The new Free2Play shooter borrows from Warframe and Destiny and looks pretty thanks to Unreal Engine 5 – but the test result is still negative

I liked The First Descendant surprisingly well at the beginning.The new loot shooter from Nexon looks pretty, is unexpectedly story-driven and plays really fast.

And there was and still is a lot of interest in the game. On SteamThe First Descendantwas the 5th most requested game. For the release on July 2, the number of players on Steam went over 200,000 concurrent users.However, over half of the 31,000 user reviews are negative.

And there are indeed some problems. Among other things, the Free2Play game runs out of steam after just a few hours. This is not so much because The First Descendant borrows liberally from genre role models such as Destiny and Warframe, but rather because the game relies too much on the same elements

Story? Never mind, the main thing is action!

The mission tasks are constantly repeated, the overworld areas and the dungeons are always structured in the same way and even the really big boss battles have always taken place in the same arena between the dimensions.

The First Descendant is about the battle between humanity and the evil Vulgus. The Vulgus have been attacking humanity from another dimension for 100 years now. Normal ground troops, medium-sized bosses and even the odd spaceship actually make it to us

Luckily, the really big monsters have so far remained stuck between dimensions. And that’s where we fight them, either alone or with up to three other players, as The First Descendant is also a co-op shooter.

(Female characters in the game dress quite revealingly.)
(Female characters in the game dress quite revealingly.)

We gradually unlock these big boss fights over the course of the story and can repeat them as often as we want or need to. Because grind is also part of a loot shooter, especially in a Free2Play game. If you want to unlock new heroes, you need resources and we can only get them with certain, fairly manageable drop rates, either in missions, side activities or boss battles.

Incidentally, there are now 15 of these heroes at the start and then another 5 in a special version. And the lords and ladies are the salt in the soup of The First Descendant, because they determine your play style beyond the choice of the three portable weapons. Each hero, or Descendant, as the characters are called in the German subtitles, uses four active abilities, such as freezing enemies, throwing grenades, generating super lasers or igniting the turbo.

At the beginning you have the choice between three heroes, later on you can get the necessary crafting resources for the heroine Bunny very quickly, without grind and above all completely without real money costs. For the other heroes, however, you will have to plan a lot of time. Or you can pull out your credit card. I’ll explain why I don’t recommend this later. For now, let’s stick to the basics of The First Descendant:

(Bunny is the fourth unlockable heroine of The First Descendant.)
(Bunny is the fourth unlockable heroine of The First Descendant.)

Destiny’s Child

As already mentioned, the game clearly borrows fromDestinyand Warframe. From Destiny comes the Last City of Mankind as a player hub, where you can see other Descendants, get new missions, talk to special characters and customize your equipment. Here you can upgrade weapon and hero mods, increase your mastery rank or do all the other things you do in a Destiny-style loot shooter – in the end, it all boils down to a lot of number-crunching.

But it’s not just the home base that immediately reminds you of Destiny, the overworlds are also structured similarly. The map of The First Descendant is currently divided into eight regions away from the home base.

The regions each feature a different graphic set, from rainy swamps to arid rocky deserts. Each region is hand-built and subdivided into four to five smaller areas. Here we complete one story mission after the next and also unlock a few side activities for later, such as a horde mode with increasingly stronger waves of enemies.

The design of the story missions draws on a manageable pool of eternally repeatable tasks. We have to defend certain points, collect samples, blow up generators or simply shoot away everything the enemy throws at us for a while.

These tasks could actually be randomly generated and take place anywhere, so they are completely generic. Strictly speaking, this is not a real mission design, instead the developers draw out rough game systems and then pour them into the levels. This often reminded me of the missions in Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League.

The missions are still fun despite the quickly understood and often very similar systems. However, this is more due to the fast-paced gameplay than because the missions are exciting. It’s just fun to blast away enemy after enemy with shotgun, assault rifle, sniper rifle or icing wave

This also applies to the smaller bosses that we encounter at the end of each dungeon. The dungeon missions lead us into instanced tube levels and at the end or sometimes in between there are special enemies that often have several phases or at least special attacks.

For example, you first have to deactivate their shields or eliminate networked minions before you can attack the boss directly. This doesn’t reinvent the loot shooter wheel, but it’s fun and satisfying with every victory Provided you have the right equipment with you, because otherwise these enemies sometimes turn into blatant bullet sponges and it takes forever to shoot away their life bar.

Skeletor in a dance of joy

Meanwhile, the game is held together byan amazing amount of story There are radio messages in every mission and dialog in the outposts. The story is not particularly imaginative or even exciting, but it provides a common thread and the necessary context

I need the latter so that I can throw myself back into the same old missions. It might be dull, but when someone whispers in my ear how important what I’m doing is, it motivates me again in the end.

In addition, the villains and their lickspittles remind me of the villains from the Saturday morning TV shows of my childhood. I wouldn’t have been surprised if Skeletor had suddenly stumbled into one or two of the cutscenes. And besides, as the saying goes, if you know who the enemy is, then the day has structure. And it is precisely this structure that the story and the villains provide in The First Descendant.

(There are clichéd villains at every turn in The First Descendant.)
(There are clichéd villains at every turn in The First Descendant.)

Warframe… is that you?

Weapon and hero modding is provided by Warframe. The First Descendant copies the mod system of the successful Free2Play shooter almost one-to-one and lets us improve and customize weapons and heroes via a mod card system. For example, we can increase attack power, accuracy, shield and health points or even change the way the grappling hook works.

We can then upgrade the mods even further in the base. However, this costs resources and the stronger a mod becomes, the more space it takes up in our suits or weapons.

But on the other hand, we also regularly level up in mastery rank and thus unlock more space for mods.So the loot spiral works– and it motivates! The prospect of a new improvement or a new research project for a very special weapon with additional effects, such as an energy explosion on defeated opponents, is actually driving me to keep playing at the moment.

Restart the game? Money deleted!

The First Descendant is at first glancea very fair Free2Play game You can unlock all game-relevant content, such as heroes and weapons, for free. However, this sometimes takes a long time because you need a lot of other resources and projects to research the other heroes, for example.

But that’s not so bad, because the game is actually fun for hours, even with the starting character and Bunny. I never really thought that I needed another character. Nevertheless, I bought a new hero for testing purposes

The cheapest one costs 300 Caliber, which is the real money currency in the game. But you can only get 250 caliber for 5 euros. That’s the smallest package. So I have to buy at least the 10 euro package with 520 Caliber if I want to unlock one of the cheapest heroes for real money

The more expensive heroes cost 600 or 900 Caliber.&nbspOf course, Nexon doesn’t offer any suitable packages, but always sells a little too little Caliber so that you are forced to spend more money than you actually need. The skins and other purchasable customization items in the game are also totally overpriced, but at least the Battle Pass only costs 10 euros.

Where The First Descendant finally lost me as a paying customer, however, was not the prices themselves, but rather the customer-hostile attitude Apart from the lousy scam with the price packs, the game deletes all my real money purchases when I want to start a new game. I don’t even get a refund for my next character. The account is simply reset, including all real money purchases! What is this nonsense?

I have a memory like a sieve, so if I go back to The First Descendant in a year or two, I want to start the story all over again. I can repeat missions as often as I want, but I won’t get the introduction and the conversations in between again. So I want to start a new character. But at the same timeall my real money purchases are canceled without replacement!

I don’t care what arguments Nexon might have for this step, because there is none that could excuse my money being deleted. What kind of understanding of a business relationship does Nexon want to enter into with me?In any case, I can’t trust a partner like that with my money.

Shame, I really liked the little rucksack in which a hamster makes endless rounds. Otherwise I would have bought it straight away. And yes, I’m aware that there’s a lot of unfair nonsense going on in the Free2Play market, but I don’t have to take part in it, do I?

The technology

Thanks to Unreal Engine 5, The First Descendant looks really good most of the time, only a few effects could be a little more finely resolved to my taste. The generic sci-fi style is a matter of taste, but I like this slick design and the many technical details – so two thumbs up from me.

However, the system requirements are also quite high.&nbspAt least you can customize the graphics – and also the controls – to your system in many ways on the PC, including ray tracing. I haven’t tried the version for PlayStation and Xbox yet, but there is definitely cross-play. You can always tell which system people are currently playing on by the icons next to the player names

(The Unreal Engine 5 provides chic landscapes and action worth seeing.)
(The Unreal Engine 5 provides chic landscapes and action worth seeing.)

By the way,

PvP doesn’t existin The First Descendant. You only ever play against the AI, whether alone or in a team. Big bosses are scaled down a bit if you play against them solo

Nevertheless, most missions and bosses are much easier in co-op, also because the game speed is sometimes almost dizzyingly high. You really get into a speed train

By the way, I didn’t have any bad bugs, even though other players had reported problems. Sometimes the connection stuttered a bit and at the beginning there was an annoying delay when buying real money currency, but the problem was quickly fixed.

Criticism still exists forthe invasive data analysisthat you have to agree to at the start of the game. Among other things, Nexon grants itself the right to pass on your data to third parties and wants to be able to access local files on your computer, websites visited and communication with other players.

If this is too much for you, you should give the game a wide berth anyway – and you still haven’t missed much.Because this game is miles away from a must-have title.

Editor’s verdict

The First Descendant works best if you need a change of scenery from Destiny and Warframe and are generally into loot shooters in the style of The Division or Outriders. It’s the perfect game for the summer slump – not really good, but not really bad either. You can easily spend a couple of days without spending any real money, easily clearing hordes of enemies, exploring new levels and defeating huge bosses while enjoying the satisfaction of new equipment and regular level ups. And I really liked the fast pace of the game in the test.

Compared to its big role models, The First Descendant lacks depth and variety, but the game is still in its infancy. The next seasons should at least bring more personal quests for the heroes. That sounds pretty good. Especially as the heroes, with their really noticeably different play styles, are one of the game’s greatest strengths.

In the long run, however, The First Descendant will need more enemy variety and, above all, better missions if it is to survive. So far, the game is largely just a solid copy of much better games. And most people will probably return to the originals once they have played The First Descendant enough.

However, I would definitely give the game’s payment system a wide berth. It’s completely overpriced, it’s customer-hostile from start to finish and while it’s not Pay2Win, it’s still not fair. I generally have no problem with the Free2Play idea if it is implemented respectfully. With The First Descendant, however, I constantly have the feeling that the system is trying to lure me into a trap. As a result, I will never spend money on this game again – even if some of the skins are really cool

Fortunately, I don’t have to spend anything, because The First Descendant offers enough without spending real money, at least enough for a little change of scenery during the break between Destiny and Warframe.