You know the drill in most survival games like Ark: Survival Evolved by now. You emerge into the wilderness, naked and afraid, and before you can stick two twigs together an experienced player kitted in shiny gear comes and beats you to death, sending you back to the start again. This is something that Frostkeep Studios' Rend tries to do away with, and we recently got to see a demo of their game Rend in London.
Frostkeep Studios co-founder Jeremy Wood walked us through while the game was being shown to us in our hands-off session, and right at the start he made it clear to us that this game isn't like other survival games you've played, and that perhaps the biggest part is ensuring players don't get destroyed before they can get going. To negate this, then, a few things come into play.
The first of these features is the fact that you have friends, and you have a team. In the spirit of jolly cooperation, you don't go off as a lone wolf here, but instead you select from one of three factions, before being placed into a server with others of the same faction. Even though friendly fire is on, as we're told, this is one step to make sure people can work together rather than looking after number one.
The second is that each faction has a base in the map, a pre-determined point which (importantly) serves as a safe space for you and your allies. Here you can rest easy knowing that you won't be harassed or assaulted by PvP brutes, which subsequently ensures the safety of all of your gear as well and gives you a chance to get the lay of the land before being brutalised. If you've been feeling like it's too late to come in as a fresh and squishy newbie to other survival games, then, this might be a big draw of Rend.
What's the point of these factions in the overall scheme of things? Well, there's a win condition, another rather unique feature within Rend. To give a brief summary, in each match (which can last between one to two months, Wood told us when we asked for a ballpark figure) each faction is looking for crystals that fill up a bar that eventually leads to a victory, so all these factions war over these crystals, steal them off each other and so forth in order to eventually win, rather than this being another survival game where you can survive and play indefinitely. After you win (or lose) your character is then wiped, aside from a few progression elements as rewards from the last game, and you start all over.
"At Frostkeep Studios we're all survival game players," software engineer David Talley told us, "and we've played basically everything under the sun, and there are a lot of issues that we've found with it, like the motivation to keep playing after a certain while. And so we figured a win condition gives players a limited amount of time to do everything that you can do in the game, and then suddenly you get to start over and try a different thing."
Rend's map is a big part of what makes this conflict work. It's roughly shaped like a triangle, with each base on each point, and rough divisions of each faction's land near the bases, but there's a catch; resources are spread out across the map. To create the valuable bronze, for instance, you'll need ingredients from each third of the map, meaning you can't just stay in your own corner and away from the action. You're required to explore the map for the best stuff, including loot from comet drops, and so this encourages both PvP and PvE engagement.
It's not just other faction members that are after you in Rend though, since the world is populated by around 30 different kinds of creatures (for now), and while they can be tamed, they'll often instead be looking to start some trouble with you when you're out on your adventure. Wood told us that there's something for both PvE and PvP players then, and that this isn't a survival game geared for either party in mind.