Warlander is a free-to-play third-person MOBA game with atypical gameplay. It was released on January 23, 2023. The developer of this game is the Japanese company Toylogic Inc.
I’ve been playing a little in Warlander, and I have to tell you that this game is not what you expect while downloading it. Actually, there is no MOBA except for the mechanics of towers that can be captured by the players. Let me explain what the matter is with Warlander in order.
Performance (3 / 10)
Let’s start with the most painful: performance and optimization. There is no both. I tested Warlander on my RX 580 graphics card with a Ryzen 7 (8-core) CPU and 16 GB of RAM. And I have to responsibly declare that there are no settings to get a stable 60 FPS in the game. You can see the best result I had in the picture below. This is the lowest graphics preset.
You cannot reduce the quality of shadows or turn them off. You cannot reduce shader quality and detail drawing distance. You can’t reduce anything crucial to performance. So, in my opinion, this is one of the worst game optimizations among the latest high-profile releases.
Graphics (6 / 10)
My graphics score is based directly on performance. The graphics on their own are not bad. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the colors of hot summer days with light fog and blooms. But let’s be honest with ourselves: with such a loaded graphics card, we expect something more, you know? Something on the level of Wither 3: Wild Hunt. But instead of modern graphics, we get this.
In general, that’s good. But not for me, and not with such a load on the video card. I was completely disappointed with the ratio of picture to performance.
Gameplay (6 / 10)
Even though I’m not a big fan of MOBA-like games, I will try to be as honest as I can. It’s just bad. The idea as a whole is great, and I completely agree with it. Two large teams face off against each other on the battleground to lay siege to each other’s castles with catapults, ballistae, battering rams, and magic. It’s a fantastic idea. But the implementation…
In my opinion, this is exactly the case when the gameplay dynamics are too high and the number of excess effects is too large. The game doesn’t feature the sword fight that we saw in Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord. There are no MOBA elements here, like buying artifacts or leveling up a character in battle by killing enemies. You’re just running towards the enemy team, using a few available skills, and trying to kill someone in a completely casual manner. And that’s all.
The absolutely primitive movement-combat system should be stressed separately. You can run, jump, and hit. Nothing more! Of course, I understand that the game is casual and that its target audience is mostly children. Nonetheless, Warlander is a clear example of how MMO game development is degrading. Instead of deep and mechanics-filled gameplay, we’ve got another cheap hack-and-slash with excessive shaders that just hinder the game because you sometimes can’t even see enemies due to the colorful effect on your screen. I’ve noticed this trend long ago: when the game mechanics are bad, the developers try to mask them with extra effects. The most terrible thing is that this is working.
Positive moments are also present in the game. But when I say “positive”, I still mean “at the level of the idea”.
Both warriors and mages can attack from a distance: warriors with rapid-fire crossbows and mages with their magic.
The player can upgrade the skills of his characters, increasing their effectiveness.
After the battle ends, players get rewards based on the results: experience, items, and coins.
Coins can be spent in the shop to buy different boosters and skills.
There is also some kind of battle pass with free and paid reward chains.
And there is also a ranking system, based on which the game will choose enemies for you.
All these features are good, but the main thing, in my opinion, is what the player sees most frequently: the combat and movement systems. And unfortunately, I didn’t like what I saw.
The game is playable and has a pretty high online (at least at the moment of writing this review). The mechanics are completely primitive, especially the movement and combat systems. Gameplay is fully casual. Shaders are dubious. Performance and optimization are just terrible.
Personally, I can’t recommend this game to people who are looking for an “improved MOBA” or something about sieges. And I think developers should be shamed with such raw mechanics in 2023. This is not the level of modern games, by any means…