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There’s something we need to get out of the way at the very start here regarding Eden Rising. It’s both a Buy to Play and Free to Play game, which is a bit different from the normal Free to Play games we cover on this channel.

That said, we’ll explore what both options have to offer in depth in the video itself. For the sake of full disclosure, I was provided a paid copy of the game for this video, but the opinions within are my own and nobody has reviewed the content of this video before it was posted.

Eden Rising is a third person tower defense survival hybrid game that focuses on cooperative play. Yes, that’s right, it’s both an open world survival game and a standard tower defense third person action game. Not only that, but the game is graphically quite impressive. There’s a blend of futuristic ruins and mutant alien homeworld aesthetics here that really pops and gives the game a unique sense of style. The almost  cel-shaded style blended with the subdued but wide color palette also lend themselves to setting the game apart visually. There are some stutters here and there, as you’ll see in the footage, but the game is in early access so there’s plenty of time to optimize it. They didn’t break the flow of the game at all really.

The one thing that did break the flow of the game was the occasional crash. When too much was going on at one time, the game would begin to stutter and then lock up and crash. You can hear the gameplay continuing, but your screen will get stuck on a single frame of animation and you’ll have to close and reopen the game. This cost me one or two different siege runs, but we’ll talk more about what those are in a moment.

The basic gameplay loop of Eden Rising is broken up into two major phases. There’s the survival phase, and the tower defense phase. In the survival phase, you’ll explore a massive open world and gather resources like metal, fungus, and parts from monsters to build new weapons, armor, healing items, and defenses. This is no easy feat, either. A lot of the monsters in the early game do a ton of damage and if you’re not prepared you’ll die and lose all the things you’ve picked up. Much like Dark Souls and other challenging third person rpgs, however, you’ll have an opportunity to reclaim what you lost on death by traveling back to the spot you died and looting a box. The enemies do get easier as you gain strength, and if they still prove to be a bit much for you as they did for me, you can lower your world’s difficulty any time you like in the settings menu. Even on easy, after hours of play, you still cannot easily kill boss monsters like Gorgons or elite variants of certain monsters.

You’ll have to learn to deal with these, however, as they’re often seen guarding the most valuable resource of all, modules. These core modules allow you to give your current base powerful improvements like greater power which will allow you to have more defenses active at a time. Trust me, you’ll need these, so hunt down every last one you can find when you move to a new area.

Your inventory space is also limited, but you’re given a global storage box in each new base you find in the world that you can use to store excess materials. I can’t stress this enough: make good use of this box. In the beginning of the game your inventory space is incredibly limited. You’ll be able to upgrade it and your defenses with rewards you win from the tower defense phase of the loop.

In the tower defense portion of the game, also known as Sieges, you’ll construct turrets and other various traps and defenses from materials you find scattered around the world. They start out relatively weak, but as you clear sieges you’ll earn nanochips that you can spend in different tech trees to earn upgrades. These improve not just your turrets and traps but also your inventory space and other passive stats. As I mentioned earlier, there’s also the core module upgrades you’ll have to worry about if you want to have a proper amount of defenses active. In the siege phase, it’s super important that you let your turrets do most of the work fighting the enemies as they’ll get stronger as waves progress. If you throw yourself into the middle of the fray it can be easy to get overwhelmed and die.

This is due to the slightly clunky nature of the controls. It’s not a huge problem, but once you’re committed to a combo, you’re locked into the direction you’re facing for most weapons. If enemies manage to slip out of your combo, you’ll be open to counter-attacks from not only them but every enemy adjacent to you which can add up to huge damage. The dodge function is also bound to a very strange key in left control, which means reaching it in the heat of battle can be a pain and lead to more damage taken.

The challenge in pretty much every segment of the game is a good thing for those of you who enjoy difficult but rewarding combat. If you find it to be a bit too much, though, you can mitigate it by having friends join your world and help you out! They’ll be able to bring their characters over with all of the gear and items they currently have in their inventory and fight alongside you in whatever you do. This proved to be a massive help as once Jason and I were teamed up the fights became much easier to manage. You’ll both have your own power pools to draw on in bases, so you’ll essentially double your defensive capabilities in that regard. You can also drop items for one another to use for crafting so if your friend has a surplus of items you need, they can bring them into your world and drop them for you to pick up and use. Unfortunately, they won’t have access to your global storage to prevent robbery-style griefing. You can still play the game solo if you so desire, but you’re in for a real challenge and may face a grind gathering resources.

This brings me to one of the very few things I disliked about the game: some of the resources are a massive grind to get. Enemies seem to have set drops, but environmental elements spawn at rates that seem erratic even at the best of times. You’ll do a fair bit of wandering in circles and waiting for things to repopulate when you’re on the hunt for things like cores and metals. Despite this, the act of exploring the world and actually gathering the resources has a relaxing, serene vibe to it that fits nicely in contrast to the high-tension sieges and boss combat.

One of the other major pains of the game is the way that you’re meant to join co-operative play. Once you’ve set up a world which can take a ton of loading time, you’ll be given a join key in the settings menu that you’re meant to pass along to your friends so they can join your world. Once they do, they’ll be dropped in at the starting area even if they’ve already completed it in their own world. Also, as a minor gripe, the “Skip Tutorial” option isn’t currently functioning so even if you click it, you won’t skip the tutorial mission. You’ll only disable the tooltips.

On a final point of contention with the game, there’s no way to travel to your friends other than manually. This means that if you’re joining a friend’s world, you’ll have to get to them manually. The farther along they are in the game when you join, the farther you’ll have to travel because their active teleporters aren’t active for you. You have to go and activate each one along the way manually as well. This proved to be more than a bit frustrating given the propensity for crashing and freezing the game has in its current state.

Despite its flaws, Eden Rising is a fun game, especially with friends. The tower defense sections are a bit too stressful for me personally, but fans of the genre who enjoy a hardcore challenge will really appreciate it. Right now the game is available in two flavors: buy to play, and free to play. Players on the free to play version can join any version’s world, use any character when they do, and still enjoy the single player mode. The only limitation for free players is that they can only experience the first three major areas of the game. If you want to see all seven of the game’s areas and complete all of the game’s siege challenges, you’ll have to get the paid version for a one time price of $24.99. The neat caveat to all this is if you are on the free version and join a paid player’s world, you can experience the whole game for free while in their world. You won’t be able to dye gear or control who accesses your own multiplayer worlds, but you’ll still have all the other areas to play through.

I recommend just playing the free version to see if you like the game. If you end up really enjoying it and want to support its continued development, $24.99 isn’t a bad asking price for what’s being offered. That decision is yours to make though, so I encourage you to try the game out and see for yourself. It’s definitely worth playing at least once.

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