GDC 2012 Day 2: Eternal Blade
By Darren Henderson (DizzyPW), OnRPG Editor-in-Chief
Nestled away in a hotel suite quite a ways off the main drag of the GDC venue was gPotato's line-up for 2012, including the very ambitious games of Eternal Blade and Sevencore. Both were thankfully in a playable state so I got to have hands on time with each game; first up was Eternal Blade.
Eternal Blade goes for the retro cutesy look and, thanks to some high quality animations, it pulls it off well. Two things stand out right away to the player upon picking up the controller or putting hands down on the keyboard. The first you will notice is you can't click on enemy monsters to highlight them. This shouldn't be that shocking nowadays with all the action genre online games being released but due to the setting of Eternal Blade, it definitely felt unusual. Rather than tab targeting foes, you hover your mouse over your desired target and then click your key to launch various strikes on them, similar to smart casting skills in League of Legends. It also felt much smoother to use the arrow for movement rather than WASD.
This control scheme seems strange until you activate the alternative camera setting, and the game turns from standard 3rd person MMO view to Isometric view. Now you realize you are playing a hack n' slash style dungeon crawler but with the beautifully rendered scenery and detail of a game designed to be viewed from the floor level in third person.
Classes and Modifications
Eternal Blade is slated to have six classes at launch, including thief, archer, magician, berserker, knight, and soul summoner. I don't know much specifically about the classes other than that each can evolve into two other classes such as thieves becoming assassins and archers becoming sentinels. The level cap at launch is 60 so I'm sure we can expect further level increases and class ups in future patches after launch. You can expect the usual type of skills to go along with each class, though I will say that some skills have some pretty interesting synergies that will reward players for smartly comboing their skills together. For instance the thief has a smoke bomb AoE that makes enemies far more susceptible to damage and a wind cutter AoE that can dish out some serious dps if you use it on a group confused by smoke bomb.
At any time players will be able to set up to 8 skills to hotkey assignments. However in the interest of class diversification, a sy stem called the Holy Animal System is in place to help differentiate the effects of your skills. After defeating various foes you can absorb their left over ether to form element orbs. After collecting 10 elements of any type you can forge them together to create a Holy Animal to equip on your character. Each Holy Animal is able to impact up to 3 of your abilities and you can use 3 Holy Animals at one time to really customize your class to your liking. If you're interested in forging Holy Animals of a specific element, you can focus on collecting ether related only to that element in an attempt to purify your pet creation and maximize the odds of receiving your desired Holy Animal.
In addition to skill customization players will also be kept plenty busy pimping out their gear. Gear can be refined to +10 as well as socketed through a system in which players collect various jewels and forge them together to make socket items. Rare gear also has randomized bonus stats that can be rerandomized by certain NPCs for a price.
The World and Dungeons
Something I couldn't help but mention is the amazing way they set up the World Map teleport screen in Eternal Blade. I wish I had a screenshot to display this but basically after clicking on a teleporter you enter a level select screen ala Super Mario Brothers 3. Different regions are broken up and labeled with colorful icons as cities, dungeons, fields, and points with teleport stones. It can be a long walk back from the field so luckily an item known as the Gate of Dimensions exists, acting as a 2 way door to and from town for your personal use only.
Trust me, this was the inspiration behind their world map design. You'll see.
The dungeons themselves are numerous and each offers three difficulty modes depending on your situation and how good of loot you are aiming for. Normal mode is easy enough that most players can solo it at the proper level. Nightmare mode on the other hand will take some serious team coordination but offers some of the rarest gear in return.
From what I experienced the dungeons seemed pretty standard for the Isometric genre, but boss battles were pretty unique and actually required some coordination and timing. In one situation you face a mad scientist hiding behind a shield. He constantly summons opponents to whittle you down while lobbing AoE hitting potions that really mess you up if you fail to dodge them. The key is to destroy the mobs until they drop left over bombs that you must quickly pick up and throw at three generators to ultimately destroy his shield. But a slight misclick or taking damage while throwing can mess your character's aim up, and result in a missed throw and a long boss battle.
Things to Come
While the combat and boss battles seemed good to go, launch is still quite a ways off. From what I gathered this is due to finalizing the PvP aspects of the game in time for summer. They claim both team battlegrounds with destroyable buildings and capturable points, as well as ranked dueling arenas will be featured in-game. Special titles will also be offered for those who prove their valor in PvP.