Premature Evaluation: Life is Feudal – MMO

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Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s going serfing in Life is Feudal: MMO, a game that pitches itself as hardcore, realistic and unforgiving. Fun!

Easily confused with Life is Feudal: Your Own, Life is Feudal: MMO takes the multiplayer medieval crafting and survival game and makes it larger and, through developer-run servers, more permanent. The running theme throughout the series is that life sort of sucks. It’s cruel and dangerous and everyone in it is an arsehole. With that in mind, I have crafted a perfect character: a man so defeated and miserable that nothing is capable of fazing him.

Meet Doderick Soup, the unluckiest man on the planet.

Life is Feudal

Like all those escaping the wars and Elder God shenanigans kicking off on their home continent, I’ve washed up on the shores of a grim and unfriendly island with only the rags on my back (or in my inventory). The only signs of other players are the loot bags and graves scattered everywhere. It’s raining, of course.

I’m warned that this whole surviving malarky is a tricky thing and that, as a new player, I should follow the quests on this newbie island. Being a good boy, I heed this wise advice and make my way down the road. I meet a bloke who has mastered the skill of brevity – something I suspect will be a life-long journey for me – and points me in the direction of the island’s village.

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It turns out that nobody is keen to talk to me until I’ve spoken with the elder, but frankly I’m not sure I really want to get to know anyone in this almost comically miserable place. Look how many people they’ve gone and hanged. It’s like this all the way down the road.

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I mean, come on. At some point it just stops being horrific.

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Yeah, that’s a lady cooking away in her outdoor kitchen, just around the corner from a dozen corpses swinging in the breeze. There’s even a grave right in front of her.

After a confusing chat with the elder, I rush around the village getting quests. Well, tasks. Dig a hole, plant some crops, make a tool, get some ore – the usual suspects. First, though, a closer look at this great big bloody tower of ships that I probably should have mentioned earlier.

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This magical thingamabob contains a chatty statue that offers me a way off the island, but I postpone my trip until I finish all the work I have foolishly agreed to do. I’ve got to make an idol, one of those creepy, ornate poles that are everywhere. That they can be built by players also explains why they’re all over the place. Unfortunately, I’m barely out the door when I’m confronted by a wolf.

I forgot to snap a screenshot, so I’ve tried to recreate the scene at home.

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Like a man who has never even heard of video games, I briefly wonder if it’s going to attack, and then it rushes at me, snarling. I’m weaponless, decked out in rags and I’ve not crafted anything. It’s hopeless. I flail with my fists, hitting air. My air-punches do seem to be actually hurting the wolf, though barely. I run out of stamina and the wolf just bites me to death.

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I wake up naked. My only possessions, my beloved rags, now belong to a wolf. I’ve also lost some skill points and I’m now laden with a temporary curse that makes me even more useless than I was in my previous life. More useless than a man who died because he was too tired to fight a wolf.

There’s no way to get to my grave, where I’d find my stuff, without dealing with the wolf, so I just get on with my tasks. This also proves to be a challenge. I need tools, and resources to craft them with, but I have no idea how to find half of what I need. Even wikis and forums prove to be unhelpful, until I realise that the ability to find stuff like plants and flint and ore are all connected to specific skills. I don’t have any of them.

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Luckily, doing the few things I can actually do – digging holes, snapping branches off trees – increases my nature lore by one point, enough to unlock the ability to search for stuff just lying around on the ground. I use it for the first time and, suddenly, the ground is littered with plants and mushrooms and huge piles of rocks. This must be what being a botanist or a geologist is like.

Mining is out of my reach, however. The mining skill seems to be pretty far down the tree, at least where I’m at, and my digging skill – the one thing I’m awesome at – isn’t high enough to actually make the mine itself. There are pre-built mines that the task directs me towards, but they’ve actually been placed within the village limits, so nothing can be done inside them.

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After finishing a couple of my jobs, I realise I’m not actually getting anything for completing them, and as tutorials they’re usually vague and sometimes outright wrong, so I decide to leave for the mainland. But first, I want to say goodbye to an old friend.

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With several weapons at the ready, I feel pretty confident about my first proper fight. I equip my weapon, rush in… and start punching the air.

I’ve equipped my weapon, but it turns out that I also need to ready it. Panicking, because I’m now badly injured, I flee. But not far, because I run out of stamina. The wolf catches up and starts tearing me apart. I run again, until I have to stop because, yes, I’m out of stamina. This continues until I am dead.

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I refuse to leave all of my stuff to the wolf. It’s not just rags this time. I try to trick him, forcing him to chase me so I can double back and loot my grave. It seems to work, but my hands are still shaking as I put each item from my grave into my inventory, one by one. The wolf doesn’t return.

The quest tells me to speak with the ferryman, but forgetting that this is the statue’s name, I stupidly go and speak to the ship builder, seeing as he’s the only one standing near a proper boat. That’s when I get stuck in between some small boxes.

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Escaping my box prison, I quickly realise my mistake and head back to the statue – oh bollocks there it is again.

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Yes, the wolf has sniffed me out. It’s fine. I have my weapons and I’ve learned from my mistakes.

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Nope.

Like a total idiot, I return once more because I’ve spent too long on this dismal island to leave with absolutely nothing to show for it. I need my loot. I need revenge. And for the first time, luck seems to be on my side. The wolf is stuck on my grave, and I can just reach it without being attacked. So of course when I get everything back I hit it.

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Unfortunately my attack dislodges the wolf, and I rapidly run out of health and stamina, forcing me to retreat. It gets stuck again, but this time I have a better idea than hitting it with my axe. I have a sling and some bullets I found on the ground. So I stand there, for five minutes, launching tiny pebbles at a buggy wolf. I have to charge up my swing to hit him, which is tricky when there’s no meter and I can’t actually see the sling.

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Eventually, my ceaseless barrage bores the wolf so much that it manages to free itself and just wander off. I have all my stuff back and I’m alive. This time I make the smart choice: I leave the wolf alone. I get to the statue and bid the awful island farewell, escaping with at least a few things.

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I arrive on the mainland, naked and with a nearly empty inventory.

As the cold water embraces me, I start to wonder if I’m giving up too quickly. Surely Doderick Soup can handle worse than this. But then I realise that there are undoubtedly wolves on the mainland. Plural! The sea is my new home now, for as long as it will have me.

Life is Feudal: MMO is out now on Steam for £23.79/$29.99/€27.99.

30 Comments

  1. upupup says:

    Why is everyone always so muddy in these games. Even if you work in dirt without washing for a long time it simply flakes off after a while. Medieval clothing could also be a lot more colourful than what people usually imagine; garish even.

    • Seafoam says:

      Well the things you see in museums and illustrations are colorful. Normal peasants undoubtedly couldn’t afford dyes.

      And the people back then believed that the dirt is protective, which is why they avoided bathing. The notable exceptions were the vikings, who bathed and styled their hair, and there are historical letters where unbathed englishmen complain that their wives are falling for the well groomed nordic invaders.

      • Fraser Brown says:

        People have dyed their clothes for most of human history.

      • upupup says:

        Certain dyes were expensive, famously purple, but others were much more common. The poor might not have gotten the good dyes, but there was cheap stuff as well.

        That they didn’t bathe frequently didn’t mean that the dirt wouldn’t dry and eventually fall of. You’d need regular mudbaths to stay as muddy as typical screenshots.

        • Seafoam says:

          Hmmm, yeah I’ll give you that, it’s always to drive up that edgy grittiness factor.

        • Seafoam says:

          I got interested and read up a bit on the subject, apparently lots of easy to get plants give colors such as blue, orange, or green.
          But these don’t stick well and tend to wash out without chemicals. Also dye vats could be used lots of times, so it would be cheaper to get your clothes dyed in an used batch and the color would be light.
          I guess it’s all to be gritty, but washed out colors would be more sensible.

          • upupup says:

            Yeah, getting a nice colour that also doesn’t wear off is the hard and expensive part. That’s also why nice clothes used to be much more valuable and were passed from generation to generation the way they still are in certain areas.

          • Parrilla says:

            They used to use urine to help fix the colours too.

      • Premium User Badge

        Phasma Felis says:

        Several lovely dyes can be made from ordinary flower petals. There’s a bunch of colors you can’t get, but you can make do.

        • Ghostwise says:

          I hear that you could get more flower types in loot boxes, though.

    • J says:

      I heard often enough that, at least here in Italy, in medieval times the less wealthy were called “i grisi”, as in “the greys” because of the undyed clothes they wore.

    • Niko says:

      Life is Feudal: made by people who believe the expression “Dark Ages” is a) still correct b) literal.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    Good this game sounds horrible in all ways.

    • Premium User Badge

      Drib says:

      God*. What happened to the edit function?

      • Railway Rifle says:

        I prefer to read your comment as “Oh goody, this sounds like the throughly miserable experience I’ve been looking for.”

        • Premium User Badge

          Drib says:

          Yes, I’ve been longing for a truly miserable survival experience, showing me what it was like to be an outsider in medival era, cared for by no one and left alone to die to wolves! Woo!

  3. vorador says:

    There’s something beautiful about a man killed repeatedly by the first mob it encounters.

    • fuggles says:

      There should be a dungeon keeper styles swap where you play as the wolf and are given a starting quest of killing 10 new humans and stealing their rags.

    • Premium User Badge

      Phasma Felis says:

      Woah, Dark Souls flashbacks.

      I actually died less to the Asylum Demon than I did to that first naked zombie with a club.

  4. Spacewalk says:

    Life Is Feudal, it’s gonna get medieval on your arse.

  5. ppickeri says:

    Despite your dismal experience in Life is Feudal, this story was hilarious.

  6. EkoAzarak says:

    ooooh how did this game elude my radar!!??? buying now, ty RPS

  7. Imperialist says:

    I hope you give that Primaris Captain in Gravis Armor a worthy paintjob.

    Regardless, this game looks equally appealing and appalling…on one hand you get a whole world of medieval survive-em-up, filled with grit and and difficult…things. On the other hand, it sounds like being strapped to a wheel of pain for fun as opposed to playing other MMOs or pub crawling or whatever.

  8. Railway Rifle says:

    In the grim darkness of the feudal past, there is only grimness partly visible in the darkness.

    But it’s still funny to be back in the long dark and “oh no, I’ve been eaten by a wolf.”

  9. Ejia says:

    Why hello there who is a very good do- I mean very ferocious wolf? YOU ARE

  10. Harlander says:

    This sounds weirdly similar to Mortal Online (and the tottering tower of other ‘hardcore MMORPGs’)

    • Esin12 says:

      Yeah, it definitely does. Back when I played Mortal (a couple years ago now), there was some fervor about this game. People were expecting it to be everything that Mortal wasn’t in a lot of ways, and address some of the larger issues that come with this type of hardcore mmo. I’m not quite sure it has yet, but to be honest, I’m actually kind of curious. I’m weirdly masochistic when it comes to MMOs (and RPGs in general), hence my tenure with Mortal, so I might try this one out.

  11. nim.was.taken says:

    If Eve Online and Wurm Online had a baby, it would be this game. For anyone who is actually interested in picking the game up, my advice would be to find an established group/guild to play with. You can hardly accomplish anything on your own, and the game isn’t very intuitive. Also be aware that the servers have been experiencing serious performance/stability issues (at least on the NA servers).

  12. Pharaoh Nanjulian says:

    I’ve had ‘Life is Feudal: Your Own’ for some time and have never managed to get far in it. I use it with family as a weirdly relaxing earth-shifting simulator. One of us will go to pick a large number of apples to feed us while we level the ground and plant peas.

    The wolves are extremely difficult to take down even with three people hitting them with spades. One of our number has fallen through the island and been swimming about underneath it for some time. Just before they starved to death we managed to get them to poke their head out of a pit we’d dug on the beach. More judicious digging extricated them from the underside of the map and we feasted on apples.

    It’s very strange, could be considered bad in many ways (the number of skills required for simple tasks is bonkers, and the progression tree for manufacturing items is insane. If I recall correctly, it requires some very complex machinery to make a bow and arrow) but has a peculiar charm, at least when I last played it.