Yesterday, Wolcen finally emerged from development hell into a full launch state. Wolcen — going then by the title of Umbra — was successfully funded via Kickstarter June 15th 2015. The game has shifted significantly over this time, and not always in ways that seemed immediately positive.

But we’re here now. A long way from the original story being told in the Alpha version of Act 1. A long way (thankfully) from the technical betas that followed the alpha (…Yeah), to the product we have before us now. Which is (if you’re wondering) quite a beautiful Action RPG, landing somewhere between Diablo 3 and Path of Exile on the complexity curve. A fact which has won over a good number of people. I’m not yet yet sold on their approach to everything but there is some really clever systems going on here.

Wolcen’s Launch Trailer

And truthfully — it’s pretty dang impressive when it’s working. It’s that qualification though which can be a bit of a killer.

The servers have been experiencing significant issues since it came out. Ostensibly due to load, which is possible. At peak concurrent players today, it would have been comfortably in the top 10 most played games on Steam. The Wolcen development team have been hard at work on adding additional capacity, initially to the actual game servers and later to the authentication platform itself. This, in addition to working on hotfixes to improve efficiency of the processes involved weighing everything down.

And?

Something that is perhaps a bit of a surprise in this day and age: The online component being down doesn’t knock Wolcen entirely out for the count.

Unlike Diablo 3, Anthem, or any number of recently launched live-service games that mandate an online connection to play — Wolcen will let you play in offline mode if you so choose.

Of course — it’s worth noting that if you’re looking at Wolcen purely as a co-op experience this isn’t entirely helpful. Offline and Online characters are completely separate. Swapping between the between the modes will also swap your character sets and never the twain shall meet.

So if that’s you, perhaps hold off for now nonetheless. I don’t doubt that these issues will be sorted out fairly quickly though so perhaps just keep an eye on the Wolcen Twitter.

The latest update from which (at the time of posting this) being:

Even for all this — I’ve played through the majority of Act 1 in the retail build. Act 1 was present in the beta too — but I never finished it to avoid spoiling too much for myself. But even from what I have played in both, you can feel the difference from the balancing pass that has been done, for the better in my opinion.

Anywho! I’ll post more detailed impressions when I’m done with the campaign and gain access to the end-game mode. But if you’re after a review in the meantime, Skill Up has a fairly in depth one covering the pros and the cons and the issues (outside of the server faults, which only came up post full launch to everyone) here:


Naithin

Gamer, reader, writer, husband and father of two boys. Former WoW and Gaming blogger, making a return to the fold to share my love of all things looty.

2 Comments

Magi · February 15, 2020 at 9:12 pm

I’ve heard that this is both a good and a bad game so uhm… I’ll have to look forward to more posts on it. :) I actually haven’t really heard about it before but upon launch the camps were already split and my friends either hated or loved it. :D So I don’t have an opinion on it and yet and I’ll look forward to seeing more of it!

Also nice post, Naithin :)

    Naithin · February 15, 2020 at 11:20 pm

    IF you like ARPGs, I think you’re in pretty safe hands with Wolcen. If you don’t there is nothing here that is going to change your mind.

    Overall there is a lot to like within the confines of it being an ARPG though. It understands how loot should interplay with skills. allowing for both to shape the way you play.

    A good example of this is a unique shield you can gain access to that allows you to play much like a Paladin. Normally to cast spells in Wolcen, you’ll need a focus. That could be a staff or an offhand Catalyst. Don’t have one of these though, and no spells for you.. Usually.

    This unique shield though, on top of being good in its own right, allows you to cast Sacred type spells using the shield itself as the focus.

    And even though I’m not even finished with Act 1 yet, I’ve seen a few things like this which could be, if you wanted them to, be build defining.

    On the other hand though, through some minor bugs in hit boxes (particularly with flying bat type critters for some reason) it doesn’t always feel quite as nice as it should. So I’m going to be interested in what the patches over the next few days bring.

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