Early Access Review in Progress #3
I think next week, yes in the midst of E3, I’ll finally put a wrap on this project and assign a score to Pathfinder Online as it stands now. But let me start this week by saying that fresh of The Witcher 3 and another Early Access game known as ARK: Survival Evolved makes Pathfinder feel even less finished. PFO can be enjoyable, it can… but the more I play it the less I can recommend investing your own money in the River Kingdoms for now.
I’ve only been able to play another few hours since my last foray, and my most recent session crashed the game 1.) by alt-tabbing and 2.) by changing the graphical settings. Stable, PFO is not. But that’s to be expected in Early Enrollment. Nevertheless, the lowest score to come next week to Pathfinder is probably going to be in the polish category. This one’s just half-baked from the animations to the setting to the system and there’s no getting around that.
Notice how high my dwarf jumps? It’s small potatoes, but if Goblinworks wants our money, they should see to the little things as well as the big.
I’ve been doing a lot of roving in PFO too, as the game sort of encourages it by not really giving you set tasks. The world is big, no doubt. But it’s also kind of sparsely populated with static mobs and little to really explore. It’s the Vanguard: Saga of Heroes problem all over again. A big world is only important if it’s actually interesting.
And that’s the problem with what I’ve seen of PFO: it’s drab and boring. Uninspired. If I had to offer my armchair developer suggestion, it would be to narrow the focus of the initial world size. Bring it down to a smaller selection of hexes and polish, iterate, and build out those areas with verticality and a reason for existing. The world doesn’t need to be that big, and similarly empty, this early on. It can expand and get there in time.
I also learned what death holds… again. Only this time I figured I’d actually show you guys. When you die, you leave behind a husk: all of your currently held belongings. If you resurrect and get to your husk before someone else does, you get it all back. If however someone else manages to beat you to your husk, they get a random assortment of items from your husk and the rest are destroyed. It’s a potentially painful death penalty, and pretty welcome in a world of MMOs where death simply doesn’t matter. Right now, in the areas of the world I’m playing in (younger player locales), there are not a lot of other players to take my stuff. This is good. I managed to retrieve my killer spear before someone else did.
I’ve got to explore crafting more and seek out some of the many player-run events (kind of the bread and butter of the game at this early state) and then I think I can put a lid on this as we keep track of the game’s progress up until Open Enrollment next year. It’s got a long way to go, but there’s certainly promise. What’s not certain is if they can deliver. I hope so, but we’ll have to see. While I was reviewing the Witcher, they also added Feuds, essentially 2-way wars between Companies. A nice, and necessary feature for the sort of political and economic warfare they’re aiming to have.
Stay tuned next week when we put our Early Access score on Pathfinder Online.