I'm currently typing this out at 12:30AM as I'm uninstalling the game so please excuse any errors I make or my poor writing skill as I feel incredibly passionate about my stance right now and haven't written anything like this within the last two years. Regardless, people need to know about how straight up fucked this game is. If you've watched the recent quick look or any of the coverage on this game and have possibly been swayed to buy it, rethink that decision. This game is a broken mess that should not have left early access in it's current state and probably should've stayed in early access for at least another 6 months. Before I go on, I just want to say with as negative as this post is going to ultimately be, I really wanted to enjoy Wolcen, and even legitimately enjoyed the game's first few hours. I have no animosity towards the developers as people, just the decisions they've made and the game itself.
Currently the common opinion surrounding Wolcen is that the presentation and style are its strongest characteristics, and that's the truth. Wolcen does look very nice and uses the distinct 40K grimdark style combined with elements from Diablo to its advantage. The world's overall style, spell effects, and character design obviously apes on the style of various media that came before but it does it beautifully, all in conjunction with the ten ton pauldrons we've all seen in games. But for Wolcen, its style is all it really has going for it at the moment.
With the wealth of great ARPG's on the market you'd think that Wolcen's developers would have plenty of games to pull ideas and experiences from to make it play well. With the handful of loot based games that have had rocky launches strictly due to loot stagnation, you'd think that the developers would have plenty of examples to self-assess their own loot pool to make sure its loot felt meaningful. With modern games being in an age of always online "live games," you'd think that Wolcen's developers would spend some time to make sure that the "always online" route would be the best to take or that their servers would be in semi-working shape at launch or even when their game is playable. Even with almost 4 years in Early Access it just seems that Wolcen was made in some sort of vacuum where no other games like Diablo, Path of Exile, or even Destiny were ever actually released and that this game was pieced together using pre-release screenshots of those games and then some.
When you get past the tutorial and really start getting into the meat of the game, movement and combat start off feeling snappy with the dodge roll and dash attack and the aforementioned snazzy looking spell effects. But eventually you'll start to peel back the outer layers of the Wolcen onion and you'll start to find a green ogre underneath it all in the shape of an always online connection; with no talking donkey voiced by Chris Rock in sight. Spells and Attacks all have a distinctly weird input lag to them as if your computer is pinging a server somewhere to make sure it's OK for you to be casting anything. And then, assuming the server you ping gives you the OK, you'll now have to deal with the next sulfurous layer of the Wolcen onion, the wonky hitboxes and the incredibly messed up hit registration. Countless times playing this game you will cast spells that will do no damage because they flat out refuse to hit anything, completely disregarding the visual effect making obvious direct contact with the enemy. In the event the game does let you hitting a damn thing, all you've succeeded in doing is mildly pissing off the multi-staged boss you're currently fighting, doing barely any damage in comparison to their ginormous health and stun bar. You try changing up your loot and now suddenly you do weirdly different amount of damage even though the item level is a single digit higher than your previous piece of loot and its stats don't seem to affect your build in any meaningful way. You still die anyway since bosses do immense amounts of damage to you, prompting you to spend large amounts of resources to respec both your stats and passive skill points in the Path of Exile-esque skill tree. You spend 10 minutes to respec your entire tree and all invested skillpoints, because the game doesn't allow respecing of single points, and walk back into the boss fight only to be met with your untimely demise yet again. You try to formulate a new strategy based on hit and run tactics, using the dodge roll to your advantage and hitting him with your most damaging spells while he's finishing his attack string.
But none of this matters because as you cast your spell to counterattack you realize your dodge roll got you stuck on a piece of geometry directly behind the boss. You don't worry, as he's currently casting a spell in front of him so and you can see the AOE indicator on the ground facing away from you so you should be safe, except not really. Even though you're an entire 180 degrees outside the hurtbox, you've now suddenly died as the hurtboxes for enemy attacks seem to follow some kind of ninth-dimensional non-euclidean geometry not known of this earth. You walk back into the fight for what seems to be the 10th try only to get stuck on geometry again, but this time instead of getting smacked into the ninth circle of hell the game decides you're in an odd position and sends you to the forbidden tenth circle of hell where you continue to fall and fall through the skybox until you eventually end up back in the hub town. "Cool," you think, "I'll just TP back to the boss," but the game still thinks your inside the boss room and refuses to allow you to TP anywhere, forcing you to quit the game and launch it back up. Assuming your character, inventory, and player stash even saved, you'll continue to the same cycle of amazement and frustration for around 15 hours until you've beaten the story and hit the endgame.
I'd love to tell you that that's where the game really opens up. I'd love to tell you that that's where the game really gets good. I'd love to tell you anything about the endgame, but I can't because I have yet to even beat the last boss. Why you may ask? Because currently Wolcen has a game breaking bug affecting the final boss where you are unable to do any damage to him as he stands there, imposing his dumb fucking ginormous body on you like the weight of having basically wasted 15 hours of your life to get to a broken boss fight. It's a letdown. One of epic proportions to someone like me, who loves loot based games that reward individual skill in conjunction with the luck of a random drop. There's so much potential here for that magical talking Chris Rock donkey to make the Wolcen onion more palatable as he masquerades as the snappy gameplay, fundamentally good boss fight design, and amazing visuals, but the budget seems to have run out and instead of getting Chris Rock they ended up getting about 20 minutes of Kevin Hart to scream into a microphone.
It's nearly 2AM. I'm angry. Angry at the bland loot, angry at the frustrating gameplay, angry at the game breaking bugs. But most of all, I'm angrily disappointed as I was really hoping to play a modern ARPG that also does the job of looking great but this isn't that game right now. Maybe in a couple of months or maybe in a year when the dust settles and the devs and can work at their own pace, making this game the game it has the potential to be. When that time comes I can say I'd probably recommend this game, but in it's current state all this game has offered me is the opportunity to write a poorly written forum post masquerading as a review with a shoe horned Shrek reference.