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Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem Early-Access Review

Another day, another promising indie game on the market. Nowadays, we have too many games in our minds but we have to wait for them to be released. We will either be satisfied or disappointed. That’s the nature of expecting something, right? But thank god we have indie games which can sometimes be much better than the classic titles themselves. And now, we will take a look at one of those indie games which both reminds of something from the past, and at the same time, introduces us new surprising features.

Released on 2016, Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem is a hack ‘n slash RPG game which is still on early access stage. Even though the game is still not finished, we had a chance to take a look at it. And to be honest, it looks pretty good and it has a huge potential.

The main objective of the devs, as they mention on their website, is to mix many different aspects of classics like Diablo or Skyrim. In order to do so, they implemented many different mechanics like the skill development system and the Apocalyptic Form. The main idea of the game sounds pretty appealing to be honest. An action based hack and slash game with an open world which lets players to roam around freely is an amazing idea. It is not the first, and not the last for sure. But the challenge is to make it happen in a way that the game stands out when compared to other games. And for Wolcen what I can say without hesitation is that it looks promising. And in the future, hopefully, it will get better.

We are mixing the freedom of Skyrim, the action style of Diablo 3, the ambience of Diablo 1, the graphical power of Crysis, and adding our very own features on top of all that to come up with a unique and powerful gameplay!

 

-Wolcen Studios

Before we start talking about the game, I would like to remind you guys that the game is still on early access and on development. So we should expect some bugs, incomplete features or  a couple of already implemented systems which can be/will be better in the future. Long story short, we will talk about the core elements and see if they are good or not. Other improvable aspects will be left out in order to get a general idea about the game and its future. Without further ado, I would like to present to you Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem.

A Hack’n Slash With the Freedom of Choice

To be able to get a general idea about Wolcen, I think it would be suffice to say that the basics are influenced by classic hack and slash games like Diablo. With your unique skills, you kill your enemies to get loot and find better equipment in order to kill harder enemies and make progress in the story. What makes Wolcen interesting about this hack and slash aspect is that it gives you the freedom to choose whatever you want to do with your character. All the mechanics like skill tree system, character customization, abilities and skills let you do so.

Let’s start with the skill tree system then… First of all, there is no class in this game. You do not choose a class at the beginning or even after you start the game. It is the path you choose on the skill tree which determines your abilities, skills and your play style. This skill tree can be accessed from the Gate of Fates in the main town area or by pressing P. The wheel represents 5 different paths you can choose and even if there’s no class limitation, the first point on the path you take will determine your play style.

Create Your Own Class

Basically, you can start at the hunter, thief, guardian, arcanist and the legionary path. And after that, you can chose another one and mix many different improvements to have your own unique class. You get 3 skill points for each level. And for each points you spend on a path, you get a bonus on your defensive or offensive stats.

What is interesting about this skill tree is that you can always mix every single path with another. You want to be a mage with two-handed swords on each hand? You can do that. Or, do you want to be a gladiator with thief skills? You can do that too. As long as you can keep a balance between your resources which are stamina, umbra and rage, you are free to do whatever you want. It takes time to understand the fundamentals of the Umbra – Rage – Stamina balance. But when you do, you realize that the class customization freedom is pretty damn good in this game.

Apart from the skill system, Wolcen introduces another mechanic which is called Apocalyptic Form. This feature lets you have a powerful form which will give you wings, horns, lava skin or a third arm. Yes, a third arm. Because one cannot have enough arms if they want to become a killing machine. So basically you transform into a powerful being with new abilities and cosmetic improvements.

Also keep it in mind that you will have to find the best gear/weapon for your build to be perfect or at least efficient enough for you to survive hard boss fights. You will not have a big problem about that I believe. Because the item drop rates are pretty satisfying. Although you have to farm a lot to be able to get a decent set, you will find yourself in a decent position even if you can’t find “the best”.

Other Interesting Features

The character development system is pretty good in the game, that’s obvious. In addition to that, it is possible to take part in many other features like crafting, weapon/armor customization, custom dungeon runs etc. But other than the mechanics, Wolcen also presents a meticulously created environment with beautiful visuals and animations. The first thing I would recommend you to try out is the arcanist path. As soon as you get more spells and become powerful, you will see what I’m trying to say right now. The overall artwork is really impressive. It is obvious that the CRYENGINE works pretty well for artists of Wolcen Studios. And I can say, without an hesitation, that they put a lots of effort on both the graphics and the animations.

The attack animations and the interactive world mixes so well that I was amazed for a long time. Big explosions cause plants to move around for example. Or you can destroy almost anything on your way with your spells, sword hits, bow shots. Yes, the environment is interactive. Which means that you can destroy boxes, statues or other thingies around you. Moreover, water effects your spells. Lightning will deal more damage to more targets in wet areas whereas fire will spread as long as it doesn’t touch water. This feature is amazing to be honest. And I’m sure devs will make it much better in the future.

The Dark Side of Wolcen

The features I’ve mentioned above are the ones that I could test and compare with other games. And I think that they will get better and better after each update. However, like any other game, Wolcen has its own flaws. Though I think most of them are easy to improve as the game, I repeat, is on early access.

First of all, as a game which focuses on RPG elements more than the action (that’s what they say on their website), Wolcen seems to struggle at getting the attention of the player when it comes to its story. Because, first, there is no voice acting. Yes, I know it is not a “must” for a player to delve into the story. But it helps a lot for you to get the main idea of the plot and emerge into story. Second, dialogues are too short and poorly designed. The language gets weird from time to time and the dialogues are not strong enough to make you feel like you’re communicating with another person. To be honest, I might as well call them monologues as you have no choice other than listening to people.

As a core feature of a RPG game, dialogues, story and the scenario is the most important thing for a game in order to be  successful. Wolcen, unfortunately, fails at that point. I’m sure the devs will make the story better and wider in the future, that’s for sure. Because that’s basically what they did with the latest update. And they officially declared that they wanted to add side quests and NPCs which I think is really necessary for Wolcen to be a RPG game at all.

Other than the main story, quests can become a torture. Especially if you have to clear a dungeon or go to the very end of that dungeon. Because they are huge. More than necessary if you ask me. I would prefer having less fights in a smaller are with more challenging enemies or even puzzles other than just killing stuff. And lastly, the character creation options are pretty limited unfortunately.

Last But Not Least

Long story short, fellas, I can say that Wolcen is a game which gives me hope for its future. It has many features which are pretty good. The only problem is that, and never forget this, its on the early access period and there are many things that needs improvement. But still, for an Indie game on early access, it still offers a fun experience. I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of hack’n slash games. But even I had fun playing the game and trying to find good combinations for my unique class.

The game has some problems with the graphics and sounds. There are a couple of graphics glitches which happen maybe once or twice. I don’t remember seeing a huge, annoying problem about the graphics or the gameplay. But the musics are linear and repetitive. Which becomes boring from time to time. I usually stopped the music and put some good old Dope – Die M.f. Die playing on the back ground. Oh boy! You can’t imagine the joy I had while killing all those monsters with my lightning bolts, shield smashes, brutal strikes while listening to a song like that.

So, the game needs better and “provocative” music during combat if you ask me. And from time to time, it is possible that there are too may sound effects playing and you keep loosing track on them. However, I also should say that the sound effects (individually) are awesome. I’ve never felt weird about anything that I’ve heard in Wolcen.

As a game on early-access, Wolcen is a promising product. And I’m sure you will have so much fun if you like hack’n slash games in general. If you want to see what it looks like or if you need more information before you get it, you can check their official website or enjoy the screenshots we share with you:

Positive

  • Graphics, visuals and animations.
  • The unique Umbra – Rage – Stamina system.
  • The freedom of creating unique classes with many different options.
  • Item diversity with many different options.
  • An easy and fun gameplay.

Negative

  • As an early access game, the story and the main features of the game are not yet fully completed.
  • There should be more skills to use or even to combine.
  • Music is too linear and repetitive for an action-RPG game.
  • Story should be deeper and it should attract the player with different additions like voice acting or impactful choices.
  • Quests are not enough or not interesting. This problem was mentioned by the devs so they will probably solve the issue in no time.

Summary

Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem is overall a successful game especially for an early access period. Graphics, animations, gameplay and the skill system is pretty good for both hack’n slash and RPG lovers. There are still things to work on like the music and the main story. But when it comes to reacting according to the feedback they get from their players, Wolcen Studio does a great job. So expect them to make this game better and better after each update they plan for the future. So, if you’re ok with waiting for new features to be released in the future and if you’re a hack’n slash-RPG fan with no problems with buying early-access games, you should give this game a try. But don’t expect a fully complete game. However, you will still have fun that’s for sure.

Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem was reviewed using a Steam key provided by the publisher.

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