Years after the successful launch of Life is Feudal: Your Own, developer Bitbox changes their hardcore realistic sandbox formula and turns the game into a full-fledged MMO.
Bitbox’s Feudal series has always been a mixed bag of high praise and strong criticism, but that is to be expected. Life is Feudal is largely about being as realistic as possible when it comes to living during the medieval times. As a result, the logical explanation is that the series is simply not for everyone. Realism in games is typically difficult to pull off because, lets face it, most of us do not want things truly realistic. Life is Feudal: Your Own did not care about this stigma and neither does the MMO version.
With the current wave of testing soon coming to a close, I had the opportunity to jump into Life is Feudal: MMO for roughly a week to see what the MMO version of the game was all about. As a disclaimer, I’ve never been a huge fan of the series, but have dabbled in it occasionally when playing with friends. As such, I am well aware of what the game typically has to offer, and how things may differ from the previous games.
First of all, character creation in the MMO version does its job well enough that you can create a decent variety of different characters. You’re given several different but typical aesthetic options that can be modified to personify the character such as changing hair style and color. Among the unique, non-aesthetic options was the ability to modify your starting stats and skills. These are stats that heavily influenced your character’s abilities in game, but for some reason there were no indicators that really identified what each stat or skill actually did. As a result, I simply allocated my stats and skills at random and hoped for the best. It was not until after I entered and started manipulating the world did I begin to get a sense of identity for each skill.
When I finally started playing the game, I was spawned next to a river on the bank of a massive forest. Nearly instantly, a tutorial popped up on my screen in the form of a separated UI window. It was not voiced, so I had to simply read through as I played, but I found that tutorial does a pretty decent job at teaching new players the basics. As someone who had played a previous game in the series, it was not necessary for me, but I could clearly read and complete tasks being given to me just using the tutorial alone.
At this point, I started running around collecting basic materials like flint and branches in order to start building tools, which are absolutely necessary to progress in Life is Feudal: MMO. While doing so, I came across a random empty village that was not owned by anyone else on the server, so I officially claimed it as my own. This was great; right at the start I got access to an entire village, including warehouses full of food and material solely for my usage. With my newly claimed property, I set out of look for animals to hunt and NPCs to meet/maim, but this is honestly where my realization of just how big and empty this world really was. Every single village I came across on my week long journey was either completely barren or had a few motionless NPCs in it.
Geologically, massive woodlands that could been seen from the top of hills were almost entirely void of all life. In fact, the only living “thing” I actually came across was a single wolf which seemed bugged, as it did not move or show any form of hesitancy as I approached it. Needlessly to say, I was quite disappointed, and had to put the game down for awhile when I could not find anyone after walking around for a hour.
After a break, I got back on the game with the intent to ignore the empty world and decided to create my own fun by building things on my own. Even with my own village, there was always room for improvement, so I improvised. As I walked and gather materials for various projects, I soon realized that the sheer amount of grind required to do anything notable was mind-binding. Clearly Bitbox intends to have large groups of players working on the same projects, as the time investment on your own did not seem even remotely worth anything. It was tedious to the point that I decided to go ahead and let this game cook a bit more before trying it again.
Visually, Life is Feudal: MMO is generally above the original, but the horrible animations still leave a lot to be desired. Simple things like turning your character is not smooth by any stretch. Changing into combat stance looked extremely lack luster, and most UI elements remain highly clunky to the point of frustration. Out of all of these things, it is the awful UI that is going to push people far away from it. The original game had many of the same issues, and I felt that none were fixed with the MMO version of the game.
If I had to summarize my impressions of this game, I would say it was largely a mediocre super-sized version of the already fairly mediocre original game. The game has the same great concepts that the original does, but there is a lot of work that needs to be done in order to make this MMO viable to actually play and enjoy. Luckily, the game is still in development and I continue to look forward to what Bitbox has to offer.