The Dragon Age series is loved by many, but even its fans know that Dragon Age: Origins has never been able to be reproduced. The Waylanders is perhaps the closest to bringing back the same epic narrative of Dragon Age: Origins, while having a multi-class party system featuring real-time combat with pause. And while it’s going to be released as an Early Access title, I can already see its potential.
The backdrop is sufficiently epic, too: you are to attend a meeting, the first of its kind, between your people and the gods. When that goes horribly wrong, you’re forced to fight for your life in a land now full of roaming monsters, as you’re inexplicably unstuck from time. The once peaceful land has been splintered into warring factions—those vying for the now vacant throne.
Just by reading the product description, you can see The Waylanders has some serious pedigree. Written by Emily Grace Buck who worked on the TellTale Batman games, and industry veteran (and legend) Chris Avellone, with Mike Laidlaw as a story consultant pretty much guarantees, at minimum, a compelling story. And so far, so good: as it takes place during two distinct time periods: The Celtic and the Medieval, and promises to be full of choices that will change the outcome of the game.
If the internet is any indication, then when Larian Studios announced that Baldur’s Gate 3 was going to have turn-based combat, those purists who wanted real-time combat with a tactical pause were anguished that a modern take on this classic mechanic wasn’t in the works. I can happily say that after playing The Waylanders, real-time with pause is back, baby.
In The Waylanders you’ll make a character, but you’ll really be taking command of a party of adventurers—sorcerers, healers, warriors, etc. Your warriors can be your meat shield while the rest of the party damages and debuffs enemies, while healing and buffing the party. There are 6 classes which you can further specialize, and five playable races.
While The Waylanders looks great, it does have some technical hiccups, which isn’t too surprising for being in Early Access. For some reason when the framerate was uncapped, it made the game chug, but capping it at 60 fixed it. Also, it feels like the UI is a little incomplete, especially when it comes to the information you’re getting in combat. But it’s fun, fully playable, and scratches that real-time with pause itch.
Since The Waylanders is entering into Early Access, it won’t be feature complete. According to the Steam store page, the full version will not be available until the end of the year at the earliest—and could be in development into next year. If you get it right now, you’ll be getting only a fraction of the finished game, as you only have access to a part of the first act—in a three act game.
The Waylanders is rife with possibility. Between potential companions (and potential romance options) and time travelling between two distinct time periods, there’s a lot of story to be had. And it works to satisfy those who prefer their roleplaying game combat in real time with a tactical pause, instead of entirely turn-based.
The Waylanders is available in Early Access tomorrow
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