Guardians of Ember

Hack and Slash Action MMORPG - Tinker with a wide variety of class builds and slay hordes of foes in this isometric action MMORPG

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Game overview

Guardians of Ember is a fantasy isometric action MMORPG that features six MMO classes and four races to play as. For a free to play game, the PvE and PvP content on offer is decent. The game's best feature is its class combat mechanics, that lets players change skills depending on what weapon is equipped in addition to an in-depth skill tree system that encourages multiple builds. This keeps gameplay refreshing until the late game. While animations are good, other artistic assets are mediocre at best. What holds it back is its decision to rely on conventional progression systems like gear enchanting instead of shaking things up. Ultimately, Guardians of Ember is still a fun game to play especially when in groups for dungeons.

➔ Main points:

  • Fantastic class combat skill system that doesn't feel repetitive
  • Variety of content in PvE and PvP that's decent
  • Cash shop for convenience instead of selling gear
  • Runs smoothly with good presentation in some areas
  • Fully free to play including future updates

Full review

Getting Started

Guardians of Ember is a free to play action MMORPG published by Gameforge, that features hack and slash isometric gameplay. New players are introduced to this fantasy world by way of the usual character creation. There are six classes available at launch and all the usual suspects are represented. From the tanky Knight to the damage dealing Ranger and healing Priests, the holly trinity is available and each class can diversify their skill builds later on. For race choices, there isn't much to shout about considering there's only four - Humans, Dwarves, Naia and Elves. For character customization, the options are incredibly basic but that can be forgiven since isometric action MMORPGs don't focus on your characters all that much, as the emphasis is on the action gameplay.

Getting Gameplay Right

Gameplay feels good and familiar.

Speaking of gameplay, Guardians of Ember will feel very familiar to games like Diablo III, Lost Ark Online and MU Legend. Players control their characters with either WASD or mouse clicks. In the combat department, your characters learn new skill abilities over time and slot them in hotbars. These can then be executed via hotkeys. Expect to be doing plenty of combat in-game in addition to the game's core offering which is PvE content. Like most MMORPGs, you start out in a tutorial phase that teaches you the basics. A town is under siege by goblins and you must eliminate the threat. The questing system offers no surprises and the formula is dated. Killing and fetching is what occurs the most, but the killing is obviously the better option. Combat feels good and heavy as opposed to floaty. The skill animations are nice and that you can zoom all the way in to get a close look at how your characters take on hordes of enemies is also rewarding.

Since it is an MMORPG, you'll see plenty of other players around questing, farming monsters and gathering resources in the game world. Guardians of Ember's PvE content goes beyond just the conventional questing for XP to level up. On the way to the level cap, you'll come across dungeons, world bosses and more that requires you to play with others. This is perhaps the game's best feature as it offers seamless ways to team with a party finder tool, guilds and other social features. The class dynamics world well in tandem with each other, so as a Tank or Healer, you'll always have options to build for situational content which doesn't punish you for playing what you like.

Where It Stands Out

Class build and skill diversity makes it very fun to experiment in combat.

The most impressive thing about Guardians of Ember is its weapon and skills system. Progression may seem fairly basic as you earn XP to level up and gain skill points. You then spend this in your class's skill trees to unlock new active or passive skills.The cool thing is, your actual executable skills changes based on what weapons you equip. So for example, I unlocked a poison attack and drag it to my hotbar. If I have guns equipped in my weapon slot, that skill is by default, a ranged poison attack. However, should I swap to a sword, that attack becomes melee instead, completely changing its range, animation and properties too. This is hands down, a great feature to have for an action MMORPG and it's akin to that of Guild Wars 2 that uses a similar system, that changes your skills depending on weapon. This also keeps gameplay fresh as you can experiment with playstyles to keep combat interesting. Special mention is also reserved for solo boss fights that lets players test their mettle and combat builds for riches and loot.

The Same Old

While there's certainly some great aspects to the game that's a breath of fresh air, in other areas the game relies on typical MMO tropes. Firstly is the game's itemization and progression, that makes you grind for gear and then take a chance on upgrading them with its gambling enhancing and enchanting system. This is fairly common in eastern MMOs where failure to upgrade items is common past a certain threshold, and the only way to mitigate it is by visiting the in-game cash shop. Pets are another cliche, and the game takes a page out of Black Desert Online's book - you'll have to pay real money for a pet that picks up your money and loot from killing monsters that's on the ground. It's a way to monetize a free to play for sure, but that doesn't mean it's still done in poor taste considering the many gameplay positives.

Is Guardians of Ember Worth Playing?

Expect cut-scenes from main story quests.

Guardians of Ember has a lot to offer if you're read up to this point. For players looking for competitive gameplay, yes there is PvP and that's a school of hard knocks for those that want to ascend the leaderboards. While not important, graphics and presentation is another point of contention here. The game runs smooth enough even for older computers, but much of its environmental designs doesn't look as good as the character models or combat animations. There will be town hubs you'll visit and port to often to do your crafting and trading, but they're mostly lifeless with static assets that sort of knocks out that MMO magic. Nevertheless, Guardians of Ember is still a decent action MMORPG and a good alternative to check out if you're in the market for an isometric MMO that's also a theme park game in design.

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Graphics: full 3D
PvP: guild or factions matches or duels PvE PvP
Cash shop influence: high
Exp rate: slow

Being able to completely change the type of skill, its animations and properties based on the weapons your character wields is both clever and fun, which most isometric action MMORPGs don't do to keep combat gameplay from feeling repetitive and stale.

What We Liked..

Fantastic class skill system

Free to play with no content paywall

Decent graphics and optimization

.. and what we didn't

Few server locations

Relies of unfavorable gear progression system

Fun factor
4.0 out of 5
4.0 out of 5
4.0 out of 5
Worth A Try

Review summary

  1. Getting Started
  2. Getting Gameplay Right
  3. Where It Stands Out
  4. The Same Old
  5. Is Guardians of Ember Worth Playing?

What we liked..

Fantastic class skill system
Free to play with no content paywall
Decent graphics and optimization

.. and what we didn't

Few server locations
Relies of unfavorable gear progression system
Graphics - 80 / 100
Fun factor - 80 / 100
Longevity - 80 / 100
Originality - 80 / 100
Community - 80 / 100

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