When I first started playing Wayfinder last week, I was more than a little worried. A brief glance at the game’s reception showed that it was mostly negative, with only 37% of the 12,000+ reviews being positive. I went in expecting the worst. I was greeted with very few problems, as the majority of the issues players experienced at launch (mostly related to an inability for many to log in) had been rectified. While I approached with trepidation, I found myself very much enjoying Wayfinder’s blend of MMO trappings and action dungeon-crawling aspects. So what makes the game so appealing, and why am I going to keep playing it?
When Wayfinder begins, players can choose from one of three characters. I went with Niss, who I can only describe as a cross between a dark elf and a demon, with small red horns springing from her forehead. The two characters players don’t pick can be obtained later, so your initial choice is essential. Thankfully, I was instead taken with the way Niss plays. All characters can use any weapon but are most proficient with their default, at least unless you unlock proficiency for other kinds. But this leaves players to fight how they want to fight, even if their initial choice might not best align with their playstyle.
Niss fights with twin blades by default, and these are a fast, flashy set of weapons that can be used to parry enemy attacks and respond with a counterattack buoyed by invincibility frames. Daggers use a default attack combo that builds up to three charges. These charges can be used up for strong attacks that, in turn, fill up a bar that will allow you to use that weapon’s special. The default weapon Niss starts with unleashes several thrown daggers in every direction. All the game’s weapon classes have similar trappings. There are also a sword and shield, multiple types of heavy weapons, and guns too.
I was provided with two additional playable characters included with packs which can be purchased separately from the game or bundled with it. One such character is Venomess, who fights with a shotgun. This shotgun can be aimed in a manner identical to what you’ll find in most third-person shooters, and shots will grant charges for more powerful shots. Each character also has passives in addition to four unique abilities. Niss can unleash dashing strikes, jump into the air and throw three knives, apply shadow damage to enemies by dashing at them, and enter a state that allows her to use her dashing strikes as many times as she can during a 10-second window.
“I’ve been having quite the time parrying enemy attacks and hacking foes to pieces in Wayfinder, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the game improves with time.”
It doesn’t take long to unlock all of a character’s abilities, so there will definitely be appeal here for people who want to grab a bunch of characters to level them. This wouldn’t mean much if the gameplay loop wasn’t satisfying, of course. Wayfinder has zones much like those in an MMO, where you’ll find familiar quest types, such as defeating certain enemies or finding items. These quests often have multiple phases too, so they don’t feel quite as throwaway as they do in many similar games.
But the real meat of Wayfinder is in dungeons, where you’ll go on semi-randomized runs with up to two other players to accrue experience and items. You can run as many as these as you want, plus there are items you can use before hopping in that will change the run for all players. The combat is far better than I’d anticipated and can actually be challenging at times, especially during boss battles that aren’t averse to punishing players that aren’t up to the task.
I’ve been having quite the time parrying enemy attacks and hacking foes to pieces in Wayfinder, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the game improves with time. For anyone that cares, the lore is far more detailed than I’d anticipated, and the world looks more lively and colourful than I expected. Publisher Digital Extremes has spent years proving itself to be among the best of the free-to-play games-as-a-service publishers, and this game is no different. It doesn’t hurt that the game is developed by Airship Syndicate, who’ve made some fairly major games in the past that share Wayfinder’s penchant for vibrant, edgy comic book worlds. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got characters and weapons to level up. Got to keep that power rating high, after all.