I am absolutely thrilled to finally play this game, and have no regrets. That being said, I find myself wanting some improvement in key areas, so I’d thought I’d share a few thoughts. Many of them have appeared elsewhere in the Forums, so I won’t hammer down on those too much:
The Thrall system is a blast, both for the idea of building a small army of loyal followers and for the sheer amusement factor of conking someone over the head and dragging them for miles. That being said, it could use touching up. Changing the equipment of your archers, fighters, and bearers is much appreciated, but it would be nice to have some other customization features, specifically name, posture, and behavior. Being able to have your Thralls named, as opposed to ‘Shemite Archer I,’ would be a nice touch for personalizing the game. Setting postures would be nice, as well (such as having Thralls in guard postures, relaxed postures, fight postures, or ‘relaxing’ with idle animations, etc.). Having all of the Thralls in a ready to fight stance somewhat kills the immersion, and being able to tell them to ‘stand down’ would be a nice feature.
Additionally (programming allowing: I understand it’s a fight to make an AI engine do what you want it to), being able to set up ‘patrol routes’ for Thralls would be a nice benefit, especially in the early parts of base construction when you can probably only manage a few Thralls at a time: having them circulate from point to point to cover a wider area would be nice.
Further use of Thralls would also be beneficial: in games where it’s possible to set up multiple bases (whether because several players are occupying a server, or the building degradation is deactivated), setting up Thrall caravans to circulate resources would be a nice touch (utilizing a combination of bearers, fighters, and archers). I would imagine the in-game engine would allow for it by use of a menu (much like slotting blacksmiths or cooks into stations), dropping your Thralls and resources into that menu, and initiating a ‘cooking’ timer (at the end of which, they appear at their location with your resources). Having fighters along can increase the chances of that caravan arriving with all of it’s goods (or bearers, for that matter).
One final point on Thralls, and it’s a silly one: the Wheel of Pain. It would be nice to have the Wheel of Pain be empty until a Thrall is placed into it, in which case, then you see the hapless Thrall pushing the damned thing around. It would serve as a nice visual cue of whether a Wheel is fully stocked or able to take more Thralls, having two ‘push’ animations can give a second visual cue of whether a Thrall is broken or not, and it just adds to the immersion factor the game. It would be fun. It’s not essential, but it would be a fun thing to see.
In addition, having a few more named or distinct NPCs would help to increase the breadth of the game-world. I imagine you have some more in the works, and these can be pushed with updates as they’re created, but I wanted to emphasize that this would be a very nice update.
The combat is enjoyable, but it still feels clunky in certain areas: the camera tends to shift to a strange ‘up-high’ position when auto-locking, which decreases visibility of the general battle space. Auto-locking feels oddly loose, and sometimes the hit connection for weapons (even outside of auto-locking) can feel fluid in a bad way. The dodge animation is also a bit too heavy: the speed of it is nice, but the distance it creates is really large. Utilizing the dodge for trying to flank an opponent, for instance, puts your character well outside of a sufficient attack distance, meaning that opponents are already squared up to you by the time you close with them again. Decreasing the dodge distance might tighten up combat and make it more tactical.
The dismemberment animations could also use some work. It’s very fun (and in perfect them with the setting) to see your opponents collapse into gory gibs, but it’s a bit jarring to see them fall down, disappear, and then reappear in pieces with a gore explosion. I would say remove that feature all together, and work towards a dedicated ‘execution’ system in a later update (where a player, with a sufficient counter or other action on a weakened opponent, can trigger a dedicated ‘execution’ animation that would be more seamless and watchable).
Additionally, in combat, the archery feature feels really off. While it’s decidedly more realistic to have a character lob an arrow instead of holding it forever, it makes aiming and combat with the bow feel almost like a crap shoot (especially when trying to gauge and get used to the arc of the arrow: it makes precision targeting with the bow feel difficult, and makes the weapon better suited to large, hard to miss targets). Something to tighten up the use of the bow, to make it a bit easier to use, would be a welcome update.
Finally (to harp on a point by Turkeysammich), animal husbandry would be nice. The explanation for why mounts are not available is a valid point, but utilizing animals as ‘pack’ animals, or (in Turkeysammich’s excellent post) acting as an additional resource point in a base, would go a long way in the game world.
Anyways, these are my initial thoughts. So far, I have enjoyed the game immensely, and look forward to seeing where it goes from here with future updates and additions!