Last February 13 was released in Steam Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem. After a successful Kickstarter campaign and a period of four years in Early Access, Wolcen Studio’s work has finally come to light. I tell you that I found this ARPG with hack and slash dyes that, inevitably has become in a few days in a serious competitor within its genre and to which, other studies such as Blizzard should pay attention to the next release of Diablo IV.
The history and context of Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem are not at all groundbreaking. A disturbance in the balance of the world puts its heroes on alert, and huge amounts of demonic creatures and the occasional script twist are the excuse to immerse us in an adventure that you are hardly going to be attracted to. Wolcen has taken me back to my “worst” era in Diablo II in which I sat down to “take a little while” and ended up watching the sunrise the next day without just flipping or taking my eyes off the screen. A real achievement in the times, where the accelerated pace of throws forces the player to jump from one play to another without time almost digesting the previous one. This total immersion has several culprits. Probably the greatest of them is that despite the use of the isometric viewWolcen get rhythmic and frenetic gameplay where you can’t trust everything to your statistics, but that your ability has much to say about it.
Dodge is a primary element. Using it at the right time and doing it properly (it is limited by a series of stamina points) is essential to avoid falling into combat more than desirable. In this sense, the enemies are varied and Wolcen makes intelligent use of them. Advancing through its scenarios we find large groups of adversaries to face, with very spectacular scenes. Each zone of the game has its own units and, in some way, dares to take some mechanics more typical of games like DOOM(2016). These large groups are composed of rivals in many weak cases accompanied by others of greater strength and endurance. The key is knowing how to deal with these. And therein lies one of the main virtues of this new PC launch.
Kill, loot and level up
In Wolcen that premise of ending the weakest minions and, when you have cleaned that part go for the most complicated, it is not always a good idea. The strongest creatures are marked on our radar by red skulls and are always a challenge. The key is to use those smaller enemies in order to generate health orbs that, added to the dodge, give us the necessary air to be able to end them without having to restart from the last point of control.
In addition to that dodge, your character can use normal or strong attacks and, as he progresses, he will access a series of special abilities that will occupy the first five digits of the numeric keypad. Of course, those special attacks have a refreshing time and are conditioned to two meters: the will and the fury. These bars will be filled as we get dead and, therefore, maintain balance, find the rhythm and not abuse them in the early stages of the game are indispensable conditions. But as I say, this is only at the beginning of the adventure because what is to come will give you a clearer idea of the kind of god that we will be able to create in Wolcen.
To frame these constant and hilarious Wolcen fights: Lords of Mayhem has a simple level design, somewhat pasillaro and flat at times. The verticality of other similar games such as Darksiders Genesis is not an aspect that has been worked especially in this title. It is true that these scenarios give the player room to get lost and explore a little. The game has some challenges in additional dungeons that you can access from some portal and in which you have to eliminate your final boss, kill all the units in the area or activate cursed chests that will present waves of enemies that you will have to defeat to access the coveted booty.
Obviously, Wolcen is not far from other games of his genre. At every step you take, every enemy you defeat and every chest you open, huge amounts of gold and objects will arise that you will have to manage and sell in a meager inventory. The management of this is a playable mechanic in itself. Wolcen does not have a maximum weight system like classic-style role-playing games and opt-in this section to present a system of boxes that will be filled and with which you have to go playing in case, if it happens to you like me, Diogenes syndrome is strong in you.
Fortunately, the game balances this management. From any dungeon, you can open a temporary portal that transports you to your base in the city of Stormfall, where you can sell those items you don’t want. Throwing them on the ground is another option, but nothing advisable and more if we take into account the large number of resources that the game requires in its endgame: each coin will be necessary.
As is normal in this type of games there are several degrees of rarity and endless statistics to look at when deciding what you want to equip. At a glance, placing the mouse pointer on an item you get a quick comparison between the selected object and the one you have equipped to decide what you want to do, but beware, sometimes more rare equipment will not be better than the one already have. This is because we have gems to imbue them, something really typical if it weren’t for an excellent addition: the entropy orbs. These orbs are extremely difficult to find and their frequency of appearance in the campaign is as scarce as it is late, but their effects are the most curious. These orbs reset all magical attributes when used on an object. In fact, they consume all the gems that have been set to guarantee a magical effect whose level depends on the power of the gems and (eye) whose powers are chosen at random from among those who already had the object. Risky? Definitely. Retributive? Not always. Funny? Insurance.
If there is something that has fascinated me is its class system.
If there is something that has fascinated me about Wolcen, it is its class system, rise in levels and improvements. When you start the game and create your character you will not choose a particular class, determine the sex, edit its appearance and select the type of weapon with which you will begin the adventure. The game itself warns you that this choice is not final; there is no closed class and you will be able to modify your playing style at any time by learning new skills and equipping other types of weapons. This is a huge success since Wolcen has a system of leveling and improvement of characters excellently worked, being its role deep, interesting and tremendously rewarding as you spend your hours in the game.
Each time you level up you have ten points of improvement to add to your character in four different aspects: ferocity, constitution, agility, and wisdom. These statistics will determine the chances of doing critical damage and medical condition, the speed of attack and our health points and shield. Of course, the items you equip add bonuses to each of these features. In addition, in its corresponding tab on the character sheet, you can consult the total damage percentages as well as those linked to each of these features, being a very quick and useful reference when deciding what to upload at each moment. If you are not completely happy or want to vary these attributes you can reset them and reallocate them for an acceptable amount of coins.
Wolcen’s true display of this aspect is in the development of the passive skill tree. Through the Door of DestinyYou have access to countless points of expertise segmented into three main features: soldier, sentry or scholar. The “magic” in this section is that you are not required to follow a particular path. The Door of Destiny is arranged in three concentric circles that you can turn as if it were a puzzle. This allows that once we have reached the end of a concrete development tree of the three that make up the first wheel, on the next level, turning it you can choose from six to, in its last phase select between twelve. A total of 21 different progress trees that you can accommodate as you wish to determine which path your character will follow in this facet. As with the attributes you can restart them for an affordable price of Primordial Affinity.The data: 216 possible permutations within the skill tree.
I just mentioned the Primordial Affinity, this gives me the opportunity to talk about the last section in the role of Wolcen. In this game, active combat skills are not learned through experience and a tree to use. To win new attacks and powers you have to find them in the chests, buying them from merchants and taking them away from enemies. These masters are enclosed in magical objects called Interacts. Every time you find a new one, by right-clicking on it you will learn the skill it contains. In campaign mode, you have four spaces to equip them to which you can add a fifth in Stormfall Champion mode once you have finished the game.
What is really significant is that each of these skills has its own system of progress through experience depending on its use or if we spend primary Affinity points to level them up. As these skills increase, modifier points are added to each of them. In this way, you can customize them to your liking by assigning these points to different runes that will determine attributes such as, for example, the refreshment time, the cost of fury and will or assign new additions, thus making each player truly unique. But if this may seem small, which is not at all, in the endgame you can double these skills assigning these duplicates new modifications that grant you, within the same skill, two different uses. Something really useful when it comes to adapting to stronger enemies or final bosses in each dungeon.
Always in fashion
What Wolcen Studio has achieved in the role of the character is commendable, an exhibition of good work that gives depth and unknown dimensions within the genre. To this is added the possibility to customize the appearance of your avatar to your liking, in the adventure you will find different skins for armament and armor, as well as a large color palette with which to make our avatar have an appearance. No matter what equipment you have selected at all times, the appearance of your character will not vary unless you want. In Wolcen, fashion and efficiency go hand in hand.
What Wolcen Studio has achieved is commendable
To all this, we must add the Aspects of the Apocalypse. With a total of four that are achieved based on the progress of the character, these aspects are temporary transformations in which our avatar is going to become an invincible beast. Each of these aspects has four different types of skills to use in combat and are devastating, in addition, that during the time we are transformed we enjoy a period of invulnerability. In order to execute this transformation, the measure of Primordial Essence must be filled, something that is achieved by defeating enemies and making us with the white orbs they release. However, it is not advisable to abuse its use since they do not last long and can be of great help especially against stronger enemies and final bosses.
Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem has two differentiated game modes: Campaign and Stormfall Champion. The campaign consists of three acts and a duration that will range from 3 pm to 8 pm, depending on the time you take to explore or do secondary dungeons. I will be very frank at this point: it is a long and very well narrated tutorial. I say this because the difficulty of their enemies, with some caveat in the last two final bosses, is nonexistent. Soon your character’s skills are going to overcome the challenge of the dungeon by far. To this is added the possibility of reviving up to three times in the place where you fall having the only penalty to return to the last point of control with the consequent reappearance of enemies if we spend those three-second chances. In the end, everything is summed up inconstancy and repetition and perhaps, to a point, it can be good that in this campaign you stick to enjoy the adventure and play alone while exploring the enormous depth of the game in its role-playing section.
This has only started
in the endgame is when Wolcen hits the tableat Wolcen the adventure begins when you finish the campaign. Against all odds, you won’t be able to play it again unless you create a new character from scratch. At the end of the adventure, for reasons related to history, we will become Stormfall managers. In this endgame (Stormfall Champion) is when Wolcen hits the table, he says, here I am! As a city manager, you have to rebuild and improve it. This opens a map of projects that will require a large amount of gold and primordial, as well as a new resource that comes into play: productivity. This productivity can be increased by carrying out improvements in the different buildings, but it is also necessary to comply with certain Expeditions and Mandates, activities that in some way can remind us of the cracks found in Diablo III.
The mandates are perhaps the easiest option. A random map, eliminate a number of enemies or kill certain special units. Direct and simple in exchange for an amount of productivity that helps us complete our projects and some object as a reward. Having a specific level requirement I have found it a good option to increase my statistics in a simple way.
Really, what matters in Stormfall Champion mode is to make expeditions. These have different traits starting with that of Adept to which different ranks of seniority are added until they become a teacher depending on whether we manage to overcome the three levels that each dungeon proposes. In the expeditions, once we have finished a level we can return to the city or continue advancing, assuming greater risks and therefore better rewards. Of course, forget about the resurrections of the campaign mode, death is the end. In fact, in the endgame, it is convenient to always be accompanied by more people so that they can resuscitate you and face their challenges more effectively. In addition, in these expeditions, you can add modifiers that increase the percentage of finding better objects in the loot. The depth of the latter mode has no limit even generating a type of game called the Wrath of Sarisel that will only be obtained based on the modifiers we have active and if we choose to carry it out; a challenge only suitable for players of the highest level who, if you’re wondering, is limited to 90.
Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem has no end. Its mechanics and system of improvement of skills and objects can have you hooked for a long time and more if we take into account the improvements that have been experiencing their servers since its launch. At the time of leaving the game, problems were experienced in matchmaking and server crashes with some frequency. However, in the process of this analysis and especially after the release of patch 188.8.131.52, a huge improvement in stability has been noted and the service of these, although there are still aspects to be polished in this section. The determination of the host within the game is not completely clear, although it is not a problem of relevance if we take into account that progress is shared between the private and public parties. However, something that does squeak is that the public game mode only forms groups of two players while, in the private game, inviting friends can reach up to three simultaneously. The latency time of the game is acceptable using the servers of Europe in no case exceeding 30 milliseconds with a connection of 300 symmetric megabytes of fiber via Ethernet cable.
Some users have reported poor performance of Wolcen, commenting on some bugs and crashes of the game that made the experience annoying or unplayable. However, in the more than 40 hours that I have dedicated to the moment of writing the analysis I have been fortunate not to run into any problem that affects the gameplay or the progress of my game. Yes, I have noticed some erratic behavior in the AI allied with one of the creatures that can be summoned at various points of the stage, something that has quickly resolved in all cases by itself.
CryEngine responds appropriately to the requirements of the game
Wolcen boasts great optimization on PC, being able to run without problems in high quality without experiencing any performance problems. The CryEngine engine responds appropriately to the requirements of the game leaving good cinematic scenes in addition to the purely in-game action. In its artistic section, the recreation of its scenarios, varied and that make use of different architectural and natural elements, shines. Each area and new act transport you to different places where not only the setting but also the design of our allies and enemies makes us dive into the experience. For the music, vocal choral compositions have been chosen that give an apocalyptic touch to each confrontation but that exceeds the limit, in any case, of a job well done. With voices in English, the game comes with texts in Spanish, as well as in seven other languages.
Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem is a good action isometric perspective RPG that knows how to take what you need from games like Diablo III or Path of Exile. Its playability is fun and demanding, although it does not escape the sense of repetitiveness inherent in the works of its genre. It highlights the excellent work that has been carried out in the system of skills improvements and levels rise, but it is dazzled by a multiplayer section still pending some improvements in its servers although, it has been able to get on track since its launch. With a new mode at the end of the main campaign, the options for those who wish to stay are endless. Undoubtedly, one of the surprises of this beginning of the year that, will have to do with time if it stays in a “take away” while Diablo IV arrives or manages to keep his community hooked with new content.
- The mixed, flexible and reversible class system at any time.
- Stormfall Champion mode offers the game for a long time.
- The skill system of The Door of Destiny is brilliant.
- Texts in Spanish.
- Its multiplayer facet has yet to be polished and improved.
- The repetitiveness of mechanics of its kind.