City of Eternals is somewhat of an enigma to me. I've heard of it off and on through the last few years. I've seen it before, and it doesn't seem as though it has changed much, if at all. I am familiar with it just because I have been covering games for a long time, yet I've never really checked it out. Sure, I poked my head into it through Facebook once or twice, but to be honest, I didn't really like what I saw. I am all about independent, different-looking, or not-so-pretty games... heck, if I weren't, I'd have nothing to play but bloated "AAA" grindfests.
But there's just something about the skinny-jean, pleather-wearing vampire scene that I cannot stand. My wife is into True Blood, the campy, vamp-heavy, naked-people festival that shows on the HBO network, but at least the show has fun with it and builds up interesting characters. City of Eternals seems to be stuck in that cheesier area of vampire fandom, though.
Still, I played it over the last week and started to enjoy it a bit, for a few different reasons. Click past the cut and I'll tell you about it.
It should be noted that I am fully aware of the fact that the toy-factor of many games, especially those that run in a window or in Flash, has a lot to do with my enjoyment of them. Note for the record right now: I like games that get me out from behind the desktop and remind me of playing on a portable. City of Eternals runs in Flash, so it automatically resizes for whatever desktop or screen I need. It will also generally run the same on any device, except maybe for my Android phone.
At this point I have put down my typing hands and grabbed my HTC Inspire phone. The game does run on it, but barely. I imagine running it on your phone would require a more powerful device, would need a remote desktop application (which I will be covering in a week or so), or will only be able to facilitate chatting with friends or other tiny activities that do not require too much movement.
If you are into vampire-themed spaces, then City of Eternals is for you. Over the last week I noticed that the landscape of CoE is covered in vampirey goodness. Spooky areas, guys in pleather... it has it all. It's sort of a shame that the world is filled with such cliches, especially since it can be pretty fun to play. I can only imagine that there are different areas or lands to explore, but I never got that far out of the main city. I took quests -- which featured pretty good writing, not too short, not cheesy -- and ran around the town killing enemies, handing off goods, and exploring dumpsters for evidence. I even teamed up once, which is pretty amazing considering that I hardly ever saw other players. Strangely enough, the game seems to have plenty of fans on Facebook.
Speaking of Facebook integration: While I prefer the larger screen you get when launching from the official website, if you log in from Facebook you'll see a list of potential quests. You simply click on the quest and the game takes you to the appropriate area to start it. It's a nice, instant touch that makes getting into the action much easier and faster than running around looking for something to do. You do have to be careful, though, as many of the missions will be out of your level or will require a group. I am reminded of older games that barely gave you any information, the type of games that pushed you head-first into battle and left you as nothing more than a series of corpses. I'm sort of surprised to see such a lack of hand-holding in CoE, especially considering the wide age-range the game must enjoy.
As you fight and level, you will gain points that you can put into a list of abilities. While the game is definitely no sandbox, there is a decent amount of customization that you can have with your character. I have been just randomly putting points into different areas, but eventually I hope it makes sense. Combat is pretty basic: You find an enemy, click on it, and start pressing the hotkeys that correspond to your abilities. There is some element of strategy to it, but honestly I am the farthest thing you will find from a min-maxer. I would rather die a lot and figure it out slowly, which is what I will be doing with CoE.
Crafting seems to come in a few flavors, but that's about it. You can gather materials and make different items, clothing being my favorite. You can gain points to put into crafting as well, but honestly I was too busy trying to survive to do any crafting at all. I think if there were more players around, my beginning week would not have been as rough as it was. There have to be more players around, but I just can't find them. Sure, there are many NPCs, ready to hand you a new door mission or to sell you some items, but I signed up for this game to play with other, real-life humans.
In the end, I had a good amount of fun with City of Eternals. I think the potential is there, but it looks like the game might have fallen into that classic Facebook-integrated MMO trap of pumping out the occasional new bit of content without ever really considering retooling the beginning stages of the game or fixing many of the problems that exist. It's my guess that the playerbase is made up mostly of higher-level players, so the developers design for them. It's not a bad system, really, but it's one that seems to run on auto-pilot.
I'll be sure to check back in with the game occasionally simply because it does have a lot of potential. But if I wanted to play a browser-based game that has tons of content, amazing developer interaction, and endless hours of things-to-do, then I can play RuneScape or others. The last thing I want to do is play a game while feeling somewhat lost and abandoned, and that's kind of how I felt when playing City of Eternals.
Each week, Rise and Shiny asks you to download and try a different free-to-play, indie or unusual game, chosen by me, Beau Hindman. I welcome any suggestions for games -- drop me a note in the comments or email! You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Raptr!