Wayfinder | Preview, a promising online adventure

Wayfinder | Preview, a promising online adventure

Wayfinder | Preview

Going out with a new IP online is a more than difficult task, indeed I would say difficult to achieve. In recent times the mantra is to try with paths that follow the already seen or the most successful formulas, but how many times has this refrain failed miserably? Babylon's Fall to name one, or Anthem if you look at the striking history of the genre, or other famous examples that would still carry us forward. And despite this not very encouraging background, Airship Syndicate and Digital Extremes (who you will remember for Warframe) have entered into a special cooperation to bring to light Wayfinder : an online action RPG with a live service model of unprecedented creation.

In these days I had the opportunity to attend the official presentation of the game, have a session with the development team and interview team members, including Joe Madureira and Steve Madureira. For the latter we will have a separate appointment in the days following the publication of this piece, while those that follow only my personal considerations on what I have been able to see and hear during the various events, assuming that the current version of Wayfinder will in any case different from what you will see at launch, in the months following it and so on. And yet, even with just a glimmer of the project's actual potential, I have to say that I was surprisingly impressed even in the face of the basic disillusionment of those who have also experienced Babylon's Fall.

A story of adventures and collections

As you may remember from our recap of the last TennoCon, we had witnessed the announcement of the partnership between Digital Extremes and Airship Syndicate, interviewing Joe Madureira himself at era of dedicated coverage. The initial notions about the project now called Wayfinder were of a Madureira-style MMO, parent in gaming terms of Darksiders, the recent Ruined King for League of Legends and BattleChasers. Fantasy battles and attention to the main mechanics of the online experience had been points on which Madureira himself had focused in the presentation: after all, the beating heart of this project was to recreate the climate that was lived in the golden age of online communities.

Wayfinder Let's jump a few months and Wayfinder has come to show itself to the general public during the recent PlayStation State of Play and to the press with the occasions that we have already mentioned just above. I can say that I have found all the values ​​described by Joe Madureira already in the most central features of Wayfinder, such as the desire to create characters with significant stories in full trademark for Airship Syndicate and a dynamic gameplay that focuses each card on action and spectacularity . We have gone from the single player character to an entire roster to be changed and acquired (directly in game or by paying) at will, an important connotation that at first made me turn up my nose a little but which I soon found extremely spot on , but let's go step by step.

Like any fantasy story that goes well with online gaming, we find ourselves in a land of heroes endangered by a chaotic force capable of corrupting and erasing reality itself. The only solution to this curse are the Wayfinders: particular heroes able to venture into the areas controlled by Chaos and cleanse them of the plagues that infest them. We weren't allowed to explore much of the game's narrative, which is still a huge work in progress, but the team has assured us that the very straightforward and simple foundation of the world setting will serve as a foundation stone for them to build upon more and more. narratives branched out, both as pieces of the main campaign, of the accessory missions linked to the combat zones or even in comics totally external to the game. All to aim to graft a vital longevity that is not lost over time, indeed rather the goal of Airship Syndicate is to keep you glued to Wayfinder for as long as possible and make it your thought far beyond the pad.

Wayfinder How? The answer is not simple, indeed it is perhaps the most difficult knot to untangle for a project of this kind. Airship Syndicate has decided to address the issue by offering a long series of content to play in its daily rhythm, a lot of loot to add to well-organized collections and a very free control of the type of content for the player.

The Hero's Path

Analyzing well the shirts of these cornerstones, we can start from the beginning of your adventure on Wayfinder, or when you find yourself choosing a hero among those available and some other warrior to change occasionally. Each hero has a specific skill set (with levels) that is somewhat reminiscent of the classic roles of online games, for example I fell in love with Wingrave: a decidedly advanced templar who was made as a Defender. By selecting it, I followed the standard path, equipping myself with a Sword and Shield and proceeding to raise the stats that I considered important to defend and heal myself at the same time, thus sacrificing the offensive. Already these few actions, even before starting to play seriously, highlight a flood of subsystems that Wayfinder uses to make things highly customizable and devoted to the continuous search for pieces to improve or try new paths.

Starting from the equipment, each of your characters can equip any type of weapon in the game and for each of them will have a degree of mastery that will unlock specific bonuses for that weapon. The monsters will then drop orbs that can be applied to the hero, weapons, and other items to grant special abilities, stat bonuses, and other perks. Each weapon then has a specific level with upgrades linked to it, as well as the possibility of modifying its aesthetic appearance via a separate menu that includes a flood of customization options. It certainly didn't end here: each character can equip accessories, quick items and upgrade numerous systems to build their own personal build. Will you go my way and make a Wingrave all Defense? You can do that, no doubt, just as you can give him a shotgun and make him a damage-dealing sniper who is also able to leap into the fray on occasion.

Wayfinder There are so many systems that one of my biggest fears, at the presentation, was that the redundancy was too much for the player. Taking Warframe for example, all the mechanisms introduced over the years have created the problem of having so many things to think about rather than a more linear progression, thanks to the fact that Warframe's systems themselves have a complexity of their own. Touching Wayfinder with my hands and with such doubts in mind, I was immediately comforted by an extremely reasoned, unidirectional and clear in making you feel that you are actually enhancing certain skills. Loot, levels and customization follow a clear line that is easy to follow, impossible to miss and always stimulated by the right amount of content.

Beyond the darkness

Again, as in Warframe , there are different activities to choose : if you want to follow the story there is the Main Quest, you can explore the open world of some specific areas, do only the daily missions or face the procedural dungeons called Lost Zones. However, they all contribute to a specific path in the improvement of our chosen hero and personal fulfillment, achieved only when the rewards of each of these skills are meaningful and worth the time spent.

A testament to this concept there is above all the procedural nature of the Lost Zones, assisted by the opportunity for the player to modify the play structure of these areas thanks to the Mutators that increase the difficulty or generate particular challenges, in addition to the random ones that already appear on their behalf . Airship Syndicate is well aware that the repetition of the contents will be central during the life cycle of Wayfinder and the tricks to make this process a pleasant walk among the monsters are many since these early test phases. In my opinion, however, the element of strength majeure is the action structure of the fight, which cannot fail to be compared to the "heaviness" of Darksiders' blows.

Wayfinder Every slash, shot or special ability has its own specific weight in terms of visuals and concrete feedback against the enemy, excellently reflecting the identity of the characters and their kits. There is an evident creativity in the animations that accompany the various heroes, demonstrating how the real strength at play is that of knowing how to tell very well without using text; a faculty that also permeates the backgrounds, the city that is the main HUB and, hypothetically speaking, the future Housing system. Playing even just the foundations of Wayfinder is an exceptional experience in itself, especially in a well-balanced group, but as Anthem teaches us this is not enough to keep players between their cities.

Wayfinder convinced me precisely because of the promising balance of its scope, still a little to be adjusted but solid in the belief of giving relevance to the time spent by the player, filling it with both numerical and personal taste rewards. This last point is due to the care with which the game world has been built in its aesthetic philosophy, always remaining interesting and never generic in its proposals, at least from what we have been shown and with the premises of Airship's granite artistic background Syndicate. Wayfinder undoubtedly deserves to be tried by hand and evaluated for that glimmer of hope in a landscape that struggles to create engaging online experiences, also having the advantage of being a next Free to Play, with early access expected soon for the more curious.

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