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Playing Around in the Three Faction Warfare Sandbox

William Murphy Posted:
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Rend is an interesting game any way you slice it. It’s not entirely an MMORPG, as it’s still limited to the smaller numbers of players like Conan Exiles, ARK, and so forth. And yet, the developers at Frostkeep so clearly want to make it very much like the classic three-faction game, Dark Age of Camelot - if DAOC had a baby with the survival genre. And that, it turns out, may just be creating some magic.

Many of you are probably rolling your eyes at the thought of another survival game. But Rend is different, while still keeping things that make survival games a genre of their own (thirst, hunger, etc.) You’re only going to punch/grab a few trees and bushes the first time you load into a world, but then you’ll still be spending a lot of time gathering resources and crafting things to improve your character. Turn away now if you don’t like that gameplay loop.

That said, if you enjoy those kinds of things, but always hate how most survival games are just FFA PVP gankfests, you might be happy to find out that Rend instead builds upon the classic RVR of Dark Age of Camelot. There are three factions, separated on the world by oodles of landmass, but all vying for control of the tree of life smack dab in the middle of the world. The beginning of the game is about you surviving the harsh environment, and finding your way to the safe zone “base” of your faction. This is protected by a large mystical field, and the place is only attackable at certain times by the other factions.

The base is built up by the community, buildings, walls, crafting stations, siege weapons, lighting, storage, etc. You can still build anything you want out in the wild, but you’ll also need to make sure you craft an item that allows you to “claim” that building, or it will be decayed over time. Those out in the wild can also be attacked at any time by the rival factions. Only the base is “safe” as it were.

Combat in Rend is 3rd person action akin to a shooter like Fortnite. No dice rolls here - in the hitbox, that’s a hit. But you can defend yourself with a shield, use melee weapons or ranged weapons, and there are a total of four classes that players can mix and match for a grand total of 32 when a player dual-classes. And yes, there is a way to respec, so you don’t have to start over. There’s actually a ton of progression in Rend - not only through all the crafting, but also through collecting and raising pets (a la ARK), your class, and eventually your “meta progression” that carries over when a world “ends” in Ragnarok.

That’s right, like A Tale in the Desert or the forthcoming Crowfall, worlds in Rend will be won and lost, and each player will take some progress with them into the next world when it all starts again. Win conditions are varied, but ultimately you want your faction to wipe out the others, and progress the furthest. The “Winner” on the server will get the most rewards, but Frostkeep is careful to also say that everyone will get something for their hard work. So even if your faction barely shows up, as long as you do, you’ll come away with something to take into the next war on the next server.

I really rather enjoyed my time so far tooling around Rend for a couple hours. There are loads of biomes and recipes I’ve yet to uncover, as well as the whole siege mechanic I’ve yet to see. When Rend lands in Early Access on July 31st, it may not be a “finished” game, but it’s further along than most Early Access titles are, and if you have even a remote interest in the survival genre, you’re going to want to watch this one. Gorgeous artwork, solid performance,and just enough “done different” to make the quality of life experience better in Rend. Stay tuned for our Early Access review over the coming weeks.


William Murphy

Bill is the former Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.