Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem Review | Now known as one of the three Children of Heimlock after Grand Inquisitor Heimlock rescued you, you have now become a well-valued member of the Republican Army of Purifiersand. Your job will be to venture out on an important journey but things change instantly as you are made to question everything you’ve ever known about the world you reside in. With an entire arsenal at your disposal and your character having very few limitations, you can build and equip any weapons and armour you choose without having to worry about specific class restrictions – that’s where the Gate of Fates comes in. In Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem, which has been published and developed by Wolcen Studio, you’ll be travelling across harsh landscapes, fighting a variety of ferocious enemies, looting rare gear to your heart’s content, and completing a series of mandatory and optional quests. With plenty of chances to upgrade your attributes and skills, you can build a character that suits your playstyle to tackle the crumbling world around you. Will you succeed or fail? Live or die? Only time will tell.
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series S | Review code provided by PR/publisher. This review is the personal opinion of the writer. Got unanswered questions about this game? Get in touch on Twitter!
What we Liked!
- Hack n’ slash and loot | I absolutely thrive off the idea of slaying ferocious enemies in numbers and claiming the rare loot they drop as my prize to possibly have the chance to upgrade my character further. Enemies are always spawning wherever you decide to traverse for you to unleash your wrath on and obtain what is rightfully yours. Not only is the combat action-packed and fulfilling to engage in but the hope of getting that legendary/rare drop makes the fight that much more thrilling to win. Anyone that knows the likes of shooter-looters will also understand the satisfaction of gathering countless loot drops; there’s just something about them and the anticipation of waiting to hear that special chime and/or see the coloured text that indicates you’ve acquired the goods. If I could see either a red (rare) or purple (unique) item, it instantly filled me with excitement!
- Loot conquers all | As I have just mentioned, having the ability to loot consistently is stupendous. The thing I liked about the loot in Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem was I literally got everything from looting – and I don’t just mean the incredible gear. You can unlock new appearances and colours for your attire by collecting dyes and different gear which always got me excited as I love having the ability to customise how my character looks and be colour-coordinated if possible. Even new skills can be looted, consumed, and then equipped to use in combat. Gems, which can be slotted into specific items to enhance them further, are looted and can be found everywhere. Loot drops can be literally anything so it’s always worth checking because you might just miss something valuable.
- Character diversity | As there were very few restrictions on how you could build your character, there were plenty of choices as to what gear and abilities you could use as well as where you could place your attributes and passive skill points. This is because, from the very beginning of the game, you are free to use whatever you think works best with no class restrictions in place. You may start as a base class but you can change between physical or magical, close combat or ranged before you even hit level 2. I will mention that if at a later point in the game, you decide on a completely new playstyle, you will have to spend gold to reset your attributes and primordial affinity to respec your passive abilities but I somewhat expected this option would come at a price. Countless builds can be created and used which is perfect for variety and those who are always up for something new or experimental.
- Rage and willpower | Two important elements that can potentially affect your gameplay are your rage and willpower gauges. Based on how much of these you have stored will dictate whether you can cast your skills or not which can be detrimental to your survival and success. What’s great is you can’t have both fully powered at once but they power each other. This may sound strange but it means as you are using skills that require rage and that gauge depletes, you’re passively powering up your willpower and can use skills that need this instead and vice versa. It’s like the opposite of a vicious cycle; it’s a virtuous cycle! Of course, you can solely use skills that only require one element if you prefer but to get the most use out of your build, it’s good to have a mixture.
- Passive skill tree | Now, this was something spectacular and really made the game shine for me. When I first looked at the passive skill tree, I wasn’t massively impressed as I thought there was a limitation with what you could choose due to the level cap being 90 and the layout. Oh, how wrong I was. You can rotate the rings on the skill tree to get access to the nodes you want to build upon. It changed everything and after I reset mine for a small amount of 500 primordial affinities, I managed to create a far more successful build that I thoroughly enjoyed compared to my previous one. Being able to make this sync with my skills was essential to my gameplay and gave me more control over my game than I originally thought.
- Skill enhancements | As you level up through the game, your active skills also level with you, giving you the ability to make modifications to them. At the maximum, you’ll have ten points to use here and you can make any selection from the unlocked enhancements as long as you have the necessary points available. Some options, for example, include skill weapon damage, ailment damage or chance, duration, and critical chance. These can provide huge bonuses to your damage so I always found myself going back and checking these for further improvements. Along with these, you can also change the variant of skills which converts the physical damage of weapons to the selected element. By switching and adding to your skills, you’re able to increase your damage output the further you progress. There is also no cost to change these at any given time.
- Endless replayability | Due to their being diversity within character progression, endless loot chances, different modes of gameplay, and the option to play either online or offline, there is noticeable replayability when it comes to playing Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem. I can easily see myself sinking hours upon hours into the game to try out all the content I’ve not experienced or possibly missed during my first playthrough and have a play around with what build I prefer the most in terms of enjoyment, mitigation, and damage. As my first playthrough was very magical and willpower-based, I’m curious to see how I fair with a melee and rage build next time. Might even mix the two and make a hybrid character. There are just copious amounts of choices and content to explore!
- Celestial incarnations | Unlocking the ‘Aspects of Apocolypse’ gives you the chance to transform into one of four celestial incarnations once your power gauge is full. This was one of the more astounding and memorable moments I witnessed because of the sheer amount of power I was able to unleash and the positively overwhelming presence I had on the screen. This allowed me to take control of difficult scenarios and do godlike damage to any surrounding enemies. Four types are made accessible by natural progression and you can unlock them in any order – Aspect of Dawn, War, Infinity, and Flesh. Limiting the usage of becoming this powerful being made it even more invigorating to use. I often saved mine for difficult boss fights to inflict maximum damage, keeping my character from dying in the process.
- Varied audio quality | I did like the soundtrack in Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem because it matched the intensity and setting of the gameplay; there is nothing better than having music that fits the tempo and pace of your game. However, I was indifferent to the voice acting as the quality and authenticity varied throughout. A small selection of the characters sounded great and carried their part well but others sounded very forced and sometimes didn’t convey emotion well. I had a couple of instances where audio would loop after killing enemies which would only stop if I reloaded my save. There were also some desync issues when using auto attacks and skills that could be offputting in the middle of fierce combat. The voice acting and sound effects could have been polished to a higher standard to really enhance the overall audio quality.
- Overall visuals | With different scenes being designed for separate areas, the gameplay didn’t feel too repetitive and actually more like a breath of fresh air when progressing. From sandy horizons to golden architecture, colourful grass landscapes to rocky underground dungeons – Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem has a bit of everything to experience that creates the beautiful atmosphere I spent all my time taking in. My character, although quite small in the grand scheme of things, looked good with customisable armour and colouring. The visual element which suffered was the cutscenes; they were just of such a low standard that I couldn’t ignore their impact. The quality was far from acceptable, some cutscenes didn’t play as expected with characters becoming frozen in place or not showing at all, and some didn’t play at all with a black screen taking their place.
- Predictive story | Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem follows an intense story which sees your entire life change as you conquer the evil that plagues the land in an attempt to restore peace and order everywhere. The issue? It was incredibly predictable and far from original in its origin which made it quite boring to pay attention to. It didn’t take me long to understand where the plot was going and the small twists that occurred along the way so I lost interest very early on; that’s not to say it was a bad story in any sense though. By the end of the game, I did feel some sections were rushed, making the game seem too compact even though it’s spread over four chapters. More detail and suspense would have been welcomed by me but as it stands, it was acceptable, at the lower end of the scale.
- Fluctuating difficulty | The hordes and conglomerations of enemies you find as you venture through dangerous territory felt quite weak and easy to power through with very little resistance. On the other hand, the bosses that came after these seemed too strong and difficult to handle. The difficulty was certainly questionable and seemed to follow a similar pattern over the course of the game but this did become easier over time. There were only two difficulties to choose from – story or normal. I would have liked to see more difficulty choices included for veteran players of the genre to experience. It could be unpleasant for new players but with some perseverance, it coild still hold its appeal.
What we Disliked
- Extensive list of problems | If I’m being brutally honest, I’d be here all day if I were to share all the bugs and issues I encountered during my playtime in Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem, with some being minor and others causing major issues that ultimately stopped me playing on multiple occasions due to me having to reset my game; thankfully nothing ‘game-breaking’ to me but incredibly frustrating when experiencing setbacks. With audio randomly looping when I wasn’t in active combat to enemies/loot appearing as black boxes, these were the ones that caused minor issues. However, on the other hand, the bad news is the rest were far worse. Being unable to target enemies or do damage, becoming completely immobile, and areas failing to load were noticeably bad but here comes the worst I experienced – being thrown out of a mission, falling through the map, and told I had ‘failed’ when clearly I was still at full health but also, on another occasion, being half-way through a tough boss fight when he vanished, thus preventing any form of progress. I could go on but it really saddens me to say the quality of the console port was not acceptable.
- Inadequate settings | One of the first things many people do when starting a new video game is open up the settings and review/change various in-game options to suit their preferences, usually visual or audio related. What baffled me beyond belief is there were practically no visual settings I could change and two of the things I struggled with the most were brightness and text size which couldn’t be altered. The text is microscopic! I wear glasses for long-distance and I still had to strain my eyes to read what was on my screen; there can be significant amounts of text which made this less than ideal. Many areas are fairly dark and with no way to change the gamma, contrast, or white balance, it meant I had to physically change my TV settings to comfortably play. Visual options should always be available in this day and age; no matter the game.
- Menu navigation | Each menu I came across felt clunky and not ideal to navigate, another victim of the console port from PC. The button mapping for switching between panels when using storage, applying attributes, selling to vendors, and selecting equipment wasn’t brilliant, often creating confusion as to which part of my screen I had highlighted and how to get to other sections. The skills tab also suffered from the same poor design. I had to find the skills I was using to look at and apply their modifiers when it would have been far easier to select them from my active skills bar. Thankfully, at least the passive tree was easy to use. This could have been made more user-friendly for console players in my opinion.
How long to beat the story | Approximately 20-25 Hours
How long to achieve 1000G | Approximately 50-60 Hours
You’ll love this game if you like these | Diablo III, Path of Exile, Warhammer: Chaosbane, Grim Dawn
Enjoyable for its gameplay and multiple upgrade opportunities, Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem provides plenty of fun and replayability to enjoy but sadly, it does suffer from large quantities of gameplay bugs that ultimately can lead to frustration when they are constantly making themselves known. If you’re able to look past the sizeable problems mentioned and want something to play where you can loot your heart out, this may be the game for you – especially if you’re a fan of Diablo and/or Path of Exile.
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Hello, I’m Victoria. I’m from the UK and have been playing video games for as long as I can remember; back on DreamCast. I’ve pretty much fallen for Xbox since I was around eight years old and remember BioShock being my first game on the Xbox360. Although I find it thoroughly enjoyable to not only experience gameplay, I also find comfort in getting lost and engrossed in the online worlds that sometimes differ greatly from what we know. Another side of my Xbox passion would be achievement hunting and gamerscore. I thrive when I hear the little sound of one popping up on the screen and I’m always finding ways to work on my backlog when possible. Horror is my favourite genre so if you have any recommendations, don’t be afraid to send them my way!