Xsyon: Prelude – Post-Apocalyptic USA
By Jordan Hall (ApocaRUFF), OnRPG Journalist
Xsyon: Prelude is an MMO sandbox set in post-Apocalyptic U.S.A. It is brought to us by Notorious Games and Prelude is just the first installment of the overall game. The game features terraforming, crafting, building and more. Currently, Xsyon has a 120 square kilometer dynamic world for players to explore and settle in. Following the recent trend, Xyson has recently switched from a pay-to-play only model to a freemium model. If you are looking for a new sandbox game to play, this may be what you're looking for.
Terraforming – Sculpt the land however you please.
Crafting – Make many items with the resources you've gathered.
Skill-based – There are no classes and everything is based on your individual skills.
Tribes – Get with your friends and place down a tribe totem to claim land as your own and start rebuilding civilization as you see fit.
Dynamic – Play in a dynamic world where your actions will truly change the game for everyone.
Changing Seasons – Every two real-life weeks, the seasons change.
FFA PVP – You can be attacked by anyone, anywhere and your body can and will be looted. The only exception to this is within your Tribelands.
Free-to-play – A free account type was recently made available so that anyone can play.
The above are the features that Xyson: Prelude boast that I found the most interesting. The only other game I have played so far that has done terraforming is Wurm Online. I love games that give me a lot of options with crafting. This game accomplishes that by providing about eleven crafting skills for you to raise with more planned for the future. The tribe feature is decent as it offers a respite from the otherwise fully FFA PvP world.
Customization, as always, starts with character creation, which is quite extensive. You choose everything about your character. Such as his age, birthday, height and weight. You also design his looks by choosing from a multitude of options such as hair style, hair color, skin hue, skin tone and skin melanin. You will also choose his head and eyes. I really liked these options, especially the ability to set an age and birth date. Not many games make use of character age.
After you got your looks down, you will then get to set up your character stats. Xyson: Prelude has a bunch of stats that I am used to from other games, as well as some stats that are not too common. You will need to worry about strength, fortitude, agility, dexterity, intelligence, spirit, perception, and charm. All these options can make it a bit stressful, as you feel that you need to choose the best stats and initial skills. I feel this is a good thing, others may think otherwise.
Customization continues on in the form of the skill system. There are a lot of different skills for you to increase, ranging from combat to construction. You are free to do just about anything you could want in a post-apocalyptic setting. And while there is a skill cap, I found it to be very flexible. There are several categories that the skills are grouped under, and you are able to max three skills in each category.
The graphics in Xyson: Prelude are good, but far from incredible. You will not log in and be mind-blown at how detailed and pretty everything is. You will, however, be awed at the beautiful landscapes and vistas. The trees look great from a distance, though a bit is left to be desired when you get closer. There are some problems I noticed. Such as the quality of the textures are not the greatest. I sometimes came across glitchy looking water or floating structures.
The user interface was not very pleasing to the eye and seemed slightly archaic. I would have enjoyed a more flexible interface to play the game with, especially in a game such as this where you deal with it constantly. That being said, I found the animations to be done well. Running, jumping and swimming all looked great.
Xyson has your usual MMORPG control-scheme. WASD movement and interact with the interface using a combination of key commands and mouse clicks. The user interface is definitely not one of my favorites. On top of not being nice to look at, it is clunky and not efficient to use. This is unfortunate as you have to use the interface a lot. Most things are just not clear or go completely unknown until you figure it out yourself or another player tells you about them. An example is that I did not know that I could put packs on my hot-bar to use them. This would have been very helpful to know from the start.
Xyson: Prelude does not have the biggest community on the internet, but it does have one of the nicest. During my time in the game, I witnessed a guy who was outright insulting the game and the community responded with patience and not a single insult was said. In all my encounters, they have shown themselves to be a very helpful bunch. They want new players to play their game and understand that new players won’t stay if they aren't friendly.
Xyson: Prelude is not a very fast paced game. This is even truer in the first few weeks in the game. You will spend a decent portion of your first days creating lots and lots of items, trying to skill-up. Trying to raise basketry wasn't a great experience for me. I created a lot of items that would never be used and so were deleted.
Combined with the fact that the only way to get anywhere in the game without starting with a group of people is to join an established tribe, it made me feel like my first weeks in the game would have no meaning. The only way to advance is to do the repetitive task to grind up my skills, such as making items that would never be used. I was a bit disappointed and it was hard to stay excited with this looming over everything I did.
On top of the slow skill gains, there is a lack of a tutorial to teach you how to do anything. You will have to rely on the kindness of other players and online guides to teach you how to play the game. The processes of learning the game took about four days for the basics. This is something that could have been cut down heavily with just a simple in-game tutorial.
There is a thirst and hunger system, but I didn't think about it too often. It was just that thing I did every twenty minutes or so. It surely adds to the realism of the game, however it felt more like a chore than anything else. In real life, eating is something you look forward to for various reasons. In Xyson, it's just something you do to make sure your energy doesn't drain as fast. To be honest, I almost forgot to include it in this review.
One feature that is very big is the terraforming. This allows you to change the land to fit your needs. I came across some truly remarkable landscaping during my travels. However, it wasn't until I learned just how hard and time-consuming it can be to achieve some of the stuff I saw that I understood how amazing they were. This is a feature I appreciated a lot. Unlike Wurm, the other game that I've played that has terraforming, water flows in Xyson, so you can create artificial rivers, lakes and other bodies of water.
Another neat feature is architecture. My host village boasted an awesome looking tree house. Other than that, most of what I saw was rows of buildings used for storage. Row after row of the same buildings to hold an unimaginable amount of items that may very well never be used. Again, being a newbie, this kind of discouraged me. I just got a dreadful feeling of, “What's the point?” I had no desire to become a hoarder and that seemed to be the only purpose for buildings from what I saw. Some of the houses I saw were really beautiful on the outside, but again they were just used as storage and had no real purpose other than that.
Resource gathering is done by a few methods. You can gather items from the world – things such as rocks, ore, twigs and grass. You can cut down trees for wood. And trees will grow over time and will spread just like real life. There is also foraging and scavenging. The other major method of resource gathering that I found were junk piles. These are massive piles of scrap left over from before the apocalypse. You can gather metal, cloth and plastic scraps among other things. It is for this reason that a lot of tribes choose to set up shop near these piles.
Combat was a surprise to me. I was sure it would be some sort of point-and-click system. Instead, combat is action based. To take part in combat, you will need to equip some kind of weapon, I used my woodaxe, and then enter combat mode. Once in combat mode, left clicking will swing your left hand, right clicking will swing your right hand.
Animals are hard to catch. They run so fast that they often appear to teleport around. They can turn on a dime and run up steep slopes like they're not there. This is sort of realistic, but very frustrating without any kind of ranged weapon. I decided pretty quickly that I was not interested in combat and instead focused on other things.
Dying is a pretty normal experience for an MMO. It usually happens often and can happen pretty fast. In Xyson: Prelude, it's no different. My first encounter with an animal that did not run away resulted in my death. This is my own fault, I was ill-prepared. When you die, you are given a timer that you must wait before you can resurrect. During this timer, anyone can loot you, including certain mobs such as the Revenants.
The thing I found the most annoying is that I could not run between trees or stacks of items if they were remotely close to each other. Does not matter if there is a big gap between them, because apparently there is an invisible barrier surrounding everything. When I was trying to hunt animals, they would often run between trees and I would try to follow, only to be stopped while they continued on.
Free accounts are restricted in several ways. The biggest way has to be that you will not be able to get past thirty in any of your skills. The usual limit is one-hundred. On top that, you will not be able to terraform or do architecture. These types of restrictions are the usual for a freemium business model, but I still wish they weren't so harsh.
Xyson: Prelude definitely has its fair share of issues, most prominent among them is no tutorial for new players. There is a lot of potential for the game to be great, but it's not quite there yet. I hope that it gets a chance to reach a point where all the planned features can be implemented, but there is no telling when that will be. And who knows, maybe you'll love the game? The setting alone has a lot of allure. With the free-to-play account option, you can give the game a go and lose nothing but a bit of your time. So I say give the game a try.