The First Descendant Overview- Worth The Hype?

Innovating in the looter shooter space can be challenging, especially when there are only so many kinds of progression, monetization, and gameplay systems proven to work. Nexon’s The First Descendant seemingly forgoes much of that by copying many of its systems from other shooters, with a dash of patrol spaces from Destiny. While its snappy gunplay and impressive visuals can be impressive, can it live up to bigger titles?

TABLE OF CONTENTS

The Journey of The First Descendant

Originally announced as Project Magnum in 2021, The First Descendant arrived with less hype than some of its competitors. Despite this, the game peaked at an impressive 264,572 concurrent players on Steam. Available on Xbox, PlayStation, and PC, it carved out a niche despite launching close to major titles like Destiny 2: The Final Shape. 

The game’s development journey saw several closed beta tests, which helped iron out some problems but didn’t quite generate the same level of anticipation as seen with bigger titles. The decision to rebrand from Project Magnum to The First Descendant seemed part of a strategy to better position the game in the crowded looter shooter market.

Story and Characters

The First Descendant offers a straightforward narrative centered on the Descendants’ battle against the alien Vulgus. The story provides a clear context for the game’s action, yet it can feel bland at times.

Character Development

In The First Descendant, characters primarily function as quest-givers. While they do not exhibit deep character arcs, they serve their roles in advancing the game’s plot. There are hints at backstories and relationships among the Descendants, but these elements are not fully explored yet. However, that alone offers potential for future content.

Narrative Structure

The main plot focuses on the ongoing conflict with the Vulgus, an alien race threatening humanity’s survival. The Descendants, powerful beings with unique abilities, are humanity’s defenders. The narrative setup is straightforward, providing a familiar backdrop for missions. While some missions feel repetitive, they consistently offer rewards and progression. The dialogue, though sometimes lacking in depth, is delivered by committed voice actors.

Gameplay and Mechanics

Many systems in The First Descendant are similar to other games. Module systems, Mastery levels, and a crafting system that can be expedited with premium currency all feel familiar, yet they aren’t poorly implemented. The gameplay loop consists of sub-missions, main missions, and void intercept battles with colossal enemies.

Core Gameplay Loop

  1. Sub-Missions: These involve exploring different regions, and completing various tasks that often include eliminating enemies, collecting items, or activating devices. Each activity offers rewards with specific drop chances, contributing to the game’s overall grind.
  1. Main Missions: These are essentially instanced dungeons where players face waves of enemies and occasional mini-bosses. The level design shows some creativity, but they could overall be improved.
  1. Void Intercepts: These are large-scale battles against the Colossus, towering monstrosities that require players to utilize all their skills, including a grappling hook for added mobility. These battles are the highlight of the game.

Combat Mechanics

Combat in The First Descendant is where the game shows some promise. The gunplay is snappy and responsive, with a variety of weapons that feel satisfying to use. Each Descendant has unique abilities that add a layer of strategy to encounters. The repetition of enemy types and scenarios can make it feel monotonous after a while. However, the variety of Descendants and their unique abilities add to the replayability, encouraging players to experiment with different builds and strategies. 

End Game and Monetization

The end game in The First Descendant introduces tougher Colossus battles and various operations, adding a new level of challenge. However, the low drop rates for valuable items and the lack of matchmaking for harder content can be frustrating for some players. While it is possible to grind for top-tier Descendants, the effort required might feel disproportionate to the rewards.

End Game Content

The end game builds on what players have experienced but with increased difficulty. Colossus battles become more demanding, and new operations such as infiltration and special ops add variety. Despite this, the low drop rates for valuable items and the absence of matchmaking for harder difficulties can make the grind feel more challenging than rewarding.

Monetization Strategy

Nexon’s monetization approach has received mixed feedback. The game features a battle pass offering loot and materials, and players can directly purchase Descendants. However, some players find the prices steep, with an ultimate Descendant costing up to $50. This monetization strategy, combined with the low drop rates, may give the impression that spending money is necessary to progress smoothly.

Mixed Reception

With only 51% of its 4,978 Steam reviews being positive, The First Descendant has a mixed reception. Criticisms include monetization, low drop rates, repetitive missions, and optimization issues. Positive reviews acknowledge these flaws but appreciate the game’s loot-and-shoot mechanics. 

The unofficial subreddit mirrors this mix of praise and complaints. The community is divided, but there is a vocal group that sees potential in the game if certain issues are addressed. The free-to-play model also lowers the barrier to entry, attracting a broad audience.

The Future of The First Descendant

Whether The First Descendant can maintain its player base is uncertain. Nexon has outlined a roadmap that includes new Descendants, Colossus battles, ultimate weapons, and more. Season 1 is set to kick off soon, with each season lasting three months and offering significant content updates. This steady flow of new content is crucial for retaining players and keeping the game fresh. However, the success of this live service game will depend on the quality and variety of future content and how it addresses player feedback.

The First Descendant is an overall decent looter shooter, but it still falls short of the genre’s best. While it offers a decent alternative to Destiny 2, it lack the later’s innovation and suffers from many common issues in live service games. The gameplay and visuals make it very appealing, which gives it potential. Nonetheless, the devs will have to put more effort on future content to keep the community interested in this new looter shooter.

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