I was given the opportunity to attend a special private demo of the early access title, Rend. During it, I got to speak with a few members from Frostkeep, the developer of the game. They even shared with me some brand new content coming soon to the game that I get to share with you here!
Set in Norse Mythology on Midgard after Ragnarok has killed old the old gods, Rend, is 3rd person shooter-like that incorporates survival, crafting, RPG elements, and a base-building mechanic multiplayer game where three teams of 20 compete to send enough spirits to the World Tree, Yggdrasil. Doing so will let the winning team ascend to back to Asgard as the new gods. Each match of Rend can take a long while, upward of a month even. While that may sound intimidating, from everything the developers have currently in the game and are working to add makes the game an intriguing and unique new style of multiplayer gaming.
You have the choice of joining one of three different factions, choices being the sly Conclave faction in green, the magical Revenant faction in purple, and in orange the proud Order faction. In order to claim victory, you will need to use your Divinity Stone to send The World Tree spirits. Each factions Divinity Stones are located in that factions base area which is protected by a giant dome shield, protecting that faction from the assault of other players and enemy mobs. At least most of the time.
By default, each week a special event will take place on your server called The Reckoning that will, for a time, remove that protective barrier from all of the faction bases. This will cause your base to be vulnerable to attacks from both other enemy factions bent on destroying all you have or the Lost – enemy creatures around Midgard. The frequency of The Reckoning can be tweaked and changed, even going so far as to allow you to remove the shield completely, leaving all bases open for attack or sabotage at any given moment.
In order to defend your base, you will have to rely on one of the most important aspects of Rend, and that is the games structure-building system. Similar to that of Fortnite, you will be able to build floors, stairs, windows, doors, and roofs out of varying materials like wood and stone. Each material has increasingly resilient attributes and strength at the cost of higher crafting resource cost. This structure building mechanic is not relegated solely to your faction base, but you will also be able to build structures out in the open world. By using an item called a Divinity Seed on a structure you build out in the wild, you will turn it into an outpost for your faction. These outposts can greatly impact skirmishes against foreign faction as they can provide the faction who controls it with additional resources, buffs, or even letting your team respawn at it. You have to be careful though. If your enemies are able to capture it, they may just put themselves in a more advantageous position, possibly allowing for an invasion.
With Rend being made by a number of staffers with a background in working on games such as World of Warcraft and Wild Star among many others, the influence of MMOs is widely present here too. At the start of each match you will begin once again with a level 1 character and will have to hunt, craft, and loot your way back up the higher levels and skill trees. Ditching the slower-paced combat of your traditional MMO like WoW, Rend instead has opted to go for an action 3rd person shooter-esque combat that keeps things moving at a faster paced, which in my opinion, makes the grind from level 1 not seem that bad.
The developers I spoke with though did tell me that the level of your character doesn’t play as much of a role as the equipment you have. A lower level character with better gear will have a much better chance at winning in PvP than a higher level with more basic gear. For those of you who are worried about leveling up a character only to then lose them when the match ends, you can take some solace in knowing that you will receive rewards and points that you can use to permanently add to all future characters you create, such as being able to keep a pet you have obtained in one playthrough and bring it into all subsequent games. As long as the pet doesn’t get killed that is.
Speaking of gear, a similar affix system to Diablo is present here (prefix and suffixes that impart a special property on an item, such as Flaming Iron Sword doing fire damage), with loot having a wide range of stats and additional buffs on them. Legendary gear, of course, will also be sprinkled here and there. One example they gave of a weapon they are working on is Thor’s Hammer. I wasn’t able to see it myself, but from what they talked about they are allowing only a single hammer on each server, and are working on ways to make people use it and not just throw it in a locked box and keep it away from the enemies, because anyone that has been killed, friend and foe alike, you can loot their body and take their items.
In an interesting decision, Frostkeep is letting you also kill your teammates, doing so though will bring with it negative effects for the killer. For each, you will receive negative reputation points, and as you kill more of your team, you will begin dealing less damage, and you will take more damage. Tick off enough of your team and they will be able to cast you out of the faction, making you a factionless and baseless 4th party, no longer able to use Divinity Stones or any of the base structures or benefits. I did ask why the team decided to have team killing with these detriments as opposed to simply turning off friendly fire, and what they told me is that they wanted to give the option to players as Rend is an open sandbox game, though they did admit that this has been a bit of a back-and-forth debate in the office.
Survival and crafting are a core mechanic at the center of this experience. You have specialty slots and radial menu to switch between all four of your resource-gathering tools, like grass scythes and tree-cutting axes. As you get more experience to create more items you will gain levels and learn different recipes. Mastering those will allow you to occasionally create improved versions of those items as well. Crafting is so important in Rend that there are separate skill trees for the various types like blacksmithing!
Frostkeep shared with me some upcoming content that will be added to Rend in the following months. Soon, players will be able to leave Midgard and explore the Dwarven home of Nidavellir. The dark caves and areas of the dwarves will hold new creatures that lurk just outside of the light of your torch. The new Banshee, a flying bat-like creature, and the creepy cave dwelling horror simply known as “The Creep” are just two examples of the creatures that wait for you in the darkness. In the new open Snow Peak area, you will stumble upon the massive frost giant, the Jotunn, that will require multiplayer to take down but will reward players handsomely. Or tame it if you want your own Jotunn Mr. Fluffy. Frostkeep told me that the plan for this snowy new zone is that they want it to be a target rich environment with rare spawns and great loot for players to find!
I came out of my meeting with Frostkeep 100% more interested in Rend. That isn’t to say I wasn’t interested prior, it is more that I wasn’t aware of all the different systems and mechanics that this game has under its hood. One aspect that I really appreciate and respect from the team at Frostkeep is that they are very focused on listening to the fans and delivering experiences and features that their players want. They are adding a PvP focused Conquest mode that will do away with the shields around the bases and an Exploration mode that will remove the win condition and PvP elements and instead let players focus on building and creating whatever they like.
If there is something you would like to see in Rend let your voices be heard! The team is working like mad dogs, releasing multiple patches each week to adjust items and fix bugs that players find. If that isn’t dedication then I don’t know what is. Rend is currently in Early Access on Steam, and you can snag it and hop in yourself for $29.99, with a planned final release next year!