Had some issues posting on Reddit, so popping it up here instead…! I had some images to show things, but I’m not allowed to post those.
Funcom has once more made a game that I greatly enjoy! I’ve actually had CE since launch, but my old PC struggled to run it due to a lack of SLI support, but with my new PC it runs really well and it’s a lot of fun. Great work! Love it. I especially like:
- The world is beautiful and varied, despite the relatively limited size!
- The heavy exploration focus with limited hand-holding. There is a lot to discover!
- I like all the nostalgic callbacks to Age of Conan, both musically and from emotes!
- Some of the encounters and dungeons feel almost MMO like, which feels nice in a survival game.
- The base combat system. I particularly like how the blades have hit boxes that can strike enemies if you move right and twirl some. I like how it feels very momentum based, even if you sometimes get into those awkward situations where you jump around an enemy if you don’t lock to target. But I actually prefer not to lock to targets and move the hit box of the weapon more freely to strike more at once. The mod support is great. Shout out to the amazing modders out there too!
- Love the respec mechanic!
- Love climbing stuff!
Generally it has just been a very enjoyable experience to delve into the Exiled lands, gather materials and building awesome stuff, while fighting monsters and “recruiting” thralls. I do have some, hopefully, constructive feedback, mostly related to some UX oversights and combat.
I should preface the feedback by saying that I play on a modded private PvE server. I’m just not a big PvP’er and find a lot of joy in exploring and especially in building awesome stuff.
The UI styling
Entirely a personal preference matter. I am personally just not a big fan of the color palette and the general feeling the GUI presents. To me it feels a bit like a love-child between Sin City graphic novels and windows 3.11. I don’t hate the GUI style, but I’m not overly fond of it and that does matter in a game where you spend a lot of time in these menus. Too much capitalization and a sharp font with a lot of straight lines and perfectly square boxes. It just gives me too much of a data management feeling, which takes my mind off the overall fantasy feel of the game. Some of the icons and buttons just seem like they fit more in an operating system or something.
But I know! This is entirely a preference. I would love a UI overhaul though. It also makes a game feel kind of fresh!
Some UX issues
There are some very minor, very nit-picky, UX issues. But hey! Look at it this way. The fact that I’m being picky about these small issues means that it’s a pretty great product overall!
There is a consistency issue in the in-game menu. When you are in the “Attributes”, “Feats”, “Stats” and “Clan” menues, the icons at the top are red with a golden-glow outline.
When you are under “journey” or “Map” they are just red with a slight golden line above and below.
I personally like the “Journey” and “Map” style best and the glow outline isn’t necessary from a UX standpoint.
I find there to be a UX issue in the crafting menus when it comes to visible choices. Once you level up and gain a lot of feats, the “Building materials” category is a pain to navigate.
It would be nice to divide it into something like “Decorations”, “Building Parts” and “Crafting stations”. It would make it easier to go through. I experience some frustration having to find certain things. The search box does help a lot, but it would be nice to have those things sorted better.
There are quite a few instances of lacking information. I guess part of it can be boiled down to the focus on exploration and less hand-holding, but some things do divert from fun to annoying. This happens under “Feats”, where most are fine, but like with “Eye for Injury” where crippling effects are more severe, in what way? The last longer? Move slower? “Iron-hand muscles” is another: “You gain a natural resistance to damage”. Well what does that mean exactly? I get some extra armor? 5-10% damage resistance from all sources? Most of the feats are fine! But going through them to make sure the necessary information is there would be nice.
However, the most frustrating one for me is when crafting weapons and armour. When you visit e.g. the armourer and click on a piece of armour, the name, description and requirements are visible in the the bottom of the crafting menu.
That piece of UI is kind of messy. It feels like the icons were just thrown in there. But worst of all, none of the information about armour stats, heats or attributes are available. You could boil this down to ”craft them to find out!”, but the information is available in the ”feats” menu.
Most of the information is available, but you have to close down the armour station and open feats to find it. That’s really bothersome. It would also be nice to have the attribute bonus listed.
When picking up items, the scroll wheel is nice enough, but it would be even better, if I could just click 1, 2, 3 etc. when hovering over a lootable mob to pick the item in the respective slot from the pop-up menu.
Another issue I had was not being told what recipes you learn when reading a book, but you fixed that, which is awesome!
If you’re like me and like to build with the aesthetic feeling in mind, you tend to become a bit pedantic about placements, but the third/first person camera can make it really difficult to place things right. Especially some of the larger and more expensive buildings, not all of which can be picked up again. I’m not sure what the solution is. Perhaps some kind of overhead view possibility when putting things down or the camera becoming a child of the object being placed to rotate around could work. It’s just annoying in those situations where you built an expensive object and place it wrong, then losing most the materials to tear it down and rebuild it.
Generally, the fact that you can’t pick up some items again is kind of annoying, but I do get it. But I still think it would be nice if it had a timer. So if you accidentally misplace an object or a foundation, you can pick it up the first five minutes before locking down or returning the full amount of materials the first five minutes. That would make misclicks or the difficult placements far less frustrating.
Go easy on me. It’s entirely from a PvE perspective. Overall I really enjoy the combat. I think the simplicity of the system is a boon to it. That being said, it can quickly become very repetitive and lacking in variation. Each mouse-button having an interval 4-attack combo that can be intertwined works really well I think. But once you’ve found the weapons you like, that quickly becomes a very limited form of combat. The only real variation is found in changing the weapons you use from time to time.
Rather than ”just” adding more weapons with new combos, I would love to see a third combo button added to allow a little deeper complexity. Maybe make certain combinations yield certain status effects or just combat effects. I know that’s a lot of animation work, but I think it would really deepen the combat.
Another way I’d love to see the combat deepen is by allow more weapon combinations. I really enjoy pairing the shield with different weapons to see the effects. It would be fun if you could mix all (or most) of the weapons in weird ways. Going full barbarian with two axes, an axe and a sword or even axe and shield. Allowing more crazy mixes and thus combos would be fun…!
I would really like a stagger cooldown. Some attacks, even light attacks, cause a staggering effect that pushes you back some and disables you from attacking or doing anything. That’s fine, but the fact that you can be completely stunlocked by repetitive strikes can get really frustrating. Yes, you can dodge, but for someone like me who likes to go tanky and more in your face, it gets quite annoying. A possible alternative would be to make it an e.g. Vitality attribute effect. That only heavy attacks stagger or some such.
You can’t really bring a shield down to stop staggering either. You have to dodge when it happens. It would be nice to allow the shield to get up during it also. Allow for more playstyles, you know?
Making sneaking viable in PvE with some backstabbing fatalities would be cool. How neat would it be to crawl over the walls of New Asgarth with a hunting party and sneak around backstabbing everyone?
In PvE group content, some kind of taunting mechanic would be nice. Again, I like to build lots of vitality over damage, but with most bosses and mobs randomly attacking your group members, it becomes kind of pointless, because if I can’t make them focus on me and the enemy attacks the high-damage-low-health members villy-nilly anyway, I may as well just have high damage too. Because my high health means nothing. Some enemies sometimes seem to lock onto you, if they can’t get a hit in and you keep the shield up. But other times they just randomly switch. I’ve found it difficult to discern a pattern. But again, some kind of addition that would allow for other playstyles and having those playstyles synergize would be great.
Combat animation issues
This is probably my biggest issue with combat right now. As a shield user, it particularly pertains to the knock-down mechanics. When you knock down an enemy, they will animate flying on the ground. That’s fine, but what comes after is an issue. Sometimes they randomly teleport in front of you in the middle of an attack. At other times they do that thing where they slide/hover across the ground in the middle of the ”getting back up” animation or with a new attack. It breaks up the flow of combat a lot and it’s quite annoying.
What seems to be the issue is that the way in which animations execute after one another. When an enemy is knocked down, they seem able to move or initiate a new attack before the ”getting back up” is finished, resulting in the floating/teleporting issues. An algorithm needs to be put in place to make sure they can’t execute ontop of each other. It could possibly also simply be because the ”getting back up” animation time doesn’t match the actual time the game designers balanced the knock-down time to be. Either way, it would be nice to see it fixed.
It would be great to see more. You have some, but mostly the world building seems centered around making nice locations where people inhabit them or just interesting landmarks. You do have the ghostly figures popping up and some notes here and there, but it would be nice to just see more scenes to discover. They don’t have to reward anything other than you as a player exploring them and thinking out what could have happened there.
Wowser. That became long. Probably dull, but hey! Hope it’s useful feedback. Feel free to add in your opinons and all! These are simply mine.
… Also … A decoration that lets us hang up unconscious thralls would be awesome…!