Echo of soul is a pretty damn fun game to say the least, for a game that's stationary tab targeting I personally thought I wouldn't enjoy it as much as I currently have been, it's simply the way that your skills work and how you can create your own rotation of skills due to the class specific resource management, the skill interruptions, knockdowns/backs and the actual ability to dodge out of an attack with proper timing, all of it just creates for a fun combat system that isn't just limited to some generic MMO with a bunch of random un-inspired skills that simply just "do damage" with a cooldown. So with that said I want to jump into what I've basically found out about the game up towards level 17 which is my highest character so far, obviously not that high but I didn't want to make it my goal to grind it out like silly and wait for the pending wipe.
Soul purification system
So when you kill any mob you will get 1 soul per mob killed, 2 souls are required for what's called "purification" which will purify the souls for a usable buff, you must be near a "soul sanctum" in order to purify these souls which can give 4 different sets of buff effects such as increased HP, PvP defense and normal defense, attack, attack speed and etc etc. By default you can activate these buffs by hitting T and you can right click the skill icon to switch what buff type you want.
When you get your purified souls they are basically given to you at random into the 4 buff types, so for example you will need 2 "Hope" souls to cast the "Light of Hope" buff that gives Crit Accuracy and Piercing +10%, Attack speed and casting speed +10% and exp gained by 20% for the 30 seconds that the buff is active, also all the buffs share a 120 seconds cool-down timer and each time you use one of the 4 buffs, that particular buff will gain exp into what I presume will improve the buff over the course of it's levels, so personally I suggest picking a particular buff to use and using it as often as you can in order to level it up.
You can also do a "co-op purification" which can be done anywhere without the need to be near a soul sanctum and it only requires 1 soul for each purify instead of 2 such as when done solo at a sanctum, this of-course makes it more beneficial as you get more purified souls for less raw souls which obviously will give you a-lot more buffs.
Each class has a subclass of its own, such as the Archer can change into a Bard to give supporting buffs to allies and change/buff their own skill effects or go into the Huntress for pure ranged DPS. Skills on this game as far as I see don't actually have any way of leveling up which I find a bit of a shame as I usually like the idea of looking forward to my skills getting increased effects in some way.
There is no healing class in this game much like with how GuildWars2 works, except there's also no self healing skills from what I'm aware of either, the only skill heal I know of is the Bards heal which heals either 15% or 20% of your health and has a 60 second cool-down, there is potions to heal your self up during combat and they do have a good cooldown on them so they aren't spammable, there is also bandages to use to heal out of combat that often drop from mobs or you can buy at shops and there's healing scrolls that can be used on your self or your allies.
There is 2 tank classes, 1 which the warrior can go into and the other that the Guardian goes into, I played with the Guardians subclass which is the Earthguard which I personally found to be quite fun, the description on the classes does say that the Earthguard is the secondary tank I think even though I checked the skills of each class and it would look like the Earthguard could possibly be just a capable tank as the Warriors subclass roll.
The combat does feel quite nice with how you can flow skills into one another, the PvE can be quite engaging and that's especially in the solo dungeons. When I first went into the game I was just expecting general tab target gameplay with just using skills for the sake of using them, instead there's resource management with each class as opposed to your usual MP bar, e.g Archers get "Concentration" that slowly regens it self outside of combat and has some attack skills that recover some contentration, then you of-course have skills that consume the concentration for bigger damage or extra effects.
The Guardian gets a "Vitality" bar that slowly drains whilst outside of combat and then has skills that regen and consume the bar and the other classes have their own resource style bar to fit their class. Personally I think this little system adds some depth to how you play your character and how it can be played in general to really split each classes play style. As you level up you will experience some better gameplay with having situational skill usage and resource management, such as in PvE you will be saving your knockdowns and interrupts to cancel mobs casting their skills or just stop them from dealing damage on you, especially if you're getting multi-mobed.
All classes have an active dodge which is really nice aswell, unlike a lot of general tab target games where when a mob begins to attack it is basically going to hit you regardless of if you actually moved out of the way. On this game though, depending on how many frames the enemys attack animation is, you could either run back out of it if it's a long casting melee skill or use your dodge to go backwards as it attacks and break its range. I dont think the active dodge is an i-frame as i tried dodgeing side-ways and through the monsters as they attacked, the only time that I managed to stop any incoming damage is just going backwards to get out of range.
Originally I entered the first solo dungeon in which it lets you in at level 10+ while the next solo dungeon is level 15+, my first time experience at level 12 as a bard inside here wasn't a pleasant one to say the least, mainly as the mobs there wasn't any lower than level 12 anyway. The main problem I had in the dungeon was the multi-mobbing of the stronger mobs inside there, there was always a pack of 2 fairly weaker mobs which were fine to deal with but then there was mobs that are clearly supposed to be done 1 by one and as a first timer in there you're going to find that you're getting the agro of 2 sometimes by complete accident or being unaware, when I ended up agroing 2 of them I just ended up dying, it didn't help that I didn't really have any HP potions that recovered enough to keep my health up either, if I came in more prepared whilst playing as a "squishy" bard then it may have been more do-able.
I attempted it on a Guardian at level 12 subclassed as an Earthguard later and it felt a-lot easier as I understood how the agro worked. When I got to the second area of the dungeon I was attempting to pull the stronger patrol mobs 1 by 1 and I instead ended up getting agro of another that was only just in range, I then discovered that any mob within the other mobs agro range will continue to chain agro which I found to be fairly funny, so basically a mob was getting agro from a mob that got agro from another mob, I ended up getting 4 mobs on me that chain agro'd from each other but fortunately I managed to burst one down quickly, killed another whilst having the earthguards 30% damage absorb and then lowered the 3rd to about 30%, I ran for a short period and got the damage absorb off cooldown and killed last 2, it felt nice with how tanky the class can be and with a little skill play in skill cancelling on mobs and using your dodge to actually avoid a bunch of damage on such a game like this.
So the first solo dungeon is fairly short but shows you the potential difficulty of the game as well. The final boss introduces you to telegraphed skills much like with how Wildstar shows you red areas on the floor that you want to get out and avoid, it also shows you that some casting skills are in a grey bar instead of yellow which shows you can't use your interrupt on, you're obviously best off trying to just move out of its way if you know what the incoming skill actually does.
I found that there was 2 boss attack types to look out for, one was when you're actually able to cancel it's yellow casting bar though if you don't then it will unleash quite a big hit, it is entirely possible to just move out of the way if you know it's something like a forward cone AoE that isn't telegraphed and you know that this particular skill wont just have the mob/boss turn into your direction and fire anyway at the end of a cast, then the other is an actual red telegraphed skill that I've not yet seen be able to be interrupted in which you're ideally just supposed to move out of the way quickly.
Infinite hunting grounds
I thought this was quite interesting my self, this is basically an area where you can just endlessly hand in a repeatable quest if you already have the required amount of the quest item that drops from the mobs in the hunting ground, you can then hand them in for a special currency that can be traded in at a near-by NPC for some pretty good gear for each class.
There other benefit to doing this is that it's quite a good way to build up on souls on the side as well and gives you a reason to keep poping your soul buffs to level it up. The one thing I will mention about the hunting grounds is that it's not necessary at low levels by any means for 2 reasons, 1 being that you get some good gear from questing anyway (even though sometimes it can have some gaps in getting the gear), the other being that you can get some good gear from doing the solo dungeons as well, so really it's up to you in how you want to progress. The gear from the hunting grounds is good so you always have the option, also unlike the low level dungeon gear (so the level 10 one and then the "Hero" level 15 one which is the same dungeon but higher level mobs) which has the same appearance as the starter gear but different skinned, the hunting grounds gear has a different appearance of its own and at-least you can get the gear here early instead of having to wait some unknown time to get it from a quest.
So I'm personally looking forward to the game coming out for something else to play, I'm liking what I'm seeing so far in the game as even at low levels there's a nice amount of things to do to take away from the never ending quest-grind, the graphics are nice and really optimized from what I'm experiencing, half way through "play-testing" this game my graphics card basically died and I ended up using some 7 year old card and played with most things minimized and still had really good FPS and you may not even be able to tell which screenshots has the old card in it. With that said, hopefully you all enjoy the game as much as I am if you're playing or when ever you manage to get in.