Now available on Steam Early Access, Life is Feudal MMO is a game that prides itself on hardcore mechanics and a steep learning curve. After character creation players arrive on the shores of Newbie Island. Here new players are encouraged to visit the NPC town and complete a series of tutorial quests to learn the mechanics of the game. It’s also one of the worst designed MMO tutorials I’ve ever experienced.
The quests often give you incomplete (and occasionally incorrect) information. You are sent to the blacksmith to obtain a saw, but he only offers you a shovel. NPC’s all speak in broken medieval dialect so just trying to work out what they are asking of you can be annoying. As an added bonus, NPC’s refer to all characters as if they are male. It’s a small gripe in the grand scheme of things, but considering I can choose a female avatar at character creation it was puzzling to be constantly asked “what sort of man” I was.
Okay, so the NPC’s aren’t the best, but surely you can overlook that and just complete your tutorial quests. Well, that would be much easier if the game didn’t make even mundane actions completely inaccessible within the city limits. By the way, it doesn’t tell you it’s doing this. Much of my first night was wasted trying to follow the tutorial, but never seeing the UI options I was supposed to get.
Can’t Tell if Bug or Feature
The amount of information the tutorial attempts to quickly wall-of-text into your brain is completely overshadowed by all the simple information you are never given. Quick example, one of your first tasks is to erect a totem to one of your pagan gods. To do this, you’ll need a building log. Technically, you’re supposed to chop down a tree and then saw out your desired material from the resulting log. This being newbie island, the place was littered with readily available logs, free for the taking.
Now, this would have been a great place for the tutorial to explain that you’ll need to inspect each log and determine how much wood resource it actually offers. If it’s less than 100 wood, you cannot get a building log from it. It will still let you try, and perform the whole animation as you wait for the progress bar to fill. Then, nothing. No building log, no explanation as to why you don’t have a building log. You’re just left thinking you’ve encountered a game breaking bug. This is true of most of the tutorial quests and actions you’ll undertake in the early game.
The tutorial tells you how a mechanic works, but then leaves you to work out all the bizarre exceptions to what seem like fairly straightforward directions. Once you do accidentally figure out a solution any satisfaction you might have had is dwarfed by relief that at least this part of your ordeal is finally over.
The good news is that you won’t encounter hostile creatures near the NPC town. Instead you’re free to repetitively click away and build up your skill levels. It’s worth noting that your skill level is the only thing you can transfer over to the mainland with you. You’ll lose any items and tools you acquired on Newbie Island and have to start over. Also, on Newbie Island you can’t really own property. This means anyone can just wander into your house and take whatever you have lying around.
The first few hours of Life is Feudal MMO are absolutely brutal for new players. The quests provide no meaningful rewards beyond the meager amount of experience you get for performing them. Also, poor design decisions make the tutorials needlessly frustrating and difficult to follow. Even die-hard MMO fans will find themselves feeling discouraged by the lack of feedback and information. As soon as you’ve figured out the basics you’re better off heading for the mainland where you can finally, really get started.