Skip to main content

Darksiders developer's Wayfinder ditches free-to-play and online following split from Warframe studio

"The path to get here hasn't been easy."

A Wayfinder screenshot showing a humanoid hero sitting on a horse-like creature deep in a forest.
Image credit: Airship Syndicate

Wayfinder, the free-to-play online action-RPG from Darksiders: Genesis developer Airship Syndicate, has been reworked and reannounced as a single-player paid title following Warframe studio Digital Extremes' decision to hand back publishing rights late last year.

Wayfinder released into early access last August as an online fantasy action-RPG with a free-to-play monetisation model similar to Warframe. This initial version combined small-scale dungeon crawling for up to three players with larger open zones accommodating 30-40 players.

However, after a difficult year - Wayfinder amassed thousands of negative Steam reviews at launch as it battled with servers issues, then faced uncertainty after Digital Extremes closed its publishing arm and handed the rights back to Airship - it's now received a significant overhaul.

This is what Wayfinder looked like when it was originally revealed.Watch on YouTube

Airship's new version, titled Wayfinder Echoes, is a paid release with no monetisation and no online requirements. That's because it's been reimagined as a single-player game, albeit one that supports optional peer-to-peer three-player co-op. "We realise this is a big shift," the studio writes in its announcement post, "but a necessary one to guarantee that the game is around forever."

Airship claims it's "touched every major system" for Wayfinder's re-release, and these changes include "all weapons becoming randomised drops with various slots, armour now having stats and being collectible, thousands of cosmetics and housing items available to collect, the removal of the grind to get new characters, eased requirements for awakening characters, increased housing item limits, adding four difficulties to choose from, incorporating traditional RPG talents into your progression, and much more."

Echoes will replace the previous version of Wayfinder when it soft-launches on 31st May for all existing Steam players, adding a new Wayfinder (Grendel), new Hunts, and a new Overlands zone. It'll then return to the store as an early access title on 11th June, costing $24.99 USD - although that price is expected to rise come its 1.0 release on Steam, Xbox, and PlayStation this "fall". As for the current PlayStation early access version, that'll transition to Wayfinder Echoes sometime this summer, albeit only on PS5 - the PS4 version is being discontinued, but there's a free upgrade to the PS5 edition for players who can make use of it.

"We know that the path to get here hasn't been easy, and the game has had a rocky past," Airship continued. "We also know that this wasn't the original game that we envisioned or that our fans bought into. When faced with the reality of where we are, we saw our options as shuttering the game fully as other online games have done before or making this pivot and releasing the Echoes Update... We have ideas for additional characters and new content, and we have the intent to do so if the players demand it and Wayfinder finds a new audience."

Airship's announcement has been met with a mixture of understanding and disappointment over on Wayfinder's subreddit. There's frustration that the game originally promised and paid for no longer exists (last year's early access release required players to purchase a Founder's Pack, ranging from $19.99 to $149.99), but the community also seems sympathetic to Airship's plight after losing Digital Extremes as a publisher.

The response on Steam is currently somewhat less forgiving, however. 136 negative reviews have been posted on Wayfinder's Steam page since Echoes' announcement versus 39 positive reviews, resulting in a Mostly Negative recent rating. Airship will be hoping to win those players over and nudge scores back into the blue once Echoes launches on 31st May.

Read this next