While at PAX West, I had the opportunity to catch up with Frostkeep Studios, the developers behind the upcoming online fantasy survival game Rend. Rend came to Steam's early access a little over a month ago, and Frostkeep said that the feedback they have received has changed the game immensely, particularly the order in which things are being worked on. Not everything they're working on has come from community suggestions of course, and they showed me a new zone coming to the game, some new creatures, and other features they're working on.
Roots of Yggdrasil ChangesOne thing they noticed is that towards the end of a match of Rend, most players ended up in the same area, under the tree Yggdrasil. That's where the highest level monsters and materials are found in the game, so it became the unofficial arena for the factions to duke it out in their final weeks. Frostkeep wanted to add some variety to the area, so they've put in a seasons system that will change that area every 30 hours. So from fall to winter, different monsters and materials will be found under the tree. In addition to that, the various seasons will have different buffs and debuffs to contend with.
A big reason for adding this, Frostkeep said, was they didn't want the player experience to be largely the same for the last week or two. Constantly going to the same area, with the same monsters and materials could easily burn people out. Now, factions can plan around the seasons to capitalize on the materials they need most and work together to get them. Of course, the visual changes will help break up the potential tedium, too.
Outcast SystemOne of biggest pieces of player feedback Frostkeep has received has been over griefing or some players just not wanting to engage with their faction. They've come up with several solutions to deal with this.
The first is the outcast system. If a player is continually hurting their own faction or working against them, the faction can decide to cast them out to where they won't be involved with the faction anymore. If they are holding a slot on the server and it's full with someone trying to login, the outcast will be bumped out for the new arrival, too. Part of this came about as they noticed some people employed a strategy of filling one faction on a server with brand new characters, not allowing people to login, letting them run wild.
The elders of a faction will be able to see who is depositing into and withdrawing from the faction, as well. So, the faction will have a good idea on who is contributing and who is just taking what they need at the expense of others' hard work. As Rend is all about teamwork, Frostkeep wants to have systems in place to encourage it and allow those working together to see who may be working against them.
Those actively damaging their faction will see their faction reputation actually go into the negatives now, too. Having a negative reputation with your faction brings with it a bunch of penalties that get worse the further down you go. This is an automated system that will do things like decrease the damage they can to do players and increase the damage they take from other players. As player on player (PvP) combat is a big part of Rend, this is a good incentive to keep your faction reputation on the positive side.
Bounty SystemThe bounty system is still being worked on but it will put a fluid value on you or an enemy's head in terms of souls. The more damage you do to a faction, the more valuable killing you will be to them. The system is still being tweaked, and they're anticipating things like adding in diminishing returns for the same people killing each other over and over. Look for more details on this in the future.
New Game ModesFrostkeep recognized that there are a few people that want to play Rend differently. The main game mode of three factions battling it out for victory will remain the focus of the game's development, but they wanted to offer other options for players to.
There will be what they're calling Exploration Mode, which has no win condition or PvP combat. There will be no factions or faction bases, meaning everything on those servers will be driven by clans. Because of this, Exploration Mode servers will actually be able to support larger communities playing at once together, where in a normal game they're capped at 20.
They noticed there were a lot of players just getting into the game to do their own thing, feeling out the different systems on their own instead of engaging with their faction. Some just wanted to go out and build up their own big base from the ground up, or just run around the world with no ticking clock to its end constantly over their head.
There will also be a Classic Survival Game Mode, which has no factions or win conditions but is heavily PvP focused. Frostkeep said they expect this game mode will be what most people are familiar with when it comes to survival games. The only thing driving you are your own goals, and you don't need to worry about souls or anything else.
New Zone - Nidavellir
The next major piece of content to be added to the game is a new zone, Nidavellir. Nidavellir is the dwarven realm, taking place in large caverns in tunnels. Its main theme will be that of light and dark, as having a light to guide you will be an important part of traversing the area. So important that you'll have to keep close attention to what you're looking at. Nidavellir has many crystals throughout that give off a soft glow, but that same glow is given off by some monsters too.
Nidavellir is still being developed, so keep an eye out for more information in the future.
Balancing and Other ChangesThe developers told me that they saw a match play out where one faction figured out that picking flowers was an incredible way to get a lot of souls very efficiently. They set up a flower supply line and quickly won the match. While that was really cool and unanticipated, that's not how Frostkeep wants the game to be played. It's not fun or rewarding. They were quite impressed by what players will do in the name of victory, however.
They want to incentivize PvP a little more. They want the most risky things you do to be the most rewarding, which is why things like capture points and Reckonings will reward the most souls. They're also making world PvP more rewarding, making the spirit value gained from participating in it much higher. This is where the bounty system mentioned above comes from as well.
They're also working on a way to deal with one faction obviously shooting ahead of the others. If players on the other factions feel there is no hope of winning, they'll lose their drive and stop playing on the server. That's not fun for them, nor is it fun for the players on the faction currently ahead.
To help that some, they are adding in passive soul generation for all factions. The amount of souls generated will be proportionate to your current amount of souls. So, the team with the most souls will have the lowest generation and vice versa. Frostkeep thinks this will make a rubberbanding effect, allowing factions that may be behind have the feeling they can climb back up and come out on top if they try.
Most of the above comes from just a short few weeks in early access, so it will be interesting to see what Rend looks like six months from now. Frostkeep told me they have no plans to stay in early access more than a year, and ideally want to be out of it in the 6-9 month mark. Player feedback is key to their development cycle, so always expect that to be important going forward. There will be continual news coming out about the game, as Frostkeep is working on updates, fixes, and many community suggestions, so keep an eye out fort them.
Have you given Rend a try? Do you find it interesting? If you do play, what would you like to see in Rend?