If you’re a big fan of the Diablo series, then likely you’re already well aware of the new top-down ARPG taking the scene by storm in 2020. That’s right. We’re talking about Wolcen!
Lovingly described as what would happen if Diablo 3, Path of Exile and a few other popular action titles had a baby in Cryengine – Wolcen has set forward some ambitious goals and offers a fun new world for players to discover and explore. And this is something that’s definitely well reflected in the original 79% positive review score on Wolcen’s Steam Store listing.
Big Bugs, Bigger Potential
Despite the overly positive initial reception, since launching – that review score quickly plummeted to the 56% that we see today. Why?
Well, the biggest point of concern for most players that have already spent countless hours dissecting the modern ARPG formula is the fact that Wolcen doesn’t seem to offer anything revolutionary at first glance. However, with fresh and up-to-date graphics, crazy build dynamics, and the simplicity of the game, most players weren’t all too offended.
While the game itself is relatively crisp and checks off most of the boxes you’d expect from a modern ARPG title, it only does that much. Compared to Path of Exile’s revolutionary skill-tree depth or Black Desert’s immense global mechanics, this game offers very little in the innovation department. And when you couple that with major game-breaking bugs that are still around more than a month and a half after it’s initial February 13, 2020 release – it’s easy to see why the gamer community isn’t all to keen on the title.
A Brighter Future Ahead
But, after playing the game for hundreds of hours, something quickly became very apparent. I just don’t think it’s fair to say that the game is dry, busted, or an utter dissapointment altogether.
Sure, admittedly, there are a number of bugs and challenges that you’ll have to work your way around for the time being.
However, there are countless hours of engaging gameplay, near-endless reliability, and a string of constant developer efforts to push the game towards perfection and its rightful place in the ARPG scene. And this is the sentiment that I think most of the community shares – even the most negative reviews of the game to date have cited that they’ll be keeping a close eye on the game, in hopes of returning to it soon.
So, What’s All The Hype About Wolcen?
Undeniably, despite not having reinvented the wheel when it comes to the age-old formula that makes ARPG games what they are – Wolcen does offer a few cool things that make this game stick out a cut above the rest for many players.
An Entirely Class-Less System
Let’s start with the fact that in Wolcen, you’re not limited to having to play any specific class. This opens up a wealth of options for how you want to tackle your build and gameplay down the line. And when this is combined with the fact that you can re-skill at will, you’re faced with a VERY dynamic playability component that’s seldom found in traditional ARPG titles.
When you create a character, you’re able to select that starting weapon you’ll go with, which dictates the style of auto-attack your character will be using – but besides that, you’re free to play as you please. In turn, this means you can very easily set up hybrid battlemage characters, or even tanky wizards, enchanters, and a whole bunch of other character types – it’s all entirely up to you.
A Rotating Passive Skill Tree?
Yup. Let’s face it – Wolcen’s passive skill tree doesn’t exactly compare to the whopping behemoth that PoE’s skill tree is (and it just got bigger in the Delirium League update). However, it rotates!
Once you’ve got the Gates of Fates interface opened up, you start out in the very center of the web of passives, just as you would in Path of Exile, and gradually spec your way outwards. However, this is where the rotation component comes in. Instead of being bound to follow the existing layout, you can actually rotate the two outermost rings of your skill-tree to build directly into another area of your choosing.
Ultimately, this means there are nearly limitless build-combinations that you can whip up at a moment’s notice.
Item Bound Active Skills
Due to the fact that you don’t start out locked to a specific class, you acquire active skills and abilities through items called Enneracts.
These nifty items drop from enemy mobs, bosses, or can be acquired by looting chests and various crates you’ll find around the world of Wolcen. In addition to this, if you prefer coin over exploration – you can buy Enneracts from the Archivist inside of Stormfall Palace.
Once you use an Enneract, the item is destroyed, and your character “learns” the skill. But, keep in mind that you can only use five active skills at the same time. And each one you’ve got on can be modified, levelled, and tweaked via the choice in modifiers that you make.
This adds a whole new dimension to how much you can customize your playstyle and how unique you can make it.
Fun & Engaging Endgame
If you’re anything like me, having played through thousands of hours of Diablo 3 and Path of Exile – I’m sure that at some point you probably grew pretty tired of running the same rifts and maps time and time again, with no particular end in mind.
Well, thankfully, Wolcen solves this problem!
Once you hit the Endgame stages of the title, you’ll come face to face with a huge array of regularly updated diverse missions, challenges, quests, and special rewards that you can cop – every single day. This system is pretty reminiscent (to a small degree, as it’s not entirely comparable) of the daily quests and worker empire that you’d find in a game like Black Desert Online.
In addition, you’ve got the crafting component that lets you polish up your gear and build with some insanely high ceilings – which means there’s quite a bit you’d have to do to really “max out.”
A GGG-Eque Development Schedule
Combined with the already stellar array of features penned out above, Wolcen’s dev team is making some pretty steep promises when it comes to regularly releasing new content such as new in-game systems, new acts, missions, playable events and so forth.
And they’re promising to do this on a rapid-fire release schedule, such as what you’d expect from Grinding Gear Games and their PoE update log.
Albeit, at the moment – the studio has released a statement that they’ll be working hard to prioritize fixing existing bugs and improving their quality assurance processes over releasing new content at the moment.
However, in the long run – there are plans to implement systems like player owned housing and a wealth of engaging new content that would really put Wolcen into a league of it’s own compared to other ARPG’s. We’ll just have to see how it will all come to play out!
Wolcen - Lords of Mayhem
All in all, it's a very promising recent ARPG that has a lot to offer to the already blooming genre. Despite a few kinks in the path to a successful release and a relatively disappointment community - Wolcen remains one of the most exciting ARPG titles in 2020 due to just how much astounding potential it has in the coming future. We'll be keeping an eye on Wolcen under a close lens to see whether or not it lives up to that potential. With boundless skill systems, a character-less and dynamic play-style and many amazing systems in the works - Wolcen could easily surpass every ARPG in existence at the moment. But, will it?
- Amazing character-less playstyle
- Dynamic passive skill-tree & unique active skill system
- Wealth of replayability features to keep players immersed
- Crisp & modern graphics
- Amazing line-up of promised future content implementations
- Very big bugs at launch that crippled the game
- Big Bugs, Bigger Potential 0%