Godfall Ultimate Edition Review – Xbox Series X

Released back in November of 2020 as a PS5 and PC Epic Game Store exclusive, Godfall was met with mixed reviews by gamers and critics alike.  It was an ambitious project to be sure, in scope, scale, and artistic vision, and with great risk comes the potential for great failure – just ask the guys over at Anthem – so when Godfall was met with a tepid response it seemed that, yet another game had extended beyond its reach…or perhaps it was just ahead of its time.  Business analysis aside, it was a bit ridiculous to limit this new release to only one console and one PC delivery service – the wrong one if you ask a few million Steam gamers.  If you have a new product and you want to get it “out there” you don’t limit yourself to the least available console in gaming history nor do you tell thousands of PC gamers that they’ll have to wait over a year to play your game – especially a game with a focus on online co-op.

Regardless of its limited and rocky launch Godfall has finally arrived for the Xbox (and PC Steam) with its new Ultimate Edition, and for those who have been waiting for this day to come your wait may have paid off.  This fully loaded Ultimate Edition comes packed with all the previously released DLC, cosmetic packs, and all the content from the new Exalted Update.  This is the definitive edition of the game that all newcomers should be looking for…assuming you are looking at all.

Keep in mind a lot of the bad social press for this game has been generated by those who couldn’t play the game for the past year.  I dabbled with Godfall when it released on PS5, and I even played around with the PC version.  The game was entertaining enough as far as melee combat games go but lacking any personal motivation to play outside of messing around on friends’ systems I never had the urge to buy or play further.  Now that I am reviewing the Xbox version I found the urge to take a deep dive into all this game has to offer.

I’ve played dozens of third-person brawlers over the years, and none have reached the visual fidelity of Godfall, a game that is all about the lighting and textures and sparkly effects that swirl around treasure and decaying bodies.  The HDR combined with stunning surface detail in both indoor and outdoor locations is definitely a showcase for the power of the Xbox.  Camera work can be tricky in combat; especially if there are multiple opponents, but you can target lock to help maintain focus.  The music, speech, and sound effects all combine to create a thrilling cinematic experience, even in the smaller battles.

This game has so many rules and systems that I will only touch on a few of the most basic.  A flashy intro movie sets up the world and the main conflict that has you, Orin, working out of a central hub known as the Seventh Sanctum.   From here you will assemble customized armors known as Valorplates.  There are twelve such armors, each with passive abilities and your own customized set of skills and weapons.  You can then test your setups in the trailing area before embarking on missions to save the realm from the evil Macros.

Godfall features a massive world map where a variety of story and side missions will pop-up as icons, and most areas can be revisited for grinding out loot and crafting materials.  Whether you are advancing the story or enhancing your character, the main game loop is you merely exploring the land, following waypoints if you want, and engaging in lots and lot of combat.  Combat is actually pretty cool with a growing assortment of attacks and combos all based around the light/heavy attack scheme.  These attacks and their combos are always changing depending on your Valorplate as well as your currently wielded weapon.  I was very impressed with the variety of combat styles and animations based on single-handed weapons versus great swords or even polearms.

Orin is also a master with the shield, able to block and counter attacks if you learn the timing.  Some attacks can’t be blocked and you must simply tumble out of their way.  You can also throw your shield periodically to strike down smaller enemies and stun mid-sized foes, allowing you to rush in and perform a critical hit.  This shield throw is on a cooldown timer so you can’t spam it, but there are numerous upgrades in the skill tree to turn this defensive item into a powerful weapon.

Speaking of skill trees, Godfall has a nice one with actual useful skills and passive upgrades that you can slowly work from all four corners of the page, with each activated skill unlocking those next to it.  When you aren’t mastering new skills there are many deep menus systems in place for tinkering with your Valorplates’ gear, augments, abilities, and even cosmetics.   Primary stats deal with attributes like Might, Spirit, and Vitality which factor in weapons and just about any object you possess.  You’re constantly balancing this three-slice pie into whatever percentages you enjoy as a player and a character.

Sorting through the weapons and ammo can get cumbersome, although you can sort by numerous parameters such as level, DPS, etc. and you have easy access to comparisons with currently equipped gear.  There is also an easy way to mark undesirable items as salvage then clean house with a single button tap.  Honestly, the whole thing comes off feeling like a Diablo game presented from ground level.  You have all the color coded loot for common, uncommon, rare, epic, legendary, etc. and plenty of inventory management.

There are epic amounts of loot in Godfall coming out of dead bodies, opened chests, or smashed jars.  Sadly, the game opts for the more traditional presentation of loot as simple colored orbs with the size and color determining their rarity and worth.  You’ll also collect thousands of Morphstones and hundreds of Valorplate Shards along with other components used for crafting new Valorplates.  Godfall quickly devolves into the simple loop of casual encounters, arena combat and the occasional mid or end-level boss fight.  Between all these encounters you pop into inventory to see if any new items are better than what you have and equip or salvage to make room for fresh loot.  Waypoint markers keep you on track, but you are always free to explore and discover all sorts of new encounters and treasure in these open world maps.

While Godfall does offer up a three-player PvE mode, not unlike Destiny, I found the game entirely enjoyable as a solo experience.  I didn’t know anyone else with the game, so I was forced to join up with randos for the few online sessions I did participate in.  It wasn’t that much fun, as the people I was playing with clearly new where to go and what to do and were in it for the fast grind.  I was still admiring the scenery and trying to figure out the intricacies of squad mechanics – spoiler…there are none; at least with the people I played with.  Everybody is clearly out for themselves, so if you do want to play co-op then make sure to go in with a pre-established party of friends.

There are some interesting and even odd choices in Godfall.  Not being able to jump comes to mind, and instead you have a single button vault command to ascend designated ledges, or you can use the teleport crystals that hover around the map to instantly zip to that location like a certain neighborhood spider.  These travel nodes are great for not only getting around quickly but zipping around a battle arena to gain strategic position.  Spirit Vision is also a useful visual augment that reveals key items.

Godfall is massive and now in this Ultimate Edition it’s even larger with all of the previously released expansions like Fire & Darkness and updates like the recently released Exalted Update.  Being able to experience all of this content as any of 12 unique warriors with custom armor, weapons, gear, and skills creates almost unlimited potential for gameplay as does sharing the adventure with one or two friends in PvE co-op.  The new Exalted Update is a game-changer with new content and collectibles as well as new story content and cutscenes plus a new six-player PvE mode called Spirit Realms.

Despite all the negativity over the past year and a half that seems to be continuing into this fresh launch on new formats, I found no major flaws with Godfall Ultimate Edition other than it can get a bit tedious if played for too long.  Dying has no consequence, as you are merely respawned nearby to try again.  Godfall truly is like Diablo and Destiny spawned their own looter-slasher baby only they swapped the guns for swords, axes, hammers, shields, and staffs.  If you are a fan of either of those games or just looking for a slow-burn, third-person, melee action-RPG, then look no further than Godfall Ultimate Edition.

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