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Life is Feudal First Impressions, A Medieval Adventure Awaits

If like me you’ve been dreaming of experiencing a realistic world set in the medieval ages, then you must have been keeping an eye out for Life is Feudal. This massively multiplayer game takes over the winning recipe of Bitbox's first sandbox role-playing game, Life Is Feudal: Your Own, a title that made its way in the top 10 Steam games, selling 380,000 within two weeks of its release. But where Your Own’s servers could only accommodate a maximum of 64 players, the MMO has continents with a capacity of 10,000 players, or even more.

Like any good multiplayer, the game begins with the creation of a character. Immediately, things are clear: we are in a pure medieval world, so do not look for magicians or exotic races. Here you’ll only have humans of different ethnicities, and stats will be based off reality. Strength, for example, increases the amount of objects the character can carry, while intelligence increases the speed at which the character learns skills. In addition, skill points are to be divided between craft skills and combat skills which, are all important in this world. The customization, while nothing to brag about, does a great job at assisting the immersion.
 
Once your character is created and a name is chosen, you will find yourself on the edge of a river where a tutorial explains the basics of the game. As always, in the beginning, everything is simple. The game’s controls are not any different from what you are probably used to, allowing your character to move using either the direction keys, the WASD keys. The character can also jump, run and crouch. You are then given an outfit, the opportunity to discover the interface of equipment and inventory management. The latter is rather nice, represented in the form of a large window, like a bag in which the objects are put in bulk and organized by sliding / depositing.

Eager to give crafting a try, I quickly gather a branch, flint stones and wild plant fibers to make my first axe. The branch is easily retrievable on any tree, without any tools, while the fibers and flint are found lying about. Once these are gathered, simply follow the instructions to create the axe. I promptly use mine to take down a tree and spend about an hour trying to get some decent meat for my character.
 

Speaking of, the combat is realistic and does a great job at integrating the direction of the attack as well as the power of the blow, depending on the movement of the character before the attack. This is clearly far from obvious to master, especially since there is nothing to train and the creatures you can test your skill against will not be allowing you the leisure of using them as punchbags. You can expect PvP battles to be just as challenging. And the presence of PvP is rather heavy in Life is Feudal. As you progress, it will even be possible to create siege weapons to take down the villages of other players, which is something to look forward to.
 
As for building, even something as simple as a cabin takes a lot of work. Indeed, Bitbox intends to keep things as close to reality as possible. Thus, the first step involves flattening the field where you intend to build your home. Once this foundation created, you will need to carry boards and beams over to the location, which involves a lot of walking back and forth. Amusing anecdote, I got lost a bunch of times as I looked for the area where I was building my cabin, mostly due to the fact that the map lacks coordinates. But soon enough I started recognising landmarks, and even used screenshots to move about more accurately. It doesn't take me long either to meet a few players I happen to get along with, and we decide to build a village together.
 
If I had to voices concerns for this game, it would be that it is a dreadfully long road to level your skills and that they are penalized when you die. The concept here requires to create the same objects again and again. Regardless of the path you choose, you will need to progress by using the skills and therefore perform the same actions in a loop. Furthermore, you would need materials to level these skills. And gathering them is no easy task either with all the dangers that you could run into and that could make you lose skill levels. Thankfully, this is somewhat balanced out with an alignment system. The more crimes you commit, the more skills you will lose. Alternatively, it also means that if you do not commit crimes, your death penalty will be negligible.

Conclusion

Life of Feudal is clearly not a game to be taken lightly. Without a defined class, it offers great freedom, which is as much a good thing as a bad thing. The system of assigning points to skills and stats gives the opportunity to do what one wants but the hardcore side resulting in hard penalties after a death is not something that will please everyone, and is likely to put off many players. While I myself am fine with this challenge, should the developers wish to reach a larger audience, they might want to introduce a server without this penalty. Regardless, Life is Feudal is an outstanding game that deserves a try at least.
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