Wickland is a fast paced, old school, online multi player first person shooter with a medieval fantasy theme. Most medieval games have slow movement, melee combat and shields, but not in Wickland. In this game, you have a machine gun like crossbows, rapid fire magic spells and quick thrown bombs. Every player moves super fast, has a lot of mobility and a decent jump. The big twist here is the fact that you don’t collect weapons, you collect monsters that have their own abilities. So another weapon is one of seven monsters each with their own ammunition and health. Monster health is like armor. If the monster loses all its health, you lose that monster and need to get it again. When you’re taking damage as a monster, you’re also losing your overall health. If you lose all your overall health, you’re dead even if you’re a monster. It keeps things interesting and the monster skins are a good way to tell who is using what weapon. Although the action is so fast it turns into shoot whatever is moving. As a human crusader, you can pick up armor for extra resilience against attacks. If you are a monster when you pick up armor, that monster gets extra health, but your overall player health stays the same. Its all a nice system.
The monsters feel like they’re from black and white cinema classics. You’ve got a werewolf with quick bombs that will bounce around before it explodes. Players caught in the explosion will fly through the air a bit. A gorilla (mini king kong?) with an arm cannon and the alternate fire is a double blast. A blue creature from the black lagoon with a long electric laser blast and a blue floating orb alternate fire. A yellow kracken that slowly fires a beam from its claw and spits acid that ricochets off the walls. A green lizard that has invisibility when you hold down the primary weapon and a strong claw melee for an alternate. Even when invisible, I could never catch up to anyone because everyone moves so fast. A goat beast that throws flaming red skulls that I can only think of the barons from Doom. Finally there is a bat that quick fires green glowing orbs and the alternate fire is a spread shot of the orbs. They all have the same movement speed, so there’s nothing special about them other than their weapon.
Currently, the game has six maps, each has its own unique theme and some good action. Each passageway on every map is nice and wide. You’ll always be able to run by other players or joust with them. Most maps have an upper and lower floor with most of the action happening on the lower one. There are plenty of balconies to fire down from and staircases to get up there. The maps aren’t too big, so you’ll always find action. There are bottlenecks, and wide open spaces to jump over gaps and have good fire fights. The game also makes use of jump plates that shoot you from the floor to the ceiling pretty easy. You’ll even find paintings that act like portals for you to pass through. Each portal shows what’s on the other side even if its a distorted ripple. There is slight fall damage, but only from the highest possible peaks I could find.
You’ll discover armor, power ups and health of every shape and size. These items are everywhere. Health adds to your overall player health. The monster heads are on pedestals and the ammunition for the monsters is strewn about. You’re never truly out of ammunition, if you run out of one type, just switch off, but keep in mind your monster’s health. Would you rather use a healthy monster with no ammo or one that’s about to die with plenty of ammo? Some power ups give you health or armor which exceeds your maximum and then it slowly drains down. Its a good way to keep players aggressive and hungry. These items are all commonplace in a first person shooter and it all feels familiar.
The game looks great all for a small file size under 1 GB. Closer scrutiny might find low quality textures, but for the most part the aesthetic is beautiful. Everything has a wonderful glow to it that adds to things. All the projectiles look different. Blue electricity, flaming red skulls, yellow acid spit and so on. Its another deeper way to let you know who has what weapon. It turns into a subtle rainbow of chaos on the battle field. Since killing something is so difficult, there is a satisfying giant red explosion of blood to let you know you’ve finally done it.
So why don’t I recommend it? First of all, the game feels like I’ve played it before. It feels like other UDK (Unreal) engine shooters. So it feels familiar, just with a beautiful new theme. The biggest glaring issue is that its a multi player game with no players. At the peak I’ve found nine players at the most, but this is a few months after the game’s release. Sure there could be a cheap sale and the game can find itself packed to the gills with players, but for how long? There are maybe ten dedicated servers across the globe. A few in Europe, one in Asia, another in Australia, South America and a few in the United States. From what I’ve seen, it seems like the European servers are the busiest. My ping was over one hundred, so while it was manageable, its not as good as the few servers in the US with even fewer people playing.
Since the lack of bodies is an issue, Wickland does include a practice mode. Its essentially a single player offline mode where you compete against bots. When you start practice, you need to then pause the game and push the “add bot” button to dump them into the game. So you can have one on one or all out mayhem with as many bots as you can add. Maybe even a gold collecting to see who has the most at the end of the round. Any extra modes would only fragment what little player base there is.
What about the modes? These games need to have a robust amount of modes right? Its all just a timed death match. At the end of the time limit you see the score. You can also see the score board before then with the press of a key. There just isn’t a good amount of modes to keep me interested. I’d like team death match, king of the hill, even capture the flag, but I guess for a medieval spin it would be capture the torch. After playing fast twitchy first person shooters for twenty years, this one felt like a change in theme, but nothing else. I’d love to be able to make my own server instead of using the dedicated ones. Its still great that the game has dedicated servers.
For those that care, there is a wide array of settings. Rebindable keys, different resolutions and advanced graphical settings. There is even mouse sensitivity up to 100 and field of view up to 150 if you like. The game performs excellently, and I think it could perform well even on older systems. One thing I would prefer is being able to visit the settings menu while in game. If not in multi player then in practice mode.
There is a lot of potential here, but I’m just not sure the world is ready for a new old school online multi player FPS. There’s nothing wrong with it, I just didn’t feel like there was enough to keep me invested. It needs more modes, more players and more fun. Even if the game says its in beta (but not Early Access), I’m not sure it will ever get in the modes or player base to keep it going or even get it started.