Wolcen Lords of Mayhem is a hack-and-slash action role-playing game developed by Wolcen Studio and is set to launch today on Steam, officially coming out of Early Access. Wolcen Lords of Mayhem has come a long way. First announced on Kickstarter almost 5 years ago, fans and backers have been patiently waiting for its release. Now with 5 years worth of development, is the game able to live up to the promises made on Kickstarter? Read on the find out.
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Wolcen Lords of Mayhem Preview
Genre: Action Role-Playing Game
Developed by: Wolcen Studio
Published by: Wolcen Studio
Release date: February 13, 2020
Platforms: PC via Steam
In Wolcen Lords of Mayhem, players will take the role of an orphan, saved and trained by Gerald Heimlock, a Grand Inquisitor for the United Republic of Mankind. You have been drafted alongside your childhood friends Valeria and Eldric into the Republic’s military academy. You three quickly earned the nickname of “Children of Heimlock” due to the special treatment (the bad kind), and merciless training you’ve received from the iconic leader. With time, you turned into supernatural killing machines (be it monsters and heretics), lethal weapons put to good use by the Purifiers, the army in charge of defending the Republic against the supernatural. Purify in Sacrifice!
The game begins with you participating in Operation Dawnbane, charged with clearing out the Flayer Raiders that threaten to halt the operation. In the middle of the battle, something supernatural occurs, and as you investigate the phenomenon, you find out that a demon was behind it. While battling the demon something within you awakens and soon after the Republic’s Purifiers are now after you. The hunter becomes the hunted.
The Wolcen team has promised a game with deep lore, and they even boast that if newcomers don’t stay for the loot and deep RPG elements, then they surely will for the story itself. And so far, I have to agree with them. I’m currently in the middle of Chapter 2 and I’m really impressed and very drawn into the story. Unlike similar Action RPGs like Path of Exile or Warhammer: Chaosbane, that didn’t really have a good story supporting them, Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem is different. The game has three acts or chapters of story content, and so far I’ve sank 12 hours into the campaign itself, and I’m quite excited to see how the story will continue to unfold.
Wolcen Lords of Mayhem is an Action role playing game and it’s gameplay is very similar to other ARPGs such as Diablo, Path of Exile, Warhammer: Chaosbane, and Torchlight. However, it does have some differences that sets it apart from the rest, and I want to start with the obvious. The U.I. or the layout of the HP bar and skills.
It’s good to see that they drop the spherical health meter that seems to be in all ARPGs. Here, you’ll have a rectangular bar that sits at the bottom of the screen and shows you all of the information you need, in a neat and easy to understand manner. It shows your Health / Force Bar, Primordial Essence (we’ll get into that later), Willpower / Rage Bar, your equipped potions and skills. Now isn’t that better?
Classless Character Development
The game features a Free Character or Classless development system. Unlike other ARPGs, Wolcen Lords of Mayhem doesn’t have any classes to speak of, and players are free to build characters however they see fit. During character creation you’ll be asked to pick between 3 starting weapons. A sword, a bow or, a staff. This only gives you your starting skills and weapons, but does not restrict you from using other weapon types. The player is free to use any skills they want, but skills are restricted to 3 attack types that correspond to the weapon you use. Melee, Ranged and Spell.
To give you some idea, let’s say you are currently wielding a greatsword, you are only allowed to use skills that attack in melee such as Anvil’s Woe or Wrath of Baapheth. Or if you’re using a bow, skills that attack at range are the ones you can use such as Wailing Arrows or Avenger Autoturret. There are a total of 11 weapon types found in the game and those are Axes, Battleaxe, Bows, Catalyst, Daggers, Greatswords, Pistols, Swords, Maces, Staves and Warhammer.
But what really blew my mind was the ability to use multiple skills from 2 different attack types at the same time by dual wielding 2 one-handed weapons. For example, a sword and catalyst or pistol and shield. I found this out about 5-6 hours in, because I was so stuck with the thinking that warriors only uses melee skills and mages uses spells. So now you can play as a hybrid character with a Range/Spell build or Melee/Spell build so on and so forth. My favorite at the moment is a Melee/Range hybrid build that lets me use two of my favorite skills in the game. Wrath of Baapheth which is basically Kratos’ Blade of Chaos, and Deathgazer Railgun because who doesn’t want a railgun!?!
On the armor side, you are able to equip armors from helmet to boots but there a total of 4 types of Armors. Sorcerer, whose primary stat is Force Shield, Rogue– Health primary and Force Shield secondary, Bruiser– Health primary and Resistance Shield secondary, and Heavy whose primary stat is Resistance only.
Another interesting bit about the skills is that skills also level up. The more you use a certain skill the higher the level it can reach and every now and then you’re awarded with modifier points which you can use to unlock skill modifiers that makes your already awesome skill even more awesome. For example many skill modifiers offers upgrades that reduces cost of use, so now you can spam that skill more often. Another unique modifier is for the Avenger Autoturret skill. At level 17 it can now rotate by itself and auto target enemies. Talk about convenience.
You can also forcibly level up your skills by using Primordial Affinity. To access this service find Demetra, the same NPC that sells Enneract. Primordial Affinity is gained from selling Enneract to Demetra and through using Enneract or skills that you’ve already learned. Random skills or Enneract are obtained from looting defeated enemies and can also be purchased for 2000 coins per skill.
Leveling up in Wolcen Lords of Mayhem is pretty straight forward. You kill enemies, earn experience points and level up. In the story campaign questing is done through the main quest line but sometimes when you’re wondering around map, you can find smaller areas that you can enter that are represented by a light green staircase icon on the mini-map. Once entered a new objective or side quest mission is highlighted under your current objective, such as “Kill the (area boss)” or “Kill the enemies in the area”. When the objective is completed you will be rewarded with some experience points and gear in loot.
When you level up, you are given 10 attribute points which you can then distribute it into four attributes those are Ferocity, Toughness, Agility and Wisdom. Ferocity affects the overall critical chance for both (physical) attack and spells. Toughness affects your maximum health and maximum force shield. Agility affects your attack speed and your spell casting speed and lastly Wisdom affects your status ailment chance for both (physical) attack and spells.
There is no one way of doing this and you can create just about any build you like in any manner you see fit. You can literally dump everything in Agility and have lightning fast attack speed and not worry about your damage dwindling because you gain percentage bonus damage from the amount of points you put into that certain attribute. So players are free to experiment with builds, and if you didn’t like it you can reset Attributes straight from the character sheet page itself. Just make sure that you have enough coins because resetting isn’t cheap or at least during the earlier parts of the game.
Another thing you get when you level up is a point on the Gates of Fates or your Passive Skill Tree. In this passive skill tree you can further personalize your character. The skill tree has 21 themed classes and you are free to add points in any direction you want. The skill tree also has a rotating ring that lets you choose how you want to progress your skill tree. For example if you spend points in a tree but you don’t like the next tree progression, can you simply rotate to your chosen tree and build away. This of course has consequences, and you’ll need to be careful if you rotated away from an active tree because it may cause some points you place to become inactive. But don’t worry, just like the Attributes, if you don’t like your current passives, you can also reset them in the character sheet page. But this uses Primordial Affinity instead of coins.
Wolcen Lords of Mayhem’s combat is fast paced, dynamic, responsive and very enjoyable, and the gameplay is similar to the Action-RPGs I mentioned earlier. Ultimately, it’s a hack-and-slash game where you go through hordes of enemies, unleashing your deadly skills and slaying them as fast as possible. When wielding a melee weapon, combat is up close and personal, while playing with a ranged weapon such as a bow or a pistol makes you a really agile player, controlling the battlefield from afar. Using spells, you can control the power of the elements, launching fireballs, hurl shards of ice, summon zombies and golems, and shoot lightning out of your hands while screaming unlimited power and so much more.
There are three resources that you will be using in the game. Rage for physical skills, Willpower for spells and Stamina for dodge-rolls to avoid danger or to move faster. Rage and Willpower interact with each other when used and is referred to as the Resource Opposition System. Basically the more you use a certain resource, the faster the other resource fills. This lets you use skills from 2 attack types and let’s you mix and match skills in your load out to fine tune your own play style. It takes a minute to get used to, but it allows for some great combinations.
This is what really set Wolcen apart from the rest. Aspect of Apocalypse lets you temporarily shapeshift into a primordial being or your apocalypse form. There are 4 Aspects of Apocalypse: Aspect of Dawn, Aspect of War, Aspect of Infinity and Aspect of Flesh. Near the end of Chapter 1 you are able to unlock one of the Aspects but other Aspects can be unlocked later in the game and can be switched at any time once unlocked.
You can transform into an Aspect once you have enough Primordial Essence, and you fill this meter by killing monsters. While transformed your primordial essence depletes over time and when you use skills or when taking hits. When fully depleted, you will revert back to your human form. This is basically your ultimate (press R to transform) and your go to “oh shit” button. If you use this wisely you might be able to unlock the achievements for not dying throughout the 3 chapters. Well except for chapter 1 when you don’t have access to this, and you just have to git gud.
Audio and Visual
Let me start this section by saying that Wolcen Lords of Mayhem is a beautiful game with stunning visuals. The environments are unique and varied, the lighting in the game is very impressive and probably some of the best I’ve seen around. Particles and effects from the skills are just satisfying to see and sometimes when you crit, enemies explode into a bloody mess which is simply gratifying. Wolcen Studio really brought out what the Cry Engine could do in terms of visuals, and the game is a lot better than most of the similar games in the same genre.
That being said, the game is not without problems. Minor bugs such as after killing an enemy the corpse would spaz out before disappearing into the ground. Sometimes an enemy would just pop out of existence after being defeated, and enemy textures did not render properly. And the talking animation is lacking or non existent. However, all these are minor problems, and don’t really take away from your gaming experience.
On the audio side of things the game’s soundtrack, played by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra is nothing but a delight to listen to. The sound effects are immersive and on point. The voice acting is good and is well cast and the voice actors chosen for each character are just perfect for their roles. I especially enjoyed the banter between the main character and Valeria.
Wolcen Lords of Mayhem is an impressive game and it’s actually quite hard to believe that this is the first game by Wolcen Studio, which is a team that consists of only 13 people. Wolcen Studio was right to boast about their game’s combat, deep RPG mechanics and story. The combat is addicting, the classless character development proved to be a breath of fresh air in this genre. The combat is enhanced with deep rpg elements that gives players the tools to create unique characters through the passive skill tree without being overly complicated. And the story, while not the most unique I’ve ever seen, is certainly good. I was really entertained with it, and it kept me interested throughout the campaign.
My overall experience with the Wolcen Lords of Mayhem was an enjoyable one. The minor bugs that I mentioned earlier are not a big deal, and should be easily fixed with a couple of patches. If you enjoy games like Diablo or Path of Exile, give this a try you will probably love it. As I mentioned earlier the game launches today on Steam, and has a price tag of 29.99 USD.
If you enjoyed this preview you should check out more in Deadhaus Sonata First Look: Legacy Of Kain 2020 Edition and Final Fantasy VII Remake Preview. Stay tuned for more Wolcen Lords of Mayhem and check out the wiki for all the latest.