Rend is maybe one of the most ambitious games I got to sit down and see at PAX East. It’s also one of few games I didn’t have a hands on demo with, but I got to sit with David Talley from Frostkeep Studios and he walked me through a lot of the aspirations to this game while showing me some pre-alpha gameplay.
First and foremost: Rend is a survival game; a server-based one that takes after something like ARK or Rust, but one that is far more focused and engaging from what I have seen. While it maintains almost all survival aspects, it has two massive differences: you’re on a team, and there is a definitive way to win.
It’s a lot more than this, but essentially Rend puts you in a fantasy world loosely inspired by Norse mythology. A triangular map puts you at one of the three far corners of the island, which is where each faction begins their journey. From the small safezone there, you slowly progress your way through the world toward its center, where the massive tree Yggdrasil stands. This tree is the physical marker for which we see each faction’s progress on the server: a bar filling the tree with energy, in hopes of eventually reaching its top, indicates how far along in the game you are, and when one faction gets their bar to the tree’s peak, they win, and the entire server resets back to zero. I was told that these cycles would be about two months, though I wonder how the player base will warp or break this to be far shorter.
What I love is how the progression itself is so thought-out and specific. You progress through different biomes as you move closer into the world, toward its center. Each presents different challenges requiring different equipment or leveled up items, like a fiery biome, or frosty mountains. The equipment you can build up to craft for that environment is made through different environments leading up to that one, and while it’ll be linear toward the beginning, I was told it will get more and more demanding as you get closer to the tree.
Then, as if icing on the cake, once you reach the great tree, you’ll find a portal to another world, a hell-like world, which acts as the most dangerous, most treacherous, and most challenging environment. When talking with David, we agreed on comparing it to raid-content in an MMO, or post-game content in an RPG. This area acts as the reverse of the path to get to it: you start at a single point in the center and as you travel out from it it gets harder and harder.
The clear and well-made roadmap of progression is really easy to see, and on top of all of the survival aspects, working with a team to complete all these goals and progress further out into the world sounds really interesting, but moreover, really approachable in comparison to something like Rust, which leaves you at the mercy of anyone when you log off. While the same is true here, things like your Seed, which essentially allows you to create a structure that only you or your clanmates can access, give you at least some wiggle room. You can only have one Seed in the world per player, so it’s a smart place to store loot or resources.
A lot of thought has gone into the cyclical nature of Rend too, like how building will deteriorate (assuming their not attached to a seed) or the fact that weapons are not gated by level, so if you come into a server late in its cycle, you can grab higher level weapons and still support your faction.
Aside from these specifics, the staples of modern survival games are all still there: there are tiers to resource collecting items like pickaxes and scythes, there are character-specific skills like your archery skill or your sword skill, but there are also research trees that are essentially crafting trees that your faction will all contribute to together with no physical rewards, but important ones like recipes for more item building.
Rend has a really cool and unique team-building vibe to it, and with its clear structure and cycle-based nature, it immediately caught my eye. I was told that the team at Frostkeep wants to launch within the next six to nine months into early access, and I’m really excited to see how communities pick up and respond to this game. It’ll be on PC Early Access first, but I was told there is every intent to eventually bring it to consoles, possibly through something like Xbox Game Preview*.
*To clarify, I wasn’t told for sure that Rend would be coming to Xbox Game Preview, I just mentioned it to the developer as a possibility in the future to get Rend on consoles sooner.