Early Access Preview: The Waylanders – Packs Potential but Needs More Work

The Waylanders Update Roadmap

The Waylanders is one of the RPG titles that I have been eager to play ever since it was announced and luckily I was able to secure an Early Access preview copy of the game. Developed and published by GATO Studios, The Waylanders is a classic party-based RPG where each companion in your party plays a vital role. The developers of the game are not new to the industry as some of the people working on it have previously worked on some amazing franchises such as Dragon Age, Pillars of Eternity, and Mass Effect. This is our Early Access Preview of The Waylanders in which we explore the beautiful Celtic culture and kill some gods.

The Waylanders starts off with a detailed character creation screen which however is limited on the Early Access build I played. Still, I had access to over 4 races with unique abilities and 6 classes to choose from. Since I always play a front-line tank or a warrior, I went with the Human Warrior and chose Celtic Soldier as my background which emphasizes on combat specifics. I was pretty happy with my choice because I had a big hammer on my back and for the starting areas, it literally chewed through anything the game threw at me until I reached the first boss.

Early Access Preview The Waylanders

Right from the start of the game, you will notice how pretty the world of The Waylanders is. I love its art style and design. The world around you is really pretty to look at whether you are exploring the outside or sticking to the insides. The Lightning, reflections, and visuals everything in the game is top-notch. I can easily say the same for the audio design of the game since the soundtrack has been composed by Inon Zur, an Emmy award-winner, 3 times BAFTA nominee along with Fallout’s main theme composer.

You have the traditional character and inventory management at your disposal. You kill enemies and they drop goodies. You can also find some random bags and chests with goodies around you. Find a better item? Head over to the inventory and equip it. You can level up and earn XP points which are used for upgrading your stats. These stats define your build as you continue to invest in strength, intelligence, and more stats to make them better. You can also do this for everyone in your party as well. You can even control the AI characters in your party. This mechanic comes in handy if your main character is knocked out in combat.

Early Access Preview The Waylanders

If you are playing on the PC, you can select all of the characters in your party and issue commands to them like you are playing an RTS. This is quite a handy feature but if you prefer a more strategic approach to battle, press spacebar and you will enter the tactical pause mode. During this mode, you can issue commands to each of the companions including your own character, and then press exit to see your whole party execute your command and slaughter the enemies in one quick strategic attack. This is one great mechanics that is sadly more effective than the real-time combat of the game at this point.

I am afraid that at this point in my preview, I have more bad things to say about The Waylanders than good things. Or maybe it is because I was covering the game for such a long time and it looked amazing that I had extremely high hopes when I went in the game. Starting with the combat, while it certainly takes a brand new direction for RPG games, it needs a lot of work to be good in the final form. It is not too bad but it is not too good either. The game is playable and if you are a little careful in combat, you can easily survive most combat scenarios within your first try but at the end, it is more frustrating rather than giving you a sense of accomplishment. I tried playing the game with both the controller and the keyboard + mouse and I found it much easier and manageable with a controller.

While playing with the keyboard and mouse, I was missing most of the hits as the character would right past the enemies and the clicks were not always in the place because of the moving character. Sometimes the movement was jittery as well and the character would get stuck in some random spot on the ground completely ignoring the attacking enemies around it. This was too much during my very first boss battle with Lug, the Wolf God. There were certain black rocks on the right side of the screen and I forgot how many times my character got stuck there during the boss battle.

The AI companions do not provide much support as well during combat. Some of them just remained stuck for me while others who actually went into the fight with me kept spamming their basic attack without any special powers or abilities. I chose a companion character as a Healer so that she could heal me and the party members during combat but all she did was attack the enemies, take their aggro, and die quickly since she had little time. I do not remember a single time when she healed me or any other party member. Thankfully there plenty of healing items found on dead enemies that kept me alive throughout the fights especially the boss battles.

Early Access Preview The Waylanders

Another major mechanic that suffered from too many glitches and bugs was the sound. I am not talking about the in-game sound or the cutscenes but I am talking about the dialogue. The Waylanders features such as amazing voice cast and the voice acting in the game is solid. I loved hearing to the powerful voice acting of the actors but it was also glitchy as hell. Some of the dialogues had not audio and for some dialogues, the characters did not even move their mouth to show that they are talking. Cutscenes are rather abrupt and sometimes feel like you have missed a part of the story. This needs to be worked on as well. The cutscenes should be filled with lore and story elements but currently, they make you feel like you have actually missed a certain part of the story.

My only concerns with the game are with the gameplay and the AI of the game. I understand that the game is currently in Early Access and the developers are working hard on making the game better. Every time I logged on back into the game, I had to download an update that shows that the developer is working to make the game better and probably addressed many of the issues already but recently I saw an update that was adding another map to the game. I think, at this point instead of adding new content to the game, the developers should look forward to fixing the bugs, working on the combat, and making the gameplay as smooth as possible. Some of the bugs and glitches can be ignored considering the fact that the game is in Early Access and they will go away eventually but some of the problems such as the buggy combat system and the AI needs to be worked on ASAP since they are completely ruining the game. Also, RPGs on PCs are traditionally more favored towards playing them with keyboard + mouse but I found the game much more manageable while playing with an Xbox One controller.

The Waylanders packs a lot of potential and even with all the problems, I will still say that I am looking forward to the full release of the game. I loved the art style of the game and the enemy design is brilliant. The levels and the world look amazing around you. There is plenty of activity going on here and there however I will like it if the map would be a little more useful. Currently, apart from the local view, the map feels useless and does not tell you much about where you are. At this point, I will suggest that you wait for a little and give developers a little more time to iron some major glitches and bugs out of the game and also fix the problems with the AI and the combat. Still, if you want to give it a shot, you can explore the beautiful world of the game and experience the story which are probably the only two mechanics that kept me going.

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About the Author: Umair Khalid

Founder of GamesHedge, Umair enjoys a wide variety of video games ranging from RPGs to racing games. Currently busy with The Crew Motorfest and Way of the Hunter.

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