Echo of Soul Closed Beta Review
Echo of Soul has multiple forms of PvP built in, with the battlefields being the most popular. These are objective-based matches that pit two teams of 15 players up against one another. Getting in on this combat is available at level 10, so you can get involved pretty early on in the game. So what can you expect when getting involved, especially at a low level?
EoS has major issues with its current chat system. You can type around 8 words per message, making it a big hassle to chat with each other. Furthermore, the PvP battles are pretty fast-paced, so the majority of players aren't watching the chat box. As a result, there is a large separation of players, and getting groups to actually band together and strategize is extremely difficult. Joining the battlefield with a premade group definitely gives a big benefit here, though you're still limited to only bringing in 5 players (or about 1/3 of the average battlefield team). That said, a group of 5 can do quite a bit if the other team is just as disorganized.
Hopefully as the game gets closer to launch the chat issue is dealt with, though it's questionable how much it'll help (based on experience from RIFT, TERA, and other MMOs). Just take the system for what it is, and do what you can do achieve victory.
EoS's PvP system brings about a truly fair way of participating, leading to a complete lack of hostility towards lower-leveled players. Getting involved just requires getting to level ten, and even from the first match, you can easily compete with the level 60s. In effect, this makes the matches much more about skill than level and gear, with a strong emphasis on organizing and working as a team. Adding in the ability to progress through PvE levels and get usable items adds even more value to the battlefield system, making them a popular method of leveling as well.
The Effect of Levels
Probably one of the coolest parts is that levels really don't play much of a role in battlefields. There is a buff called "Battlefield Vigor" that is cast upon any characters under level 59, boosting their stats to a higher level. Unlike the majority of games, in which it has little effect, with EoS it really does bring a fairness to the battles. So much so that even at level 10, it's more than possible to kill the level 60s.
The only real differentiation here is that the lower level doesn't have all of the skills the higher level does. This can lead to the higher level having an advantage, but it's a team-based game and therefore still ends up being pretty equal overall. The end result is that players don't get irritated when lower levels join, and everyone is able to contribute to the win.
Seeing Allies and Enemies
An awesome aspect of battlefields is that they show all players on both the full and mini maps. Allies are marked by diamonds, and enemies are little red dots, letting you see the entire map at once and know where every other player is (and where they're heading). The downside to the system is that it also means you can't really hide or sneak up on players if they're watching the maps.
This adds quite a twist to most of the battles, because you can quickly see who is going towards an objective, where you need to be heading to, and what all is going on. Analyzing this available information does wonders when it comes to playing effectively.
This is sort of a two-fold system. All players that aren't penalized (which more or less just means they didn't actually help contribute to the fight) will get rewards, in the form of Warrior Badges (used to purchase items from PvP merchants), experience, and gold. There are also some boxes given that award materials and jewels, giving way to a pretty solid reward system where you can progress just through PvP.
The rewards earned are dependent upon each player's contribution to their team in the battlefield, with the biggest contributors getting the most rewards (in all categories but the boxes). It helps promote working together and actually trying, and the winning team is even further compensated.
The downside to this system is that while it promotes working with the rest of the group, it also leads to players trying to tag as many enemy players as possible. Getting assists gives more contribution points, so a player that simply hits 5 different enemies once each will get significantly more than a player that focuses their target and kills them solo. Further, kills appear to give more points than those that actually try to accomplish the objectives, which is counter-productive. It leads to a lot of separation out in the field between those that just want points (for rewards) and those that want to try to win.