Nature is both wonderful and scary. The human impact on nature is even scarier. Let me introduce you to Eco. Eco is a balancing game with realistic aspects. The game has a lot of ups and downs, and there is no one person I could recommend the game to due to the complexity that is involved. What I can say is, if relying on multiple people or constantly having to rely on a wiki to play isn’t your thing, Eco isn’t for you. If you don’t like being timed for a quest, this game has the advantage of turning the quest off, but losing the ability to reach end goal.
The End Goal of Eco is to destroy the meteor orbiting the planet. You will have thirty days(or however many days you set), in real life, to destroy it. On top of Destroying the meteor, you have to preserve as much of the planet as possible. You need to have enough of a planet to be worth saving. Frankly for an Early Access game, it is by far the most complex, convoluted game I have come across.
Character creation is pretty good; you can customize the color of skin, clothes, and backpack. You get two shirt options: short sleeve or long sleeve with a vest. The belt is either an actual belt or cloth tied around. For bottoms you have three: shorts, capri’s, or pants and there are two types of boots or loafers. You have the option of wearing a hat or not(hat takes precedence over hair style). Naturally you have male or female options. You have nine choices for hair and three facial hair options. You can have any eye color, but skin and hair color is limited to realistic colors except a natural ginger.
Every game has its complexity and those complex mechanics, or lack thereof, can make or break a game. Eco manages to be so complex its frustrating, but only frustrating if you only have you and maybe one other player. I find the optimal number of players is about fifteen. Fifteen players to spread the work enough that it isn’t too much on any one person. If everyone is gathering wood, ores, etcetera, then the long haul will be simple enough. If everyone picks their role ahead of time, it’ll make building and accessibility more simple. One person to be the chef, one to be the hunter/butcher, one person farms, one creates advanced thread, and clothes for everyone.
It sounds simple so far, but the way in which to obtain the roles is complex. Eco is not like some games where you start up, pick your class, and keep on going. The crafting benches make sense on a realistic level(to some degree) but for a gaming mind, none at all.
As an example, if you wish to be the Advanced Chef, or say the Chemist, the chemist has to wait till nearly endgame, before they can even begin their job. The Advanced Chef, has to wait until the masonry and pottery has been well established. Below you can see the crafting table tree I made to show how not so simple picking the roles is. You start the game with a campsite, and follow the paths there.
On top of this, they have added a government. The government was not simplified at all, and it was a little hard to figure out at first. The good thing is the government is definitely a democracy, but seems to serve almost no purpose, other than to add realism to the game. I say almost no purpose, but it functions like a government in real life would: create a constitution, laws, to abide, that either rewards or punishes players. This will also allow the ability to create districts and zones. According to the way the wiki words this part of the game, you can have certain laws in certain districts, or make certain districts untouchable for whatever reason. The voting aspect is not done in game, but rather through the web browser.
The next complexity in the game, is the money. There can be a treasury within the government whom can set taxes on items. This is because you can set up a store to sell anything. This is what makes spreading the work better. One, it isn’t too much on any one person, and, two, if you want to have a market so as to limit the stopping task to trade/give things because of this market, you can rent out homes you create based on the land ownership and permissions given.
Once you manage to balance building, nature, etcetera you may reach endgame where you need to build some lasers and a computer to destroy the meteor. It’s no major deal if the meteor is not destroyed in a timely fashion. If the last day for the meteor is reached and it is not destroyed, all that happens is a pretty bad meteor shower, but the planet is not destroyed.
There is a lot that happens in this game and I want to go over the good things first. The world is beautiful. I love that they have a standard world, but also world seeds that you can randomly generate. Creating a public server is very simplified, the best I have seen. There is no need to enter the router and mess with settings. It’s as easy as creating the server, and turning it public. At best it works, at worst you have to change the ports(in the same settings window) so that you yourself can enter the world on the same computer the server is being hosted on.
The world creation is customizable to give yourself, or your friends, the experience best suited to you. You can choose to have a meteor, or no meteor, the amount of experience you gain from tasks. You can also set it up so that crafting is quicker, or carry more than the base rate. There is even a storage range for single player or just a few friends is a life saver.
I like the concept of the stores and how the owner of the store can set the prices. The system could be abused. The community driven market you see abused in real life and in games like New World.
Eco is certainly more socialization and learning. It is interesting to see a game be socially focused without being an MMO.
Crafting is mostly simplified at each crafting station. You are allowed to set the station to craft more than one.
Eco is great at teaching the natural impact of pollution, human interaction/trampling, and deforestation.
This game is not for single player. There is so many items to craft to create the crafting stations and so much to keep track of. If you play single player, you will be relying on the wiki heavily.
There is an Ecopedia, but the Ecopedia is useless in terms of knowing how to play, or what does what. It only provides a brief summary of the item, with no information of what to do. The Ecopedia seems underdone.
When in the crafting menu’s, if you need an item, highlighting over it gives a lot of information, but not where you can craft it at. Unless you have played several dozen hours in the game, it becomes hard to remember what crafting station makes what. I might vaguely remember the building in which I made said item, but I have to go from station to station to find what I need.
In the tutorial if you manage to jump ahead of the tutorial, it is impossible to continue through it. At this point you have to quit the tutorial and just play. The other downside of the tutorial is, it lacks in full explanation. At one point it tells you to select an item to place it, but it took me a good couple minutes, and a google search, to figure out how to select.
The government is complicated and the appearance makes it a little hard to understand what does what. The government and money aspects are a bit infuriating. While it can teach some political thinking, frankly I feel the game could very much do without it.
Strange Loop Games also did a Road-Tree. Instead of a typical Roadmap, we would see for progression and what update has what, Strange Loop Games has decided to give a Road-Tree. It shows what they’re working on, have implemented, either fully or partially, and what’s been completed. The Company doesn’t seem to focus on any one given thing, making updates chaotic, random and unforeseeable as to what will be in the next update.
The game UI menu needs some work. When wanting to create a game, the options are Continue, Your Worlds, and Host Game. Host Game is not for hosting a public server. Host Game is what you click on to create a single player game. Your Worlds is a list of all the worlds you have entered(either public servers or your own). Continue only loads the last world played.
The game has a lot of potential, but a game with thirty some people working on it, fifteen only a year prior seems odd to still be in Early Access for four years. I think that mainly could be that the team doesn’t seem to have a clear focus. According to the Road-Tree, some are working on specific aspects of the game, still leaving the majority of the team to work on whatever.
I feel the official wiki would be better in game, rather than out. The voting mechanics, while quite interesting, it would be nice if it was in game as well. Not everyone is capable to leave games for the web browser. The game also seems to rely more on having discord servers for the groups who ban together.
I am grateful that no one can just bring items from one server to another. It would be game breaking to have that in. I feel that the crafting stations should be less intertwined and more streamlined. The game is trying to replicate life too much that it can be an immediate turnoff for a large majority of people.
The overall mechanics were fine. It was a bit of a concern at first, but after playing a few minutes, it was easy enough. The hardest part is having to play countless hours before you grasp the game fully and can begin to enjoy it.
As stated, the game has a lot of potential, but the Dev’s need to have more clear roadmaps of what they are working on. Having a more clear understanding for their player base(which is significant) of what the team has in store for us.
It would be nice if it was better for Single player. It is not impossible for a single player to play alone, but certainly infuriating. I wish the dev team luck, as they continue to work and improve the game. I also cannot wait to see the final product of the game, despite the struggles I went through to learn and beat the game.
Mom of three, enjoy videogames, board games and phone games. I typically am playing Simulation games or FPS games.