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The First Descendant's endgame won't be about “meaningless DPS" or "piling on specs"

New looter shooter to focus on strategic depth and "party play"

Fighting a colossal Grave Walker in The First Descendant.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Nexon

Live service games such as The First Descendant - a Warframe-ish co-op looter shooter coming next month - can often suffer from a chronic case of numbers-itis, a tragic and goopy disease that stagnates game feel, letting raw and tasteless maths multiply and overwhelm what I, in all my critical wisdom, call “fun button pushy.” Developer NEXON Games were kind enough to answer a few of my questions recently, and most of all, I wanted to know how they’d immunised their endgame against this miserable ailment. The aim, NEXON tell me, is in motivating players to try out different approaches to combat rather than relying on flat progression.

“While The First Descendant does involve specs progression, it doesn't drive the endgame through meaningless DPS and damage floater progressions,” says creative director Minseok Joo. He namechecks 19 ‘descendant’ characters, 22 different unique ‘ultimate weapons’, and “over 500” modules - slottable upgrades. All of which will hopefully keep things fresh. “We’re focusing on launching more attractive strategies in parallel, rather than continually piling on specs. We are focusing our efforts to motivate players to try various strategies.”

“For the endgame content,” Joo says, “combat evolves to focus even more on skills.” A focus of The First Descendant is pitting teams of players against massive bosses, a few of which you can peek in the trailer below. “We've prepared moments where players can shine during party play. One example is the scene where the player tears off weakened parts of the boss by hanging on. It's a scene where a skilled player, using the grappling hook expertly, disables and staggers the boss for the party.”

Watch on YouTube

Not every boss will require this kind of coordination, Joo says. “The Void Intercept Battles that you come across when progressing through the main story can be cleared adequately alone. However, the VIB at difficult levels require equipments, modules, and teamwork that are capable of incapacitating boss mechanics.”

I’m certainly interested in checking out more after hearing that there’s been serious thought put into how to keep combat varied in that all-important endgame. Variation, after all, is how GaaS thrive, and it sounds like the team will be taking this same approach with the worldbuilding. “We consider the launch to be just the beginning of the story,” says Joo. “We will regularly update the personal stories of the Descendants. Additionally, we will unveil hidden aspects of our world, Ingris, through new episodes at each seasons.”

It’s these constant updates - along with addressing player feedback - that NEXON consider the secret to launching and maintaining a great live service game. Producer Beomjun Lee stresses the importance of being open to ongoing fan communication and feedback. “the most significant factor for a live game service, is to listen attentively to the community, genuinely consider their feedback, and continuously strive to improve.”

We’ll hopefully have some fuller thoughts on whether The First Descendant is worth your time soon. Until then, why not find out whether its performance can match up to its glitzy graphics tech?

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