Wayfinder Closed Beta impressions: Room for improvement but so much potential

Airship Syndicate
Airship Syndicate /

I remember talking to my husband last week about what our plans would be for this past weekend. We were entirely kid-free and yet all of our plans had fallen through. Luckily, Digital Extremes and Airship Syndicate answered that question for us: this would be a Wayfinder beta weekend!

Wayfinder is an MMO built on adventures. As a Wayfinder, your mission involves battling corruption that’s seeping into your world. With the power of the Gloom Dagger, you can undertake expeditions to mysterious locales, join hunts, and fight a host of creatures, including challenging bosses.

I had the absolute pleasure of spending time with Airship Syndicate and playing the game for a whole hour back in March at PAX East. While there, I played as Kyros the Warmage and got to explore solo for a bit, and then got into some online dungeon co-op action, so I was already familiar with the concept of the game, what to expect from my chosen character, and what the buttons do. Suffices to say, if you’ve played an MMO before, you will have a solid foundation for this game. If you haven’t, though, Wayfinder is very user-friendly and you will be playing like you’ve played MMOs for years in no time.

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I was ecstatic when I received the email saying I had been chosen for the beta, and after losing a day of the beta to totally normal issues with codes not working or not being sent, I was finally all set and incredibly impressed with Airship Syndicate’s customer service (both on their Discord and through e-mail).

While booting up the game on Friday, I was feeling excited, waiting to select Kyros and get to work on the beta. Except, image my deflation when character selection only showed three Wayfinders: Silo, Senja, and Niss. Kyros, Wingrave and Venomess were not listed. I won’t lie, I was a little disappointed. I had liked Kyros so much because he combined sorcery with his glorious weapon, the Epitapth, and I felt like a complete badass playing with him previously. I  ̶a̶n̶g̶r̶i̶l̶y̶ ̶s̶h̶o̶o̶k̶ ̶m̶y̶ ̶f̶i̶s̶t̶s̶ ̶u̶p̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶g̶o̶d̶s̶ ̶  was a little sad I’d have to pick something different. To add insult to injury, Kyros ended up being released on Saturday to those who had taken part of the first beta and had played it with him. By the time I caught wind of it, it had been hours after the fact. I reached out just to ask if I could get him as well since I had originally played with him, but was told that at that point, I’d have to keep on farming to unlock him since many players were now able to do so. Which is completely understandable, at that point it wouldn’t be really fair.

But I was still sad. *cue violin solo* 

Yes,  I got over it, and quickly. Niss was a great Wayfinder to play with – she’s super quick and has insanely strong abilities.

The game itself was fun. The environment was immersive and I really enjoyed the soundtrack that plays as you run around. There were some fantastic customization features that I hope will stay, if not get even better, such as skin for your weapons, different options for clothing colors and details, and many more that I didn’t even get a chance to touch. There is also, of course, a mountain of shiny accessories with great perks and ability enhancements.

My favorite feature of Wayfinder is its nuanced, user-friendly character progression. You can bolster your character’s power by strategically choosing your loadout and managing your equipment affinities. You can also enhance your character through Echoes—combat performance boosters—and investing in character and weapon affinities.

However, the leveling phase during the beta was not without its struggles. Lag and disconnections during challenging dungeons hindered my progression, the game crashed while traveling to and from different places.

Combat in Wayfinder brings an engaging experience reminiscent of Airship Syndicate’s Darksiders GenesisWayfinder provides fast-paced and challenging and fun encounters boosted by difficulty modes and imbuements. These elements, along with the presence of matchmaking options, heighten the gameplay experience. However, the matchmaking for the dungeons was definitely not balanced during the beta, with some bosses and grunts being way overpowered for some players while being barely an inconvenience to higher level players.

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The maps were also something I had a hard time reading and understanding at first, and I’ll attribute that to the fact I decided to start playing Wayfinder on my Steam Deck. It works perfectly with the Steam Deck, by the way – even as a beta. I am thrilled about that. But, while playing on the Steam Deck, I had a really hard time making sense of what meant what on the map, and how the little checkpoints inside the dungeons work in correlation to it. It wasn’t until I put the Steam Deck down and got on my actual PC that I was able to finally understand what I was looking at.

I was able to get 11 hours of gameplay in during the weekend the closed beta was released, and I feel that I got a really good grasp of the kind of game I can expect from Wayfinder. Yes, it’s an MMO just like other MMOs – you play online, you get in a guild, you go into dungeons, and you have your daily raids and activities. But it’s got so much potential to be that one fun game you can go with your online friends and just shoot the s**t, for lack of a better term. While I did have some friends who got into the closed beta as well, we were never on at the same time. The general voice chat in Discord was always full… and then I noticed there was a voice channel from Brazilian testers.

For those who don’t know, I am originally from Brazil. Up until last weekend, I had never been on a MMO party or even a voice chat with all Brazilians before. These awesome beta testers were constantly helping each other out either by going to dungeons with players who needed help or walking them through what they needed to do. Since the beta was entirely in English, those of us who spoke English would translate for those who didn’t. It was real teamwork, in a really fun game, and we all felt a unified sense of purpose playing the beta. Oh, you bet I’ll be playing on the South American servers just to be in a guild with these rapazes.

I am very excited for Wayfinder‘s Early Access coming up this summer. It’s not perfect – as no game ever is – but it has so much potential! It already has amazing features and storytelling elements, and it is shaping up to be a long-lasting MMO largely because of its character progression, class diversity, and exciting combat encounters. It does still needs to undergo several improvements before being ready for its full launch later this year, but I am very confident that Wayfinder will truly deliver.

And finally, a huge thank you to Digital Extremes and Airship Syndicate for giving me the opportunity to be part of the closed beta!