The Waylanders cover

The Waylanders – Pre-release review

The Waylanders should end its early access this February 2nd to be released in final version. This news will not be the test that the game should have been given, but rather the warning that its potential buyers deserve.

 

A little reminder to start with

The Waylanders running charsThe story of The Waylanders begins in 2018 on Kickstarter when Gato Studio, its developer, gets the game funded on the crowdfunding platform. It must be said that the game invokes the names of Dragon Age Origins, Neverwinter Nights and Baldur’s Gate, which does not fail to arouse the curiosity of a number of nostalgic players. When the game was released in early access in the middle of 2020, it was a bit of a cold shower as the road to bring the project to an acceptable quality level was long. Here we are more than 20 months later.

Gods and men
On paper, The Waylanders had potential. King Ith’s men travel to a mysterious island to meet their gods. Things don’t go as planned and a mysterious curse falls on the region, corrupting men, animals, but also creatures of legend. It is up to the player, whose character is torn from the course of time, to put some order in all this, through several eras.

Character creation

Our hero comes from one of the four races of the game. Alongside the classic humans, we find races from Celtic legends such as werewolves, Mourian immortals and semi-Fomorians. This choice seems to have only a slight influence on the character’s resistance, at least in theory, since these particular resistances are not shown on the character sheet once in the game. Then comes the choice of a starting class, among 6 possibilities: Warrior, Guardian, Thief, Ranger, Wizard and Healer. We also note that the game offers you to choose a background, but the choice depends on your race and your class. As a result, some combinations have only one possible choice.

The Waylanders character designAs far as customization is concerned, it is rather minimalist. A few haircuts, a few color choices (skin, hair, eyes, beard for men) and that’s it. We would have liked a little more choice on the face itself or on the tattoos of the races that have them. It’s a pity. Finally, we have nine points to distribute to increase the basic score of our attributes. Six attributes are present (strength, agility, constitution, perception, intelligence, will), but their contribution to the character’s power is subtly different from what we are used to. While constitution unsurprisingly increases the character’s health points, willpower, for example, decreases the recharge time of skills, while intelligence decreases their costs. In short, this system aims to avoid having attributes that are too neglected by some classes. A warrior without willpower casts his skills less regularly while a mage with a low perception score makes fewer critical hits. Why not.

Bugs everywhere

Unfortunately, the practice doesn’t follow and the game system is totally rotten with bugs. On paper, the power of abilities depends on two stats: offensive and utility. Offensive influences damage while utility is more about healing and buff/debuff. The underlying idea is to offer a scaling of the power of spells independent of the character’s characteristics: it is globally your equipment that improves the power of your spells. Unfortunately, in practice, this scaling is totally broken. This is mainly visible on healing spells, whose power is much lower than the value indicated in the spell description.

But where we can be legitimately worried about the state of the game, is that this is only one example among the long list of bugs, missing or broken elements of our test version. Bugs that are, for some, present since the beginning of the early access. We’ll quickly mention the pathfinding that makes an enemy unable to reach you because another enemy is blocking the most direct path, the camera that is impossible to move when the game is paused or the impractical targeting of enemies. And we’ll not be mentioning the quests that can’t be completed because a script doesn’t trigger as it should.

the-waylanders-bossThe game has some arguments though. Even if its maps are very linear and small, The Waylanders offers some pretty good environments and it’s not surprising that the game emphasized this point in the trailer announcing the release date. Also, the Formation principle, which consists in grouping some characters to create a new temporary unit, more powerful and with its own skills, is quite original. The story could be another quality of the game if the dubbing managed to bring it to life, which is all too rarely the case. It’s flat and without relief most of the time, which doesn’t help to get into the game.

When things don’t feel right…

Some complained they were tired of the game crashing repeatedly after a fight, after a cinematic or even after a simple change of camera orientation. It is simply impossible to progress in these conditions. So it’s early to speak of the overall quality of the title, as this version seems far from being “finished”. We hope that this overview gives you an idea of the difficulties that some buyers may face at the release. We also hope that these problems will soon be a thing of the past, but in the meantime, consider yourselves warned.

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