Last weekend, I spent some time with Ecol Tactics
, a new turn-based MMO brought to us by Games Campus
. It features a lot of the same mechanics we have seen before, similar art design to other titles, and a browser-based, Flash-based accessibility that is always welcome. Sure, I was able to enjoy it for only several hours, but during that time, I noted just why Anime and turn-based combat is still successful and why Ecol Tactics
is wise to take such a successful genre and launch a new title within it.
Anime is easy to digest. The characters on the screen feel chunky but agile. There's something instantly likeable about the characters in Ecol Tactics
. They are detailed like an army of miniature soldiers. Wisely, the developers show you some high-level spells and combat before you even get out of the newbie area. I have to admit that I looked forward to the day I would be able to lay waste to a half-dozen monsters with a single swipe of my weapon.
As I played, however, I noticed plenty of issues with localization and missing text or text errors, an issue I have been told will be resolved by launch. I had to remember that I had been invited to what was essentially a closed-door press event. I definitely had to keep this in mind when I couldn't find anybody to group with. It's a bit ironic to test out a game behind closed doors because it undermines the number one reason we play these games: other players. Still, the first several levels of Ecol Tactics
seem easy enough to coast through without help from others. The ease of play might be an issue for some players; instant travel and almost one-button gameplay is definitely a turn-off for many. I've played enough of these games to know that, yes, the early levels are often very, very easy to zip through, but the big payoff usually comes from pushing through many levels until the big abilities are learned, powerful magic spells are memorized, or epic gear is scored. It's hard to say exactly how Ecol Tactics
plays out later on, as I achieved only a few levels during this press beta.
The game's combat is definitely what sets it apart from many other titles. There are several other turn-based games out there, but I appreciate how Ecol Tactics
presents turn-based play to the player. It's easy to follow and concentrates on what makes turn-based fun. When I am in the middle of combat, I don't want to be bothered by strict time limits or confusing menus. Almost everything about combat in Ecol Tactics
is simple. That doesn't mean it's strategy-deficient, though. Even though I played only a low-level character, I found myself trying to out-maneuver the enemy. Once I gained an NPC groupmate, the combat took on a deeper tone. I had to not only control myself but position my NPC buddy for maximum damage. You'll gain access to those NPCs at an early level, which was good to see. I didn't want players to have to grind just to fill a group.