Lords of the Fallen’s been getting patched at an absurd rate. Since its release October 13, Hexworks has pumped eight whole updates into the game, fiddling with the dials on performance, the game’s parry system, enemy projectiles—the whole nine yards. The studio has started as it means to carry on, it seems—Patch v.1.1.224 (and more updates coming Thursday) looks like it’s giving Mournstead its biggest shakeup yet.
Enemy density and you
Some context: Lords of the Fallen’s wider critical reception has been, uh, complicated. Issues with the sheer amount of monsters you’re fighting has been one hot button topic.
In my review, I had a lot of good things to say about the game overall, but my experience was plagued by the game’s overreliance on ambushes, gank squads, archers, dogs, little marauders, you name it. This issue really gets glaring towards the game’s second half, and the final area was an absolute headache. This produces a game that’s often difficult by technicality—in practice, it’s just tedious and exhausting.
It looks like Hexworks has listened. “Today as a means of helping with enemy density, we’re improving our ‘leashing’ system, further limiting how far enemies will pursue players from their spawn point. This helps prevent large crowds of enemies from relentlessly pursuing the player when rushing through a level.” Hexworks will also be making changes to the AI, making it less likely for them to just dogpile you in great numbers.
The devs are also planning to reduce “the number of enemies present in areas where players most struggle.” However, there’s a twist I think is actually really smart: “These enemies will be removed in your initial playthrough, but will remain in NG+, in keeping with the more challenging experience players are seeking.”
Lords of the Fallen gives you a lot of tools, spells, and throwables to help manage enemy swarms. But if you’re unfamiliar with the game, you’ll likely not have the resources to experiment with them on your first lap. Heck, just knowing where all those annoying ambush spots are helps a bunch. It’s a good compromise.
New Game pluses and minuses
The second big thing here is adjustments to the New Game+ (NG+) system. In Lords of the Fallen, you have two kinds of checkpoints called vestiges. Permanent vestiges which you can fast travel between, and Vestige Seeds: a consumable item you can plonk down in specific flowerbeds to make your own checkpoint. You can only have one seed planted at a time.
NG+, previously, furthered this system by destroying all the permanent vestiges, save for the one in the game’s hub area, Skyrest Bridge. This didn’t hit right with a lot of players, though some really liked being forced to make use of the game’s nifty interconnectedness and route out their playthroughs.
Others however felt it was just stripping out quality of life features, ruining a NG+ playthrough they otherwise would’ve enjoyed. That’s fair too, honestly. I don’t think needing to spend 10 minutes running back to a specific area because you forgot to do a questline there is difficult, exactly. Hexworks is tackling this in two ways.
First up, there’ll be a kind of New Game Zero. When you start a NG+ run, you can go to the next level of difficulty, or you can run through the base game with all of your stuff. This lets you rip and tear through Mournstead if you’d like, do different endings, try different questlines, and so on.
Or you can go to NG+, which has some major changes. “Instead of removing all vestiges (as it does currently), NG+1 will only see a few disappear while keeping the key locations intact. In NG+2, a few more will disappear, and then in NG+3 all but the main hub (Skyrest Bridge) and Adyr’s Shrine vestiges will disappear.”
Again, this is a nice compromise. Instead of sweeping the rug out from under you, each New Game+ slowly makes the world harder and harder to traverse. The hardcore gamers who liked the original NG+ are likely to do subsequent NG+ playthroughs anyway, so everybody wins in theory.
Bells, lanterns and whistles
Lastly, there are more performance tuneups en route. Hexworks has also addressed a bug that saddled players with a kind of forced respec, changing characters to what some are thinking is a dev build, considering the level and stat allocation are always the same. While the studio’s not found a fix yet, it’s asking players who’ve lost progress to send in their data so the dev team can set things right.
“We’re setting up a team you can send your corrupted saves/downgraded characters to, which will respond by providing your saves with the required vigor to restore characters up to the level they were before the glitch … you will need to restart your playthrough, but should be able to restore your progress very quickly with your high-level character.” Crossplay is also coming—between consoles today, and all platforms on Thursday.
Ultimately, while I still have my quibbles with Lords of the Fallen, it’s genuinely impressive to see these improvements come in so fast. It’s not easy to toe the line between listening to player feedback—which can sometimes be off-base—and preserving the initial vision you had for the game. I doubt Hexworks will keep this pace up (and for the studio’s sanity, I hope it doesn’t) but I’m very curious to see what kind of game Lords of the Fallen will become even one month from now.