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Earlier this month, Gato Studio launched their Dragon Age-inspired time-travel RPG The Waylanders into early access. And with that in mind, we should probably check out what the current early access build has to offer. So, without further ado, here are some impressions:
Formations are one unique aspect of combat, though. Choose a formation leader, add the rest of your party, press F and everyone will act together as a group with a new, unified health bar. By building a protective shield wall or becoming a giant golem, this allows you to harness the strengths of your group. Formations differ depending on whom you've picked as leader of the formation. It's a fun idea, but finnicky enough to execute that you need to decide on a formation prior to a battle. Right now it's also hardly necessary. Combat definitely needs balancing, as it still feels as if every foe is of the same strength, meaning not very strong.
The Waylanders seems like an engaging take on the Celtic mythos, which rarely gets a spotlight in entertainment media as it is, and I’m intrigued to see where it ends up once it hits final release. GATO Studio is clearly invested in creating an experience alongside its community, and with a fresh take on RPG systems and a unique world, we’ll gladly keep checking back throughout early access to see how it’s shaping up.
However, it’s worth pointing out that early access is definitely not the ideal way to experience this game. The Waylanders’ real promise is in something fully formed, something that you can dig into with both hands, into which you can pour many hours solving its mysteries and mastering its teamwork-focused combat. That’s not possible in this early build, and it may be best to wait for this fruit to ripen a bit before biting into it yourself.
I have no trouble looking past the missing cutscenes, assets, sounds, features, bugs, and the lack of polish that’s synonymous with every Early Access game at launch. But even after setting these things aside, The Waylanders is nothing but a set of loosely held together scenarios that are neither very enjoyable nor technically stable.
Bad controls and keymapping, sound bugs, settings not being saved, events not triggering, bloated UI, clunky combat, poor AI, clumsy camera, and inaccurate pathfinding are the least of its problems. For me, the game was near-unplayable mainly due to the terrible performance on my GTX 1070 (the fps dropping to even single digits at times) and its unstable nature. I couldn’t go on 15 minutes without the game treating me with a crash or a freeze. Being the nasty save-scummer that I am, F5 is my favorite key in RPGs. Imagine my surprise when the game would treat me to a crash every time I reflex-press the key.
The Waylanders’ marketing sports an all-star lineup of talent from the minds behind the script, to the programmers and designers. It’s this amalgamation of talent that had me a little trepidatious going in. I worried that Gato Studio’s RPG would end up being a little less than the sum of its parts. Fortunately, The Waylanders nails expectations, offering a new and unique addition to the beloved genre.
The Waylanders could very well end up successful in its endeavor to stand on the shoulders of giants. It even has a former head writer from Telltale in charge of the story, as well as the Dragon Age series director acting as a consultant. Here’s to hoping that the game blossoms from these very promising seeds.