Thursday , May 23 2024

PAX East 2023 – ‘Wayfinder’ Preview

One of the earliest appointments I scheduled at PAX East was to see the upcoming PC and PlayStation Online RPG Wayfinder from Airship Syndicate. I had heard good things about it and liked the Wildstar meets Overwatch vibe I was getting and was excited to try the game out myself.

Once I arrived I was lucky enough to sit with a member of the team, AJ LaSaracina, for a quick chat about the game and why the team was so excited to let the world check it out. He was very passionate about the game and the community they hope to form around Wayfinder.

LaSaracina discussed at length the key facets of the game they are focusing on, namely the characters, the combat and the story integration. As we chatted he highlighted that as in Overwatch the characters in Wayfinder are distinct, fully realized and voiced and can be customized to suit any playstyle as anyone can use any of the weapon sets.

We discussed the similarity as well to the game Genshin Impact, another character-focused RPG. He did acknowledge a number of similarities but in the case of Wayfinder all characters are unlockable via gameplay if players choose, not locked behind gems and loot boxes.

It was obvious to me in chatting with LaSaracina that he and the team are very proud of the game they are developing and have big plans to make it accessible and fun to play as new items and characters are unlocked. Monetization will be handled similarly to Warframe (Digital Extremes is a partner in the development) with characters and cosmetics purchasable if not unlocked already.

From talking to him and other members of the team and then experiencing the game directly, I found Wayfinder is designed to be a game that is free to play and fun to explore and enjoy without needing to buy anything. After trying the game over a few sessions, I can easily say the gameplay loops are varied and, most importantly, fun.

The game is beautiful and full of personality. The main hub I started in was well populated, intricate and sprawling. Quickly I chose a character, as did a couple of other folks joining my party, and ventured into the world.

Wayfinder, as mentioned, is a character-driven online RPG, described as MMO light by the developer I was speaking to. They say this because there is a main hub where 20-30 characters can gather, but dungeons or main story sections can only be played with at most three characters. Solo play is possible but partnering up is preferred.

Matchmaking was easy, whether just being plopped into a group or quickly inviting a couple of friends to join, and once teamed up we checked out a couple of scenarios. One was a monster hunt and the other locating a lost caravan.

In both instances the team and I were thrust into an instance (through a cool portal mechanic) and followed pretty standard online RPG markers to our goal. Traversal was fast and enjoyable with quick dashes and jumps allowing most areas to be accessible.

Combat though is where I had the most fun in Wayfinder. I mainly played as Niss the Shadow Dancer but the game’s ability to let any character use any weapon let me customize her the way I wanted.

Armed with twin blades I used Niss to hack, slash, teleport and dodge attack waves of enemies quickly and in style. The others took a tank style and support character and it was fun to see each of us discover the different playstyles of the equipped characters.

In my demo time I scratched the surface as well of the game’s options for customizing dungeons with a risk/reward system as well as enhancing weapons, armor and the look of the characters. The hour or two I had to check out Wayfinder was far too short to truly see the deep systems in their full glory, but what I saw got me incredibly excited for more.

My time meeting the team and demoing the beta build of Wayfinder was a highlight of PAX East for me and left me wanting to get some detailed time with the game. Thankfully there will be another closed beta period coming up very soon in April and an Early Access release planned for May on PC and PlayStation platforms.

About Michael Prince

A longtime video game fan starting from simple games on the Atari 2600 to newer titles on a bleeding edge PC I play everything I can get my hands on.

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