When Daybreak drops a big Landmark patch, it apparently does so quite literally… onto hard, unforgiving concrete… from the top of a tall building. Because this puppy broke! I was still in character creation when the second wipe happened (at least I had more time to contemplate my hairstyle!), and when I finally got to log in I was bugged from the first second. And all this with launch coming sometime this spring. Not the most auspicious of beginnings.
Luckily, while much was disappointing, not all was negative. Here are my very first impressions of the post-wipe world that were garnered during the time servers were stable enough to play.
Maybe it was my own hopes and dreams coloring the words, but when devs talked about more customization in character creation, I seriously felt like the subject was played up, as if there were a good amount. There isn’t. There are three new starting outfits with corresponding weapons. The Samurai-looking dude has a sword, but the sci-fi outfit has a squirt gun (aka water cannon) and the western getup includes two six shooters (which luckily have movie-style ammo clips that never end). And you can’t uncouple the outfit from the weapon, so even if you liked the look of the western but didn’t want guns, you are stuck with them to start.
I know devs played up the fact that instead of two races — human and large human — there would be a slider. But it doesn’t slide! I was looking forward to adjusting height to something a bit unique, only to find there are still just two options: human and large human. It is the same exact thing as before, just presented in a different place. So much for going for a mid-range height; I am just the same as every other non-large toon. And speaking of races, I know I wasn’t the only one hopeful that additional races would appear, but I can understand that feature not making it in this time. Perhaps before launch? Let me keep my dreams!
In all, the character creation options were pretty underwhelming and disappointing. There might have been an additional hairstyle or two, but I honestly couldn’t tell for sure. Other than the outfits, it was pretty same old, same old. I really hope that changes.
Setting aside my disappointment in the character creation, I logged in with anticipation, ready to explore the new features of the world. And then reality slapped me back down to new levels of disappointment. I, and all the friends who logged in at the same time, were privileged to be among those who were bugged from the very second we started the game. The very first second!
That whole thing about getting an auto-granted claim on the flat newbie Pioneer Landscape and starting life on your claim? Nope. We all logged in to a huge pile underground with nothing — and no ability to place a claim on that landscape! The system is in place such that if you pick up your Pioneer Landscape claim, you can’t set it back down, so devs warned players not to move it unless you were absolutely sure. And it’s not like you could just remake a character after the bug is fixed to get your land; Daybreak made it clear that your reimbursement for everything you’ve purchased over the last two years will appear on only that first character you created. Those of us without our auto-granted claims were just SOL from the get-go.
I was already disappointed about the idea of a randomly placed claim somewhere as I prefer land next to water, but not getting even the chance at all was really disappointing. It also meant I wasn’t going to be checking out the new building stuff any time soon. Yes, you could go make a base claim flag for free at the portal spire (once you get above ground either by evac’ing to safety via escape or relogging), but that claim had to be placed out in the regular landscapes. OK, fine, we’ll go and just plop one down to check out the building stuff and then look for a more ideal spot later. Um, no. My friend was the first to place a claim, only to find he couldn’t pick it back up again to move it. First it said picked up, then he couldn’t place it, and finally he went back to find the claim still sitting right where he didn’t leave it. Of course, this made me hold off placing mine because I didn’t want to be stuck anywhere until I found a place I really like. Next time I will explore the new building, props (tinting!), and other features more fully.
For those who didn’t get an initial claim or who are debating moving off that starter island, an important difference to note between the two claims is that while the Pioneer Landscape claim will flatten your site into a smooth stone surface for you, the claims on the regular landscapes do not do that. Personally, I am very grateful that the other landscapes do not ruin the natural lay of the land, as that is usually precisely why someone would pick any particular spot!
Since I couldn’t build, I went ahead and started exploring the new Chaos Caverns. These have taken over as the underground adventuring system in place of the vast network of underground caves and tunnels. And while I have visited less than 10 so far, I am again seriously missing the old way. Daybreak devs remarked how they wanted the caves to be less confusing and more fun, but the fact that I keep finding the most elementary little tunnel opening up into an uber-easy-to-find cavern is precisely the opposite of fun for me.
I am pretty disappointed. I loved exploring and getting lost in tunnels, sometimes having to dig my way out, and these are so simple it almost makes me cry. My first one had some nice twists, turns, and drops, but they got so simplistic after that. I am hoping that it is only my really bad RNG sending me to the wimpiest of Chaos Caverns, but I cannot be sure. I do still love coming across the awesome ruins created by other players, and I spent most of my time poking about those and admiring all that work.
The happy moments
As I said, not everything was heartbreaking. I really enjoy the new interface that opens up the screen more. I love that the health and energy bars are no longer clouding the center of the screen, but I do wish I could move them from the bottom right corner where I never, ever look! (Perhaps I missed that ability-to-customize-the-UI function, but I don’t think so.) I also appreciate that the location watermark is gone so that I don’t have to continually fix that in my screenshots, and the new travel mode window is really convenient. Having the little loot window outside of chat is also really nice. On top of that, I also really like the new buttons that offer me the different camera modes. It is just easier to use and I get better views. I just hope the ability to fly on other people’s claims was a bug!
While I haven’t yet explored the new building UI (I notice it is quite large) or the new templates, I do like the style of the new modular pieces that players are given to work with. I love the castle style, and I love even more that a fellow player designed them. As far as personal templates, at least one friend was bugged and didn’t have access to any of his previous templates, so hopefully that gets resolved.
I also really loved the addition of a new resurrection spot on player claims. This is a huge deal for me since my whole desire is to make underground dungeon mazes for players to fight through and find chests of loot. How many would really run all the way back to finish the adventure if they were ported far away? And would they even remember just where it was? I didn’t personally get to try this new rez feature because it cost a spirit anchor, but I did find I could die on an empty player claim by flying up high and falling. (The things I do for screenshots!)
Although it’s not a big deal compared to the bugs and crashes that are plaguing the servers, I am also disappointed in the devs’ decision to strip away the uniqueness of Landmark by changing the language of the game. Islands to landscapes I get, but honestly, trying to make the game sound standardized feels insulting. I don’t think new players will be so stupid that they can’t understand terms like voxel, claim, and template once they start playing. And personally, goals are only goals if I set them, otherwise they are achievements. Players can be pretty smart, and learning the nuances of a new game is part of the charm of going to a new world. That’s part of what makes it a whole new world. Seriously, the change from voxels to blocks feels like stripping the identity of Landmark to make it just like everyone else. I hate it. I hate it because Landmark is not like everything else, and that is precisely why I like it!
My last complaint is the removal of the harvesting of plants because it “wasn’t fun.” Says who? I loved harvesting plants, wielding my machete and hacking through the landscape. I’m really tired of hearing the “not fun” refrain when all the things I find fun are being stripped away.