‘The First Descendant’ First Impressions: Not Great, Cloud Be Worse


I am always down to try any new looter shooter that hits the market, so I booted up the (thankfully) free-to-play First Descendant yesterday, the new sci-fi entry from Nexon. That studio alone raises some eyebrows, due to its past work and often relentless focus on monetization. But is it fun? Is it good? Kind of, and not especially, respectively.

After playing all of yesterday, I have some early impressions of the game and they’re pretty mixed so far. Granted, I do know the perils of trying to “review” a sprawling looter like this before you’ve gotten a chance to really dive deep into its systems, but nevertheless, there’s enough to at least comment on early here.

It has to be stated up front here that this game is…Warframe. I’ve heard comparisons to other looter shooters from Anthem to Outriders to Destiny, but it is not really close to any of those. It’s just flat-out Warframe down to its character purchase/unlock system, its gearing up and module arrangement, just…all of it. Albeit Warframe has many more years of content built up, though honestly that may work to its detriment. The First Descendant, if nothing else, is a fresh start.

I actually like the feel of shooting in the game. It feels “crunchy,” as they say, across a variety of weapon types that I’ve enjoyed testing out so far. When gunplay starts to feel bad are larger-scale “strike” bosses that absorb bullets in a way that makes them take longer than the entire rest of the mission. The better boss fights are against singular Colossi which do indeed have some amount of strategy involved in taking them down. They’re spongy, yes, but as they’re mini raid bosses, that makes some amount of sense.

I can’t really comment on buildcrafting at this point. I only have two Warframes, sorry Descendants, accessible right now, a girl who freezes things and an electric, fast bunny named “Bunny.” I prefer the ice girl, for now. I have not been able to alter their character kits in any meaningful way yet, it’s just numbers-go-up for now. But it’s just to early for it to be fleshed out.

What is not good so far is…any actual mission I’ve run. So far, about 80% of the game is what I’ll just call “patrol missions,” echoing their counterparts in Destiny. But these are like, the things supposedly connecting story dots and they’re just so dull. Kill enemies in a zone, capture a zone, defend a zone. I think I did one escort mission in eight hours. None of these are good. That’s also true for the “strikes” which you do again, probably one capture zone thing, then fight a massively bullet-spongy boss. I’ve genuinely not played a well-designed or interesting mission in this game outside of maybe a Colossus fight.

The aesthetic and vibe of this whole game is also just off. It feels like it has no identity, whereas Warframe, the game it’s clearly aping, absolutely does. This is just sexy ladies and jacked guys with some cyberpunk stuff thrown on them and as of now, rather uncreative character kits. The environment design is impossibly bland, and while I am not confused about the plot, I have not found any aspect of it particularly interesting.

Finally there’s just layers and layers of…stuff. Yes, the game has loads of microtransactions but technically they can all be “earned” through extremely lengthy grind. But then to craft them you need to spend hours and hours even waiting for the “projects” to be done, unless you spend currency to speed it up. You can tell me “that’s just like Warframe!” but that doesn’t mean it isn’t annoying. When I saw I had to increase a legendary gun’s level to my current max by crafting yet another material made out of a bunch of other materials at a vendor I rolled my eyes. There are just too many roadblocks and too much herding you into seemingly insane grinds for many things, or just throwing down your wallet. It’s all going way beyond cosmetic skins here.

The First Descendant is okay enough for me to press on, but if I expand my roster and head to the endgame and it’s still not picking up, I don’t know how long I’ll stick with it. For now, I’m still on board.

Nexon say sorry for The First Descendant launch bugs and performance issues

Nexon’s free-to-play looter-shooter The First Descendant – “Nexon’s Warframe”, as the wags are calling it on Steam – launched this week and has encountered a few snags and snaffaroos, including beta rewards not showing up, Easy Anti-Cheat not running correctly, frame-rate drops for people who downloaded in advance of release, and players finding their merry way to servers where no other players exist. Nexon are even now patching the game, and have plied players with in-game bonuses and cosmetics as an apology for the inconvenience.

The bonuses basically consist of being able to level up faster and paint your guns red. Here’s the rundown.

– Gold Gain Boost +30% (Duration 3 days)

– Kyper Shard Gain Boost +30% (Duration 3 days)

– Descendant EXP Gain Boost +30% (Duration 3 days)

– Weapon Mastery EXP Gain Boost +30% (Duration 3 days)

– 2 x Matte Red Paints

These boost items will activate immediately upon your claiming them from the mailbox, so you might want to save them for a happier time when you understand what the hell a Kyper Shard is. For context, The First Descendant pits you and up to three friends equipped with sci-firearms and accessories such as grappling hooks against the snobby alien Vulgus and a bunch of cursed war golems called Colossi. The latter are after the Ironheart, a mystic energy source said to lie somewhere on your home planet, Ingris. It sounds like Kyper Shards will help with all that. I think the red paint is more of a fashion thing.

All the talk of percentages might suggest a game of making numbers go up in proportion to the implosion of your grey matter, but speaking to Nic last week, the developers insisted that The First Descendant’s endgame won’t be about “meaningless DPS” or “piling on specs”.

While I don’t have a review to share just yet, our hardware editor James Archer laid hands and eyes on a near-final preview build a week or so back, and concluded that The First Descendant’s performance could still use a bit of love. He was mixed, much like the current Steam user reviews, as to whether the game itself is worth the time. “I don’t dislike The First Descendant,” James wrote. “It has a good grasp of the numbers-go-up-yay appeal behind looter shooters. Sometimes you get to grapple onto a vast robot crab. The first evil alien overlord you fight is named Greg. Not bad, not bad.”

James has also written about The First Descendant’s Steam Deck optimal Steam Deck settings, commenting that “a mixture of Low and Medium seems like the best compromise”.

Original Post roperzh