There is something faintly familiar about Rend’s Rocs. Sure, they are hardly the first example of big bipedal birds, but… something about the way their bodies are shaped? Or their legs? Maybe it’s those yellow feathers a bunch of them have? Eh, it’s probably nothing. And even knowing what they resembled wouldn’t help you deal with them, since Rocs are not particularly friendly birds and tend to serve as pack hunters in wide open spaces.
Players will need to content with the savage beaks of these birds from multiple angles, as they tend to hunt in threes and can be led by powerful matriarchs who put the fear of birds into any unwary travelers. Of course, dispatching them can produce meat and eggs for cooking, and black Roc feathers are quite useful for crafting. Check out the full rundown to see how you’re going to handle these birds in the game.
Everything is moving in Rend. That much should be expected, of course, because the game is still early in its testing cycle. In this particular case, though, the faction base is moving from the prior location to a spot closer to Yggdrasil. This has a number of benefits, as it gives players a taste of what to expect during the first journey to the base, provides clearer movements to the other biomes, and offers the developers a chance to change the map a bit further.
This also helps adjust the overall balance of the game by setting creature movement speeds to account for the new location, and since the game’s taming system is arriving in the same update it addresses multiple issues at once. None of the changes impact the overall timeline, so you can look forward to seeing the results of these shifts yourself sooner rather than later. Our own Andrew got a chance to see how the game is coming along on E3, so you can also take his word for it.
Frostkeep Studios showed off plenty for Rend at E3, as you can see from our hands-on with the game, but the studio still has more to share. It unveiled another boime last Friday, showing off the lush landscape that surrounds hearthhome with a flyover video. Stagswood is home to — you guessed it — stags. But this survival PvPvE game doesn’t feature just ordinary stags. No, these majestic luminescent creatures have beautiful flora growing out of their mighty antlers. They live among the skogurfrut bushes and hardwood saplings under the canopy. Also living amid the foliage (likely stalking you) are wargs, and down in caves you’ll find vicious looking Ursas. Check out some screens below, then watch the flyover and collect a few survival tips on Rend’s official site.
When I met Frostkeep Studios’ CEO Jeremy Wood and crew at GDC earlier this year, I walked away impressed. I finally felt like I understood why other MOP staff are so excited about this flying-under-the-radar title. And this year at E3, I not only saw a more finished build of Rend but got some hands-on time with the game. I can’t say the floor demo did the game any justice, but what I heard from Wood and co-founder Solomon Lee sounded like the kind of forward thinking that only comes from developers who know the history of the genre and their playerbase.
Although I think I could start a hype train, I’m going to try to try to reserve judgment for a little longer. Rend may not be an MMO (it’s a moddable survival game with factions), but it has the potential to feed that MMO hunger we know you’re craving.
The big focus in Rend is about building and augmenting your faction’s base, but there are other parts of the map worth vying for as well. The first development roadmap feature, control points, is currently available to test in the alpha, and it gives each faction a chance to earn valuable resources at the cost of a more vulnerable outer base.
Nine control points are available across the map, in strategic locations as well as on borders and near the center. Once a faction captures a control point, it can build bases around the control point, and the point itself will enjoy a few hours of safety before it can be recaptured. However, it’s still vulnerable, as all three factions will want it for their own due to a steady stream of spirits and the bonus for capturing.
Of course, attacking and recapturing the point lets you take anything still there when it swaps sides as well as offering other rewards based on how long the prior faction held that point. So it’s something to skirmish over as you fight for control of the overall map.
After all the talk and hullabaloo, we can understand being eager to take on Rend as an actual game instead of a concept. Good news, then! The first alpha test will be playable now! That’s no assurance that you’ll be one of the people playing it, however, since it is an invite-only test and there are no firm numbers on how many people will be allowed in. But you can sign up and have a realistic hope of getting in, that’s good enough.
Rend, for those who have forgotten, is a faction-based survival sandbox focused around a mix of PvE and PvP combat with a time-limited server reset mechanism. We had a chance to peek at the game’s current state at both GDC and PAX East, so check those out if you’d like a refresher about what we saw. (Which, for the record, was good stuff.)
My experience with Rend last year felt a bit like stepping into a faerie circle and slipping into another world, sneaking up to a rather secret meeting in a restaurant on the Boston pier and seeing this game that at once seemed like a very obvious take on a familiar formula while also being immediately appealing to me personally. So it was a given that I would go back, and I can confirm that the fish restaurant itself was very real; I had some fried fish. It was tasty.
Of course, by that point I had already seen Rend again because it had a booth on the show floor showing off what it had on offer.
I didn’t get to actually play the game on the show floor this year, but I did get a guided tour through all of the things that the game had gone through in the year since I had seen it. As I was told repeatedly, when I saw the game then, it was the work of five guys crammed into a basement working on something. Now, though, the game is approaching something much bigger, better, and brighter.
You know what’s one of the best remedies for the post-holiday blues? All of the excitement of MMO year previews and new rounds of testing that tend to start in January. Rend is doing its part to bolster spirits, as the PvP sandbox announced that it will be kicking off its alpha test sometime in the next three months.
“Our next big step will be launching the Rend alpha in the first quarter of 2018,” Frostkeep Studios said. “We will initially begin with a brief round of Friends & Family testing to establish client build readiness and server stability before opening up alpha testing to our earlier pre-alpha players who will have immediate access. We will increase the tester pool over time and as needed, adding in waves of players who previously signed up for pre-alpha (no need to re-register on the website).”
The studio said that while the test will be under a “strict media embargo,” players won’t have to sign an NDA but will instead be encouraged to talk about it among the gaming community.
Your home base in Rend is important; defending it is one of the central parts of the game, after all. However, the structure of the game meant that you probably didn’t build your faction’s main base, and quite possibly didn’t do a whole lot to make it feel like your own. That’s why the team is changing up how base-building works in the game, starting by giving players seeds to drop where they will to build their desired structures.
Building is also faster now; rather than having to construct individual pieces, players just select the material type and structure and then automatically put the walls and such together whilst building a structure. The seeds are there to prevent having a landscape littered with half-built structures, although the discussion is still ongoing about how players can get a second seed after the first. Read through the full development diary to see how you’ll have more options to make your own keeps throughout the game world, and then take a peek at our lengthy conversation with the team on the state of the game last month.
Wondering what happened to Rend since its big debut at PAX East? Frostkeep Studios went decidedly quiet over the summer after the three-faction sandbox’s first alpha. Did something happen in that alpha that made the devs change their minds about creating the survival game? After meeting with Jeremy Wood, Co-founder, and Jordan Leithart, developer, at this weekend’s PAX West 2017, I learned that Rend very much is still a thing; in fact, now it’s a even bigger thing. The devs didn’t change their minds about making the game — they’ve increased the scope.
Wood noted that after fan reactions, the team knew it had something good, “something people were excited about. In order to do that justice, then we needed to expand our vision a little bit.” He said the game was too contrictive — it “needed more.” So more it is. Rend is making some big changes, from dramatically increasing the size of the map to adding in more MMO elements to the game. And after checking out these chances, I am more excited to jump in the game myself when it is expected to reopen its doors to testing this fall.
What’s your favorite video game zone? Green hill zone? Marble zone? Aqua lake zone? When Rend comes out, players will find that zone biomes are more than just environmental set dressing — they’ll feature greatly into one’s chances of survival.
The team spent some time yesterday discussing the first few environments that players will progress through in Rend. These include the lush Valley, the pockmarked Center, the cold and black Cave, and the freezing Eternal Wastes. As players progress, they’ll find that each subsequent biome is tougher to survive yet offers better rewards.
The description of the Valley is an example of how the team imagines gameplay becoming steadily more challenging: “The further you get away from your Divinity Stone, the more dangerous the environment becomes. Traveling to the local watering hole is generally a safe bet, but if you’re feeling adventurous, you should probably be well equipped and bring a few friends. Spiders scuttle among the trees, wolves prowl the hills, and beautiful but mysterious elk look down their regal noses at all the other creatures in the Valley.”
Snooty elk, people. You don’t stand a chance.
Frostkeep Studios has another dev blog out this week explaining how Rend will improve on traditional survival sandboxes. How? Factions.
The studio’s Jordan Leithart argues that “one of the biggest draws of survival games is the community,” which is great and all for super social people and extroverts. But a lot of potential players will find themselves overly intimidated by a game where most of the people who meet would rather kill them than take the time and risk to become BFFs. Consequently, the studio is adding joinable factions — three of them, in fact, which’ll sound familiar to MMO players who consider themselves Dark Age of Camelot and Camelot Unchained loyalists.
“My favorite part about factions (along with some other systems that we have in place) is that there is a spot for everyone to help with,” Leithart writes. “If you don’t want to take part in the Reckoning, that’s great. You can spend the time leading up to it gathering resources and crafting the necessary gear to help the faction survive the night. If your idea of fun is to protect your hunter gatherer’s from roaming bands of opponent factions, then you’re needed for the faction to thrive.”
If you’ve ever been responsible for interacting with a toddler for any length of time, you’ll probably have some idea of the nature of the “why” practice implemented at Frostkeep Studios. Essentially, the idea is that when someone asks for something, you ask “why” five times to get at the core reason behind it. It might sound childish due to its specific similarity to one of the more annoying games children play with authority figures, but it also informs one of the central philosophies behind developing for Rend to hopefully improve upon the whole survival genre.
The official post explains is that for every element within the game, there needs to be a reason to include it more robust than “these other games have it as a core feature.” It has to be a feature that is, fundamentally, fun for players in this game and something that works well for this design. Whether or not the philosophy will work out in the long run remains to be seen, but it’s certainly a good place to start.