Last night after a full day’s ride of the devs chugging energy drinks and sacrificing woolies to the gods of a bug-free launch, the first major update appeared for Windborne. Unfortunately the gods do not want woolies being sacrificed and the update is not without bugs. Things will get fixed, but the crux of the update is live.
The first thing that everybody should notice is the new lighting model (now with sun). I did not expect this change, but I know the past week where I’ve been working on my subterranean desert temple (screenshot has old lighting), I’ve been thinking the darks aren’t dark enough. There are no need for torches (ala Minecraft) beneath the surface since the ambient cares for all. Now, things are bit darker. There is more contrast (screenshot has new lighting). A good change.
The other functionality changes of note are that the first-person hands give way when players walk around the world. I feel like the devs directly responded to some of my feedback regarding trying to get the large material orbs out of the way while I explored. There’s a third person mode, which is nice with the new character generation. So good stuff, but let’s get on to the meat.
Every Windborne is an Island
The first area where Windborne is going from mirror-world Minecraft to “this is what it should have been” is with the islands. Each player can make lots of islands, which are distinct worlds. I have an island dedicated to the desert theme, I have an island I strip mine, and I usually make islands for the weekly build challenges. Guests can come to islands, even strangers, to view your creations without you worrying about them griefing anything. Become a friend to the owner, and they can easily allow you edit the world.
Things can get kind of that rural feeling where I am working on my farm, and a new visitor drops in. I show her my new toys, the new barn, and we chat before she heads off and I go back to work. Things are a bit buggy as of yet, but I can’t wait to check out others’ islands.
I feel with a hopefully future update to add persistent islands that exist when I’m not online, Windborne would have all the social features I wished were in vanilla Minecraft. I wonder if the devs are fans of Minecraft’s Skyblock servers, which has that pretty close feeling.
Another feature I really appreciate is that each account has character slots now. I’ve bought two accounts for our gaming computers, but my youngest plays on my computer usually. I am always trying to log off with an empty inventory so she doesn’t use up my materials. Now, she can load up her character on my account, and I can use mine.
There’s gender, hair style/color, and skin color options to choose from, and there are 4 clothing sets that have just been added. Players can tame pets as well, which gives a small mechanical advantage. Taming a wooly for instance gives a slightly longer reach.
The Content Wall
Windborne uses a very good quest system to teach much of the mechanics of the game. Like Minecraft’s achievement “tutorial” system, there are only soft-content gates with quests. However, going along with the quests is a great way to learn the game. With the update there are, if I recall correctly, 5 new quests.
The first new quest teaches about the new “machine” the Research Table. Instead of creating/deleting new worlds to get relic chests or trading with the Jin to get recipes, Windborne has added a really cool, social method to get recipes. Find a player to give you a, let’s say Highborne Dresser, and you can shove it into the Research Table to learn the recipe. It seems like the new Nightshade furniture set will have to be learned a lot by this method. I find this really cool that they’ve added a social element route. (Reminds me a bit of A Tale in the Desert methods of “learning”.) First quest complete!
Second quest teaches you how to create bells. Attach a bell to a wooly, flit (new bat thing in forest/caves), or pincher (new desert flying crawfish) and it is now your pet. The only problem is that the tutorial to learn all the new stuff ends there since taming a pet does not advance the quest.
There are Nightshade furniture recipes to find, which don’t seem to have a set slot. It is unclear how you find recipes for those. There’s a story behind a dark jin named Malik the Cursed, which can be seen in the Rooster Teeth video preview. Seems like neat stuff, but I have no idea where to start looking.
Doubtless, the Hidden Path team is hard at work on these bugs. I will say I am pretty content with this first update even though a few are behind a bug wall. As an MMO player the fact that they are checking in on social ideas gets me most excited. It feels like they are adding in bits of an “end game,” based on exploration and socialization, which is also nice. It’s 20% off on Steam for the next week or so.
EDIT: The bugs blocking content were very quickly fixed.