I’m a sucker for unique, open worlds and game mechanics to a fault. I’ve slogged through some buggy messes of games as a result of just wanting something different. After spending nearly 2 decades seeking out the unique and obscure, the unique and obscure has become the norm to me. I’ve spent more time in The Universalist (a.k.a. “A tractor”) and Neocron than World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV (even over the past few years) and none of the top 10 MMORPGs in terms of time played in my Steam collection would make anyone’s top 20 MMORPG list in terms of popularity.
As a result, many of the fantasy MMORPGs of a more standard variety have sat with less than a few hours of playtime in my library. Given the recent closures of many of these games recently, it’s time to finally get around to them. We’ll start with Eldevin.
Eldevin Kingdom was once a peaceful land until elemental spheres mentioned in legend were discovered. The spheres caused significant confusion and chaos, corrupting the champions who were sent by the royal family to protect and scatter them. An emperor of a rival kingdom seeks to conquer the spheres. You enter the game after being rescued from the void, with no memory of your previous life. As you progress in the story, you recover memories of what occurred while attempting to save the previous king, who is trapped in a void region.
You could opt-out of the story aspects of the game and treat it more like an adventurer’s sandbox. The story is impacted by the decisions you make, providing some replay value lacking from most story-centric MMORPGs.
Eldevin is apparently past it’s prime and reports conflict about it’s current state. What is known is that it continues to be generally well-received by those who play it (79% positive out of 1,521 reviews on Steam as of the time of writing this) with many of the recent negative reviews providing too little information to determine why it was negatively reviewed (i.e. one review said “dead stars.. dont burn..” which is probably a reference from material outside of my purview) and many others complaining about low population, the developers abandoning the game, characters being deleted, etc. Many of the negative reviews express the “not recommended” choice has nothing to do with not loving their hundreds and even thousands of hours of game time but is due to the current state of the game. It sits on Metacritic with a 6.1 user review score with quite polarizing opinions of the game.
Population & Community
Even if I don’t mind playing a low population game, it’s still a deal-breaker for many of you. The population of this game includes Steam and those playing the client outside of Steam, with specific data outside of Steam not showing many additional players. The total population is typically in the 20–50 players range.
Eldevin uses a combination of connected zones and instanced areas. Even clicking on a shop door results in a loading period, albeit a brief one, which does negatively impact world immersion. The zones are mostly on the moderately-sized end of the spectrum, with plenty to explore but also the occasional invisible wall that interferes with movement. The assets and NPCs feel purposefully placed with very little open but purposeless space in the zones. The towns and villages feel like lived-in towns and villages. The forests feel like forests.
Instances are mostly reserved for dungeons and PvP content. I tried to find a 5 man group for a plethora of early game dungeons as well as queued for different PvP modes but after waiting for over an hour in the queues — I was unable to find anyone else. The dungeon content that is solo-able appears to be well-balanced for solo play, with an appropriate difficulty curve as the game progresses. I enjoyed both the gameplay and aesthetics of most of the dungeons, even if quest lines will send you back to different levels of the same dungeon with very similar-looking creatures and assets quite often.
Character Customization & Builds
Customizing your physical appearance is relatively limited, but I was able to make a red-headed adventurer that looked decent enough for my liking. Definitely a dated character customization portion even for a 2013 release. The real customization comes in the form of constructing your build.
Unlike many MMORPGs which force you to pick a class template, Eldevin provides the freedom to choose from a variety of skills from different build types when constructing your character. After level 5, you receive talent points that you can assign to any skill as long as you have the prerequisites met in the specific build tree. The build trees include:
- Warrior (heavy weapon melee DPS)
- Templar (tank)
- Assassin (quickness-oriented melee DPS)
- Ranger (weapon-projectile ranged DPS)
- Mage (magic-casting ranged DPS)
- Prophet (healer)
There are optimal builds for PvE and PvP but if min-maxing is not a priority, feel free to experiment. My primary character is a ranger that borrows skills from prophet, assassin, and warrior. Sure — definitely not an optimal build — but a fun build nonetheless.
You also gain attribute points as you level up. Attributes impact how well your skills from the aforementioned trees will perform. All characters have the following attributes:
- Vitality (maximum health and health regeneration)
- Focus (accuracy and critical hit chance)
- Energy (maximum mana and mana regeneration)
- Melee (efficacy of melee attacks)
- Ranged (efficacy of projectile-based ranged attacks)
- Sorcery (efficacy of magic-based attacks)
What really made Eldevin enjoyable for me was the wide range of gathering and crafting skills available to level up without being forced to choose only a couple to learn. This definitely has a RuneScape-style feel to it, albeit with fewer skills overall to learn. Each gathering skill helps provide materials for 1 or more crafting professions. Dailies exist for each and once you figure out which items are needed for quick crafting tasks, you can easily knock out multiple gathering and crafting dailies without having to backtrack to get more of the same materials. Also, you can store excess materials in your pack (not recommended — you’ll be performing triage often), stash, or bank. Materials are commonly found in areas with other quests, so you can often complete multiple quests without leaving the same general region.
Gathering skills include:
- Crystal cutting
Crafting professions include:
After spending so much time in obscure and experimental MMORPGs, returning to the basics in a world with lots to do was fun for awhile. There’s enough content where if I were seeking a single MMORPG to invest thousands of hours into, Eldevin — if it had a more active playerbase — would be a potential choice with enough to my liking to be worth the time investment. Even as it sits, the numerous dungeons, open world areas, crafting and gathering professions, and wide range of potential builds offers a significant amount of content even for the solo player.
As Eldevin currently sits, it’s in maintenance mode with no clear end-of-life plan in place. The developer, Hunted Cow Studios, appears to be willing to continue to support the game for the coming years. Hunted Cow Studios currently supports two strategy MMOs — Warhammer: Chaos & Conquest and Operation: New Earth — as well as two browser-based MMORPGs — Fallen Sword (277 online as of the time of writing) and Legacy Online (83 online as of the time of writing). While each has a higher population than Eldevin, the population differences do not appear to be significantly better.
I’d definitely recommend Eldevin as a game. It became one of my top 25 favorite MMORPGs as I progressed and with lots of content still to do, it’ll be a game I’ll definitely revisit in the future. It’s a small population game with lots of social cliques, though, so it’s easy to feel like an outsider in this world. Bring your own friends along for an optimal experience, or just get lost in an epic adventure!