With the recent launch of The First Descendant, we felt like giving a review after several hours of play. In this article, we will provide an in-depth analysis of the game's strengths, weaknesses, and overall improvements it needs to have in the future.

The First Descendant Review – What is The First Descendant

The First Descendant is a free-to-play third-person looter shooter developed by NEXON Games. It launched on July 2, 2024, for the PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC via Steam.

The First Descendant takes inspiration from several games such as Destiny and Warframe. The developers took their own spin on many of the PvE dynamics these gaming giants already had. Players enter a shattered world on a quest to defeat the Vulgus and Colossuses to restore humanity. The game mainly focuses on cooperative gameplay and currently has no PvP gameplay.

The First Descendant Gameplay

It's worth noting that I played the game on high settings on a Ryzen 7 5800H CPU and an RTX 3070 GPU.

As mentioned earlier, The First Descendant is a third-person looter shooter that encourages co-op gameplay. When players jump into the game, they will go through a series of quests wherein they can either take on alone or with friends. While we do acknowledge that a portion of the player base prefers playing solo, it is highly encouraged that they play with friends. Mobs and bosses in the game can be quite difficult to take down especially when alone.

In all fairness to NEXON Games, they did a fantastic job in creating a thrilling guns-blazing experience. The game does exactly as advertised. Players take on a horde of enemies and bosses then loot a plethora of items from all the drops after killing them.

As for the overall feel of the game, the developers also did an awesome job of making the movement feel smooth. When it comes to shooting games, one major aspect that players tend to look at first is the fluidity of the controls. The game doesn't feel clunky at all and it's easy to navigate around the map even when combined with the grappling hook or character abilities.

While there are a lot of positives to the game, we want to provide a full breakdown of our honest thoughts on certain aspects of the gameplay.

Grinding for Descendants

As of this review, players can gain access to 14 Descendants. If we're going to include the ultimate characters, which are basically premium versions of five existing descendants, then the total count would be 19.

When hopping on to the game's tutorial, players can only select one among three. Either they play as Ajax, Lepic, or Viessa. From that point on, they will play as their selected character until they unlock the next one.

The developers were smart to not make all the characters too accessible. This decision of theirs gives players more reasons to play the game. In order to unlock new Descendants, players must accumulate specific materials for each character in addition to the 400,000 coins they have to earn.

While giving players motivation to constantly play the game, collecting these materials is easier said than done. Based on our experience, it's quite a grind to gather all these resources to unlock certain characters we like. There are those characters that are easier to unlock since their materials are rewarded to players when completing specific quests. However, there are those characters with materials wherein players need to find or create.

Paying for Descendants

After mentioning the grind players have to go through, some might want to opt for skipping the hardship. With that said, they have the option to buy the characters instead with real money. While this doesn't necessarily affect the gameplay for others, it's clear that the developers have a secret motive.

We're not saying that NEXON deliberately made it grindy to unlock characters without paying. However, to give players the option to purchase characters for approximately $5 each only, it's too tempting an offer to skip the grind.

Fortunately, pay-to-win aspects in PvE games are almost non-existent. If players decide to pay with real money to unlock new items that will help them advance in the game, it will honestly make the gaming experience easier. Unfortunately, this won't sit well with players who can't afford to pay. Despite the pay-to-win aspects not directly affecting other players, it somehow becomes unfair from their point of view given the struggle they have to go through to unlock certain characters.

Skins Locked Behind a Paywall

While we think that paying to progress in The First Descendant is fine, we despise the idea of skins being locked behind a paywall. When one hears the term “looter shooter”, one could assume that skins or items that will make a character look different will drop from defeated enemies or could be found inside a chest. Sadly, that isn't the case.

The only items that defeated enemies drop or could be found in chests and crates are weapons and attachments. The First Descendant is technically an RPG given how players also level their characters up and improve their stats over time. When it comes to RPGs, having armor as loot is a staple feature. Typically, equipping new armor on a character should change their appearance. It's quite disappointing how the developers didn't give us this option and are making us pay to make our characters look better.

Engaging Combat

Enough about characters and let's talk about what matters the most, the combat. If we're going to be completely honest, The First Descendant's combat isn't too innovative but it definitely keeps players on their toes.

When entering battle, players can use up to three equipped guns of their choice. While they spray bullets to take the enemies down, they can also combine it with their character's abilities. Each Descendant has four unique abilities that add up to the chaotic and fun gameplay the game has to offer.

The combat becomes more prominent when playing with friends. Assuming that a party of four players is playing as different Descendants, they'll be able to see which characters synergize the most. The game doesn't necessarily have combos, however, there are combinations of abilities from different characters that work well with each other. These combos are especially important when the wave of enemies becomes too large.

In terms of the enemy hostiles, players should be wary. The horde of Vulgus and Colossuses don't necessarily have thick skins, however, once they stack up on players, they could easily take them out for the count.

The boss fights, on the other hand, is the best way to have fun in The First Descendant. They are strong enemies that can easily annihilate a party if they aren't careful. Each boss has a different attack pattern. Similarly to Souls-like games, it's important to analyze the boss' movements before taking them head-on.

Servers Need Improvements

As of this review, The First Descendant's servers aren't stable yet. This is completely normal for online games at launch.

In all fairness to NEXON, we've witnessed them make quick fixes to the servers while everyone was still in-game. They're showing good signs of actively maintaining their game. However, quick fixes won't cut it. They'll eventually need to launch a maintenance to fix the following concerns.

For instance, whenever players spawn into Albion (the game's safe zone), they'll find themselves crammed into a wave of other players. Given that everyone is sharing a lobby in the safe zone, the game becomes unstable, making frames drop, which ultimately causes it to crash.

Speaking of crashes, we feel like due to the influx of players during the launch, the servers couldn't handle the abundance of gamers. There were times whenever the server kicked us out despite actively trying to complete a quest. This was really frustrating especially when I was about to take down the boss. Before delivering the final blow, the server kicked me out of my party and sent me back to the login screen. Upon re-logging in, I was sent back to Albion, forcing me to repeat the quest from the beginning.

With these experiences now in the books, there is one suggestion we hope the developers would add to their game. One would be the option to reconnect to an ongoing quest or raid. It isn't our fault that we got disconnected from the game. Sending us back to where we left off would be a better option instead of forcing us to repeat the quest from scratch. Some missions consume a lot of time and it would be annoying to start all over again.

The First Descendant Graphics

As mentioned earlier, I played on a PC attached with a Ryzen 7 5800H CPU, GeForce RTX 3070 GPU, and 16 GB RAM for this review. Thankfully it was still strong enough to run the game on high settings. Here's a full list of the requirements needed to run the game on PC:

Minimum Requirements

  • CPU: Intel i5-3570 / AMD FX-8350
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • GPU: GeForce GTX 1050Ti or AMD Radeon RX 570 Video Memory 4GB

Recommended Requirements

  • CPU: Intel i7-7700K / AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
  • Memory: 16 GB RAM
  • GPU: GeForce RTX 2060 or AMD Radeon RX 5600XT

NEXON Games did their best to make the sci-fi experience look realistic. The character models are almost life-like and the textures of the world look superb. Given the graphics quality, there would be times when my GPU acted up. For the most part, it ran smoothly on high settings maintaining 144 fps. However, whenever there was too much action going on in battle, the frames would drop down to as low as 30. There were even times when my screen froze for a good couple of seconds.

It's either my hardware is the problem or the developers need to work on a patch that fixes these issues. Otherwise, like I said, everything is smooth even during combat for 80% of the time. It's worth telling the readers that I usually run my games on high settings before writing a review to see how far I can push the limits of a game.

The First Descendant Music and Sound Design

Hands down to NEXON, the selection of music and sound effects are superb. From the login screen alone, the music already makes players feel like they're about to take on daunting missions. Then when taking on enemies and bosses, the music becomes more intense, making the experience more thrilling.

As for the sound effects, the developers also did a good job of making the sci-fi experience immersive. When clicking buttons, interacting with in-game items, structures, and other aspects makes it feel like you're on a space adventure.

Conclusion – Is The First Descendant Good? Is it Worth Your Time?

Given that The First Descendant is free to play, we'd say it's worth looking into. If we're only going to look at the positives, the game is undoubtedly a fun shooting experience. Taking down a horde of enemies with powerful weapons and epic abilities feels satisfying to pull off. Combine it with cooperative gameplay with friends, we're looking at an entertaining game to enjoy with the squad.

However, if you plan on investing your time, be ready for a grindy experience. Unless you plan on paying for items, the game will ensure you keep playing until you acquire all the resources you need to unlock certain characters.

Also, prepare to spend on skins with real money if you feel like you'd want to pimp up your character. There aren't other ways to acquire cosmetics at the moment aside from probably in-game rewards the developers may give away during events or updates.

Score: 7/10