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Notorious Games | Official Site
MMORPG | Genre:Sci-Fi | Status:Final  (rel 03/01/11)  | Pub:Notorious Games
PVP:Yes | Distribution:Download | Retail Price:Free | Pay Type:Free | Monthly Fee:$09.99
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Unrealised Potential

A review of my experiences in playing Xyson
Final Score

6.5
Mediocre

Pros
 
 Survivalist Sandbox
 Terraforming
 Houses & Carts
 Weather & Seasons
 Bears
Cons
 
 Price
 Missing & Incomplete Features
 Poor Combat
 Bugs
 Restrictive Atmosphere & Grind
Disclaimer: The following article is the sole opinion of its author and does not represent MMORPG.com in its thoughts or opinions. This is not an official MMORPG.com editorial article.

Greetings, for all those curious as to Xsyon I'd like to explain my own experiences in the game to help you make up your mind.

On the face of it Xsyon is a very interesting game with some unique if logical progression features, it has terraforming, house building, hunting, intricate crafting and a host of other features, unfortunately the word prelude in the title means just that, were it any other game it would be called beta, the vast majority of the games features are as yet incomplete or not fully or properly implemented.

That is not to say this game does not have raft of fun features already within the game, the game is a sandbox, but more properly tis a survivalist sandbox, the game has a skillcap, alas the exact number of this cap is not revealed numerically and its cap is also a "softcap" which makes figuring out what you can and cannot max at least somewhat tricky, some skills are not part of this cap, the best suggestion I've been provided as to the level of soft cap is you can max roughly half the skills that are covered by it, stats however work in a different way, you get a block of stat points to spend as a new character and these will be enough to hit 90 in two skills and a good proportion of the way to 90 in a 3rd attribute.

There are 8 different stats your character possesses, and these influence all actions and your inherent hp and stamina levels, hp is provided numerically but endurance is not, the stats are strength, fortitude, agility, dexterity, intelligence, perception, charm and spirit. An example of how these affect your health for instance would be your health points are influenced by fortitude, strength and spirit, though the amount each stat contributes to health is in order from left to right of these stats, so gaining a point of fort does better then say a point of spirit.

The only way to gain in a stat (which is divided into .'s so say 70.1 90.5) is to grind a skill, all skills have both a primary and secondary attribute though the secondary attribute only contributes a 1/3rd to the skill and also gains at a similar glacial pace, having high stats will make you be able to craft better items whilst failing less, unfortunately this is not a quick process different skills progress at difference paces each stat can go up to at least 125 (I’ve not received confirmation of this but it was what was told by high level players) there’s no limit to the number of stats you can have at 125 but your time, all skills start at 5.0 points and the maximum of any individual skill is 100, though even at 100 use of a skill can still provide you with increased stats.

You get to choose a few skills to start at 25 when you make a new character, 4 different types one combat attribute (like parry, dodge, armed combat(alas dodge does not yet work) and parry is pretty useless according to high level players and frankly testing, you can parry an individual hit well but as mobs will hit multiple times with only a single hit animation it is impossible to tell when they’re are trying to hit and so you will block at best 1 in 3 shots, you’d be better of moving out the way manually) one weapon skill (currently you have blades (knives) axes and picks to choose from, everything else including staves, swords, bows etc are not in game) one gathering skill and one crafting skill. 

Everything else must be done manually, the skills themselves don’t go up that slowly well at least some don’t, unfortunately stats do, for instance after 30 hours of terraforming I only gained 0.6 of fort and 0.2 str and gone from 5,0 terraforming to about 46.2 terraforming (namely building a moat around my property, which alas as most of the property was above the water line required digging down a considerable distance to make water flow (you cannot say dig into water cut it off from sea then raise the level of the gap with water, it will only remain at its natural level) by all accounts it will take you a year + to actually get many of your stats to a high level and end up with high health, if you chose both 90 str and fort you start with about 72 hp, (if not it can be under 50 or far lower) I have seen players with 240+ health, alas even rabbits a starting mob tend to have 60-75 hp).

The game is not one where you can gain combat skills directly as well unfortunately in order to become good at combat you need lots of str, dex, agi and fort and spirit as well for good movement hit damage and health, however gaining from combat is quite slow and worse, lesser mobs such as rabbits, squirrels, and rats, both have as much health as your char and un-natural abilities, they can for instance scale sheer cliffs whilst running without draining any stamina, and they can and will run away if you hit one it has a small chance of staying and fighting, alas if you hit it again it has another chance of decided to run, if it stays and fights, then you find yourself locked in a battle for your life, with 72 hp and say axe and armed starting skills, you will if you let the swing power build up to max for each swing kill the rabbit, as long as you started at full health and stamina, however many noobs with less hp end up being killed by the first rabbit they encounter that doesn’t run away.

In theory the games creature spawning system is quite good, all animals start of as "children" and grow up to adults having a 6 week ageing process, these children are born for each new season (I’ll get into that later) these children will start of much smaller and easier to kill then their parents, unfortunately they do tend to travel in packs but they're integration ai isn’t to good if your fortunate and isolate it so you don’t draw agro from parents, and non-offensive species will leave the child to die without even the attempt of defence.

Also creatures migrate around the world there are according to a guide around 4000 + small creatures in game, so sometimes some areas will be filled with animals whilst others have precious little, in reality unfortunately finding animals for noobs to hunt is often difficult  sometimes you'll be lucky and plenty of wildlife will come to your lands otherwise you may have to travel for up to half an hour to find a good zone, as you can go through whole swaves of coastline and see none often enough, when you do find them your problems begin, the ai is decided fickle and it cheats, most small creatures run away, but those that don’t hit ridiculously hard for their size, rabbits and rats seem to jump up in the air and do a flying backflip and hit you in the head apparently causing more or as much damage to you as a swipe with an axe against their apparently fragile but in actual fact as strong if not stronger then your form.

And combat only lasts so long, then when victorious, you will have to rest / sleep until your hp recovers, whilst it recovers naturally I do seem to find it goes faster when resting, but to be honest Im not even 100% sure if it does, but stamina certainly does which it was its most often used for either way you might as well as it'll be about 3 -5 mins before your health has recovers if you have around 72 hp.

 

The chances are as long as the fight lasts long enough you will have gained about 0.1 skill points in the process so yes given 1000 or so mobs you'll cap the skill however killing that many mobs is not easy whilst they travel in packs as soon as you hit one they scatter, the mob you want if it doesn’t run or if you run after it and hit it whilst running whilst your stamina remains (you can only sprint at above half stamina) will ensure you need to rest up before you can continue, even where you to take no damage as you will in some situations not, or if you learn to dodge (as in move out the way and time your hits manually not the skill) well enough against some mobs you'll begin to be able to over time by all accounts, the time it takes to kill that mob the rest may well have moved off, and where there is a cliff or otherwise nearby they will be able to run up near vertical cliffs whilst you will be left at the bottom, killing something is indeed amazingly satisfying due to all the difficulties of doing so, and for natural creatures you will be able to then use the "hunting" skill to take bones and other potential useful items off the corpse for use in bone crafting alas many items have no use as of yet.

Unfortunately even hitting 100 you'll have gained a few hp or so if terraforming is any indication which is why in order to kill higher creatures you would be better off simply grinding a craft skill like masonry and other hp stat affecting skills, by all accounts 1500 posts in architecture will net you enough of a boost to take your noob char to 100hp, alas 1500 posts will be a boring grind of epic proportions, and you'll need to do allot more of this and other skills to get good health, higher players with likely high dex/agi are pretty good at killing higher creatures, or by placing a totem nearby and resurrecting fast enough clearing out creatures becomes possible for lower players, my first method to kill 2 rev's who moved into a neighbours plot is to use the boulders which provide natural cover int he game world, to kill the rev's, they cant hit you when your on the boulders so if your quick enough you can dart on and off them and get them down, even with a week old char.

 

Alas the game is filled with abandoned plots of former players, half terraformed messes with enormous pits and half finished buildings and walls, the developer quite sensibly developed a clean up system to remove the totem of the non subbing player and return it to use, unfortunately that involved making them "haunted" by playing revenants a kind of un-dead mob guarding it, the size and grandeur of the plot and what’s built on it seem to indicate the number that will guard it and also its location, alas because the system is relatively new and the game is quite so currently full of empty plots, the vast majority of the game world is filled with revenants at this time, all are capable of looting your equipped weapon(s) and armour depending on if what they’re wearing already is better) and every time they kill a player as well as looting stuff and getting stronger that way they gain health, alas this has led to areas who’s only inhabitants are hordes of hungry revenants, which makes exploring the game as a noob less then the most pleasant experience.

 

 

Whilst planting a totem will drive them away (a totem is a tribe totem, individual players will be able to own 25 metres of land around the totem, if 4 others join your clan, banding together they get a band totem which upgrades this totem (if there’s enough space around plot) to allow a much bigger plot said upgraded totem would provide and so on up to about 25 or 50 I think for largest plot) the rev's only off this plot, if there is another haunted plot nearby nothing will stop the rev's invading your plot until you have walls and structures built which can take a while.

 

Whilst the combat system has issues and the fact the only sensible way to become good at combat is to grind endlessly in crafting is a problem, and the missing skills causes many problems there are other features in the game that to some people would make up for this, not to  mention fighting bears is pretty cool even as it stands as long as you have the patience required to get there.

For instance the Seasons and weather, the game features 4 seasons Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, each season lasts 2 weeks before it swaps to the next one, this effects both the noise of the game and the ground textures and the plants, like grass will turn colour in autumn and trees will have less leaves and first bits of snow may cover the ground in some areas sporadically, also rain tends to last longer, the game has weather alas only rain is in thus far, but its a good dynamic, in summer and spring it tends to be quite short so you barely notice it, and unfortunately  the comfort system of you getting wet from it has yet to be implemented new plants and trees and grass will grow with every new season replenishing blank dirt areas at least partially.

This provides a genuine year like feel to the game, trees will grow around other trees as long as there is space in new seasons as long as there are not to many trees already in that zone of the map, trees can be planted from seeds which can be collected from the right kind of areas usually with trees on them) then you can plant them yourself they will take about 10 days to grow from saplings to mighty full sized trees, allowing you to be in essence a proper woodcutter, alas there’s no way currently turn any kind of ground to another type of ground in game yet, other than make it a road, so you cant collect seeds around your new trees for instance and junk does not replenish. In essence the weather system is a great system though yet to be finished, the game will be greatly enhanced by it being more completed.

Rain unfortunately is a particle effect rendered a few metres around your character, alas the fact it rains only around you can be distracting and break the sense of realism, but it is better then implemented in most games, nights occur to, but they aren’t very dark which isn’t to surprising as the only light source in the game at this time is a fixed ground fire, no torches etc. but it does sap some of the fun from the day/night weather/seasons cycle, so hopefully these systems will add to the games realism nicely when completed in principal they're brilliant but like much of xsyon they remain only partially implemented, and what bits exist don’t do anything yet because of other bits yet to be implemented.

 

Crafting also can be a headache in various ways, each skill has various items with it that can be created you start with a few of each kind, you can unlock more in one of three ways, one you can grind the skill you will eventually be "inspired" to create new items, however what new items you are inspired to create is entirely random leading to some players say unlocking foragers water skin from tool craft before you hit lvl 11 whilst others hit lvl 92 in the same skill before they unlock the same thing, number two is via levelling you gain for every so many xp points a level giving you 10 free skill points to spend unfortunately higher level skill need more skill points to gain a point of skill in somewhat confusingly then lower level skills so whilst you can raise low level skill full skill points for your 10 points, by the time they hit 35 you can add at most 3.0 skills for your 10 skill points level up, this allows you via the same method 1 inspire system to unlock new items in a skill, only you don’t have to have actually grinded to this skill to do it useful for skills like say wainwright where any single item is expensive.

 

Method 3 is to use blueprints or patterns, scavengers either you or other can scavenge on scrap piles and find patterns and blueprints allowing you to add a single item buy using it or buying one, as long as you have the pre-requisite skill to make said item (this doesn’t affect the random inspire system so you may unlock high level skills which you would not be able to learn from a pattern or bp using method 3 without a much higher skill level) blueprints (only for architecture and possibly wainwrights’ tho I cant confirm the latter) are valuable and indeed can be worth a cart for a noob so noobs are much better of trading said bp for a cart rather then trying to use it themselves, (hand carts are hard and expensive to make items which allow you to carry objects safely around the world, alas they cant cross water more than a few metres deep (ie most of it) so they’re very land locked, if you live on an island your cart is stuck there and any carts you have on the mainland are not, worse your cart can be raided should someone plant a totem near a cart they become the owner of the nearby land so if you dont leave it on your land, other players can plant a totem, and steal everything in your cart using land owners permissions), carts can have as little as 5 slots (either 5 bags or 5 resource bundles) up to 20 slot carts, the latter being far more expensive to make or buy then the 5 slot ones, the most common currency in game is nails which can be found from scavenging on scrap piles.

 

However the most annoying bit is tailoring, some items in the game require tailoring items say tents may require cloth tarp, unfortunately the games own sheer variety is its own undoing with this skill, there are quite a few different colours of cloth available, each colour has about 12 different material versions of that colour, wool, vinyl, acrylic etc. and fabric of different types even within the same colour does not stack, so you can make cloth tarp with 4 pieces of cloth fabric of the same type and 2 thread(which can be made from scraps which comes in the same variety but allows you to make cloth thread which does stack and doesn’t have a type inherited (yet)) some different types of cloth may provide different bonuses though only stat affecting bonuses like increased fort or str or charm re in game yet the rest do nothing despite what they say) a piece of cloth tarp inherits is properties from the fabric that made it so you can have say a forest green cotton cloth tarp, made from 4 pieces of forest green cotton cloth fabric and 2 cloth threads, but to use it in say crafting a tent that needs (say in a chieftain tent) 12 pieces of cloth tarp, you need to make or buy 11 more peices of forest green cotton cloth tarp as only the same type of tarp like fabric can stack, and only the same type of anything can be used in crafting, which is very annoying making it a lengthy process to gather such materials, and given most of the benefits from this variety are not in yet, very vexing to gather.

Additionally you can find fabric either from scavenging randomly alas this is rare as there are so many other types of items you can get when scavenging the chances of it being cloth fabric and the same type as the last time you saw it are pretty darn slim or by directly gathering fabric from a scrap pile, alas each piece only has about 8 pieces of anything on it, and doesn’t re-spawn or replenish with new seasons or with time, so you use it up when gathering making a smaller scrap pile, also when you sort a piece of cloth you'll get several types of fabric and cloth scraps not just one, so it can take a large amount of cloth to get any kind of quantity of same type fabric also cloth is heavy so it can take a while. also direct scavenging is random in essence there’s plastic metal and leather you can gather to as well as cloth but at any one time you will likely on see 2-3, by simply waiting long enough in the spot this will in time change, so you can only gather only so many pieces before you have to wait for it to swap back to cloth again, this doesn’t seem affected by moving about or walking off and on the scrap pile its a frankly unnecessarily random system to complicate an already annoying skill chain.

 

Most buildings have to be made manually from pieces the only "building" in the game other than tents is a scrapper smoke house, which is a small open air cooker of sorts not a house, everything else must be made by placing walls a roof and a floor manually then connecting them together as you like, again building pieces are random, and follow certain lines say banaya tarp roof and banaya post, or masonry gate and masonry wall or scrapper tent, etc I’m led to believe from some proper house schemes will eventually be provided but none are in yet, worse building 2 story buildings requires notable trickery, you have to build up through terraforming a dirt platform build the upper level of the building on this dirt platform then carefully remove this dirt platform and build more items underneath it, the same for 3 story buildings which is the most I've yet seen in game, though you have to make an exact proper size and height dirt pile to build the house and be able to successfully remove it, and terraforming around any built object or trees is a nightmare, it just doesn’t work.

 

Terraforming is also unnecessarily complicated, the only tools you are provided via terraforming is to clear terrain (set type to dirt) build road, level terrain, raise and lower terrain, alas whilst terrain is suppose to lower and raise in square zones of a metre or so in size, in reality where you stand within the zone has a notable effect on what happens when you alter it, so you can end up with very choppy uneven terrain with one corner raised up from the other in explicably and standing on that and levelling it may have no effect as level terrain doesn’t always or even often work when standing in some places, no bridges yet exist so your only recourse is build up land bridges which is a very annoying process as you can only terraform squares you own (except to add road to existing roads) and if your well swimming you can’t pile it up.

 

So you have to awkwardly try to stand on the edge of an existing land square rather then the centre of where you want to add some dirt to build up, which will cause problems as described above if you can get it to go up levelly, alas despite the tiny area terraforming tends to effect, doing so within a few metres of even the tiniest bolder or tree doesn’t work which is horrible if said tree or bolder is on the edge of your property and to far away for you to use your property ownership rights to destroy, also rock squares cant be changed on any circumstances making terraforming a big head ache, which explains the hundreds if not thousands of horrible pits and half terraformed messy areas in game which unlike creatures if you get stuck in your only resource is to use /unstuck which if you use that often which sometimes you must, you get a 2 min cool down timer on next use, as icing on the cake.

 

There is fun to be had in this game but if you ever want to get anywhere it will require lengthy grind, unfortunately that is not all, the game can be quite buggy, for instance for quite some time by all accounts the full screen mode of the game is bugged, any attempt to alt tab while in full screen leads to a crash and this has been known about for some time and not fixed, also the windowed mode does not allow you to set the resolution properly setting windowed mode to 1920x1080 for instance and it will choose some odd resolution no where near that res, with enough space for both a task bar above and below and a big bit sticking out the side as well, hardly very immersive, also even with windowed expect to crash, regularly, alas if you sit around and do nothing you'll prob not crash but go out explore travel and fight mobs and you tend to crash allot more, its worse then it should be for a game in this stage of release though better then in many beta's or early mmo's use to be at least.

Two final issues, Guides, the game has a bunch of volunteer’s called guides who have gm like powers and run regular events as well as enforce tos, alas, the global chat, coupled with far to many guides vs the number of players, ensures that you simply cant have ordinary conversations in the game without being complained at by one or more guides, like talking about other games, don’t bother its against the tos guides will pounce on you, want to tell your m8 hey check out blah blah game, yep that counts as advertising another game doubly against tos, and heaven forbid should you swear, very much against tos, want to discuss the rules of the game, yep not allowed in game, basically anything of any substance is disallowed, and any attempt to discuss the games features if not squashed by guides who spend more time hounding new players for tos infractions then giving information is interrupted by the horde of hardcore fanboys that seem to be the only veterans of the game, whos explanation for everything tends to be, its not in yet, its got better then it was at release, it doesnt seem to bad.

If you don’t mind that the only decent chat you can have will be tribe chat meaning if you play with your friends but want your own place your stuck to pm's, then you can play, alas pvp with most skills not implemented is a domain of the strong, 1 year+ players will trounce all other players with the greatest of ease, and there doesnt seem to be much pvp of any kind going, on tribe lands you cant attack the tribe owner but they can attack you, outside anything does and full loot is on, but no one seems to be doing much pvp, I've heard stories of a couple of vet pvpers but rather then being called pvpers they are described as "griefer’s" by the average player, in essence pvp exists but if you try to do it you'll be labelled a griefer by all accounts, which will land you in the guides radar no doubt judging from their ridiculous enforcement level of the "rules" the excuse provided for this level of tos adherence is in the past lots of people griefed and so on so they became strict... alas they obviously went overboard in a big way, and most of the people from back then left anyway, soon as the game became less pvp friendly, atm there’s really no point in pvp, except for a lucky looting, vets will get little from killing a noob, and noobs couldn’t kill vets and most vets wouldn’t bring anything valuable out of their tribe lands or if they find something will rush it straight back, so pvp isn’t even encouraged, which takes a big chunk out the game.

Alas you feel like your in an oppressive atmosphere where you cant actually have ordinary conversations in game in public channels, without a guide stepping in or moaning at you, for players in tribes when they can chat privately in tribe chat this probably isnt such a bad thing but for players who want their own place, its a horrible experience, rarely do people enter local chat and using global chat you'll be chatting along happily following the flow of conversation and an obscure and ridiculous tos rule will suddenly be pm’d your way along with the equivalent of a threat, enough to ruin your fun, it would be understandable for serious chat disruption but for the product of ordinary conversation sit just plain sucks and saps a great deal of interest from the game, rather then guiding new players guides spent more time hounding them as they have nothing better to do, as there will be like 10-25 players on at all times from what I can and only like 5-10 will use public chat, but there'll be 2-3 or more guides on at the same time, do the math.

Add no real pvp going on to the suppression of free speech by an overabundance of goodie two shoes volunteer's and fan boys when added to all the games incomplete or yet to exist features seriously dents what fun there is to be had from what's currently available in Xsyon and worse of all they charge you the same amount for this game in both "digital" box price and subscription as other far more complete and far more popular and bigger budget games, in essence a subscription to xsyon is less a license to play the game now and have great fun, but the hope that in the future the game will improve to the state where it will be worth what you've been paying for it, in essence to fund development in the meantime, alas overall no matter how you look at it, any such deal means you loose out in time and money for now.

As the game is being charged and paid for in full now then it must be similarly judged as to weather it is worthy of that kind of price, and answer is at this time when all the issues as outlined above are added together is no, not remotely is the game yet value for money, it may, I repeat may be a truly brilliant game one day, but its clearly a mislabelled beta for now, and it will never attract a large audience if its in-game atmosphere remains as it is today, with up to half a dozen guides to half a dozen players watching your every move, and development hardly hurrying along with their current small dev. team, so this may be one to watch but unless their kick-starter campaign is highly successful it may be a very long time before this game lives up to a fraction of its potential, let alone its full potential.

 

 

More Xsyon: Prelude Features:

Xsyon: Prelude - The Official Review Review added on Thursday April 21
Xsyon: Prelude - Survivor Guy Part 3 General Article added on Monday April 18
Xsyon: Prelude - Survivor Guy Part 2 General Article added on Monday April 11

More Features:

General - Extra Life: A Calling Above and Beyond Games Interview added on Tuesday August 19
World of Warcraft - Addressing the Criticism Interview added on Tuesday August 19
 
 
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