French developer Ankama found strong success with its tactical MMORPGs Dofus and Wakfu; the games are still going strong while the studio has branched out into spin-offs and even a multi-series animation. The studio is now looking forward to the release of its next title Waven, a new tactical MMORPG set in the same Krosmoz universe as its previous titles. The game is set to release later this year — co-published by New Tales — as a free-to-play title on PC, Mac, iOS, and Android, and RPGamer was able to get an early look at some gameplay and learn some information about the game.
The game is set many years after the previous titles, with the world having suffered a cataclysmic flood that has left all but a selection of islands underwater. It’s not quite a post-apocalyptic world, as the people have firmly starting rebuilding and exploring the islands, though a new threat is on the horizon that players will have to deal with. The game features a similar graphical style to the previous Krosmoz games with its anime/manga-inspired art style, placing 2D elements onto 3D environments. It also takes a similar comedic attitude, often utilising absurdist humour, with a guiding theme of keeping one’s chin up even in the face of disaster.
Players create a character — or multiple characters if they wish, though only one is active at a time — and take them across the various islands and the four established nations. The game has a mixture of turn-based combat, deckbuilding elements, and exploration of its world. Players start out in a small portion of the map, unlocking more islands as they progress. Each of the islands has its own identity, such as the spooky Chafer Island and porcine-dominated Pig Island, and the comedic details and touches Ankama has incorporated are readily apparent. The islands are greatly varied in size. Some did look a bit sparse in the demonstration, purely due to there being no other players around, but should quickly fill up as with others in the instances.
Character creation sees players first choosing a race, which determines a general class, before narrowing things down further with their weapon, which each provide different arts and abilities. The game is designed to be played by a wide variety of players, from younger players through to busier parents who might just have ten minutes here or there to dive in. Combat speaks to this with speedy turn-based system that lets players quickly work through when they have time but think or step away as they need to. There are different types of quests, some are simple discovery quests that might feature single battles, while other types of quests will see players taking on a series of battles in a dungeon. There are also special daily quests that provide new challenges or battles with special rules, and new content is planned to be added over time following the game’s launch.
Most combat takes place on a seven-by-seven grid, with players moving their character by dragging and dropping them on the desired location. Players can move and spend action points, which are replenished every turn. Each spell or action uses up a certain number of these points, letting players choose whether to use a single powerful spell or play multiple spells in sequence that can take advantage of things like status effects for combos. A fairly important mechanic is the use of auras; certain actions can give the player an aura, which can provide bonus effects depending on the character build; for example, a Iop with a fire aura can use it to deal additional damage with their next attack.
Another major mechanic is companions. As players use spells and abilities, they earn points in the relevant element. These points can then be used to summon one of the player’s equipped companions, giving them an additional fighter in the battle. Spells and companions are the primary loadout choices for players and the main deckbuilding element, as they build up a complementary set of abilities and allies. Characters can have up to fifteen spells and four companions equipped at a time. They can also equip four rings, a brooch, and an armband to provide further passive effects and boosts that can synergise with their spells and companions. It’s worth noting that spells, companions, and equipment can be shared between all of a player’s characters, and players are able to create multiple decks and readily swap between them.
Spells and companions can have greatly complementing impacts; for example, a companion may reduce the action point cost of a spell. Some spells will also let players put action points into reserve for a future turn. Upon finishing a battle, players will get standard experience and currency, and other potential loot such as island-specific currency and new companions. Many battles will have an additional challenge objective, which grants extra rewards if accomplished.
Waven will have three distinct game modes: PvE, PvP, and island defence. The PvE features its own story, with a large variety of islands, quests, dungeons, and NPCs. Players can play these solo, or join up with a couple of friends, and they may find greater success in certain fights with an ally or two. PvP features competitive fights in the Kolizeum; this mode features no character progression, relying entirely on player skill. Players can participate in ladder matches or fight anyone else they choose. Finally, island defence sees players creating a deck that is used to defend their island from attack. However, the deck itself is played by the AI, though players can create some behavioural rules. Players can attack other islands, taking on their defending deck and AI.
One element Ankama was keen to share is its full cross-platform integration. Players can swap devices by simply logging into another device, where all their progress is carried over, including carrying on an in-progress battle. Ankama also stressed that though the game is a free-to-play title with in-game transactions, those transactions will be for cosmetic elements only. Waven is planned to get an Early Access release in summer 2023, with a full international launch planned for later in the year.