Everyone has an idea of the perfect game on their mind; something that encapsulates everything they’d ever want. Wayfinder, the upcoming action-RPG MMO from Airship Syndicate and Digital Extremes that’s currently in closed beta, seems to be that game to me. Wayfinder manages to embrace multiple genres, mixing them into a convenient and enjoyable package. It is simple yet complex, grand yet finite. It does so much right yet leaves a lot of questions on the table, especially considering the way that games are monetized these days. While I may be cynical, I do have a lot of great things to say.
Wayfinder contains a unique and colorful style. The cartoonish facade gave me a warm and welcoming feeling like Overwatch and even Fortnite. A steampunk world that embraces both magic and technology, creating this mix that feels reminiscent of Riot’s League of Legends universe as explored in Arcane. Enough with the comparisons though, as Wayfinder manages to create a setting worth exploring based on its own merit.
I was fully engaged with my surroundings and character fantasy. I had fun just running around the maps and taking in the environment. Lush landscapes with rolling hills and thick forests were open to explore as was the main city that struck me in awe. Stonework, layered bricks, and general fantasy-like architecture are adorned with glowing neon signs giving this hub city a unique feel, one I always wanted in a game. Best of all, the city was rather vast for something of this stature. Graphically, there are so many fine details that I am surprised it worked so well on a performance level.
At one point, I was roaming around the outskirts, minding my own business before a fight between me and some vagabonds broke out. I rushed in while another player threw firebombs from afar. I used some defensive maneuvers and together we took on a couple of waves of foes till action calmed down. This is something I am quite familiar with when it comes to titles like Destiny where there is an ever-persistent world, but Wayfinder makes it feel a bit grander with its much larger environments.
Characters & Weaponry
When it comes to approaching characterization, Wayfinder gives you an array of characters to choose from, each one presenting their own approach to combat. As a player who prefers tanky characters, I chose Wingrave first. This hulking mass of steel armor and giant blades appealed to my sword and board sensibilities. I didn’t know exactly how it would go at first, knowing the roles of most tanks take in their respective titles; fewer combat maneuvers and more abilities designed to mitigate damage.
I was pleasantly surprised to see how Wingrave handled. He moves quickly while wearing his hulking armor, making his character concept work incredibly well on the battlefield. His standard attacks were not particularly heavy or fast, but just good enough to get by in any situation. His trusty shield also added to his general robustness. I felt that there was real balance behind his design between the offensive and defensive abilities, especially considering his role within the traditional MMO paradigm.
One attack called Judgement not only damaged enemies but also refilled a portion of my HP. Radiant Pulse and Divine Aegis acted as damage mitigation abilities while also buffing my party members. Then there was Righteous Strike which dealt damage while also healing myself and party members. This amount of HP upkeep kept him in the game and added to his necessity on the battlefield.
There were additional characters available, but I didn’t get a chance to fully dive into them because I just enjoyed Wingrave so much. Silo is a ranged character, Niss is a rogue, Senja is a brutal barbarian, and Kyros is the closest you’re going to get when it comes to a mage or pure magic user. You can also swap between each one seamlessly within the home city, which is a good thing if you are trying to test out each flavor to find the one that is for you.
As for itemization, this is where I feel a bit disappointed. Instead of having piecemeal gear in the sense of chest, arms, legs, boots, and so on; you have equipment and modifications that empower your character. While I didn’t quite enjoy that, you can customize your armor and weapons, allowing you to pick a variety of whole armor styles without needing to swap out your equipment on a stat level. You can also choose colors, themes, and so on. There are a few examples within the menus, but you need to either craft or unlock most of them.
Now, here is where the other shoe drops. Wayfinder is using a seasonal system which includes the additional of new characters, locations, and events to keep you busy. Once it hits Early Access there will be two seasons with each one planned to last about three months. Founder’s Packs and other goodies will be made available as we get closer to the launch of Wayfinder.
I can see exactly where monetization would kick in and if prices seem reasonable and they aren’t selling power, I think the game could easily survive. Of course, the promise of engaging content is what will keep people coming back. Since my time with the beta ended, all I want to do is play more of it.
You can currently opt-in for the beta on Steam with launch tentatively scheduled for May on Epic Games Store as well as the PlayStation 5.