There are very few games that give the feeling of having done a hard day’s work, that warm wash of satisfaction of having accomplished something worthwhile, a reward for all the effort and toil. There are also few games that require genuine cooperation for the mutual benefit of all players. Life is Feudal: Your Own is one of those games. It is, at first, vastly overwhelming, with many intricate and complex game mechanics that must be understood before you can really appreciate what it has to offer. However, if you have the patience and time (lots and lots of time), then something that many sandbox survival MMORPG games fail to achieve awaits you.
At first glance, LiF seems to follow a familiar pattern; you spawn at the coastline, with just some rags and a handful of cookies to stave off the hunger. Usually, the first thing to do would be to gather some wood and construct yourself a shelter – a logical conclusion based off of past experiences with survival games, but in LiF you can’t just punch a tree and take a log. Instead, you have to make some primitive tools before you can chop some lumber, which will require you to snap some branches, scrabble around for some plant fiber, and sift through some pebbles to find a few decent flint stones. Easy enough it might seem, and yes the basics are easy to achieve, but if you want to chop down your first tree you have to make sure that your skills are up to the correct level.
Eight hours. Eight long hours of gathering ingredients and components, crafting basic tools, foraging for some food, raising the ground, lowering the ground, flattening the bloody ground, picking branches, inspecting tress for their quality, picking saplings, chopping trees down, removing tree stumps, cutting logs into boards and shaping logs so they are suitable for construction. Eight hours of hard toil and fair work and you can have a modest wooden shack, just like I did. You won’t regret it when you see it for the first time, the fruit of all that hard labor and clicking. It might seem long winded, but there is a method to the madness that becomes glaringly apparent in a multiplayer server, where impressive towns can be made, if you have the right attitude.
You see, like much of real life, things of greatness can only generally be achieved via cooperation and LiF reinforces this point. You can spend hours upon hours honing your character’s skills, but you can never be a jack-of-all-trades, you have to choose your role and then work hard at it. The skill system is set in such a way that you could specialize in carpentry, pottery, or landscaping, but is also flexible enough that you can ‘re-train’ to another specialization if you want, so you are not tied in to your role if you start to get bored later. Make no mistake though, getting to higher levels of any skill takes a very long time, so you might want to think long and hard about what kind of character you are going to have.
The whole system leads to players asking for and offering their services. After all, why spend thirty hours gaining the necessary components and skills to build a town house when you can see if there is somebody who already has the relevant skills, or perhaps someone who has a stockpile of materials ready to trade? It also means that embarking on such a task is asking a big commitment from you, if you move to another server then your character is reset, meaning you soon start to find out the real heroes and villains of your chosen server.
Combat is a bit rudimentary at the moment, and certainly needs much more attention than what the crafting systems have received. PvP can still be fun, if you are on a server that allows it, but it’s a mainly clunky affair that needs a lot of refinement. LiF also implements a penalty system for those that play as homicidal maniacs and is a welcome addition, but you can still be knocked unconscious and looted without any penalty given to the offender, so the whole risk-reward excitement can still flourish without too much heavy handedness. LiF even goes one further by making it impossible to regain a positive alignment once you have passed a certain point, brutally execute too many yielding players and you will find your reputation tarnished forever. This, coupled with the fact that characters are tied to a server .makes for some interesting moral decisions.
So far the Life Is Feudal: Your Own alpha shows a tremendous amount of promise. It might seem daunting at first, due to its many nuances and complex systems, but if you push through (thanks LiF wiki) and start tailoring your character, then you can start to see the results of all your hard work and you’ll most certainly be proud of them. By taking it further into multiplayer, you find that despite what you may have read or experienced in previous sandbox survivals, people can actually work together for the greater good. If you are a ‘shoot first’ type then you still have the option to do that but be warned, there is no server hopping here and you will have to live with your actions until you make amends. Bitbox are onto something with LiF, something good, something community based – even community policed. It might still be early days and not feature-complete but if they can continue to refine and add to the experience then I’m sure that LiF will succeed where many have failed before.
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