Ether Saga online is a cute cartoony Free to Play MMO that follows the recent model of “Free to Download and Play”, but “Pay” for upgrades and costumes. This game is a full 3D game with modest system requirements. My Alienware m15x was not working as hard with this game on full tilt as it does with 2Moons.
After about 6 hours with the game, there is much to love and a few things that aren’t so nice.
Generally. The game is beautiful and friendly looking. The graphics are wonderful and the animations are well done. But beware, this is not a browser game. The download is 1.7GB and after that there is a large update; so it takes a little while to download and install. I had no problem installing it on Vista x86.
I’ll leave a description of the game, races, and classes to their website. I’ll confine myself to my observations and comparisons with other games I’ve played in this genre. This is by no means a complete review of the game, but a set of first impressions after playing the game for about 6 hours. I expect to be drawn into a game during that much time and if not then it’s time to move on to more interesting fare. I am willing to give a game that much time and don’t expect it to be a hit in the first 10-20 minutes.
There are a large number of levels. So one expects a “Grinder” but also there seems to be a developed Quest system. So Ether Saga probably doesn’t have the downsides of Guild Wars capped leveling system where the maximum level is 20, but seems to have a better quest system than 2Moons. Quests are listed in a special dialog and it’s easy to see quests there that are appropriate for your level. Although I was not able to find a quest for my character because it didn’t give me good directions to the place where the NPC was that had the quest. The Ether Saga quest panel did indicate what rewards were given for the quest so you could pick quests intelligently. Guild Wars has a very nice quest system with good rewards. 2Moons as I have said elsewhere here has a lousy quest system with trivial rewards.
Starting a Character. I chose a Dragoon – melee fighter – as my character, and there are quite a few options, including gender, when you create your character. All the characters, apparently, come with a Pet OOTB. Mine was a cute little fox. Oddly, the character did not come with any weapon, but I found that I could kill things fairly effectively with my fists. After a few levels and what I thought were quite a few coins, I went to find a Lance. Apparently, based on the very incomplete wiki, each character only has one weapon type. It was not obvious where to find weapon. The blacksmith was no help. Finally I stopped by a “Merchant” and she had what I needed. A little while later I got the same thing as a drop, but the merchant also had some upgraded armor for my character, who by that time was level 5. Minor annoyance: the length of character names is limited to 10 so I had to use WindFlayer rather than WindyFlayer. How lame is that?
Leveling is a Grind, even at low levels. The leveling effort quickly becomes a grind. There something like 150 levels total, but by level 9 the grind was particularly tedious. The game animations are quite slow and at first that seems charming, but even at level 9 you only have one killing skill, so whacking away at all those cute little critters can take a very long time. By comparison, I started a brand new character in 2Moons, also a melee character, and in about 6 hours brought it up to level 24. This was admittedly with some help from his brother who had cash to spare for upgrades, but regardless, 2Moons is much more efficient and quicker to kill things in succession. In Ether Saga, if I went after low level prey, then I had to kill a lot to make any progress, and if I went after stronger prey, I had to use the Healing Skill after every 2 or 3 kills to build myself back up to avoid dying. The good news was that this did not require purchase of pots, which is lucky since I have accumulated very little loot and cash as I leveled.
Drops are few and far between. The drops are far too infrequent to build up any sizable loot, and I barely kept by pet fed. Compared with 2Moons and Guild Wars, it is very difficult to build up a store of booty. My pet was sitting at about 75% energy most of the time since the food drops were not frequent enough.
Traveling About. The world is large and there are teleports and Auto Route lets you click on a the map or select an NPC and forget it, for the most part. Auto Route occasionally gets stuck, but that’s no big deal. There is a minor problem with the map that you cannot zoom in and then pan around to see the world in detail. Zooming in or out is always based on your position. The world is beautiful and site seeing is a pleasure. As you level up to about level 20, it looks like you just move clockwise around the town.
There are mobs of prey, but I never saw any that attack unprovoked. But I have only reached level 9 so far.
Skills are Rich. There is a complex skill design based on 4 parameters rather than the more typical 2. And another good thing is that you don’t have to hunt a skill trainer or merchant to get new skills. Just purchase your skills with Spirit points from a dialog. I found that I had plenty of Spirit points, but not very much currency as I leveled up, which is a problem, as you will see. The Dragoon comes with a fighting skill and a healing skill. The healing skill builds up your health quickly whenever you want, as long as you aren’t actually fighting at the time. There are also health and energy pots, but with so little currency, I wasn’t looking for those. I never got a pot as a drop in the first 9 levels.
Your Pet. All the character classes come with a pet OOTB, and you must feed it. It does damage as you attack, and really helps you level, but for some reason it actually levels faster than you do. You need to feed it all the food stuffs that you get in drops to keep it healthy, but don’t worry, you don’t need to eat yourself. If you die you resurrect back in town and away you go, but if your pet dies, you are in deep trouble. Apparently there are Scrolls and a Hunter who can resurrect your pet, but the Hunter costs big time. The currency is Gold, Silver, Bronze. At the end of 9 levels I had about 4 silver and a few bronze. It costs 50, yes that ‘s Fifty, Silver to resurrect your pet. I’ll probably be level 20 or more before I see that much cash. [Update: I was able to resurrect the pet by buying a “Resurrection Scroll” for 5 Silver. Quite a bit less than 50 Silver for the service. There is a difference since the Scroll does not resurrect the pet with full energy.]
Bottom Line. I’ll probably spend a few more hours, but the slowness of leveling, sparsity of drops and currency, and the slow pace make this game an eye-candy adventure, but not a place where I’ll be spending more time.
Screen Shots. Here are a few screen shots from my adventures.
enjoy, – windy