The Exiled Preview – End of the World as we Know It

Chris Wray

It's rare that I think of a game as pointless. I honestly try to like everything and I envy people who like something that I don't. Everything has some intrinsic value, or at least that's what I thought. Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 had  underage breasts to look at. Ride to Hell: Retribution had motorbikes (I'm a biker). The Exiled, well honestly I can't see the point.

There's one thing I need to point out right from the start. The Exiled is a PVP oriented game. Despite setting yourself to friendly, you're going to get murdered by a group of others and lose everything. Once you're spotted, that's it. If you're engaged in one of the time-consuming resource events and someone wanders along, time to pick your battle. I should also point out that The Exiled is a game that looks at solo players, sticks a giant middle finger up at them and laughs.

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A common, fallible, argument is that MMO's aren't for solo players. Of course with some titles this is true. The Exiled is one of these. The game has everything designed in mind for grouping up, for clan-based activities. Capturing a town or resource point, you have to be in a clan. Donating items to 'save the world', clan. Making a tuna sandwich and enjoying some time in the game, clan please.

I wouldn't be lying if I said that the only things you can do without a clan are wandering around the poorly designed open world, killing the host of boring and uninteresting monsters and activating the small events that randomly appear throughout the game. Why? Because there's honestly no real content to be found for those interested in any sort of solo or story-oriented play.

The extent of the story actually comes from the Steam store page. Apparently the world is in a state of upheaval and you, as well as the other players, have been exiled from what is now a dictatorship. You're now given the choice of how to live your life. In the words of the blurb: "Do you become a lone wanderer and live off the lands? Will you join the rebels and try to leave the valley by force? Or do you turn to your baser instincts and survive by robbing your fellow inmates?"

My complaint for this comes from the fact that the first and second options are impossible. You're literally dropped into the world, given a brief tutorial on the few different weapon sets, taught how to attack, use skills and craft and then left to your own devices. This is perfectly fine in a game like Rust which openly admits this, but with no real option for escaping this valley of exiles, what's the point in talking it up?

So what is the aim of The Exiled? The only real aim is to be the top of the leaderboards. There are three rankings: respect, elegance and efficiency. What they actually mean, I'm not sure. Respect is gained by other players giving it to you. Elegance and efficiency? Your guess is as good as mine. What I do know is that, at this stage of early access, the only metric that matters is respect. The clan, and solo player, with the most respect at the end of the server's life is declared the winner.

This is where we come to the part that I consider the game inherently pointless. At the end of every month, servers are wiped. While this seems a good idea in that it breaks any control a clan has over the build and resource control points on a server, it also means any personal progress is lost. The only long-term gain is fame. Fame is gained through in-game challenges and unlocks cosmetic items.

In some respects, breaking the rule a clan has makes sense. There's nothing to stop a giant clan, during the next 'season', from becoming dominant in the same way a clan was before. During the course of a season, then, it's all about controlling areas and player versus player warfare. However, just to add an extra factor, there's a world end factor.

While there are guarantees that the server will end in a month, just to give you something to do in-between there's an objective to donate items and resources to prevent an attack by 'jailers'. This attack is guaranteed to destroy the world and end the server early. Once complete, the mission just comes back and requires more resources than before. This is also an objective that can only be completed by a clan member. Of course, you can create your own one-man clan to contribute and even participate in other clan-only objectives, including the ability to capture area.

What you can do alone is limited to basic resource collecting 'events'. These are activating a randomly appearing fallen meteorite or fallen caravan, fighting off the monsters that appear over an incredibly long time and then collecting the resources. You can collect other resources by killing the horde handful of monsters which are limited to People, mutants, frogs or wolves. Every now and then a special monster will appear that drops enhanced loot, but solo combat is just repetitive and boring.

Fighting against other people is the only time I've had any reasonable enjoyment in the game. Classes severely require some balance. Using a bow and leather gear effectively making you the master of the universe and only the best of players have a chance of taking you down due to the tactics you can employ with the available skills. The problem with player vs player is that you can't secure any of your items. If you die, you lose everything.

There are stash points placed around the randomly generated map but, perplexingly, they aren't interlinked. If you place any much-needed resources in a stash point at the bottom of the map and end up setting your respawn point at the top, an incredibly long trip is required to go collect them. This lack of thought also appears with the game map. One long rectangle, segmented specifically and always cut off in the most obtrusive way possible. There's nothing cohesive, with sandy rocks acting as the divider in-between two ice-zones. Get to the edge of the map? Don't worry, you can see where it ends.

The lack of cohesion in the map, the reliance on random missions and the fact that everything in the game is just random is the games core fault. There's no emergent storytelling, no even base story to follow at the start. I understand the developers aim for a primarily PVP oriented game but there needs to be at least an aim. They also claim to want to reduce grind that comes with MMO's, but the reliance on time-consuming resource events actually creates more grind than quests found in typical MMO's.

It's possible I'm being too harsh on The Exiled. After all, it just launched on Steam Early Access. Honestly, outside of PVP and the idea of resetting a clan's control over a map, I can't see any positives. Aesthetically, the game is certainly passable, though nothing special. There are small details that indicate a decent level of work has gone into the game. The abilities used in battle, background details like the swaying of trees and the shadows of birds flying overhead. They all add that little bit to the world.

Despite these small details, the land is as generic as the missions available on it. Most egregious is the price of the game. It's free to play for seven days but after that, you have to pay a minimum of £15/$20 with the special version setting you back a princely £61/$80. Frankly, I'd wait a few months for more content before trying out the seven-day free trial.

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