This what I have to say after my first playthrough of this game. It’s naturally going to be a long post so brace yourselves.
1. Story -
Introduction or First Steps
Reading the basic lore available on this website I was intrigued by the setting of the game and wanted to explore this world.
When the game started I was surprised by what I saw, the main character had no direction and the initial group of people whom you met kinda give you a vague idea of what’s going on in the background.
Honestly I liked only some parts of how this was handled. I liked NPCs who contribute to world building but not to the plot. But the main character having no direction to go was kind of a let down to me probably because I had already read some stuff on the website I felt like this could have been handled better.
Cinematic Intro will be expensive and time consuming. I would love it but considering you guys have budget to maintain what I would suggest is modifying the loading screens to be similar to Torchlight I.
So when I start the game with say maybe a Primalist, we can have the loading screen tell me about his tribe being attacked and stuff (the entire story that is on the website) . This way I get to know why I am here. Similarly each class should have this intro done.
I don’t think you guys would need a VA to read to out the lore at the loading screen like Torchlight I but if you can get one then it’s a nice bonus.
The plot’s starting point is kind of abrupt. Here I was killing cubones, flies and some bears then suddenly I met a guy who tells me some stuff about a shard his daughter is carrying. Since we had little to no introduction to the world this is the part that felt abrupt to me. Then suddenly birdmen show up and I have to kill them. After which I take the shard and jump to a different timelines.
I liked how we got transported to the “wrong era” at first it was a nice way to portray that we had no control over the shard at all.
The environment were beautiful and the map layout was good enough to warrant exploration. The first set of monsters we meet were interesting to fight and the difficulty was fair.
I already mentioned adding the class introductions would help us get into the game since almost all the class introductions have some mention of Raheyh’s War. That could potentially help us get accustomed to the way things unfold and help us with the Warring Gods Era -> Ruined Era jump.
This is where the story begins and quite frankly I wish it was handled better. Good things first, I loved the variety in environment throughout the Act, the quest to investigate the other settlement of survivors, the sane cultist quest and the quest to retrieve the Elder’s Ledger was a nice as well.
In Act I, I’d say the thing that felt very odd was the main quest chain. We’re given a quest by an Elder who is in a tight spot, I travel all the way to the Council Chambers and we get the next quest. What about the old man and the other poor souls with him? At the very least we could have helped them portal into the Council Chambers.
I can understand humanity was doomed completely but whenever we met survivors I honestly felt as to why we weren’t opening a portal for the poor souls.
Then we travel through a bunch of places and fight a corrupted Elder. Till here I was enjoying it, almost every bit of space was utilized to squeeze in quests. Then after we reach the Surface things started to slow down especially after the Sane Cultist Quest. By the time I got to the last boss I felt burned out. The last bit of Act I was rather disappointing mainly because of the lack of world building.
On a side note, the bits of text we are greeted with before the fight with the Omen of Silence, I hope they amount to something in the future.
Like I said humanity maybe doomed so I don’t mind not finding stragglers around every corner conveniently surviving by themselves while being surrounded by dangerous monsters. What I would like however is to be able to portal the ones that we do find. The quest to retrieve supplies? Let us TP the Quartermaster and the soldier back to town.Similarly, we should TP the initial band of survivors we meet when we start Act I back to the Council Chambers.
Now the monster design, particularly with the Void creatures could use some more variety imo. At some point it gets hard to tell tbh.
The cultists, currently it feels like they just kinda exist for the sake of it. The sane cultist quest shows they possess some levels of intelligence. It would be great if we could get a quest by the Council Elders to seek out and eliminate a cultist camp that threatens them.
The world despite being beautiful feels empty once you defeat the Elder Void Boss and start exploring the Surface. I feel like a quest or two would incentivize exploration of these areas.
Starting from the End of Time, I’d say Act II is where I actually start paying some attention to the story.
Then we get to the Outcast Camp, beautiful and stunning environment. Really cool bone structures. Few NPCs have some interesting tales to share and we get started off with the main quest.
We get to Weleryn and we are back to square one. Why can’t I TP the guy who tells us about Alric’s fate back to camp. I don’t get it. Plus the Undead Empire Era implies that while the empire has been actively trying to eliminate the living there still exist some survivors, I couldn’t see a single soul in the entire Act which was disappointing to be frank.
Enemy designs in this act is great but could again use some more diversity. The act itself was extremely empty and I had no incentive to explore and simply pushed forward.
The juggernaut sequence, loved the idea, loved the design and details added, loved the boss of the area and loved the “jump off the ship” ending.
Then we get back to square one, I simply push forward without any motivation to explore thinking to myself “am I there yet?”.
Don’t get me wrong, the environments in this Act were absolutely stunning but the problem was that they were empty so at some point I decided to follow the quest pointer and sometimes even ran past mobs when I got sick of killing them.
The catacombs and the way station were nicely designed. Spymaster’s Boss Model was cool but I was disappointed with the fight itself but that’s another story.
Firstly, allow us to TP the guy who tells us about Alric’s fate back to camp. Additionally, place some survivors here and there waiting to be rescued. This gives us more incentive to explore the areas.
After saving Alric our dialogue with the Outcast Queen should change preferably she should give us some additional quest, maybe one in the dessert town of Mejekah (I forgot the name).
Now I already mentioned that the environments are stunning but in all honesty they lack diversity. In some areas where we could see buildings and houses, allow us to enter them and place some monsters there. I am not talking about turning them into separate dungeons just allows us to simply enter and exit them similar to Act I Diablo II houses. Interacting with the environment more would help adding more soul to the game imo.
The Spymaster Bossfight, I mentioned it was disappointing because of his lack of unique skill set. I am talking about the Necrotic Geyser\Fissure he uses, we already fought the Admiral and he used the same attack. It would have been better if this guy used a different skill set.
2. Art and Animation -
Nothing to say here except, good job. Was surprised to see a budget game implement unique models for each class. I liked it. I would have preferred if we had the choice to pick their Sex but seeing as how each class also has a backstory I don’t think this will be possible, not to mention it’d be an unnecessary amount of work for you guys.
They are good, you guys are doing a great job with these in all honesty. One of the major gripe I have is with the Void Monsters lacking diversity.
The undead monsters from Act II have a decent bit of diversity going on for them but I think they could use more of it. Considering the size of the act I’d have preferred to see a wider variety of creatures than the ones we saw.
On the topic of Skeletons I wish they had more clothing, this the case with both player summons and enemies. Though the latter get some decent armor later on but the summons remain naked.
I only played with the Acolyte and I must say that say that the Bone Golem model feels extremely out of place. It feels like the Epoch transported it from a different era. It is not at all menacing, it feels extremely cute.
I get the pure void creatures are all intended to look like Muk but I also noticed we had “void touched” monsters, basically corrupted versions of existing monsters. Honestly would have preferred if you guys had used more of these.
As for undead creatures, I am surprised for the amount of skeletons we face the undead empire did not add any skeletal abomination. Basically a coagulation of a bunch of skeletons combined to form a horrific figure.
I feel like the base skeleton models should be given some default armor pieces to improve the way they look. Considering how beautiful the game is the skeletons (both player summons and enemies) look really out of place imo.
Bone Golem imo should be completely changed, I know this means new animation and stuff but it really looks bad. I’d say it is probably the only aspect of the game I hate at the moment. I know it’d be a major pain but I wish you would consider this.
The art direction for this game is absolutely stunning. I can see some areas require more polish but that’s something that can be done at the actual release. For now I don’t think I have any complaint about the environment design. You guys nailed it.
While the item design itself is good what I don’t understand is why wearing items gives little to no change on my character. I can see you guys plan to add micro-transactions for cosmetics but at least for Unique Items I feel like they should improve the character visuals to some extent.
3. Exploration -
Environmental Interaction -
I already mentioned this when talking about the Acts earlier but despite the beautiful environment design I don’t feel much incentive to explore them.
Adding quests would help out with this. The area beyond the Sheltered Woods in Act I could use these.
Act II has potential for rescue quests, I’d say adding some rescuing people trying to escape the undead empire would be nice.
Act II also has some areas with houses and buildings, being able to enter and exit these without resetting the map similar Diablo II houses would compliment the game a lot.
Currently it’s just open space and despite how beautiful it is, after while it gets tiresome to explore for me personally. Additionally, more unique bosses should be added to non-quest sections of the game.
Quests! As already mentioned earlier this game could use some more side quests. Not only do they incentivize exploration but help us actually care about the NPCs.
Besides this I’d say adding more dialogue options to the NPCs would help, basically the classic Diablo II gossip. This would help a lot with world building.
4. Enemies -
Short suggestion, please use color schemes like Grim Dawn in monster names so that we can easily differentiate between bosses, heroes and normal monsters.
- Bosses - Red Name
- Heroes - Purple Name
- Normal Monsters - White Name
This is just an example, the color selection is entirely up to you guys.
I like the boss models, I hope you guys ensure they remain unique. The boss fights themselves could use improvements. Currently it doesn’t feel satisfying to kill bosses at all to me personally.
The bosses should be given some more build-up. The Omen of Silence will have naturally have to be an exception to this as the NPCs don’t know anything about the surface creatures. But in the case of the Admiral and the Spymaster I feel like more NPC dialogues\Lore Notes would help out with the build-up
Music, each of the quest boss fight should imo have a soundtrack. Whether it has to be unique for each fight or not is up to you guys. Grim Dawn is a perfect example of this.
5. Crafting and Skills -
I haven’t played enough to comment on this but for now all I can say is - “bravo”. I feel intrigued by the skill system. It is probably the strongest point of this game for me right alongside the art direction.
Since I haven’t explored much I can’t comment much about balancing and stuff of these skills.
I would add that I am disappointed with the amount of skills being usable is restricted to 5. I feel like this should be addressed. I don’t intend to break my keyboard but 5 skills + 2 Mouse Skills feels appropriate to me personally, 5 in total feels too restrictive.
As for Crafting, I didn’t explore it too much but it feels intuitive enough to me.
6. Endgame -
I am more into exploring the main campaign, doing story missions and side quests. I only occasionally dabbled into the endgame. I haven’t done it so far in Last Epoch. But your endgame ideas definitely sound appealing and would help attract players.
7. User Interface -
I like it, plain and simple. No nonsense. Two things I wish for is if you guys plan to change the Font Style on some buttons similar to how Grim Dawn and Diablo II did. The Font Style in which “Last Epoch” is written can probably be used on some options.
Secondly, a minor nitpick but it’d have been better if you guys would have gone for something other than globes for Life and Mana. An hourglass, a bar or something else. The globe design feels a bit overused to me personally.
8. QOL -
Restricting the amount of potions to your belt slot feels archaic, please consider changing the system to GD where potions took up one square of inventory space.
Component Stacking -
The same component taking up different inventory slots should also be looked into. Again something I feel like Grim Dawn did better. Being able to stack the same component to create sets of 999 helped us manage inventory space and also helped us manage those components.
I feel like this could use some improvement, I could have missed it but I don’t think i saw any debuff icons to indicate if I have been debuffed or not. Of course I am not entirely sure as to whether any of the main campaign enemy uses any debuffs.
Another feature I believe Grim Dawn did right, besides the markers for Blacksmith, Quest NPCs and Shops. GD implemented blue dots on the mini-map so that we can identify other NPCs on the map.
9. Music -
The music implemented in the game is good but the tracks don’t suit all the areas. It’d be great if we could get more soundtracks for areas.
Despite the music the world feels extremely quiet. I already pointed out that boss fights need some background music. But besides that they also lack any sounds, this is is not just bosses but even monsters.
Also, I don’t recall hearing the sounds footsteps or burning torches\lamps\flame swords. Adding these would improve player immersion into the game.
Town Portal -
Please modify the Town Portal to function similar to Grim Dawn Rifts. Basically the Town Portal shouldn’t automatically transport me back to the Hub but rather I should be able to travel to any waypoint I feel like.
Wishlist (Modding Support)-
There is no list per se, I only ask for one thing and that is modding support. I am not interested in online play and stuff. For me offline is where it’s at and in my experience modding really helps out the offline playerbase.
I respect your current stance on modding, I recognize it is challenging to push out tools that are easy to use for the community but I hope you guys do give it some serious thought as it would help keep the offline playerbase hooked to this game (the portion of players who do not care much for leaderboards, seasons and stuff).
In Closing -
Congratulations to the developers for the progress they have made on this game. You guys have been doing a great job with your active community interactions and prompt fixes to some major issues.
I fully realize that this game is in its Beta Stages hence why I bothered to write such a long feedback so that things that are possible to fix now can be addressed. The current Beta is decent to play and offers a surprising amount of content, it’s a nice little groundwork and gives me an idea of what to expect from this game.
I hope at least some of my suggestions particularly with the Introduction, Environment Interaction, Boss Fights, the Side Quests and the Modding are considered.
All in all great job, I wish you guys good luck for the game’s future and am keeping my fingers crossed for a successful release. Hopefully the game managers to get more publicity till then.