Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem [Alpha Impressions]

Originally listed on Kickstarter as Umbra, Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem in the vein of Diablo, Torchlight, Path of Exile, and countless others. The alpha just became available today to Kickstarter backers, and through early access on Steam, and I jumped in for an hour to check it out.

Character Creation Wolcen


In its current state, Wolcen plays pretty much exactly like you would expect. Basic attack with the left mouse button, and bind spells and other skills to the right mouse button and number keys.

From what I’ve seen, you unlock new skills by picking up and using skill books that drop. The skills I’ve unlocked so far include:

  • Chain Lightning. Fire off lightning that bounces between enemies.
  • Frost Nova. Freeze all the enemies around you.
  • Multi-Fireball. Launch 3 fireballs at once.
  • Explosive Wave. A ground pound that launches enemies out from your character in a straight line.

Leveling up Skills in Wolcen

So far, all these skills feel good and look better. The spell effects are impressive, and I think Wolcen will be a visual stunner once it’s further along. I also noticed skills level up as you use them, much like in Path of Exile, and with each level you can upgrade either their power or utility. In my play time so far I haven’t noticed it make a huge difference, but it’s hard to tell how much of the system has been implemented.

Wolcen is also placing an emphasis on environmental effects. Their website reads:

You are free to use skills and spells as you want, but just like the Resource Opposition System, element-based spells will react to the environment and to other active elements in the area. For example, Lightning will spread in water and stun targets; Fire will spread unless water or frost gets in the way, etc…

I definitely noticed this using my chain lightning on enemies standing in pools of water, and my fireballs left patches of the ground burning.

Character Builds

Leveled Up in Wolcen

It’s a little early to say much about character builds, but here’s what I’ve noticed so far:

  • You gain three attributes when you can level, which can be distributed between Strength, Dexterity, Power (magical), and Constitution.
  • Skills can be leveled up in different ways and are divided into categories. The ones I’ve found so far are Brutality, Fire, Frost, Water, and Lightning.
  • You also gain one passive skill point every time you level up.

I don’t think any of this is implemented in the alpha yet, but the website also mentions an Apocalyptic Form:

While you are playing at a low level, all important actions of your character are recorded. Based on said data, we will generate specific powers for your character, called Apocalyptic Upgrades. At higher levels, every player’s Apocalyptic Form should differ according to their story and play style!

Looking Ahead

I think Wolcen has a lot of promise, and I’m excited to see what happens as they add layers and new mechanics. It’s a crowded genre right now, with heavy hitters like Path of Exile and Diablo 3 (not to mention others like Grim Dawn), and I hope Wolcen’s visual presentation and unique mechanics are enough to help it stand out.

I also captured some of my gameplay from the first few hours. Take a look and let me know what you think!