Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem review by UnidesTristan
Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem is a new Action Role Playing Game (ARPG) by Wolcen Studios released on February 13th. This game uses the Cryengine which has been out for many years. This game consists of three Acts and an unlimited random dungeon generator. You can pick one of three starting weapons, but this is not a binding choice. You can use any weapon and skill through the entire game so long as you meet the level requirement. Many of the elements feel recycled from other ARPG games, however Wolcen does have a transformation system that feels fresh. There are also flaws that really limit my opinion of this game.
I really wanted to like Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem when I bought it on sale while still in Early Access. I played through the first act that was part of the EA experience, and liked the base game that was available so far. When I read the updates, I was excited to see the new elements that were added. It sounded like I was getting ready for the next game I would hit 200+ hours in. I find that the result was less than I hoped for.
Not everything was bad with Wolcen. I really liked what I’ve seen of the story so far. You go through a story of betrayal, deceit, and ostracization. After being embodied by a God-like power to transform yourself into a massive Avatar of one of 4 different Gods, your family of Purifiers are certain you are in league with demons. This sets the stage for a great story spanning across different nations after the evil necromancers.
I choose the flesh avatar, because tentacles. After battling and collecting primordial energy you can transform into your avatar, which is about four times the size of your regular character. You also gain a new range of abilities and are immune to damage. Taking damage and using skills drain your primordial energy. When you hit 0 you transform back to your human character. These were a great help during boss battles and when being surrounded by massive amounts of mobs. Also, the flesh avatar that I chose was cool looking, had useful skills that helped take bosses on directly, and felt truly powerful.
When the game was released, I felt that Wolcen didn’t put the polish on before being presented. The items remain named only what kind of armor they are, like Sapphire ring or Utility belt. This made it difficult to determine what the possible stats were without picking up the item and inspecting it. I, like many that play the genre, enjoy the fully customized names on equipment which hint at the stat boosts granted with unique prefixes and suffixes.
Another design flaw that was not corrected before release was the character customization. You can choose what your sex and what your character looks like, which were not options in the EA, however during dialogue it only shows a shadow of the base male or female model. You can see the customization during the cutscenes which is nice, and you can wear two different gloves and pauldrons on each hand. Another customization that is nice is that my bow changes colors based on the main elemental damage it deals. If they would have simply tied these equipment customizations to the chat image, it would have made it feel like your personal character is in the game.
The glaring issue with this game is that shortly after release, the online servers crashed. These have not been repaired three days later and really disappoints those of us that wanted to play with our friends. Wolcen Studios promised to make a patch quickly, but until then, I’m stuck going through the story by myself. According to their news release, the online servers spiked upon release and took on over 60,000 players all at once. Their highest online presence during EA was below 2,000 so they were completely unprepared. As of the writing of this article, a brand-new release says that they had database problems with the online characters and many were wiped, missing items, or rolled back to previously completed quests.
The final piece was the Cryengine. Going with this engine made a lot of the graphics look dated. The cutscenes were choppy on my system which seems to be an optimization problem. I saw a few other reviews that stated that they noticed problems playing online as well, before it crashed. I feel that the older engine is really overburdened. Other studios still use this engine, but a heavily modded version of it.
In closing, I would say that Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem is a sleeper. I can’t recommend this game in its current state. The fighting and gameplay is cool, whereas the game itself has too many problems when there are plenty of other amazing games in the genre that I’d rather play.
Game play: 6
I had fun battling mobs, using the God-Avatar, and loot pinata effect. I wish I could have enjoyed with friends.
Solid sound in the game, creepy music, satisfying death sound effects, fully voiced.
Nothing special here, and even a few problems. There were a few times I couldn’t target enemies and had to rely on AoE skills to defeat them. Sometimes dodge doesn’t respond.
Everything looks pretty lack-luster here and even dated. The cutscenes are choppy and poorly rendered. Optimization problems cause studders and crashing.
Final Say: 4
Get another ARPG to fill your needs. There are many out there that do it better than Wolcen and you let you play with your friends. 4/10
Transformation powers are fun
Gameplay is tight, dodging grants invincibility frames
Decent story line of deception and double-crossing
Skill system shows promise, can learn every skill
Gems and dyes help customize equipment; customizations shown during cutscenes
Feels unfinished; character speech shows shadow of base male/female; items base name only (Studded Leather, Utility Belt)
Targeting sometimes doesn’t hit/is incapable of hitting
Boring between story segments
Glitchy at times, can dodge through the map limits in places; can’t get back
Online servers are not working; broke on release day