Wildermyth Early Access

Wildermyth popped up in my Steam discovery queue at some point in the last few months, and when I see games I find interesting I tend to add them to my wishlist for later. Quarantine is definitely one of those “for later” situations, and as the game is only running $20 I pulled the trigger on it. I’ve been jamming through some games during this period of the wild indoors, but I’ve been looking for varied experiences to keep me engaged. As such, I’ve actually been looking into playing some of the games in my backlog that are different from what I’ve been playing lately. First person shooters will always be a love of mine, but sometimes I want something more laid back and story-rich. Wildermyth caught my attention because of its colorful art style and tactical RPG combat, a style of game I tend to gravitate towards. What sets it apart from other RPGs I’ve played in recent memory, is the fact that a portion of the game is procedurally generated, which is also something I tend to enjoy when it’s done well. Wildermyth is currently in Early Access, but as the description says, it’s mostly done and fully playable now. Features are already there, it’s just more polish and additional implementation and they seem sure that they’ll be releasing this year, and I’ll agree that they’re pretty close.

Like any party based RPG, you’ll start out with a group of youngsters that aren’t quite adventurers but are thrust into dealing with a world-ending problem. There are only three starter classes to choose from, but as the game progresses some expected and some unusual paths present themselves to give you additional strength and powers. The characters are randomly assigned names, character traits, appearances and you are forced to start with a Warrior, Hunter and Mystic. Sub classes naturally evolve from these and there are various build paths that I explored during my first game. You can take things further by fully customizing the characters but I let things pretty much lie after a few rerolls.

The entire first campaign is essentially a tutorial, but it took me a little over four hours to complete, so that’s more of a starter campaign than anything. Still, it is a good practice to roll through because by the end you understand the systems of the game but still see the potential for further adventures and this in itself is exciting. I haven’t had a game get its hooks into me so easily in quite some time, and were this already a finished title I still think it would have been good enough. I’m looking forward to see what happens with further development. So most of your time is spent pretty evenly between an over-world map where you move your heroes around and perform various tasks, while periodically getting story interruptions. Many of the story bits lead into encounters, and then you’ll shift to a randomized battlefield and participate in a turn-based battle. This controls as you would expect, with action points allowing you to move attack and sling spells. There are some unique facets to combat that I’ll cover shortly. Besides moving to new areas via the map, you’ll also need to build bridges, defenses/tile improvements and periodically need to repel incursions of enemy forces. You’ll also periodically gain access to new heroes via recruitment, and soon enough you’ll be training additional characters and have a full party of five and then some.

Combat reminds me of early iterations of D&D. The characters are sort of 2D paper figures that stand in a 3D space. They move as if they are on bases and someone is tapping them in each square as they progress. Attacks are pretty basic in their animation, but this gives it more of a feel of playing a well-penned D&D session that also has some pretty fun combat. There are only so many tricks that are thrown at you, but combat is still pretty satisfying. I was happy with how my characters developed, got new gear and new abilities and all along the way there was still challenge but also the sense of becoming more powerful.

Combat doesn’t always go like you would like, and characters can die or get maimed, but that adds some charm to the game. You don’t lose someone powerful that you have grown attached to, but they might lose an arm. This comes with some benefits as well, as one of my hunters ended up losing an arm, so he could no longer use a bow, but had a cool hook hand that he could use to attack with as well, so he became a stealthy dual-wielder instead. One of my Warriors ended up being enchanted by a crow spirit and got a crow’s head that provided a “peck” special move, and later I’d get the opportunity to further transform, gaining a crow’s claw that provided a strong attack. It’s stuff like this that’s a little off the wall but also really cool and reminiscent of D&D stories.

This campaign was split into three chapters and was the story was set up to have a specific villain. Each chapter closes when a main story objective is complete, however individual characters periodically ask more help with tasks and further their growth. You’ll be rewarded various crafting materials for how many territories you control on the world map and also gain a certain number of years worth of peace. During peace time, you’ll get little glimpses into your characters lives and even recruit your own progeny. My hunter’s son was trained as a warrior and already started with higher tier gear than normal recruits.

The third chapter leads up to the final battle, and because the passage of time occurs no matter what actions you take in the game, they grew old over the course of one session. The final battle was quite the challenge, but I managed to beat it while only losing one character who I believe was killed permanently, but it’s sort of irrelevant. The game is designed to give you compact stories in short-ish sessions. I imagine all three chapter games will take approximately the same amount of time to complete, while the larger five chapter games will probably add a few more hours per game. The Legacy system allows for some of this to continue on. At the end I was able to choose one of my characters to sort of have a second life, though they don’t go into detail about how this happens, but it means they start off a little more powerful for the next go-round. People that you memorialize carry certain things over as well, so there is a sort of rogue-like account progression that affects future games. From what I understand they are a ton of different encounters already programmed into the game, with more coming down the pipeline, and they’ve added a campaign creation tool as well. So Wildermyth might just be the next best thing when it comes to playing D&D. I really enjoyed my play session, and I look forward to playing it some more. I may look into making my own campaign as well, which could provide an additional creative outlet. Whatever the case, if any part of this sparked your interest I might suggest checking the game out. It’s fully worth the coin, and should only get better.

No Man’s Sky First Impressions

From the moment I saw the first trailer for No Man’s Sky back at E3 2014 I knew it was a game I had to play. Originally announced for the Playstation 4, I was then also anticipating this being on of the main reasons to buy the console (outside of brand loyalty, along with a couple other exclusives like Uncharted 4). Later, it was said that the game would simultaneously release for PC, so I was torn. I obviously have more power with my gaming PC over the PS4, but then there was the thought that it was technically a PC port, which can sometimes mean shit performance or controls. I was leaning towards getting it for PC anyway, until they said that there was going to be a 3 day delay on release. That sealed it for me, I wanted to play as soon as possible.

I looked into pre-order bonuses as well. It seems that a pre-order from Steam would net you a new ship. A pre-order from the Playstation store came with a bundle of icons (boring). Pre-ordering a physical copy from Gamestop however, came with a new ship, an upgraded multi-tool, and 10,000 credits. Ding ding ding, we have a winner!

I pre-ordered last week. I picked up the game after work yesterday. I didn’t get into the game the night before like digital customers, but that’s okay, I wasn’t too far behind. The game starts out simply enough. You are given the tiniest of backstories and are thrust onto a random planet where your ship has crashlanded. Your life support systems are low. The ship is damaged. You gotta fix shit or die trying.

My first impression was “wow, this game is pretty.” Followed immediately by “this shit is not intuitive at all!” Seriously, the tutorial or lack thereof is a hindrance. This is coming from a hardcore gamer who has made a career out of skipping tutorials cause “I can figure that shit out myself.” Eventually everything starts to make sense, but there is very little guidance. Normally I wouldn’t complain, because tutorials are boring and annoying and you usually already know what you’re doing before the system tells you what to do next. In this case, just a little more help with basic controls and functions would go a long way. After about 30 minutes I had most systems figured out and had fixed up my starship to head out into the galaxy.

When you leave that first planet, where to go and what to do next is a daunting task. There is the general goal of “reaching the center of the galaxy,” but outside of that you can pretty much do whatever you want. I’ve visited space stations, met aliens, sold goods, bought goods, killed drones, been killed by NPC pirate types, and discovered systems, planets, and creatures. It’s been a blast so far and I’ve barely scratched the surface. One look at the galactic map will confirm this. The game is HUGE.

I’m unsure about the multiplayer component. I’ve seen the game listed as single player, but I remember talk of there being other players roaming the galaxy, just that it would be nigh impossible to find your friends due to the vast expanses of space (18 quintillion planets). Still, it’s unclear if I’ve crossed paths with other players or if every shit I’ve seen has been an NPC. It does feel like a living breathing world though, with flora and fauna everywhere, sentry bots attacking you for grabbing resources on their turf, ancient monoliths to discover, and ships that will attack you if you piss them off. It really does feel like there’s always something new waiting around the corner, and it’s very satisfying to simply lift off from the ground, fly straight into space and land on the next nearby planet.

The upgrade systems are well done. You’ll find new tech everywhere, and then you just need the materials to build it. You can apply upgrades to your Exosuit, your Starship, and your Multi-tool. The multi-tool is used for both fighting and mining, and will come in handy for long periods of time. I saw the game mentioned the other day by a person who primarily plays MMOs and he had said that he isn’t interested in this game because it’s not “MMO-enough.” I’d argue that the inventory management aspect, along with the “Massive” part of MMO makes this MMO-enough in my book. Sure, you’re not talking to others, but who cares? There’s so much to do, you can’t afford to be on someone else’s schedule. Plus, I like the whole one man army aspect. But I digress.

Overall I’m impressed by the game so far. It’s unclear how long I will be enamored by it, but time will tell. I’ve already streamed once, and will do so again for those of you wanting to see it in action. I’ll also have a screenshot dump post up soon. That’s all for now.