Discussion We Had With Wayfinder Devs In An Interview

An interview with two of members of Airship Syndicate has given us a sneak peek on what we can expect from their upcoming Wayfinder game.

Wayfinder is an upcoming MMO action-RPG game that’s coming from developer Airship Syndicate. Recently, game director Steve Madureira and AJ LaSaracina, the studio’s director of marketing and engagement, sat down with us for an interview to talk more about the game, starting off with comparisons people might make between it and games like Warframe and World of Warcraft.

To us MMOs are about online communities, a persistent and evolving world, and an ever-changing game, and Wayfinder hits all three of those things. While we aren’t a traditional MMO like World of Warcraft, we definitely are inspired by the social and persistent elements of it that we love and want to capture some of that in Wayfinder. A lot of our ideas on systems and fair free to play monetization are definitely informed by Warframe. Digital Extremes has had a lot of experience in that regard and we want to lean on what they learned and apply it to Wayfinder. While there are inspirations from these two games, we are still focused on building something unique that’s our own thing that will be around for years to come!

As with many games like this, Airship Syndicate is making sure that the game has plenty of time to get all of its kinks worked out before it releases by giving it multiple Early Access periods, and starting on PC and Playstation before moving on to other consoles.

Currently, we are planning to have two, three-month-long seasons in Early Access on PC and PlayStation consoles. Each season will be how we roll out new characters, their weapons, event locations and more. We plan to launch free to play on other platforms in the Fall.

Airship Syndicate also explained as to why the game is only being released on the PC and PlayStation consoles and not on Xbox in early access. The game will also have cross-play, allowing players on all of its platforms the ability to play together.

Giving players the ability to play together no matter what console is also going to be important for gameplay, since the game will place a large emphasis on teamwork. However, the game is also completely capable of being played alone, despite being geared for multiplayer.

While grouping is encouraged, we want to make sure that the game is largely solo able and that every character is viable, so people can play the way they want.  It will definitely be more efficient to play in a group with a balanced team and wayfinders and weapons that complement each other, but a specific team comp isn’t strictly needed. You could for example, do a hunt with 3x dps characters and go the risky route, but you will definitely have an easier time with a well-balanced group with a healer and a tank. With the game being more skill based, (no auto attacks, you can avoid MOST enemy attacks/mechanics) you can definitely make any team comp work.

However, there’s still plenty of content for single players and those who just want to level their characters alone. Even this, however, has co-op opportunities. The devs plan for drop-in/drop-out matchmaking that will let solo players find people also doing the same mission help them to complete it.

Yes, it can be played completely solo but the game is developed with multiplayer in mind. Some bosses and in-game challenges will be substantially more difficult to overcome alone. One of our pillars is that Wayfinders are stronger together, and we want to encourage group play as that’s a huge aspect of these social games. We do also offer the ability for someone to drop in / drop out matchmaking with a helper queue so they can login and get that quest done with the help of people who are actively looking to help others that maybe aren’t interested in long term social play.

Of course, with every MMO, a big part of what keeps players going is the promise of progression for their characters, gaining new abilities and powers as they get stronger. Airship Syndicate has worked on this as well, and Madureira and LaSarancina went into some detail on how it will work.

On average you can expect a fresh character to take 20-25 hrs to get to level 30 (the current cap) and a weapon to take about 15.  Outside of leveling, there are also other methods to increase the power of weapons and characters including boosting affinities using found resources. Two systems that are coming soon after Early Access are Awakening where you craft a character multiple times to raise their power level, and Radiance Levels which allows you to promote a character/weapon and unlock an extra xp track for radiance levels above the max for more incremental rewards.

There’s also the Endgame to consider; with many MMO players often dropping off once they run out of things to do, content in the endgame must be engaging enough to keep players coming back, whether it’s to grind for better gear or just giving plenty of events to keep them engaged.

We plan to be adding new areas, Lost Zones, and hunts regularly, including tougher group content like world bosses.  We will also be revealing Heroic tiers of content, allowing you to replay older content at the highest difficulty for exclusive rewards.  Raids are planned for the future as well, but will not be present at launch.  On the social front we also plan to evolve the housing system with neighborhoods, guild neighborhoods, and neighborhood-centric activities (community goals and quests).  Live events will be regularly released as well.  The game itself is largely about collection, which will be emphasized as we continue to expand on the Discoveries system.  There will be benefits to crafting and playing different wayfinders and weapons, and exploring every nook and cranny of the world.

Since it’s getting ready to be released in Early Access, Airship Syndicate is also going to have to come up with a way to continue to fund the game’s development. For now, this means a Founder’s Edition, which will let interested players be able to get into Early Access in a variety of ways.

We aren’t quite ready to reveal all the details of Wayfinder’s Founders Packs, but we will have different tiers across different price points to accommodate all players looking to jump into Wayfinder in Early Access on PC and PlayStation this Summer. Each tier will include exclusive items, including cosmetics, pets, mounts, and more, in addition to granting Early Access to the game. We understand that asking players to embark on the adventure of Early Access with us can be intimidating, and all of our packs are upgradable and competitively priced so that players can make the best decision for themselves at time of purchase. We have no plans to sell these items outside the Founder’s Pack’s making them special to those who choose to support us. We’ll be able to share more details on these different tiers of Founders Packs soon.

Of course, the game will also have other ways to make money. Wayfinders will be a free-to-play game, which means that we’ll be seeing microtransactions as a part of it. However, the developers have said that there will be no loot boxes or gacha mechanics, and that the options will be varied, from cosmetics to weapons and even apartments.

Our free and fair monetization built with Digital Extremes allows us to offer all content such as characters, weapons, zones and more inside the game and free to all players via gameplay. We have no loot boxes and no gacha systems of any kind. We will be selling a mix of cosmetic items for players, weapons and apartments, as well as convenience items such as Wayfinders and Weapons directly.

Alongside the usual progression and endgame content, PVP is also a part of some MMOs, especially ones that include faction-based progression. However, Wayfinder for now doesn’t really have those plans, though it’s too early to say that something like it won’t be coming at all.

Currently we have no PvP plans. Not necessarily off the table in the future, but not for Early Access, or Free to Play. All of us here are fans of PvP in online games and we’d love to do something in the future but right now we have no plans.

Another big part of any MMO’s grind is the possibility of getting better gear and cool loot. Wayfinder will be no different in this regard, though the loot system will also be different from other systems in other MMOs, according to the devs.

“This will vary a lot based on the type of item. Weapons are more like characters in Wayfinder. For example, no two Daggers are the same as they have unique abilities attached to them. It will take some work to acquire them, but they are meant to be with you for a long time. Weapons level up and can house echoes (mods) and upgrade in different ways like a character. You will be finding accessories and echoes much more frequently allowing you to swap them out as you find newer and better ones. Resources will be plentiful and will be used in various forms of crafting (Wayfinders, weapons, accessories, consumables, furniture, imbuements, character and weapon upgrades, echo fusion).”

Gear, loot, endgame activities, and more are only scratching the surface of content, as well. Any MMO worth their salt will also have various activities that players can come across in the world at large, and the developers want to make players explore the world of Wayfinder and be rewarded for it.

We want to make sure players feel rewarded for exploration and the Discovery system is going to be a big part of that. There will be rewards for filling out the Discovery book and exploring areas, finding secrets, completing events, defeating enemies and seeing all the world has to offer. We’re excited to constantly add to the world, as each Season will allow us to revisit areas and add new quests, new events, new NPCs, and of course new secrets.

Players will also have a range of customization options to choose from. While many were already shown in the game’s closed beta, the game’s Early Access period and beyond will have even more, with more coming as the game grows.

We will definitely have more customization options than were available during the closed beta, and will be adding many more as the game grows! We understand how important a character’s look is to players so we plan to have some customization available via gameplay and not just our store. You will be able to unlock new style components to swap out parts of the character visual, head styles, adjust colors, unlock different weapon glamours to change how your weapons look, and unlock personas, which are an entire overhaul of a character visual. Outside of the visuals you will be able to customize abilities with ability upgrades, unlock weapon masteries, granting talents affecting the use of that weapon type, archetype talents, which you unlock for any of your characters of that archetype, and boosting affinities granting passive perks to the character and boosting certain stats you get from items you equip.  You will also be finding accessories and echoes you can slot into characters, weapons and accessories. Any character can also use any weapon which will change how you play them.

Along with the drop-in/drop-out gameplay for solo players and others, players will also have the chance to be put in a queue to help others who are looking for help on certain missions, along with having options for public and invite-only matchmaking.

We will have both! Our group content currently supports a group of 3, so you can form a group of 3 ahead of time, you can rely on matchmaking to find 2 people to do group content with, or you can have a premade group of two and use matchmaking to fill in the last slot. We will have a Helper Queue that will put you in a queue to play any content that is looking for more players. Players will be rewarded for using the helper queue to ensure there is a constant base of players available to help fill in matchmaking needs. This will help with a player who joins later in the life of the game and may be looking for a group for lower level or older content that players aren’t actively targeting as often.

And finally, one of the biggest quality of life things to make MMOs easier to traverse: mounts. Whether they’re animals or silly bits of technology, every MMO has a mount system, and Wayfinder is no exception, especially in regards to creative creatures.

Part of the heritage of Airship is of course Joe Mad and the rest of the talented artists that constantly have incredible creatures swirling around their head. It wouldn’t be an airship game without memorable and amazing creatures. We recently teased our first mount that will be included in some of the Founder’s Packs. Stay tuned for more info soon!

With Wayfinder releasing on PC and Playstation consoles sometime in the summer of this year, hopefully these versions will gain enough traction to make the game a success when it comes out.

Hunter is senior news writer at SegmentNext.com. He is a long time fan of strategy, RPG, and tabletop games. When he is not playing games, he likes to write about them.