The MMO RPG-style Wayfinder is full of promise, but I just can’t get excited about it

Wayfinder, an upcoming action RPG with light MMO elements, is being developed by Airship Syndicate, the people behind Darksiders Genesis and Ruined King: A League Of Legends Story. I spent some time with the closed beta, poking and prodding the game’s live service cogs to determine if it was running smoothly or clumsily, which might not be worth your time.

And you know what? The game surprised me. It’s a decent time so far, which is perhaps more like Destiny than, say, World Of Warcraft. I really believe it can garner a large community and have a bright future ahead of it – but when it comes to such a saturated space, I’m concerned that Wayfinder might struggle to stand out and fail to attract players who are fed up with the casual game to grow and crush demands of this kind games.

To be honest, I entered the Wayfinder closed beta with trepidation. Aside from covering live service games at Inventory Space, I don’t play them as often anymore. Maybe it’s because I’m getting old and tired, but I rarely have time to fill their busy schedule. It often is Because they don’t cater to the needs of players like me who I’m trying to get stuck with.

It’s even a surprise that Wayfinder surprised me. He stands out more or less like a green chameleon in a green jungle filled with live service games (also green). But snatch a chameleon from its hiding place, give it a home in the relative safety and warmth of a computer, and you’ll find that it’s a truly beautiful creature. Airship’s connections to League Of Legends are obvious, as the world itself feels like an extension of the Riot Games universe, with impressive scale and some truly beautiful areas.

The cozy tavern in Wayfinder is full of heroes.

There is a story here about an evil Darkness that has engulfed the world, and you are the fallen hero who has come to fight it. I wasn’t drawn in as is often the case with most loose-fitting live service stories that can’t afford anything but plasticity.

The game world is divided into zones, a bit like in Destiny or Final Fantasy XIV, where transitions include a clean break on the loading screen. In addition to the safety of the hubs, the zones you’ll explore feature roaming enemies, chests, and strange dungeons. They seem to be just the right size, at least initially, giving you enough space to wander around without feeling overcrowded or empty.

At the beginning, there are four characters to choose from: rogue, knight, berserker, and the guy with the slingshot. Once you choose who you want to run with, you must unlock the rest by completing specific tasks that include collecting unique materials; first glance at the emptiness of the live service. I played as a rogue and a berserker, both were different from each other in every way, from skill to punching power. As you might expect, the rogue is agile and quick, able to jump between enemies using slices and bones. My favorite, however, was the berserker, who swings a mean two-handed ax and whose fistfighting ability allows her to deliver repeated blows, increasing her damage output the more she lands.

The overall rhythm of the game is what you’d expect from a live service game: build up your character by accumulating a lot of resources. To do this, you have a main quest as well as side quests that will take you through various Lost Zones (dungeons) that are filled with beasts. I fought the slime king and the big worm which gave me loads of currency and lots of stuff to put in lots of slot machines. Genshin Impact and my recent experience with Honkai Star Rail came to mind as they share a similar sensibility in Wayfinder’s method of upgrading characters. There are multiple orbs and points of different colors to spend, each of which can be used to incrementally increase numbers and words, such as “Critical Chance” and “Proficiency Bonus”. Admittedly, it tickled my dopamine receptors, but it also made me tired. I’ve done this in many games.

A mysterious city in Wayfinder, with many cramped buildings, purple and yellow lights and dilapidated fantasy rooftops

The Wayfinder figure lifts a massive scythe over his shoulder and stares at a cracked gate in the distance.

The three heroes battle a glowing purple golem warrior in the Wayfinder.

While each of your characters are stuck with their primary weapon type to begin with, eventually you can equip them, you can swap the berserker ax for rogue double daggers, or vice versa.

The catch in the game is making dungeons, getting the ingredients, and then either leveling them up to your character’s power level or crafting a key to a new, more difficult dungeon. Then the cycle repeats itself, as far as I know. While the thought of it exhausts me now, I think the act of doing it isn’t too bad. The dungeons are elegantly laid out, with interesting enemies and combat that sings. Small details are powerful too. The animations are smooth and the menu systems have a nice springiness to them. It may be a closed beta with FPS gimmicks and placeholder graphics, but it’s also heavily polished for such an early effort.

Back then, I think Wayfinders would be totally my jam. Beneath its general surface is a live service game that is very satisfying and, most importantly, keeps the level loop fun with its heavy combat. The world is really stunning sometimes. And I actually find myself getting drawn into chasing currency. But I’m not sure it’s a fresh enough approach to survive in such a competitive space as your Destinys, WoWs and Genshins. If you like any of the games I just mentioned, I think Wayfinder is worth checking out. If you’ve spent your time in active mines, I doubt you’ll enjoy it. I suppose only time will tell – and it’s definitely worth keeping an eye out for in the future.

Wayfinders hasn’t announced an open beta yet, but it’s worth keeping an eye on its Steam page for updates.

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