wayfinder Digital Extremes airship syndicate

Early Access Review: Wayfinder

Wayfinder is an MMO developed by Airship Syndicate and published by Digital Extremes. Take on the mantle of a Wayfinder and unlock their powers by choosing your path and playstyle to repel a hostile force that has invaded your world. Control Chaos by directly shaping the endless adventures you experience with your friends because Wayfinders are more robust when together.

Wayfinder is in Early Access

Wayfinder is one of the first games that makes my nearly 20-year career as a video game reviewer and columnist so ambiguous. I’ve followed the development of Wayfinder and played it at different phases of development. For one of the first times in my career, I shrug my shoulders and ask myself, “Where do I fit in all this?”

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I have worked as a video games reviewer and columnist for almost 20 years, having started on discussion forums and then worked in different media before joining Console Creatures while being Le Bêta-Testeur in Québec’s province. In general, the main idea behind our “job” is to pin down a game and be able to do a decent and comprehensive analysis of it as quickly as possible so that we can give our impression of the playtime we place on it.

Now, when I mention Wayfinder, it makes me shrug, knowing that that means the game is very difficult to analyze. To be as honest as possible with you, I’ve been working on this article for over a week now, and I’ve been deleting it, then starting again, then erasing it again, and starting again. I would tell you that it is not so much the fact of writing nearly 1500 words on the brilliant side and the less good side of the game. Still, it has been in constant evolution in each phase of its creation, and the developer listened enormously to the players who tested each phase one by one and gave comments on things to improve and even those to change completely.

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Some great concepts don’t feel ready yet

During each phase of testing the game, I learned a little more about each character, the famous Wayfinders in it and the improvements made to the game. On the other hand, one of the things which displeased me was the fact that they launched us into the game without any real story: we had access to absolutely everything unlocked but no main quest to follow and only the possibility of playing side quests and exploring the different areas by fighting enemies everywhere, to test the nervous side of the game.

I like to know that when the time comes to play in Early Access, it’s the full version of the game we will have, not just a piece of it as we can sometimes get in Alpha and Beta tests. This, unfortunately, doesn’t give us the tone of the game or the emphasis that the developer places on its story.

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It is an advantage unless you already know the complete game, and it is unnecessary to be presented further. But it’s like putting the cart before the horse when you’ve never played it. You are in front of the game, not knowing what each button does! Fortunately, in one of the previous phases of the game, I was treated to a kind of tutorial. Still, there were so many changes in the Wayfinder‘s actions that I was already lost with the Early Access I was playing.

Early Access feels like Early Access in Wayfinder

Let’s face it: Wayfinder is a visually sublime game with its aspect based on neon and nature. The many character choices and skill trees will give you ample material to build a personalized Wayfinder.

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You can wander through several large open-world areas from the city to meet other players and even team up with them. After all, isn’t that what an MMO is all about? You will also find dungeons in which you will be matched with two other players since these are groups of three. Eventually, according to the developers, six-player raids will be added.

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In terms of combat, I must say that the game is fast, fluid and entertaining. In addition, the combat system is far from complex because you have four skills linked to your character and another skill depending on the weapon that can be used. Forget endless menus with 10 or 15 skills and abilities that you can use, like in World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy 14.

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You can also block, parry or dodge attacks or perform combos as you see fit.

Speaking of the dungeons from earlier, what a pleasure to experience actual dungeons with several branches and corridors equipped with chests, events and puzzles to solve! Another interesting fact about these: the higher you go in levels, the more comprehensive the selection of bosses will be. They will become more complex with a more significant number of mechanisms, not just a simple button-mashing experience.

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A free game that isn’t free

Wayfinder is a game that is considered free-to-play. However, only people who purchased the founder’s pack can access it now. It will nevertheless be accessible on consoles and PCs.

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Unlike some games, the developers intend for the game to remain fair for everyone and is in no way pay-to-win. Anything you can buy with real money can also be bought by progressing in the game. It will be up to you if you prefer to shine your credit card rather than your talent.

Hard-working developers but lots of bugs

I have to say the developers are working tirelessly on the Wayfinder to fix everything as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, the game crashes at times, and I would disconnect often, combined with loading times that are sometimes interminable. This leaves the impression that there is still a lot of work for the game, even though they announced it would be ready in May.

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Playing a fast-paced action game and experiencing extremely long loading times or getting disconnected doesn’t necessarily make you want to return to it later. This is my dilemma because otherwise, the game is so pleasant that we want to play it, and we feel that there are endless possibilities around this game thanks to all kinds of expansions that could be added.

Verdict

Wayfinder is similar to Warframe in how you evolve and gain gear without paying for it. The world and characters are colourful, and the lively environment demonstrates how hard Airship Syndicate worked to get Wayfinder to where it is today. Compared to the Alpha and Beta I’ve played previously, many new mechanics have also been added. On the other hand, the fact remains that at its current stage, I would have difficulty returning to it because it is not entirely stable.

If the game looks fantastic, but the instability puts me off, there’s a good chance I’ll never return to it. Alas, like Warframe, precisely, when I played it in Beta, then at its launch. My daughter is playing it today and can spend hours and hours on this game and loves it. For my part, I never went back.

I’m crossing my fingers and hoping I’ll try again one day because friends will tell me, “Come join us; Wayfinder is fun!”

[This Early Access review was conducted with A Founder’s Pack offered by the publisher.]

Previewed on PC

wayfinder Digital Extremes airship syndicate
Recommended
Liked
A vast and colourful world
Fast and fluid battles
Huge skill trees and abilities combined to weapon skills
Free to play
Didn't Like
Bugs and crashes
Awful loading times
There seems to be a lot of work to be done