Rend-ering Victory: Previewing a Norse Survival Experience

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Written content? On Constantly Calibrating? *Insert ‘What Year Is It GIF’*

So, what brings us here today? Well, I have been absolutely hooked on Rend and needed to discuss it with you all. Simply, this game has been in my brain since E3. Now, some of you may remember when Justin and I streamed our day-by-day coverage that I said I had a solo video about Rend we would film. That never came to be due to scheduling conflicts, so instead I’m here to replace video with words. Hopefully this will start a trend of more written content on Constantly Calibrating again; anything is possible!

Rend 1Now, what is Rend, you may be asking. Well, Rend is a team-based survival game with an MMO styled leveling & talent system all jammed lovingly into a Norse Myth setting. The goal in Rend is to curry favor in a post-Ragnarok world, thus becoming the new gods of Asgard. You’ll do this by gaining faction points in many ways over long-form match sessions. How long? Depending on server settings a match can last 1-2 months, or can be sped up for quicker play sessions.

This is a game, much like many MMOS, that you can hop in and contribute for a few hours. However, unless you don’t like sleep you will likely not play out the whole experience. Throughout matches you’ll acquire “Ascension Points”. These are the games meta-point system allowing you to get bonuses during future matches and to unlock new cosmetic items. At the end of games you’ll also accrue them, depending on your own personal contributions.

It’s the combination of styles of games that I feel sets Rend apart from other similar survival games; namely the incorporation of many different genres.  Speaking to Jeremy Wood, Co-Founder & CEO of Frostkeep Studio, he stated “Survival players, MMO players, sandbox RPG players, and many more will all immediately be hit with some level of comfortable recognition, helping ease them into a new experience.” He continued, “As they dig deeper, players will be exposed to game mechanics from other genres, exposing them to new ideas and mechanics that they will enjoy, even though they wouldn’t normally seek out the type of games that normally use those mechanics.” Even at the end of the Alpha this shifting of genres and style felt readily apparent. Survival games have been done to death, but Rend feels like a fresh take on the tired genre.

Full comments from Jeremy Wood regarding genre mashups & Rend:

“We learned in our early years as developers at Blizzard that taking inspiration from various genres and tying them together in fresh, new packaging is a very powerful and effective way to create something unique while still feeling familiar and comfortable to a wide array of players. Survival players, MMO players, sandbox RPG players, and many more will all immediately be hit with some level of comfortable recognition, helping ease them into a new experience. As they dig deeper, players will be exposed to game mechanics from other genres, exposing them to new ideas and mechanics that they will enjoy, even though they wouldn’t normally seek out the type of games that normally use those mechanics. The end result is a broad and varied community of players, making for the dynamic and interesting social interactions that keep people coming back for more.”

What ultimately interests me most about the world of Rend lies within a few systems in the game:

Rend-ering Experimentation

At the start of my first game I created a character and was dropped, rather unceremoniously, into the shattered world the game takes place in. Tired, hungry, and confused, I searched for what I needed to do to survive. This consisted of typical survival game gameplay: punching literally everything until it gives me items. After a good thirty or so minutes of this activity I was able to put together some rudimentary tools (hammer, axe, and bow) and some clothes. From there the world began to open up in new, interesting ways. At first the game was frustrating and confusing, but then moments began crystallizing until I understood my place and my goals.

My character grew and skilled up with each hit, with each animal kill, and with every item crafted. This is when I saw the breadth of Rend. Without even a decent tutorial — something that is going to be improved upon in early access — I was dropped in on my ass, but an hour in I had my “Spore moment”. For those who don’t know, a “Spore moment” is when in your mind’s eye the camera begins panning back endlessly and you realize how small of an area of gaming you were looking at. Since the game from which this term was inspired I have only had a handful of those moments where a game naturally pulled me in and made me want to truly explore and experiment. Rend seems like that next game that will do just that.

Rend-ering Progression

The progression system in Rend  is one of the more interesting aspects. Combining standard RPG stylings, then coupling it alongside individual skills and faction-based research, the game opens up many avenues. This creates potential for new progression experiences from match to match.

ConCal: What is the expected progression for players over the month or so long cycles the game is built upon?

Jeremy Wood: Players in Rend will have many RPG style progression systems to explore as they play through a long match. They will level through a traditional XP system, granting them talent points to spend in four different trees, providing meaningful changes to their combat and exploration gameplay. Most actions players take in their adventures will also level up individual skills, providing them with interesting perk choices to further differentiate the way they tackle different aspects of the game. A player’s faction will progress through many different technologies via faction-wide research, opening up new personal crafting progression paths for individual players to work through. Additionally, players’ personal and faction bases will progress from very humble beginnings to daunting fortresses of war. To top it all off, players will earn Ascension points to unlock new avenues of progression for their current and future characters, progress which will actually persist across server cycles.

Now, I don’t know about you, but the idea of constantly having new problems to tackle draws me in greatly. The fact that on each server cycle I can start fresh and experience the early game, while maintaining some bonuses from Ascension is also stellar. Just the fact that the game allows for such a variable, yet direct progression is incredibly enticing.

Rend-ering Animals

The final system that pulls me in and attracts me the plans around hunting and taming animals. Despite not playing one for long, what pulled me into World of Warcraft originally was wanting to be a true hunter; someone who both hunted animals and also befriended them. While I haven’t experimented with the taming system in RendI have been told that practically any animal you come across can be tamed. For me, the idea of becoming a stablemaster of a sort is very enticing. And even then, the fact that I can take my bow out into the wilderness and hunt for my and my factions survival at least supplies a degree of excitement. Frankly, there is much in that old hunter archetype that this game is building upon. I’m excited to see what it’s like to take it on.

From the MMO-styled talent system, which allow the picking of different archetypes — I personally experimented with an Assassin/Survivalist in Alpha — to the different goals you can set, the game has a lot going on. I can see myself being a hunter/gatherer during one cycle, only to become a builder in the next, and maybe PVP focused person on the following. Or perhaps I’ll embody all three throughout; the game allows for so much, so why not explore things and see.

 

Rend launches into Early Access on Steam today, Tuesday July 31st. If you end up checking it out, hit me up and let’s bring our faction the glory it deserves!

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About Author

Josh Silverman (CEO & Lead Writer)

A father first, a husband second, and a gamer third and beyond*; Josh Silverman co-founded Constantly Calibrating and intends to continue over-promising and sometimes delivering for years to come. *He may also be a writer and editor somewhere in there.

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