Developer: Nvizzio Creations
MSRP: $14.99, Only $8.99 before October 28th, 2018
Release Date: May 17, 2018
When we first reviewed Eden Rising: Supremacy back in May, we found a game that was stuffed to the gills with beautiful ideas and half-formed concepts. The environments were gorgeous, but the combat felt light and floaty. While the tower-defense sections of the game could sometimes feel monotonous and hard to understand, the exploration of new zones was some of the most fun I’ve had playing a game all year.
Over the last few months, Eden Rising has been slowly polished by the developers at Nvizzio Creations. Monsters would be remade with more textures and more menacing variations. Weapons would be redesigned to feel more responsive and aggressive, improving combat. New areas were seamlessly added to the game, offering more content and various ways to progress.
|A new starter zone, which better explains crafting and seiges, is only the tip of the iceberg.|
Now however, as this October 18th patch drops, it is safe to say that everyone should give Eden Rising a chance. This is a game that has moved past just having great ideas; it has become a truly great experience.
What Is Eden Rising?
The basics of the story boils down to this: You and some scientist friends found an artifact that promises new technology and a shiny, pristine world for humanity. After building the teleporter and taking the plunge, you find out that perhaps you got your hopes up a little too high. The oceans are made of sulfur, the air is toxic to your lungs, and packs of wild beasts roam the surface of the world, threatening to kill you.
Fortunately, there is an answer – a sentient, global AI that was left behind by the original inhabitants of this planet. Without focusing on the fact that they abandoned this place millennia ago, the computer offers you a deal; he’ll give you the technology and biological modifications to survive the environment, and you help reset the computer network to restore full power to him, while learning untold technology for yourself. Since you only have seconds to live anyway, you graciously accept the offer.
Without a chance to rest, you and your scientist friends, your ‘tribe’, have part of your bodies replaced with nanites. You discover that the computer network is actually a massive set of connected archives, built out of town-sized black rock. It’s endured as this once paradise/vacation/wildlife refuge world has become overgrown, filled with creatures that don’t like you, or technology. Just getting to these computers, these ‘crucibles’ isn’t enough. Manually restarting them unlocks new technology and new solutions, but it also enrages the wildlife into attacking these computer-fortresses.
|That's your Crucible, and that's a Gorgon. You will learn to love one and hate the other.|
It’s time to bunker down. With new bodies and new technology, it’s up to you to find scattered materials and weapons, drive back the creatures, and find a way to survive. Maybe not just survive either: maybe you can tame this planet for the sake of your friends and all of humanity.
The Perfect Gameplay Loop – Explore, Scavenge, Siege
The first question you find yourself asking is this: what sort of game is Eden Rising?
It’s hard to say. The creature attacks, or sieges, are very obviously tower defense, ala Orcs Must Die. The comparisons stop immediately there though, and not just because of the art direction. Unlike a traditional defense game, where you choose an array of defenses from a prepared list of costs, Eden Rising forces you to gather the materials you need to make your auto-turrets, your traps, and even your health potions.
|Seiges are the culmination of all your combat skills, resources, and unlocked technology put to the test.|
Two things might alarm you about that statement, the first of which is that you must forage for what you need. This is not a world made up of stagnant hallways, where only monsters and defenses exist. Instead, this is a world filled with green bubbling oceans and tall patches of mushroom grass. The ore you need to build with rests near the surface, ready to be mined. Broken down ruins hold ancient tools used to upgrade your bases and equipment. Searching for supplies could have been a boring element, but Eden is just so very, very pretty to run around in.
When you realize there are different zones, such as a dense fungal forest, a toxic shoreline, or luminescent caves, each with their own unique styles and materials, it becomes a joy to leave the safety of your traps, to go out and explore the world around you. There’s so much to discover and chart, always something else to gather or collect, always something new to hunt down to get exactly what you need.
Which brings me to my second point. Yes, this is not a stagnant place; the world of Eden Rising is, in fact, an Eden. The problem is, it is an Eden for monsters, not for you.
|That thing in the distance? We've never tried to fight the thing in the distance.|
You will learn what the roar of a Gorgon sounds like. You will begin to look for clues in the tall grass of where packs of roaming medusa lie in wait. There will be a point where you wander a little too far into the deeper parts of the world, only to be wiped out immediately by something you’ve never seen.
Fortunately, this game gives you plenty of tools to fight back. You are not an observer during sieges or hunts. Instead you are an orchestrator of chaos: you still can put down turrets and defenses even in the field. Pod mines, a source of death to you when you first start exploring, can be collected and repurposed. Turrets can be arranged, a type for each beast you might be hunting. Finally, you can join the fray yourself. Before you leave the tutorial zone, you have access to three different melee weapons, each with their own merits. Each weapon has its own upgrades, giving you various ways to become an even better death-dealer.
Too bad, naturally, that so many of these upgrades require you to hunt down Gorgons. All of this, to head back to base, and desperately try to survive the sieges.
A Few Of My Favorite Things
This is a game that in many ways has an identity crisis: is it a tower defense game? Is it trying to copy crafting and survival like Minecraft? Does the open roaming world mean its trying to be an adventure game? The beauty of Eden Rising: Supremacy is that it is a hybrid game that doesn't let itself be tied down to any of these descriptors. It defies explanation, becoming its own creature. What's best about this is that since there are so many elements, your teammates all might find something different to enjoy. Otto for example loves just exploring, finding new things, regardless of how lethal they might be. Adam appreciates the trap making, trying to create the right scenario to take down larger foes.
And this is what brings me to the last piece of the puzzle: even though I’ve just gotten to it, you can’t talk about Eden Rising without mentioning the multiplayer.
When I spoke with the developers before we got a copy of the game, it was made clear to me that they had a very specific vision about this game: they wanted you to feel like you were part of a tribe. The crucibles you are defending, the materials you collect, you aren't alone out there in this scary place. When you create a save file, you are effectively creating a copy of Eden that becomes your playground. When people join your game (up to 8 at a time), their saved Avatar for that file spawns in, ready to help you. There are no individual levels or skills in Eden Rising, only the tribe's unlocked technology and warehouse of tools that you've created.
I have enjoyed playing games such as Dauntless, Heroes of the Storm, and many others with my co-writers here. Any game where we can work as a team is a great way to relax and talk. None of them impart the sense of teamwork that this game gives you. The fact that you have collectively built all of your weapons and tools to share, that you will often rush out to fight scary monsters just to help someone else upgrade their equipment, it all comes together in a package that's hard to explain. It just feels good to work with your teammates in this expansive map, whether its fighting lanes of monsters and coordinating, or rushing to save someone when they explore a little too far too quickly. You'll coordinate weapon choices to make sure someone is using a hammer to stun foes, while another friend brings the right turrets to take down that one particular creature that's been murdering your whole tribe every attempt before.
|The team that dies together, stays together? I mean, it's technically true...|
On top of all the other genres I've mentioned before, you can add MMORPG to the list. This game feels like your own private world, but one that you are responsible for. There aren't thousands of people all fighting in some grand story or waging wars: this is the story of a small group of people, trying to make the world something survivable. The server you host is even scalable, letting you change the difficulty as people join or leave the game. I love that.
What’s Changed Since Launch?
Since May, I’ve dropped in alongside the Sprites and Dice team to play Eden Rising whenever a patch came out. There was a good reason for that: with each update, the game seemed to advance significantly. Code was optimized, combat mechanics were adjusted and improved; Entirely new sections of the world were added. As I said before, Eden Rising was a wonderful concept from day one; for anyone that's checked out the game before, now is the time to come back and give it another shot.
It’s safe to say however, the update this week – appropriately named “The Game Changer Update” – has made Eden Rising feel like an entirely new game. For starters, the game is just simply prettier. The monsters before could feel stagnant, their movements clipped, but now their tentacles organically writhe as they move about the battlefield. Streams of sulfur bubble and spray toxic sludge. Even the numbers from your attacks pop with brighter, crisper numbers. For
|The new tech and upgrade trees are larger and easier to understand, letting your tribe plot out what to work on next.|
While you can find the all-encompassing list HERE, I’m going to quickly go through the massive changes that really stand out for me and my group:
- Combat has been made more responsive, through adding new weapons with more varied effects, and better attack animations.
- New turrets have been added, adding new options for seiges and ambushes
- Seiges have been entirely redone! Monsters now come in packs of waves, and the difficulty curve has been adjusted
- New tactical maps have been added to seiges, making it incredibly easier to see what's happening for the whole team
- How you earn technology has been revamped - each crucible has its own tech tree that you unlock through succeeding at sieges
- Lots of in game turrets, traps, and weapons have been remade for better animations and combat usefulness
- Monsters feel alive, both in animations and ferocity - attack patterns are faster and more vicious
- New ambushes have been added, and more monsters dot the landscape, making Eden feel more alive
Make no mistake, Eden Rising is not a perfect - or even a complete - game. It's still early access, with large portions of the new tech trees showing a "coming soon!" when you mouse over them. Getting stuck in certain rock clusters still occurs. Some odd effects, such as monsters spawning with half health, and then filling up to full, still occur. What's important is that this game feels very much like Eden itself: alive. It's still being pieced together and constructed. If you are looking for a polished experience, it's not here yet... even if what's already here I think is worth buying into.
Eden Rising Is Worth Every Penny
At the end of the day, I think Eden Rising is worth it's full price of $14.99, and probably more. This game is a steal, and it's one of the few times I actually feel guilty for how low the price is. I've bought the game for at least four of my friends before the deal that's come out with this update: until October 28th, you can buy the game for less than ten dollars. If there is one real detractor from the game, is that it is a game that is meant to be enjoyed with your close friends. While you have the option to play a solo game - and it is a fun, rewarding experience - it by no means gives you the depth of fun you get when you are screaming with several friends on discord, praying that one of you can make it to the end of the siege in one piece.
Take a look for yourself; I am convinced that if you play this alongside a friend, you won't be disappointed.