Air, water, earth. We conquered each Realm on our path to defeating Macros. Now, with the Godfall: Fire & Darkness expansion, we will attempt to control the fourth element as we head into the Fire Realm to defeat a new foe, Moirax. It’s been almost a year since Godfall launched alongside the PlayStation 5. Counterplay Games gave us some quality of life updates, revamped the endgame content, and had us hacking and slashing for new gear with the free Primal Update in February. Fire & Darkness, we are getting the first paid expansion for the looter-shooter.
[Spoiler warning: Brief Spoilers for Godfall's story below!]
Available on PC, PS5, and now the PS4 (check out our exclusive PS4 footage), Godfall: Fire & Darkness, and the Lightbringer Update are bringing a whole new heap of goodies to players. Along with the usual bug fixes and game balances we typically see with an update, we are getting a new Realm with a new Flameblood Tribe and story extension, a new endgame mission mode, new cosmetics, and a new tier of loot. To top it all off, Counterplay Games is going live with their matchmaking Beta.
MMORPG was offered a sneak peek at a pre-release version of Godfall: Fire & Darkness, and although it has been a few months since I last played Godfall, I was ready to jump in and see what Counterplay Games has been up to. It took a little bit to shake off the rust, but over the last few days, I was able to play through the Fire & Darkness story. I also tried my hand at solo and multiplayer Lightbringer mode. I didn’t get enough time to give a full review, but my first impression of the F&D expansion and Lightbringer Update are positive, to say the least.
Godfall Is What It Is
So let's just get this over with right now. If you didn't enjoy Godfall when it was released and the Primal Update didn't push the needle in the right direction, I honestly doubt the Fire & Darkness expansion will make you a believer. We are still talking about the same core gameplay we’ve had since day one - running, sliding, parrying, and slashing your way from one boss to the next. If that doesn’t excite you, maybe Godfall just isn’t your type of game. If, on the other hand, you have enjoyed the hack and slash melee combat of Godfall, then you are in for a treat with the Fire & Darkness expansion and Lightbringer Update.
Fire & Darkness
So, if Macros is dead, who is left for Orin to defeat? All Valorians have ever known is battle, so is it possible Orin has given in to the bloodlust? It would be a logical progression for the Godfall story, but this time around the Valorians aren’t the aggressors. Sanctum has been breached, and to close the portal you must venture into the Fire Realm.
Welcome to the Fire Realm.
The Fire Realm plays host to four new Story Missions, five new Hunts, and one Explore the Realm mission. There are also twelve new enemies and five bosses that not only inhabit the Fire Realm but can also be encountered in a new set of Fire Realm Dreamstones and the Ascended Tower of Trials.
Honestly, as I mentioned in my original review, the story is not Godfall’s strong suit. The story that accompanies the Fire & Darkness expansion was a little better than the original, but that may be because I went into it with lowered expectations. There is more meat this round than the ‘chase big bad brother around the Realms and finally, win the day’ that we already had. At least this time there were even a couple of moments where I went, ‘Hmm, that’s interesting.’
The story may not be worth writing home about, but visually Godfall never fails to deliver. Each of Godfall’s Realms makes for a beautiful backdrop to all of the hacking and slashing. With the Fire Realm, Counterplay Games has taken their A-game and pushed it to S-tier.
They could have easily gone all fire and brimstone but they didn’t take the easy route. Your first mission starts in a Fire Realm shrouded in darkness. The Realm is rock and metal to the core, with large geometric shapes jutting out everywhere. Much of the zone looks to be cut straight from the stone, with rough patches of stone intertwined with areas that look as though they were refined by master craftsmen. Some areas have waterfalls of blue lava falling into magma flows far below; others are occupied by giant fortresses of steel and stone. In true Godfall fashion, the small amount of light glistens off of any smooth surface it touches.
Not all of the Fire Realm is fire and brimstone.
And that’s just the first area. From there, we will travel into a huge monolith, and when we eventually push back the darkness, we’ll see a more colorful Realm. No matter where you go in the Fire Realm, though, you always have the feeling of being an insignificant speck that goes unnoticed by the massive mountains and canyons that surround you.
The Flameblood Tribe that inhabits the Fire Realm is just as glorious as its surroundings. The dog-like Fire Howler will clamp onto your arm if you linger too close to its maw, while the Fire Spitter coughs up fireballs and sends them towards you at range. Flameblood Gargoyles take flight, chucking spears at you from afar before swooping down to attack. All of the new Flameblood creatures look like they have fire coursing through their veins. And I don’t want to spoil them for you, so let’s just say that the bosses and their special attacks will not disappoint.
Just a few of the new enemies you’ll face in Godfall: Fire & Darkness
Along with new fire weapons (I was fortunate enough to get ahold of some dual blades that looked like they were just pulled out of lava and hadn’t cooled yet), Counterplay Games is adding Valorplate cosmetics. There are a total of 86 (30 are F&D exclusives) new skins to give your favorite Valorplate a new paint job. Uncommon skins will be easy to attain (reach floor 10 of Ascended Tower of Trial or hit 1000 enemies with a shield throw), but epic and legendary skills will be much harder to procure. I wasn’t able to acquire a legendary skin, but I was able to snag a couple of uncommon and epic skins, and they all look pretty cool.
Lightbringer Game Mode
Sanctum’s Light has been taken and has been placed within Dark Tears spread across the Realms. Players, alone or in a group, must locate the Tears and destroy them to release the Light orb sealed within. Once the Light orb has been recovered, players must then escort it back to an Amplifier. The destroyed Tears will reappear around the Amplifier and spawn enemies that will once again need to be cleared. During the fight, Light Crystals will drop that need to be gathered to charge up the Amplifier. Once you’ve collected enough Crystals, the Amplifier is activated to wipe out the Tears, leaving one last fight against the Heart of Darkness to secure the Realm before collecting a big pile of loot.
Sounds like a walk in the park after the Tower of Trials and Dreamstone missions, right? Not so quick. Lightbringer is only available to level 50 characters, so this isn’t your typical stroll through the Realms. Once you leave the Amplifier securing your entry point into the Realm and dive into the Darkness, it’s a tense race to the Tear and back, and the path to victory is filled with some extra challenges you’ve never encountered in Godfall before.
Seal the Tear and you’re halfway there.
Along with the creatures you encounter along the way, players also have to contend with the Darkness that has overtaken the Realm. The Darkness eats away at your health and inflicts you with stacks of Darkness. If you reach 100 stacks, you die. Oh, and the whole party shares a limited number of lives, so you know you don’t want to be ‘that guy’ that uses them all up and fails the mission.
As a reprieve from the Darkness, players can activate beacons scattered about the Realm. These beacons will emit a small amount of light so you can pause and reduce your Darkness stacks. You can’t rest forever, though. There is only a finite amount of time before the Realm is completely overcome by the Darkness and your mission automatically fails.
Beacons also serve a secondary purpose. Whenever they are activated, a short sliver of light appears at the top of the Beacon. It works like a compass needle, pointing you in the direction of a Light cache. Recovering one of these caches can add a large amount of time to the clock, just make sure you don’t waste more time fighting its guardians than you gain back.
Once you make it to a Dark Tear, you must activate it and destroy the waves of enemies it summons. Defeating the creatures will release Sanctum’s Light held within. Destroying a Tear also adds more time to the clock; the faster you defeat your foes the more time you will gain.
With the orb recovered, you must then escort it back to the Amplifier. There will be ambushes along the way, and any enemies near the orb will drain its power. The orb can be destroyed, so pushing enemies away and fighting them in the Darkness will keep it safe. Of course, you’ll be taking damage and gaining stacks if you fight outside of the orb’s light, so you see the conundrum you face during this phase of the mission.
Does it all still sound too easy? If so, each time you close a Dark Tear you’ll have a chance to up the difficulty level. To do so, each player can choose to accept a curse. There are a number of curses to choose from, each with a lesser, normal, and greater form. Curses only apply to the player that picks it, but every time a player adds a curse the creature level increases, making the remainder of the mission harder for everyone.
For the ultimate risk-takers, up to three orbs can be recovered during a Lightbringer mission. Each Tear is further away than the last, making it nearly impossible for all but the strongest of groups to attempt all three Tears. Each Tear also reappears during your final fight, so you’ll have to keep that in mind as well. Not only will you have to defeat double or triple the amount of regular enemies in the same amount of time, but you’ll also have to dispatch multiple bosses at the same time if you want to collect all that extra loot. Just make sure your ego is writing checks your sword hand can cash.
Left: A Cursed item. Right: Its final form unlocked.
Lightbringer mode is all about the loot, though. The ultimate prize we’ll all be hunting for this time around is Cursed Items. Capable of becoming the most powerful items in Godfall, these items will initially inflict banes when they are equipped. To lift a curse and replace it with a buff will require you to complete tasks in Dreamstones and Ascended Tower of Trials. The higher the rarity of the item, the harder the given task to remove a curse. And items with multiple curses must have each curse removed one at a time. It could take a while to realize the full potential of an item, especially since the curses will be hindering your efforts, but the power granted by these items is surely worth it.
I can describe my time playing Lightbringer mode with one word - challenging. In solo play, I constantly felt the pressure of quickly killing the large waves of enemies. Every time I pushed one group away from an orb and destroyed them, I would turn around to find another batch already draining the orb. And then there’s the issue of the Darkness stacks forcing me to race back into the light. My greed also came into play, making the decision to add a curse or go for a second or third orb a tough choice. And then there’s the thought of everything making the final fight an overwhelming experience.
Was it worth it? Yes, it was.
Playing Lightbringer in a group of three helped a little, but it comes with its own hazards. Any time one player is in range of the orb it starts moving, leaving your teammates out in the dark to die. And if you think adding curses in solo play is bad, think again. It wasn’t long before our overconfidence had severely gimped our characters and at the same time pushed the creature level into the 80s. It was game over long before we used up our last life, we just didn’t know it yet.
In my original review of Godfall, I gave it a 7.5 out of 10. I thoroughly enjoyed the combat but there was enough holding it back to push it to the rarified air of the 9-10 rating. The Primal Update pushed things in the right direction, adding the Ascension levels and reworking the endgame content. From what I’ve seen of the Fire & Darkness expansion and Lightbringer Update, Counterplay has once again pushed the needle further into the positive.
With the Fire Realm, they have kept all of the visual beauty while giving the world a more open feeling that was lacking before. The Flameblood Tribe is a great addition to the bestiary and goes well beyond just reskinning existing creatures with a fiery look. Even the story got an ever so slight upgrade.
Piggybacking on all of that is the Lightbringer Update. The matchmaking beta lets you go through all of the endgame content with two of your friends. Lightbringer mode is a creative way to let the player balance the risk versus reward. And let’s not forget the new loot and cosmetics look great. The only thing missing on my Godfall wishlist at this point? Maybe we could get some new weapons and attacks to master?