Unless you are living China, or have at some point, chances are, you have never heard of the name “JX3”. Short for “Jian Xia Qing Yuan Online 3”, this is a Chinese fantasy MMORPG whose gameplay revolves around the elegant martial arts that are such a huge part of the culture and history of ancient China. Over the years, the game has garnered a massive player base of more than 100 million players.

Yes, you did not read that wrong. 100 million. That means JX3 is actually one of the most popular MMOs of all time. To put into comparison, this is 10 times bigger than the number of people who play World of Warcraft.

Eastward Legend: The Empyrean acts as the first mobile spinoff of the franchise, and it looks like developer Seasun is putting a strong emphasis on intricate design and artwork. While many MMORPGs try to be as "realistic" as possible, Eastward Legend sports a magnificent and colorful visual style that makes players feel like they are actually going back 3000 years in time to the Tang Dynasty.

Eastward Legend Cover
Eastward Legend sports a magnificent and colorful visual style

And the studio has done a marvelous job too. The world it created feels incredibly lively and immersive, with people dressed in colorful combat attire flying around the same way you see in several movies such as House of Flying Daggers or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

The backdrops, rendered in 2.5D, are stunning as well, and thanks to the wooden structures with their intricate carvings and iconic hanging hill roofs, everything delivers a novel feeling. The landscapes are verdant, with flagstone paths, fields of wild flowers, and mountains covered in green trees. The entire thing is filled to the brim with visual details, all of which are well animated and realistically shaded.

Everything is filled to the brim with stunning details

Not just for show

What’s even more impressive is, the visual effects of Eastward Legend: The Empyrean are there not just for show. The game features a dynamic weather system, so you can go from being bathed in sunlight to soaked by the rain pretty quick. That will also have corresponding impacts on the way you interact with the environment as well.

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A day-night cycle and a dynamic weather system that have direct impacts on the gameplay

For example, when it rains, you won’t be able to light a fire to cook food unless you have an umbrella. NPCs will react differently to different types of weather, and a day-night cycle too, which has its own impact on the gameplay.

Speaking of gameplay, it’ll be quite familiar for those who have played JX3. You create your character, select a faction to join, and then engage in the usual activities such as doing story quests, raiding dungeons, or participating in PvP battles in order to develop your characters, unlock more abilities, and obtain more powerful gear.

The combat is fast-paced and smooth, and it has a more arcade-y feel than the majority of games in this genre. You’ll have normal and special abilities that you’ll level up as you progress through the game, and using them wisely will be the key to overcoming your enemies.

Eastward Legend: The Empyrean
Develop your character throughout the game

That last part is especially true in PvP, where you have to face other human players who have just as much capacity as you do. And with the game already receiving over 15 million pre-registrations, you can be damn well sure there will be a LOT of PvP encounters.

All in the mind

Eastward Legend: The Empyrean does offer several new mechanics, too. The most prominent of these is the Mind Mode, which allows you to take a break from all the action and see forward or backward in time to witness things that was or might be, uncovering treasures and secrets in the process. Once you activate this Mind Mode, your vision will transform into a dream-like state, which is once again complimented by the outstanding visual flair.

With a franchise that has a history of over a decade as its backbone, and having spent 4 years in the making itself, Eastward Legend: The Empyrean is definitely something worth looking forward to.