You awaken on a dark and desolate beach, murky water enveloping your body and the carcasses of dead ships dotting the shoreline. You stumble, trying to sort through the shipwrecks looking for anything useful. A sword, a stick, food, medicine, anything that can help you to survive in this desolate place, but there is nothing. The wreckage has long since been plundered by other castaways trying to make their way, just like you, and you feel completely helpless as you stumble toward the beach, your bare feet making contact with wet sand as your eyes survey the coast for anything that could be useful. Then you find it, further inland. A tree surrenders a branch, the earth below you, full of rocks that can be used to craft some of the most basic of tools. You’re going to survive, but you have a long way to go. Off in the distance you see a pillar of light, beckoning you, calling to you. You’re ready to start your journey.
The first few hours in Life is Feudal are going to be difficult, to say the least, even if you’ve played other survival games in the past. It certainly doesn’t hold your hand and it doesn’t do a great job of catering to the less experienced players. What it DOES do, however, is provide a fulfilling social experience, and if you’re willing to stick around long enough to learn the ropes, it’s an experience that you’ll never forget.
A Deviation from the Normal Survival Game
One thing that most survival games have in common is that they’re played on small user hosted servers. Exceptions to the rule might be Wurm Online and Conan Exiles, with Wurm being more so than the latter. Wurm does have a dedicated MMO server with a monthly fee, but it broke off into Wurm Unlimited which allows anyone to host a server at any time, essentially letting them create their own MMORPG. Life is Feudal breaks the mold by hosting a server that allows for 10,000 simultaneous players in one world, ensuring that life really WILL be feudal.
Life is Feudal actually started out as a basic survival game with the name ‘Your Own’, which gave players a taste of the game with a limited number of players. Having played that version of the game, I can say that it’s very exciting and it had a much darker atmosphere than other games I’d played in the past. It felt real, and the stakes were real. The current version consists of a normal server and a roleplay server called Epeland, which features an entirely different ruleset, though both of them are very similar in how they operate. PVP is always unregulated and the game is essentially a free for all. While the game is in its beginning stages and everyone is on an even playing field, it shouldn’t be a problem, but as the world becomes more developed, new players are going to want to align themselves with a faction quickly, because there won’t be much room for loners in LiF.
Free to Build
Survival games tend to be unique in their ability to provide you with land to build on. Games like Archeage allow you to claim land, but LiF takes it to the next level by allowing you to build virtually anywhere. Once you get far enough into the game you can take advantage of this by building cities, towns, roads, guild halls, and much more. The entire world is yours to develop, but you’re not the only one playing there. What you build, others can claim or tear down, meaning you won’t be able to play this game alone unless you plan on becoming Neo and defending your land with the power of Kung Fu.
A Visit to the Starter Island
When you start your journey, you will be deposited on a starter island where you may remain as long as you want and initially, this will be the only space available to free players. Though you have the option to play for free, the starter island skills will be limited to 150, meaning you aren’t going to build a booming civilization and to make it even worse, the starter island is wiped every day – that includes the characters. If you want your progress to save and actually mean something, you will need to pay for the game (a one-time fee) and move to the Mainland. Once you do so, you will have the option to either move to a city or a random wilderness location – it all depends on what kind of gameplay experience you want.
Customize your Skills
Just like with any other MMORPG, Life is Feudal gives you a set of skills to customize, but you’ll want to make sure you’re spending your skill points wisely. Currently, in the closed beta test, the skill cap is 414 and in my humble opinion, choosing a skill tree is much like choosing a class in any other MMO. You’re not necessarily locked in, but if you want to be useful to any clan or guild, you need to have skills that can be utilized. Maybe you want to help defend the village, or maybe you want to be a simple farmer. Then again, maybe you want to help build the walls as your village is founded. All of these are skills that can be learned and customized as you see fit, meaning your character will truly be your own.
A World to Craft
This isn’t your typical MMO, not by any means. You aren’t going to find many NPCs wandering around, if any at all, and you aren’t going to follow a questline. Instead, the world relies on you to build it, and to create the social structure that will define the history of the game. Whether you spend your time on the main server or the PVP server, you’re in for a wild ride.
While it might seem like any other action MMORPG at first, Life is Feudal requires you to do quite a bit of learning and much of your early game will probably be spent wandering around the starter island. You’ll need to accept that if you aren’t set up for it, combat will take a lot out of you, and you might only get a few swings in before you’re out of breath. If you want a quest driven amusement park experience this probably isn’t the place for you, but if you really, truly want to write your own story in an online world, welcome home. The only real gripe I have is that it’s not quite as easy to pick up as other survival titles, for example, Conan Exiles. Still, once you get the hang of it, it’s a lot of fun.
Many of the concepts found in Life is Feudal can be found in previous titles like Wurm Online and Wurm Unlimited, and I’m talking about the basic survival concepts. Building, territory claim, and PVP can all be found in those, and many people consider LiF to be almost a spiritual successor. Still, there are plenty of aspects, including the third person view, that make this a much more interesting game than Wurm. In my opinion, with time and continue improvements, LiF will surpass its predecessor and become even more popular.
The game sounds great, but one thing I could complain about are the animations. Maybe it’s because the game is in closed beta, or maybe it’s because I’m incredibly picky, but those animations are a little bit tacky and I really hope they improve on that as time goes by.
If you’re more of a social gamer this game will have a lot of value to you. You’ll be forced to interact with people as you stake your claim and defend it from those who would take it from you. If you, on the other hand, are looking for more of a quest driven game, then you might want to look elsewhere, because this game just isn’t what you need.
I’m giving this game a 9/10, not because it’s perfect, but because it has the potential to be something amazing. As an early access title it definitely has a lot of promise and though I probably won’t return to it myself, I’m sure it’s going to make a lot of people happy in the future. The one thing I will say is that while it’s a lot of fun, it does require a massive time commitment. The game world is going to move forward whether you’re present or not, so you need to be logged in at least every other day to keep up on the evolving global politics, hone your skills, and help to contribute to your clan. Overall, it’s a great game and one that will be played for many years to come by those who are simply tired of the faux sandbox experiences offered by a stagnant market.
+Beautifully Rendered World
+Deep Character Customization
+True Sandbox Experience
-Extremely involved, will require months or years of your time. Not a pickup and play experience.
Related: Life is Feudal: MMO, MMO, Review, Sandbox, Survival