Wayfinder is an upcoming third-person action-adventure MMORPG created by Airship Syndicate. While Airship Syndicate is known for making games like Ruined King: A League of Legends Story, Darksiders Genesis, and Battle Chasers: Nightwar. They have partnered with Digital Extremes, Creators of Warframe to create a whole new online world. The game has undergone multiple playtests and closed betas as they prepare for its early access launch in the summer. With that being said, we have been permitted to not only play the betas but also share a sneak peek into what you can expect when it launches into early access.
A Whimsical, Varied Fantasy World
Wayfinder takes place in Evenor, a world ravaged by a mysterious force called “The Gloom”. The story of Wayfinder is still a work in progress and only serves to shuttle the player from one activity to another. While also explaining bits of the cataclysmic event that took place in the game’s world. But there are interesting characters and side quests that make the world feel very lived in. Such as Omen, the leader in Skylight, the main player hub. Lord Halar, is a character who opens up upgrade paths for the player. As well as various vendors inside Skylight like Arsenal or Venge the Goblin.
Some side quests that stick out in memory are having to kill a boss and lay his sword to rest and rummage through the rubble of a destroyed home for momentos for a guard, which then leads to me fighting a world boss for revenge on his behalf. But there are also several other side quests found throughout the world, with easier ones like killing groups of enemies or collecting supplies for a character outside of Skylight.
When you are outside of Skylight, you will engage in various activities in the shared online world of Evenor. In my time playing I was only able to reach the end of the main content path available in the Highlands. The Highlands is a lovingly crafted and varied open-world area. With ruins, spacious interiors filled with enemies like the Shrikes, or goblins, and dangerous wildlife like bears or giant birds. When exploring from one encampment to another for main story purposes, I kept finding random world events to partake in.
Such as one where you have to destroy a giant Gloom shard while taking out waves of enemies that end in a boss encounter. As well as a tear in reality that leads into a small area that has a boss to take down. Most encounters will have a few enemies outside of these world events, while world events will need cooperation from nearby wayfinders.
The open world feels very packed to the brim with fun activities and hard world bosses as well. I encountered a group of goblins that summoned an unkillable boss. Indicating that there will be challenging activities for players to engage in once they get very far in Wayfinder.
I enjoyed exploring the interconnected caverns, journeying through long riverbeds, ziplining over large gaps, and walking along the beach to take down fish people. It is the closest an MMORPG has felt to World of Warcraft in terms of its aesthetic and what can be explored in the game.
Various Matchmade Activities in Wayfinder
Wayfinder, similar to all online games, will feature a ton of matchmade activities. There are those that feel reminiscent of Destiny 2‘s strikes, with a mix of Diablo’s randomization for the layout of each run. This makes each activity outside of the Hunt’s, which is focused on taking down a raid-like boss, feel fresh. But each run will not just be long corridors filled with enemies. There are special activities to do in each of these runs. Such as summoning several mini-bosses to get rare resources. But you can also change up the difficulty for each activity you do with the “Gloom Dagger”.
The Gloom Dagger will allow you to fight tougher enemies to make each activity more replayable since you can get more experience points off of them. As well as adding an imbuement to each run. There were a handful of these available that offer some unique changes to every activity. Gloomtouched for instance will make enemies explode on death and grow larger and be more ferocious when they are near death. As well as Chaos, which will make every chest found in each activity drop bombs you have to dodge away from.
There was a decent selection of bosses to down in Hunts as well. Such as a giant spider that becomes invulnerable and hides on the ceiling while you kill ads that it summons. As well as a giant ball of slime that once you take away all of its HP, will summon three small slimes that can revive it. Each fight felt unique and had the right amount of difficulty for the power level required of them.
Completing each run of every activity will give you rewards, but you lose some if you die a lot. This incentivized me and my teammates to revive each other instead of just wiping.
I do hope that the strike-like activities get better final encounters to make the end feel more interesting than a group of Gloom enemies and a mini-boss. But they do have more to do than the hunts. Considering there are mini activities to do within them, as well as having so much to explore and resources to find in each one.
How Wayfinders and Their Gameplay Feel
I played primarily as Niss the rogue-like elf character in this beta. But spent some time with Senja the heavy axe user, as well as Wingrave in a previous beta. Each wayfinder feels distinct from one another. Not only in looks and role to play in activities. But how they feel to play in the moment-to-moment gameplay and their abilities. Starting with Wingrave, he is a tank-like character with a sword and shield. He has the ability to taunt enemies, create invulnerable areas with his ultimate and use his shield to nullify most damage from enemies.
He is designed to be the frontline of the group to help take down bosses and groups of enemies. His sword slings are slow but his defenses more than make up for it. Senja in contrast uses her heavy axe to deal focused damage to enemies. With an ability to build up an even mightier blow and deal massive damage to an unfortunate foe. As well as use brawler-like abilities for extra focused damage. While Niss feels like she is dancing to the rhythm of her daggers. She feels like the most fluid of every character and has abilities that can take out small groups of enemies.
Every character can earn skill points to upgrade their abilities. With Niss, I used two skill points in her shadow dash ability to pierce through enemies and gain more power with each use. Each upgrade feels impactful as a result. There is also a weapon mastery system that allows you to increase the power of each weapon that you use. However, you can also use different weapons with each character. Niss can use a heavy axe, Wingrave can use a gun and Senja can use daggers if you enjoy those move sets.
I for one enjoyed primarily just using the normal wayfinder and weapon combos as they came. Niss is my favorite since she feels very powerful as a solo player. But Senja hits like a truck and in matchmade activities felt like a major asset to the team. I do wish that the sword and shield felt quicker and there was more impact to the dagger hits. As small goblins would be unflinching to multiple hits in a row.
Technical Performance, UI, and Graphics
I played Wayfinder on my PC and Steam Deck. My PC is comprised of an RX6600, a Ryzen 5 2400g, 16 gigabytes of RAM, and an M.2 NVMe SSD. Wayfinder ran wonderfully at 1080p and 60fps most of the time on my PC. The game features FSR and I could not see any difference in the graphics using it unless I went to balanced or performance. The menus are simple and easy to navigate as well. The UI is also very non-invasive and waypoints for quests are precise. But the mini-map and regular map look a little imprecise when navigating the world.
The game loads pretty quickly as well. The longest I had to wait when loading in Wayfinder was under 15 seconds. The Steam Deck version also ran wonderfully with on the FSR performance mode with some lowered settings. But the game would sometimes dip into the 30fps range and below depending on what I was doing in Wayfinder. But one thing that was disappointing was the music. The tracks feel very lackluster and only compliment the game, rather than escalating it.
I found very few problems in my time playing the game. There were no crashes in this recent beta, but I would experience some stutters when the game would load in new assets so I had to turn down draw distance on both the Steam Deck and my PC. There was a consistent bug where I would see idle character models of players when playing in the Highlands when the players themselves were further away. It was an interesting bug and the only one I ever found. Aside from that it has been a squeaky-clean experience in Wayfinder.
Closing Remarks on the Wayfinder Closed Beta
When it comes to online games, there is always potential players that can see in it. As well as a passionate vision from the developer players take notice of. That being said, Wayfinder is the closest an MMORPG has felt to content-complete before it has even launched. It is incredibly polished and very fun to play. The game’s aesthetic is lovely and the wayfinders are wonderful to play as. Everything to experience in the Highlands, as well as the many matchmade activities to do, are incredibly engaging. Its potential is already being tapped into months before its ready to launch into early access.
However, I do hope that the story can begin to feel more personal and engaging to make players hungry for more content drops. To add, I hope that the music can feel more epic in future content. I hope that there are more massive environments to explore than the highlands later on in the game’s lifespan. But for now, what is here feels very realized and ambitious, and I am eager to jump back in this summer.
Wayfinder launches into early access this summer with no specific month or day given at this time. It will be available on the PlayStation 4|5, and PC via Steam with no word on availability for other platforms at this time.