Rend Brings a Cooperative Twist to the Crowded Open-World Survival Arena
Rend Early Access Preview
By now, probably every gamer has at least tried their hand at a Survival MMO – like Rust, or Ark: Survival Evolved – and knows that they can be an acquired taste. Being dropped into a strange open world, and embarking on a frantic struggle for survival against hordes of other individual humans is an experience that’s big on adrenaline rushes but can also feel solitary and maybe even alienating for some. Enter Rend, from Frostkeep Studios, an open-world survival game in Early Access that aims to separate itself from the pack.
First off, in Rend you play not as a lone wolf but as part of a team – there are 3 Factions to choose from, called the Order, Revenant and Conclave – and your survival is tied to the fortunes of your fellow Faction members. This isn’t so much the Darwinian kill-or-be-killed anarchy of other survival titles, but more of a communal, symbiotic team-building exercise as you all work together to build and maintain a base and defend it against attack. It’s a fresh approach to be sure, and one that will appeal to those players tired of being beaten to death by random strangers in Rust before they even know what’s happening.
We All Win Together
Another new idea Rend brings to the genre is the idea that sessions are finite (albeit very long, lasting days or more) and your team can actually win. You, as one cog in the Factional machine, can work to help your team gain faction-wide rewards and benefits, like new crafting abilities. Once your team gains enough Souls (harvested from slain enemy AI and humans) you’ll be granted a victory. Again, it’s an idea that imposes some welcome order to what can often be a mindless and confusing free-for-all in typical action-survival titles.
Don’t worry about losing your individual identity though – Rend still grants you personal rewards for meeting objectives like harvesting resources and crafting, and they include Skill Points that upgrade your abilities. It all makes for a pretty neat balance that gives you the rush of pumping up your own stats but then also seeing those skills helping your teammates, for example by researching recipes that advance the Faction’s tech tree or crafting more awesome gear that others can use. Rend is a rare survival game that lets you play different ways – take a support role if that’s your style, spy on other factions and steal their tech, or just do it the old fashioned way and kill everything that moves to harvest souls.
If there’s a downside to all of this cooperative group play, it might be that it doesn’t exactly seem ideal for casual, drop-in play. To win, teams need a fair bit of organization and strategy which might not work as well if people keep popping in and out. And that is assuming that everyone on the team is doing their best to help – if some players just don’t want to cooperate that could presumably be a major detriment to their teammates’ chances of winning.
Visually, I like Rend’s style, and it looks pretty damn slick for an Early Access title. The Norse-inspired visuals are a gorgeous mix of natural beauty and otherworldly magic. Yggdrasil, the World Tree, is the centerpiece of the game’s open-world arena, which is an island populated by AI creatures in addition to your human opponents. Despite the fact that it’s still a work-in-progress, Rend already has a high level of polish and it will be interesting to see what the finished product looks like.
With the open-world action survival space getting ever more crowded all the time, Rend is one Early Access title that makes a real effort to spice things up. Its mix of individual survival elements with co-op team play is a cool concept that seems to work pretty well. But only time will tell if Frostkeep’s latest can survive in a brutal and competitive market currently dominated by established apex predators like Ark: Survival Evolved and Rust. Keep an eye right here for our review when Rend releases in finished form.
** A PC preview code was provided by the publisher **