Review: Last Epoch – Where Beauty Meets Mechanics

Review: Last Epoch

Developed and published by Eleventh Hour Games, Last Epoch is an ARPG with five years of Early Access development under its belt. Five years might sound like a lot of time but when this time is spent wisely and correctly, it makes all the difference and after playing Last Epoch for this review, I can easily say that Eleventh Hour Games has delivered what they promised to players during their initial Kickstarter campaign. Boasting an impressive remote team with developers located all over the world, Eleventh Hour Games’ has managed to deliver Last Epoch with much good and very little bad. This is our review of the Last Epoch on PC in which we travel through various timelines and explore a beautiful world filled with cool enemies.

Last Epoch offers two separate modes, offline and online. If you create a character during an online session, you can only use it for online games and if you create an offline character, it is only available for you in offline games. This means that you will need to stick with one character’s game mode after creating it. You can create as many characters as you want in the game but they can only be used in the game mode in which they are created. In the online mode, you can bring in your friends to play the entire game in co-op or you can team up with other players from around the world as well. Simply add the people you want to play in the Party menu and they will start appearing in your game. Both loot and quests are not linked to the host which means each player will need to interact with NPCs to complete quest objectives and quests for themselves apart from this, the loot will be unique for all players as well and according to their own builds.

Review: Last Epoch

There are five diverse base classes to choose from including Primalist, Acolyte, Rogue, Mage, and Sentinel. Each of these classes offers a different gameplay style and you can choose one class while starting the game. While the class during its initial phases is a generic representation of its further specializations and after further story progression, you can further specialize into a specialized class. For example, if you are playing as a Primalist, you can either go for a Beastmaster, a Druid or a Shaman. Similarly, Rogues can further specialize in Falconer, Marksman or Bladedancer. When it comes to skill trees, you have a different and diverse skill tree for each of the classes and after you choose your specialization, you will unlock another skill tree which will allow you to purchase passives and actives based on that particular specialization.

The first area after you start the game serves as a tutorial area and once it has taught everything that you need to know about Last Epoch’s gameplay, including a mini-boss fight, you are free to explore the world and complete story quests at your own pace. During the initial bits, most of the areas are locked because the game wants you to progress in the story but as you go further ahead, you will start unlocking additional areas that you can explore. Apart from your main quest, you can find and complete different side quests in the game as well. Last Epoch is set in the world of Eterra and you will explore this world during different time frames. After a certain progression in the story, you will unlock the ability to hop between different time frames which shows you the same map and areas but in a different time era. This is one of the core mechanics that sets Last Epoch apart from its competitors in the ARPG genre and it is always fun to see the same area in different states based on the timeline in which you currently are.

I have always gone for tanky builds in RPGs and this time around, it was not different as well. However, instead of the Sentinel class, I went with Primalist because I wanted a killer sidekick as well. Primalist starts with a Direwolf who comes with support abilities and it will also support you by automatically attacking nearby enemies. Further specialization in the Beastmaster allowed me to upgrade my sidekick to a bear however I am currently looking forward to the best one which is a Raptor. I have not currently reached that point in the Skill Tree for the Beastmaster however, my character is excellent at both dealing damage and also tanking enemies for my Mage friend as he reigns down hell on the enemies using his powerful spells from a safe distance.

At one time, my friend was so powerful with his one spell that he would kill waves of enemies before I even got close to them. There are different skills for each class and each specialization. Some are unlocked with level progression while some are unlocked as you spend Skill Points in different Skill Trees. Based on your choices, you can four Active skills to hot keys for quick use but you can change them on the go without needing to go back to a menu. You just right-click on the skill you want to change and a menu opens up with all of the available skills. This is very convenient since it allows you to adjust your skills and spells depending on the current scenario.

Review: Last Epoch

Another very convenient feature of Last Epoch is that it allows you to open a portal back to the store at any time and you can head back to the last store you passed through at any time. By default, on PC this is the ‘T’ button and it does not matter where you are located. Pressing T will open a portal and you can head back to the town by using it. This is convenient because you do not need to access a Fast Travel point just to go back if you want to empty your inventory.

Speaking about inventory, your inventory space will easily fill up because Last Epoch’s enemies shower you with loot. Every time you finish an encounter, you will find tons of items on the ground just waiting for you to pick them up and this sometimes becomes a chore. There were several instances where I had just traveled back to the merchant, sold the extra items, stored the ones I thought I would need later in my stash, and traveled back to the location only to find all the enemies respawned and after the encounter, I had tons of items with me again.

Enemies respawn in the area when you revisit them however when it comes to items, they drop aplenty no matter how much your Luck is. However, the game does make loot easier for you. Every item is clearly marked when it is lying on the ground and it also shows right in the game whether it is white, gold, orange, or blue. Depending on your preferences, you can pick whatever item you want and skip the ones that you do not want. You can always sell the useless ones to the merchants but they do not give back a lot of money so it is not worth the hassle and all of the back and forth between your location and the merchant for some coins.

If you prefer, you can purchase and expand your inventory slots with in-game gold which allows you to become a hoarder and you can pick whatever you want. Still, the inventory is not infinite and you have to manage it. There are some convenient buttons here that allow you to sort and manage items. There is a button to quickly move crafting materials in a separate inventory and you can sort items instantly to make some more space in it. Last Epoch also comes with a unique loot filtering system that allows you to track items with specific bonuses and buffs for easy finding, a mechanic that every ARPG must have. The game has this unique system where it wants to you choose good weapons and make them even better by crafting and using different runes, glyphs, or using shards instead of hoarding items and selling them to purchase new gear. Crafting is one of the more complex mechanics of the game but if you start doing it right from the start, you will have an easier time later in the game.

Review: Last Epoch

There are microtransactions in Last Epoch but they appear to be only cosmetic at this time. The game does not shove them down your throat in the main menu or during gameplay which is excellent. These include visual customization options because Last Epoch gives you the ability to change your cosmetic look while retaining the bonuses of your equipped items. Your character stats are only changed based on your equipped items such as armor pieces, weapons, amulets, and rings and these items cannot be purchased with microtransactions which is a major plus point of the game as of now. While this may change in the future, as of now, only the cosmetic items are locked behind a paywall and after purchasing Last Epoch, you can explore and play every last aspect of the game without paying a single dime to these microtransactions. I hope it remains this way in the future as well because otherwise, it will change the whole dynamic of the game.

Solid gameplay mechanics aside, Last Epoch features a fully narrative campaign with cutscenes but these cutscenes are not something to gawk over. They are also pretty few that soon you will forget when was the last time you saw one. The game fills you in on its lore through letter pickups, NPC dialogue, and cutscenes. Your main quest will unlock new gameplay mechanics for you such as the ability to travel between different time eras. After acquiring a certain artifact in the game, the time jumping mechanic is unlocked for you and you can instantly jump between different time eras. You will often find yourself in similar locations but based on the time limit, they might be destroyed or in good shape so expect to see some repetitions. It is still a pretty neat feature to see the same are in different circumstances. For me, the story is fairly decent and keeps you entertained pretty much all the way to the end.

The visuals of Last Epoch are yet another strong suit for me. I loved the level design as well as the enemy design of the game. Each level looks and feels unique and the attention to detail is pretty good. The level of optimization put into it makes it a breeze to run even on older systems which is welcoming news for players. I have a measly AMD Radeon R9 290 these days and the game ran brilliantly on Ultra settings in 1080p on it. I loved how the Divine Era looked bright and colorful while the End Times were dark and spooky. The enemies also change based on the locations and they are very cool to look at. They also hit very hard and depending on your build, you will need to be at your best in order to survive in Last Epoch. You also have a Hardcore mode where if your character dies, you can continue with the Normal difficulty so your character is not lost to the abyss like most titles.

After beating the main story of the game, there is some Endgame content as well where you can test out your abilities and further level up your character by beating the enemies senselessly. You can also choose the fate of your items by joining two of the Endgame factions. One is Circle of Fortune which does not allow you to trade but increases your own item drop rate or you can join the Merchant’s Guild which allows you to trade with other players. Coming to game modes, in the Arena mode, you can enter to try and survive for as long as you can against waves and waves of enemies. This is a high-score chasing mode so you can see other players and their records and try to beat them to claim global supremacy. If you prefer dungeons, there are plenty of them for you to explore as well. Each dungeon brings a unique challenge with a unique reward at the end waiting for you if you can conquer it.

Review: Last Epoch

There is also an Endgame resource called Eternity Cache which is only found at the end of Temporal Sanctums, a mode designed to use the time travel mechanic of Last Epoch. During this mode, you will have to jump between different time eras in order to progress in the run and finally reach the end to receive Eternity Cache. It allows you to upgrade your weapons to the fullest and unleash hell on your enemies. Last but not least, you have Echoes which are found in Monolith of Fate and during these Echoes, you will have to complete different objectives to progress in the run and unlock rewards. These objective-based runs are perhaps the most accessible endgame content for players because they are pretty straightforward even with different gameplay modifiers in action.

Coming to the technical side of Last Epoch, for me, Last Epoch seems to work pretty well and I do not recall any sort of game-breaking bugs that I encountered during my 50 or so hours with my main character that I spent in the game for this review. The servers were fairly decent as well and I was playing with a friend of mine and we managed to play together without any hiccups. There were different instances during which we encountered some small issues like I was unable to see my friend on the mini-map or our character portraits would not appear while we were in the party.

Only once, it happened that I was unable to see my friend in the game and a quick back-and-forth from the shop fixed it. I would like to point out that I am not a fan of the area loading delay but I am not sure if this was because of the servers or my own internet connection. It took a while for the game to register and we wanted to move on to the next area. Other than these small problems, the game ran like a breeze and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Time and time again, we have seen how dedication and a community-friendly approach can deliver a solid game and I am happy to see how Last Epoch spent its years in Early Access because now in its full release form, it is one of the best ARPGs that you can play today. It may have spent five years in its Early Access stage but you can clearly see the progress in the full-release version of the game. Last Epoch not only looks gorgeous but it plays exceptionally well, features brilliant classes and the level of further specialization is just brilliant.

The ability to respec your classes at any time of your journey brings another twist to the whole class building mechanic because it allows you to switch up the tactics on the go. It is one of the most accessible ARPGs that I have played in a long time and I can easily recommend it to players who are too scared to jump into this genre due to the complex gameplay mechanics this genre normally brings with it. I absolutely loved spending my time with the game and I am sure that you will as well.

Final Verdict:

Last Epoch may not have a AAA brand name attached to it but the level of optimization and content found in the game takes it beyond what most AAA developers deliver today. While a lot of players are already comparing it with Diablo 4 and Path of Exile, it may not have the complexity level of Path of Exile but it easily overtakes Diablo 4 in my eyes to sit below Path of Exile in the top three ARPG spots. The accessible skill trees, diverse classes to play around and tons of loot keep things interesting long after you have completed the main story. I would appreciate it if Last Epoch receives more Endgame content in the coming months but even if it stays the same, there is enough to keep you busy with tons of hours. If you are tired of Diablo 4, jump into Last Epoch and you will have a solid time exploring dungeons, collecting loot, and creating some epic builds. Highly recommended for ARPG fans, even if you are just curious to explore this genre.

Final Score: 8.5/10

You May Also Like

About the Author: Umair Khalid

Founder of GamesHedge, Umair enjoys a wide variety of video games ranging from RPGs to racing games. Currently busy with The Crew Motorfest and Way of the Hunter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *