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The Exiled Preview

The Exiled Preview

Have you ever tried to randomly pick words out of a dictionary to make a sentence? Fairytale Distillery seems to have done so for its description of The Exiled, a “social sandbox survival strategy with skill-based PvP”. The game tries to blend the fast-paced action of a MOBA with a no-grind MMO and sets it in a semi-persistent gameworld. To some extent it actually manages to pull it off.

When The Exiled started off on Kickstarter (then as Das Tal) it claimed to be the world’s first open world battle arena. The game promises semi-randomly generated worlds, with unique environments and rules. Players are able to form groups and clans to perform raids, sieges and diplomacy. You’ll not want to be friends for too long, though, as PvP is at the heart of The Exiled. With little to no NPCs or PvE enemies, you’ll be doing a lot of in-fighting. To help you there are five weapon sets that your character can equip - scythe, bow, staff, totem, and a spear/shield combo - along with four armour types. Fairytale Distillery plan further weapons further in the game’s lifetime, with daggers, slings and swords expected.

Combat is based around skillshots (plus a hefty dose of luck in my case) and precise movement using WASD controls. Ability combinations are crucial if you’re to win group fights. Perhaps even more pressing is the need to avoid hitting your allies: The Exiled has friendly fire enabled by default. This can be both irritating and amusing, especially when your stunlock ability sends an erstwhile ally spinning into an eternal black hole. The same applies to support-minded players, who will find themselves buffing and healing enemies that get too close to their friends. The mechanic is a simple but impactful one, and actually makes the game stand out amongst its peers.

What might niggle with some players, though, is the developer’s destruction of the game world. The game resets itself every “season” - around a month or so - to prevent high-ranking players from owning everyone in sight. A whole host of PvE NPCs spawn into the game world, triggering the removal of every player’s respawns. This effectively turns it into a last man standing free-for-all and can create a blob of panicking players all trying to come out on top.

The Exiled also features a minimal amount of stat boosting. Players can increase their mana, movement speed, ability cooldowns, armour and HP by minimal amounts but each adjustment must be reconciled by removing a tweak elsewhere. It’s another attempt to make the gameplay as fair as possible for beginners. Despite this admirable desire to stop higher-ranking players from destroying newbies, it still happens with irritating regularity. Once I had left the tutorial stage I wandered around the environment for a while, trying to pick up crafting gear. The first player I ran into murdered me in a heartbeat. Other players have reported issues of high-level opponents camping the spawning areas to rack up kills.

Graphically, The Exiled looks very similar to games like League of Legends and has a semi-isometric art style that reminded me of my youth playing Diablo. Skill effects and ability triggers are pleasing to the eye and don’t get in the way of the action too much. It’s only when a melee involves a large group of people that things get out of control. I played on a temperate world, filled with greenery, but have seen both a desert and ice setting that players can explore.

I’m usually loathe to praise a game that has different price points. Especially one that has three despite still being Early Access. The developers initially offered a seven-day trial period for players, but have since made the entire season free-to-play due to confusion with Steam's listings. It is also likely the game will remain free-to-play while a core player base is built up. The Exiled is definitely a game that has a lot of potential, but with players already reporting deserted servers and without a proper solution to a steep learning curve, that potential might not be fully realised.

 This article was edited to add new information about The Exiled's pricing system.

Alex Hamilton

Alex Hamilton

Staff Writer

Financial journalist by trade, GameGrin writer by choice. Writing skills the result of one million monkeys with one million typewriters.

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Jungle Hermit
Jungle Hermit - 09:23am, 15th May 2017

Fair preview, just wanted to point out that the game was free-to-play for Season 3 (this season), and likely further while the game builds a playerbase. The 7-day free trial was removed, mainly because it was listed as free-to-play, with a disclaimer below saying it was an 7-day free trial without other restrictions, and this was causing a lot of people to leave a negative review when entering the game, since they didn't see the disclaimer, and then left a lot of negative reviews regarding this. So they removed that, and we'll have to see what the model is for the future.

Hamiltonious - 09:32am, 15th May 2017 Author

Thanks for the comment and the clarification, Jungle Hermit. I'll add that new information into the preview.

Jungle Hermit
Jungle Hermit - 11:47am, 15th May 2017

Thanks for the quick update!

I'm a player who has been active during the Early Access since it was released in Feb 23, and have some idea on the design direction from the developer. They communicate often on the forums and often acknowledge feedback and suggestions. 

Regarding new players jumping in and having established players giving them problems, there are exploits that are continuing to be fixed. The ideal is that players who want to help new players in the beginner zone can do so, and there is some incentive to help new solo new players and recruit them into their clan.  Ideally, there should be factors in place that ease in new players, but there are some exploits that continue to be found and patched out, including a spawn camping exploit. 

The design at the moment is that stronger players who had more time and levels in the game, are marked as stronger (the star system), and they get weaker when they go back to the beginner zone (the desert area). But there are some exploits where this can be removed, although they have been brought to the attention of the developers and will likely be fixed in the coming patch. Although, I consider this to be maybe 10% of the problem.

The main issue is that a group of friends start up straight away in the beginner zone (often completely new players as well), and go around hunting completely new players who are alone in the beginner zone. While this is a somewhat fun mechanic for the group going around doing this, obviously it is a bit of a rough introduction for the solo player. Although it looks like the beginner zone is supposed to be a soft extension of the tutorial.

One of the new additions was the open clan feature. Also they now prompt you to join a clan as soon as you enter the world, suggesting the top open clans, along with which languages they speak (very important on the EU server especially). So in fact the safety in numbers aspect is suggested from the start, although camaraderie is weak, it gives the ability to have safety in numbers quickly.  Likewise, since the game is still being explored, some dynamics haven't really been established, like the veterans helping out the new players. Some players were thinking of roleplaying as "protectors" in the beginner zone, with the benefit of recruitment and camaraderie. Also to protect them against aggressors. In fact, myself and some others plan on doing something like this when the season starts.

Jungle Hermit
Jungle Hermit - 11:51am, 15th May 2017

Oh and the season ends in about 2 days (Wednesday). New season and new patch will be released then, which usually brings in a lot of players checking out the new patch. It usually is the most chaotic time as people go through an establishment/discovery phase, so I've been helping new players and pointing this out within the game for the past few days, and also noting that the quieter end of the season this time around is a good chance to check out the game mechanics in a more controlled environment ,which I've been explaining to some new players I meet in the game who are receptive to it.