Again, I kind of feel slightly bad about talking about The First Descendant like it’s in its early stage of release, because right now it’s technically the “crossplay beta” which makes me feel that talking about the game outside of that specific topic is somehow jumping the gun. But I really enjoy this game so far, for the most part, but I’d like to briefly talk about what I would like to see Nexon maybe do with the game in the run-up to it’s as-of-yet-undefined release date.
There’s Nothing To Do Downtown!
Now, I have no numbers and no proof, and I hate to generalize this as an Eastern design decision, but I feel that there are companies out there who make these awesome games with a lush, beautiful open world system, but they limit the activity to very specific choke-points within that map and leave the entirety of the rest of the map lying fallow. The First Descendant is one of those games. Albion is nice and compact, which is good because we end up running around from service to service to get stuff done before heading back into the field. The fields, however, are well populated with landmarks, buildings, and foliage, but there is absolutely nothing going on in between beacons.
I like the way Nexon has set up their beacon system, with the assumed time-to-complete, and the list of rewards from completing the mission, but it’s kind of dumb to have this amazingly constructed world into which our somehow-but-never-explained-how story fits, and then to find it completely devoid of life. If I remember one of Nexon’s other games, Vindictus, correctly, it was also like this, although I think I remember it being far more of a corridor-limited game than a true open world, but it’s been many years since I’ve played that one.
This kind of segues into my second issue.
One And Done
There’s a much larger post inherent in this complaint, and I’m sure those posts have been written, but video games are generally linear in character progression and achievement. That means it’s more than likely that players will pass through zones and never return to them without a damn good reason. This kind of leads to FOMO in that players who leave the stocks at the starting pistol will generally be progressing together with a large group of contemporaries. Those who start later — days, weeks, or even years — might log in to find the starting zones completely empty.
The good news is that the first zone in TFD, Kingston, is very new-player friendly. The bad news is that the second zone, which opens with the Repository sub-zone, is the exact opposite. As mentioned in the above section, there’s nothing there except for mission beacons, but when a mission beacon is activated, look out! The number of spawns increases significantly in these missions when compared to the ones in Kingston. Each beacon mission is also timed, and therein lies the issue. I have managed to stay alive during these onslaughts, but because there are just so many mobs I can never clear them out fast enough. Considering that this is the second zone, and the next step on my progression, makes me very annoyed. I did get a friend to play, and we duoed through Kingston, but we have yet to try this zone. Sadly, every time I’ve gone to the Repository, I have never seen another player.
Playing the Waiting Game
At this point, I think I’ve squeezed as much out of The First Descendant as I might want to at this phase. I think there’s only 4 more days in this beta period before the game goes dark again, so I’ll at least log in daily to collect the freebies they are giving away; I don’t know if these will carry over to the live game, or if they are beta-specific, but I’ll hedge my bets. However, if players can get one Descendant to level 20 in this beta, they will get a free backpack cosmetic in the live game for their participation.
Who wouldn’t want an animated polar bear who loves its can of soda with them when out in the field?