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The Exiled Early Access Review (PC)

Fairytale Distillery’s sandbox PvP MMO arena The Exiled has a number of features that make it unique on the current gaming landscape. It’s quick to jump into, as you start off with a full cycle’s worth of skills that you can choose based on different weapon and armor combinations. But with combat made up mostly of skillshots, it’s also a game that’s difficult to master.

There could be somebody waiting to take you down in every bush.

The Exiled finds itself somewhere between a retro MMORPG and a MOBA. With no turrets and minions, it’s a far cry from the many titles spawned from Defense of the Ancients in the past decade. But without level scaling, PvE monster grinding, dungeons, or legendary items to loot off raid bosses, it also doesn’t seem much like an MMORPG.

This quality is at the same time one of The Exiled’s most intersting aspects, and one of its greatest challenges. It is a game attempting to build a new player base, rather than capitalize on one already established by various other titles in the industry. Playing it feels like a MOBA, and looks like an MMORPG. For me, this made the experience oscillate between confusing and exciting.

Full PvP Anywhere, Anytime

Playing The Exiled can be an unforgiving experience. The game world has completely open PvP anywhere and everywhere. It makes for a very different MMO experience. Every player you encounter in The Exiled becomes a moment of tension, with each of you ready to blast through a skill cycle at the slightest hint of aggression. The mini-map points out large groups of players, and this information can turn out to be critical. Some groups are not at all friendly, and you can quickly find yourself overwhelmed.

the exiled
Different environments, same cobblestone path.

That said, there are times that you can log on to The Exiled, and feel like you’ve just stumbled into a ghost town. It’s a bit odd, because the only thing to really do in that case is log off and try again later. The game is built to be an arena, and there’s not much of a game if nobody else shows up to play.

Customizable Combat

The Exiled offers players several choices in terms of what traditional games may call a class. Players choose from one of four different weapons and one of three different armors. Each comes with its own set of skills, so it’s easy to mix and match. You can learn new skills by looting skill blueprints. If you have the resources to craft extra armor and weapons, you can also switch between them to combine different styles of play.

the exiled
The game offers plenty of granular control on your crafted equipment, if you have the resources.

There are combinations that seem obvious, and others that feel disjointed, but players are free to choose whatever they wish. I tried out several, and can easily see the appeal in seeking out just the right blueprint to complete a devastating skill cycle.

For casual players, The Exiled is definitely the kind of game where you will get the hang of things before long, and soon after be killed by somebody who has a much more advanced understanding of the mechanics. And when that does happen, the game’s full loot system means whatever you had in your inventory will be going over to your assailants. That means all of the resources in the game used to create equipment, level up skills, and donate in order to ensure the very world persists, can be earned a variety of ways. But the game relies on a certain amount of people grinding away the in-game events, like meteorite excavations and carcasses, in order to pool resources into the game. Killing those players before they can reach a stash and store their goods is just another way to get those resources into your own hands.

the exiled
Donating resources earns points, and points keep the whole world alive.

Last Thoughts

To be sure, The Exiled is an innovation in MMOs, as well as a mature and nuanced PvP arena focused on adult gamers. It takes place in a world constantly bombarded with meaningful events. It is an extraordinarily social game; a strength when the world is populated and lively, and a glaring weakness when you run around for 20 minutes and don’t encounter another player. For now, while the game is still in Early Access and building its player pool, it remains a niche experience with some highlights, rather than a revolution in online gaming.

Daniel serves as the MOBA and Esports Editor for MMOExaminer and is a writer based in San Francisco, California. He enjoys games, music, film, certain television and theater. A former student of anthropology, he is fascinated by the intersections of culture, media and technology. He is perpetually in search of the perfect MMORPG, which may not actually exist.

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