I stumbled across Exode some days ago when I randomly read articles on Publish0x (like I seem to do a lot lately). Oddly enough I was somewhat intrigued by what I found. Oddly, not because I'm hard to hype but more because there actually wasn't anything there to hype me. As of writing this article there's not a single ingame screenshot, no gameplay video no nothing. So far we know nothing about what this game is going to look like exactly. What really got my attention was the mere concept described in the article.
Exode is going to be a collectible card strategy game hybrid (if that makes any sense to you). At it's core it's a Sci-Fi colony building game with massive multiplayer and space combat attached to it. Your cards represent anything from spaceships to weapons, personal, soldiers, implants and what ever you could think of. As you can see, it's somewhat hard to accurately describe (or even fathom) what the game is actually going to look like. Yet the more I read about it the more it clicked with me. I especially found their Game Manifesto to be pretty interesting. I linked it in the resources but in case you don't feel like going over 8 pages of PDF I'm going to take a closer look for you. The Manifesto consists of a total of 5 key claims which I'm going to present to you first and then share my opinion about each one.
1) We guarantee uniqueness
This claim is not so much about being unique compared to other games but more about each and every game being unique for the person playing it. This is to be achieved by giving each player a randomized start with a unique composition of crew members, passengers, items and so on. The planet you colonize will have unique proportions as well, with special modifiers and resources that might only be found on that planet. Ultimately they strive to create a different story for every person playing the game, giving everybody his own story to tell and share.
This is a huge claim obviously and one that many games stake for themselves. Without knowing anything about how the game will finally play out it's hard to tell whether they'll be able to keep that promise or not. If the uniqueness only consists in the oxygen level being 0.2% higher than on the next planet and thus your crop taking 10 seconds less to grow this will not suffice. To really deliver on that promise they'd need to create an endless amount of different stories, interwoven events and unique modifiers. Having the game be influenced and dictated by the cards you play could both be a boon and a curse to that goal. On the one hand side, if there are enough different and interesting cards to play with than this could make the experience more diverse for everybody. If the cards are too close too each other, or even worse, some cards are strictly better than others, then the game might still offer some uniqueness but most players wouldn't get to see it because they'd all go with the same cards.
Ultimately it's hard to believe that every game will be a truly unique experience but at the same time I think it does show their commitment to put this claim first. If they keep adding cards with fresh and unique effects this promise might become more and more true the longer the game lasts.
2) We release collectible features
There's a little more to that claim than it sounds. First of all, obviously, they are going to release collectible cards and those cards can be traded. What they claim is that those cards are not only there to make yourself stronger but to actually enhance and change your gameplay. So cards are not necessarily going to make you hit harder, survive longer or anything else. They can do that, but they are also about giving you more options and unlocking unique solutions to certain situations. There won't be any all-purpose-cards. Instead a given card will shine in a given situation, allowing you to do something that you couldn't do with other cards. When you start a new game you chose an origin card. That origin card dictates what you specialize in. This can be enhanced or altered by other cards but no matter what, no single origin will be a perfect match to any situation. Because of that, they want the game to be complex and full of unique concepts yet simple to play and easy to pick up at the same time.
That second claim is what really got my attention. If having access to more cards means that you have more gameplay options instead of being outright more powerful than this would be huge. A major problem of most long running collectible card games is that sooner or later new players will be so far beyond the older ones that they'll never have a chance to catch up without investing tons of money. But if more cards simply mean more play styles to chose from than that is no longer an issue. Sure, a new player might only be able to start as a simple trader or frigate commander while a veteran can chose between many exotic and more colorful backgrounds. As long as the new player is not inherently weaker this is fine though. More time in the game should equal more options to enjoy the game, but it should not equal less enjoyment for new players. Also this opens up the option to play on a budget without having to invest all the time. Just pick up what you enjoy to play and if that ever happens to change just sell your current origin(s) and pick up a new one.
We'll have to see how this all pans out as almost every new TCG claims to have finally defeated Pay 2 Win. Still, the vision they describe is sound. If they can deliver on it this could be huge.
3) We guarantee valuation
What they want so say here is twofold. Firstly, you'll be able to basically sell anything you ever buy or acquire otherwise in the game. The game will release into playable Alpha with all assets freely tradable through the ingame market. This is meant to allow players to cash out parts or the whole of their collection any time they feel like.
The second part describes how they plan to introduce new assets into the game and how the market itself is meant to work. They proclaim that all feature releases will never take away from the value of prior released cards. Newly released cards are not meant to be better (or worse) than already released ones. Instead they want them to be different, have new effects or offer new ways of playing the game. They also state that they'll have two separate markets. One for the actual cards and one for everything the players produce while playing the game. This way they hope to retain the value of the assets you buy from the game or from other players.
To me, the first part has to be a given in any blockchain game. I'd simply refuse to play any games on the chain that won't allow me to sell my assets whenever I want to whomever I want. Still it's great to have this option fully available at start. The second part though is something that's really intriguing to me. It means that you can trade your cards as well as your ingame resources without those competing with each other or taking away from their value. This also works very well with their second claim. Having new cards be different instead of stronger than current ones will help to make new cards interesting without taking away from the value of older cards. This is not something that's easy to pull of and it requires a lot of imagination to come up with new concepts all the time. Again, if they can make it work, this would be a great boon to the game.
Trading card games always suffer from two major problems: Pay 2 Win and Powercreep. What the latter means is that you always have to make newer cards stronger than older cards or players won't buy them. If they make both claims reality they'd get rid of those problems for good.
4) A Rich Opposition System
Now we are finally talking gameplay. A lot of FFA-style colony building games share a common problem. If you join them as a new player you'll eventually get farmed by older players again and again and again. The only remedy to this issue is usually to either spend a lot of money or suffer through it until you've grown enough to find an alliance that's willing to protect you. This claim vows to address that exact topic. Exode does want to offer a competitive environment where you still compete with each other and still try to place first in the rankings. They don't intend to make it an all-out free-for-all though. There will be no looting of other players and no form of grieving. Instead they want to implement the "rich opposition system". There's not too much detail here how this is going to look in the end, but it seems to be a combination of PvE and PvP elements. While there will be competing with each other, the main threat to your colony will come from the game itself.
Again, this sounds pretty promising to me. I've been an avid browser gamer back in the day and I've sunk quite some hours into games like Planetarion. Ultimately most of my games went the same way: I kept playing and built up my planet until somebody way stronger than myself decided to come around and loot me. Not only was this quite frustrating, it also usually led to me quitting my current run and starting all over again. Creating a challenging multiplayer colony builder without the possibility of being grieved by other players while still allowing for competition sounds really amazing to me. Again, I'm not sure how this will be done in the game and if it's going to work but the concept sounds great. It will be paramount for Exode to strike a balance between challenging the player and giving them the freedom to play however they like.
Between the lines there's that notion that it's quite likely that your colony will die sooner or later and that you'll start all over again with a new colony, choosing a new origin. If it's done right this could feel extremely rewarding, giving you more power every time you start a new run. If it's done wrong this could easily kill of all enjoyment the game might offer. Getting this right will be extremely important for the longevity of the game.
5) We strive for that epic moment
The fifth and final claim basically sums everything up. Exode will try to deliver epic, memorable moments promising to always keep growing and expanding the universe.
There's not much to be said about this one other than you can really feel the developers passion for this project. If you follow them, the sky is the limit and even then, there will be more stuff to implement, more features to add.
Wrapping it up
So these where the five central claims of the games Manifesto. The game will see it's release at April 30th with a pre sale running right now featuring several items that are both discounted and limited in quantity. While the number of backers is still rather small a lot of those that did buy items did buy a substantial amount. The obvious question is: Is it a good idea to buy assets during the pre-sale and would I recommend it?
Well, to be quite honest, it's a tricky question to answer. Personally, I'm really intrigued by what the game tries to become one day and I've found the developer to be really friendly and quite helpful over at their Discord. Still, there's no ingame footage right now, no screenshots, no moving pictures. If you invest now there are two reasons to do so: Because you want to support the project or because you believe that it might go big and you want to profit off of its success. Both reasons are absolutely legitimate. I did invest quite some money into the game, mainly because the concepts really pressed all the right buttons with me. If they can deliver only half of what they promise, this is going to be an awesome game that I'll play for years. But, truth be told, nobody can tell if they'll manage to do that right now. So if neither of the reasons I gave above fit with you than I'd probably wait and see how the game actually turns out.
If you join the game using a referral link both the referrer and you will gain 2 booster packs which are sold at 2$ each currently. The cheapest purchase you can make as of now is one of the origins which cost 5$ each or 10$ for all 3. Since I really believe in the game and want to aid it's development I'm doing a little referral incentive program:
If you join using my Referral Link and tell me your Hive account afterwards I'll send you an additional booster pack as soon as trading is available.
Thank you all for reading and feel free to tell me what you think about the game in the comments.