The Exiled, formerly Das Tal has made a lot of progress to the point where it feels more like an MMO rather than a collection of mechanics. The world is more open and there is a far greater breadth to the available mechanics and how defined they are. This means The Exiled feels more directed now in its early experience with more options to enjoy and more goals to work towards. The combat in particular feels a lot better now with the weapons you can use being more diverse, the range of skills more interesting, and there is a good sense of progression with finding and utilizing new skills.
It is by and large a new game from what I played previously in its development but it still isn’t really worth playing right now, and I honestly don’t know if it is developing in such a way that will ever make it worthwhile for most MMO players. I know that sounds incredibly harsh and I do admire what this small team has accomplished but so far but in my dozen hours with this Alpha there is no moment that really stands out as enjoyable. It was just overwhelmingly the same lackluster and poorly designed grind occasionally interrupted with moments of frustration.
The Majority of your time with The Exiled in its current state will be killing the same mobs over and over again and completing the same couple of events that randomly show up around the map. The terrain feels incredibly spacious, especially considering the size of the playerbase, but the resources you can attain are mostly split into certain regions around this area. The crystals I needed to improve my skills were in one area, and I mostly just stayed there grinding the same enemies in order to progress. Of course you don’t have to do this, and this gets better as you improve but that early experience is incredibly rigid because of it.
The Events themselves are more a smaller horde mode encounter where you are set to defend an objective while stronger waves of enemies may assault it. Once completed, you are able to loot the object and gain a decent amount of materials. However, what you get is at random rather than specific to the area and this brings me to my first frustration. I would have liked to be working towards the gear I was wearing and using. To gather materials specifically for that purpose and thus gain a greater sense of progression but no – while I would get a decent dump of materials, it was often materials I didn’t need and probably wouldn’t use.
I just thought to dump it all in the Stash (Bank), but this brings me to my next major frustration in that the small town areas are open to PvP. I was aware of the Open PvP nature to start, and already had a couple amusing encounters, but when putting items in and taking them out I wasn’t prepared for the pair of players waiting for random people to come into town just to jump them and of course steal their stuff. This makes perfect sense of course, but it effectively locks you out of your bank and makes it difficult to stockpile items in a single stash. This leaves you not able to remove those items, not being able to stockpile efficiently, and not being able to craft or upgrade your skills. It effectively locks you out of progression entirely and I see this situation getting worse as the population grows and the towns become permanently camped.
The Combat Crisis
And now for the third and final major frustration… the Combat. They have made some major improvements with the way it functions and feels, and it does perform a lot better in use when attacking enemies and players. Each skill needs to be aimed at the target effectively and while it does require a certain amount of precision, there is a little leeway due to aim assist. Many skills have an area-of-effect portion as well, which means taking into account the actions and movements of the enemy in order to hit. It works well, except for how the mouse tracks with the screen. The screen does move around depending on where your cursor is to give you greater field of view, and it’s a nice touch for a PvP MMO when scouting ahead, but it mostly just created a screen that was in constant in motion, jittering from the slight mouse movements which left my eyes feeling quite strained after a short amount of time.
Unfortunately, with how the Alpha was performing it also didn’t feel very reactive either. There was considerable lag that slowed my own skill commands, but it also delayed the effects of your actions on enemies. I also experienced a fair amount of rubber banding of my character, other players, and the enemies while playing. This was intermittent, with periods worse than others but still present throughout.
I also have an issue with how PvP feels between players at the moment. To me, similarly geared players have a time to kill that is just way too long to the point where the fight is only going to end when someone gives up. Just an hour in while grinding I had to run from an apparent ganker. This turned into a long drawn out cat and mouse encounter that spanned across the map to the point where I got bored and just stood there waiting for the end. It went on for several minutes and even at that stage I wasn’t even under half health yet. Another gank was a little quicker, but even then I was still annoyed with how long it took. The same issue occurred when I tried it myself – I eventually got bored and went somewhere else.
Now I’m not saying ganking, or player vs player combat in general, needs to conclude in a few seconds, that’s an issue many MMOs fall into, but let’s at least make it take less time than making, and then eating, a sandwich. You feel rather helpless in these situation anyway, and prolonging it just makes you feel worse.
Now I haven’t tried the guild orientated content just yet, but it really is difficult gaining the motivation to bother when the base experience just feels so underwhelming. It is an Alpha though (the final one I believe), which is important to iterate. I expect many changes and additions to gameplay from now until release. However, I can’t help but compare it to the progress of both Crowfall and Camelot Unchained. They all seem to be competing for the same PvP player base, yet are trying to entice by focusing certain iterations on mechanics and ways of playing. For The Exiled though, I really can’t think of anything right now about the game that makes it stand out or worth playing instead of other similar games.Related: Alpha, Das Tal, MMO, MMORPG, Preview, PvP, The Exiled