition, but the domineering CC tank is a playstyle that I never knew I needed.
Which is a shame, then, because as strong as that hook is, it’s not strong enough for me to ignore the shortcomings of Elyon’s world.
It’s also not enough for me to ignore the realization I was coming to with regard to this game’s character advancement system. During many of the early levels, a lot of the advancement features were spilling out, compelling me to move forward in the story and the levels to keep on unlocking more things. After a certain point, however, that avalanche began to settle and cease. The materials I needed to upgrade my runestones started to arrive a lot less. The skills I was unlocking didn’t jive with my CC tank playstyle. And since I wasn’t really able to upgrade my runestones, I subsequently wasn’t able to earn more rune points to get more interesting passives or adjust my active abilities to more interesting variations.
In short, the fast-paced fun ride started to slow down and become far less fun. As much as I liked using the skills that I have slotted, they started becoming the only skills I used. I wasn’t just seeing a carrot dangled before me, I was seeing the carrot behind a heavy glass case. Even though levels do seem to come pretty fast and furious in Elyon, they’re not really the most interesting parts of getting stronger, so all of the other interesting hooks of the game weren’t allowed to really sink in.
It really is a shame that I’m not being allowed to really dig deeper into my character power customization because I seriously started to feel like I was getting a handle on things. When the regular fights started to get tougher and I had to pay closer attention, it felt good to know what powers did what and how to smash down foes effectively. And the one time I was able to do something with another person – fight a little world boss – I felt like a powerhouse tank.
I ended up craving more of Elyon’s advancement systems and being starved instead. Which led to frustration, which then led to the game just blending in with every other fantasy MMORPG that’s come out. The things that make this game stand out just sort of stopped coming at an enjoyable clip, and so my interest started to wane.
I’m not so sure that I can see this game standing up on its own two feet for terribly long. Unless there’s an audience that wants another bog standard fantasy MMORPG, it’s hard to know how healthy this game will be later, and I’m not too motivated to push on into the later levels. Once a routine starts forming – go to quest hub, do quest counter things, do a couple story missions, then repeat – I just found myself getting that little bit more bored.
Ultimately, Elyon doesn’t strike me as a bad game. It just strikes me as a boring one. A game that, for whatever reason, refuses to pay attention to the things that would have made it far more unique than other titles, and I don’t just mean its original steampunk setting, either. This game feels like it should have risen above mediocrity and just decided to shrink inward out of worry or fear instead, which is a shame, because there is some good stuff hiding in here. I just wish it weren’t so shy about it.