A Glacial Cacophony

Terrifying visions of the future.

There are few releases that I’m anticipating as much as the full release of Last Epoch. Not only are the developers continually supporting its development during Early Access, but they’re introducing new ideas through subsequent updates which they’re executing with staggering proficiency. I was quite impressed by the implementation of Idols. They’re reminiscent of the Charms introduced in Diablo II: Lord of Destruction, but unlike Charms you don’t need to sacrifice precious inventory space to carry them. They’re stored in their own inventory which is unlocked (and upgraded) through quests.

It’s an interesting solution to a known problem.

Not only does it limit the number of Idols that you can carry (and how many benefits you can have), but it means that you’ll never need to choose between more benefits or more space. You can have both. Their limited inventory also encourages you to consider the best Idols for your build.

As you won’t be able to mindlessly flood your inventory space with more Idols until you’re unable to hold anything else. I’ve always felt that Last Epoch has the potential to be something truly special, and I greatly appreciate how the developers have put thought into the implementation of new mechanics. Rather than taking inspiration from other ARPGs and careless introducing conflicting mechanics. They’ve splendidly established themselves through their dedication to the player experience. Introducing new ideas only when it benefits the player experience, and adjusting existing ideas to further refine it. I’m quite excited that they’re going to be introducing shrines, too. Mostly because they’ve hinted that not every shrine will have a positive outcome, and that you might wish to avoid activating some of them.

I’m not sure how I ended up here or how I’m getting back.

While revisiting Last Epoch I’ve been building a Mage. I hadn’t built a Mage prior to this, and my first inclination was to specialise in the Sorcerer Mastery for ranged dominance. Then I remembered the Spellblade Mastery and the choice became obvious. It was first built around Mana Strike and Snap Freeze, with Snap Freeze pinning down foes as I cleaved them in twain. I wasn’t sure which weapon to wield, though. I eventually decided on sceptres due to the inherent bonuses to the damage dealt by spells. Which suited my build as, besides Mana Strike, all of my active skills are classified as spells.

I’d also later abandon my shield in favour of a catalyst.

Instead relying on Teleport (to escape combat) for a while, before realising that Flame Ward could aid my survivability and allow me to remain in combat. As this build relies on chaining together certain skills. Which is much harder to do when you’re having to Teleport out of combat frequently.

To say that I’m impressed with Last Epoch would be an understatement. It was a capable ARPG when it first became available for Early Access, but it has improved exponentially in every way since then. I’m just curious as to what new content (besides the aforementioned shrines) the developers are cooking up. The fifth class hasn’t been announced yet, and there are still two Masteries for the existing classes which have yet to be implemented. So I’m looking forward to those. Anything that promotes more build diversity and unique ways to utilise each class is certainly going to enhance the longevity of an ARPG. I’m just hoping that they continue to take their time with the development, and not rush the release even if it’s taking longer than they originally anticipated. It deserves to get the recognition it has earned when fully released.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Delving Into Dungeons

Plagued by gnawing uncertainty.

There are few things as satisfying as crawling through a crumbling dungeon while being besieged by hordes of monsters. Clinging to that last scrap of bread as your hunger grows, but pressing on in hopes of acquiring great treasure and attaining even greater glory. It’s often an entirely perilous pursuit. But that’s not going to stop me. I’ve always been fond of exploring new locations, and I’m glad that dungeon crawlers offer countless opportunities to do so while reminding you of your fragile mortality. Especially when you’re encouraged to build a fresh party of adventurers with each attempt.

As each attempt should then differ from the last.

But even if the same party is maintained with each attempt, failing the last should encourage a different approach for the next. If the RPG mechanics are adequate then the outcome should change. Which doesn’t mean that it’ll be a guaranteed success, but at least a different kind of failure.

Grim Dawn executed this exceptionally well with its challenge dungeons. While your character build remained the same, the dungeon would reset and the Skeleton Key (required to enter the dungeon) would be lost. Forgotten Gods, the second expansion pack for Grim Dawn, introduced the Shattered Realm to stand alongside challenge dungeons. However, unlike challenge dungeons, the Shattered Realm encouraged you to clear each level in the best time possible, and would offer extra rewards if you did so. Obviously Grim Dawn is not a grid-based movement dungeon crawler, but it does utilise some mechanics which would suit the genre well. I’d definitely appreciate a dungeon crawler that introduced content similar to the Shattered Realm. Rather than simply providing randomly generated floors to wearily trudge through.

A delightfully devilish interpretation of dungeon crawling mechanics.

Which is why I’m quite fond of how Book of Demons implemented its dungeon crawling mechanics. Rather than designing a fixed sequence of floors akin to Diablo, the developers opted to utilise dungeon generation mechanics which allow you to decide just how long you’d like to explore the dungeon for. I’ve actually been thinking about revisiting a few ARPGs this year. But I’ve also made a surprising number of purchases (despite not intending to) in recent months. I’ve been enoying Death end re;Quest after completing Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, but I’m unsure of what I’ll be playing next.

I’ve been thinking about the Early Access for Stoneshard.

But I’ve also been thinking about (the recently purchased) Infinite Adventures. Then there’s Wasteland Remastered, which might not be a grid-based movement dungeon crawler but is certainly a worthy consideration. Especially when I’m keen to begin my post-apocalyptic adventures in Wasteland 2.

Last Epoch was another worthy consideration as that has already proven to be quite a capable ARPG. But it’s so very difficult deciding what to do next when there’s so much that I’m enthusiastic about. Let this post serve as forewarning that I’ll likely be flooding Moggie’s Proclamations with gaming content, and that I’ll be incredibly happy while doing so. There might be some creative content as well. That’s always a possibility. I’ve written before of my nostalgic love for dungeon crawlers and I’ll probably do it again. While I do love ARPGs, I’ve always enjoyed bringing together a party of adventurers with different abilities and talents. I sorely miss party-based RPGs. Which is why I’ve been investing in numerous JRPGs, as they’re often party-based with turn-based combat and those are two of my favourite things.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

First Impressions of… Last Epoch

Across the landscape of time we travel!

Last Epoch is a rather ambitious Early Access ARPG featuring a broad (and entirely customisable) skill system, five distinct character classes (which specialise into various Masteries), travelling across time through four (increasingly post-apocalyptic) eras, and a steady flow of developer updates to expand on existing content. They’re quite frequent at the moment and I doubt that they’ll maintain that frequency, but it is nice to see that the developers are addressing various issues and adding new features while Last Epoch is in its infancy. It shows their commitment to creating something truly special.

Which, to be fair, Last Epoch is on its way to being.

I’m quite fond of the time travel mechanics. Not just because I love time travel mechanics, but because you’re working towards reversing the events that eventually left the world a smouldering ruin and more or less preventing the apocalypse. It’s a rather unique main campaign story for an ARPG at the very least.

There are five character classes (with the fifth yet to be implemented) and each represents a concept. The Sentinel, for instance, is a tough close quarters fighter who (through the three different Masteries) can adapt to fighting with various weaponry. Each Mastery representing a more specialised variant of the base class. The Paladin, for instance, being focused on healing and recovery. While the Primalist is a hardy survivalist and can summon animal companions to his side. Or turn into a ferocious beast through the Druid Mastery. Likewise the Acolyte represents the more unsavoury magical pursuits, and is the opposite of the Mage who focuses on wholesome magical pursuits. Like being a Spellblade. In many ways, the character classes are the reason that Last Epoch is so enjoyable as they’re so flexible.

Bathed in the tainted void.

To add to that flexibility is the rather engaging skill system which allows you to specialise into a handful of skills. These skills have their own development trees allowing you to drastically alter their behaviour. Such as adapting Warpath to do more damage when you’re using a two-handed weapon, but then allowing you to eventually block while spinning. Making use of the plethora of block-related passives of the Sentinel’s various trees. As such, there is a great feeling of experimentation and developing classes to whatever you wish them to become. Even if those ideas seem completely outlandish.

Crafting is also quite intuitive but rather unique.

You collect various crafting tokens which are basically prefixes and suffixes that can be applied to different types of equipment. You can then combine those tokens with existing equipment and get the exact bonuses you want, which is more favourable than collecting raw materials only to create vendor trash items.

There are, however, a few issues which have yet to be resolved. The framerate staggers quite significantly at times, there’s an odd issue with the screen resolution when logging in, and sometimes the chat box refuses to go away. But these are minor issues and are expected of something that isn’t completely finished yet. That said, if you can look past those issues and are looking for an incredibly solid Early Access ARPG then I can highly recommend Last Epoch. It’s an absolutely enjoyable experience. It’s also a rare example of a modern ARPG that is looking to reinvent the wheel to some extent. Working with existing conventional mechanics but adding something all their own to them. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how it develops over the next year or so!

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie