Godfall Review: Endgame Can't Be Everything

Godfall’s road to launch has been a curious one. Propped up as one of the PlayStation 5’s console exclusives, an Epic Games Store exclusive, and a frequent guest during events, Godfall’s shiny fantasy world and dramatically oversized weapons made it look like something anyone who likes loot and heavy-hitting combat would be into. But, despite the insistence that it would pioneer a new “Looter-Slasher” genre, there was never an “it” factor put forward that made it stand out. After reaching the endgame and the level cap and having an admittedly enjoyable time with the combat system, it’s evident that "it" factor was absent because it doesn’t exist.

The “Looter-Slasher” term comes from Counterplay Games’ focus on those two key factors in Godfall. You’ll spend a lot of time looting, but only after you’ve spent a lot of time wailing on enemies with dual blades, polearms, great hammers, and a nearly impenetrable shield. Turn that loot into better loot, collect enough resources to craft the stylish yet functionally similar Valorplates and you’ve got an okay foundation to build around.

But Godfall fails to do much with that start. The story’s big plot points of betrayal and a climb back up to former glory to save the world have been rehashed too many times to count, and with how quickly the game tosses you into the campaign, there’s little reason to be invested in the world we know little about. You can pick up codex pages throughout the realms to learn more about your surroundings and the history of Godfall’s people, bestiary, and politics, but if there’s no hook at the start, how can players be expected to take it upon themselves to look through Godfall encyclopedias?

Those realms don’t do much on their own to inspire players to revisit them beyond the ever-present prospect of loot that’s marginally better than whatever you have at the time. The realms are themed after earth, water, and air, in that order, with enemies designed to fit their settings.

Of the three, the Earth Realm is by far the best. It’s filled with a mix of open fields, tight interiors of previously imposing buildings, and colorful flora to fill all the empty spots. The other two feature layouts which feel like they’re intentionally dense and hard to navigate to the point where finding a beam of light coming down from the sky to highlight your objective feels impossible at times. When it’s in every way more appealing to part with a somewhat rare in-game currency and enter a feature called the “Tower of Trials” to get loot in Godfall instead of exploring the realms for free, there’s something wrong with the level design.

But even if Godfall’s levels and its story had been perfect, the speed at which the game wants to shove you through to the endgame would’ve rendered those pointless. If you stick around to explore realms or pay the in-game currency for the loot tower, you’ll certainly find what you’re looking for, but you’ll increase your level in the process. That’d normally be a positive since it means more skill points and better gear, but the catch is that the missions in the single-player campaign have recommended levels instead of level scaling.

What that means is that as soon as you start passing the pace of the recommended levels for missions, you’re doomed to get worthless loot from the story until you’re able to free-roam the realms or have enough to pay for the tower again. I was around 10 levels above the suggested levels for campaign missions at any given time after what felt like only a small amount of grinding which rendered enemy drops worthless if I was in a story mission.

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(Photo: Gearbox)

I ended up hitting the cap of Level 50 far before the final boss fight, which meant salvaging tons of Legendary items along the way that were never going to be of use. Even when you try to replay missions to farm for materials, bonuses like finishing the boss fight within a certain time limit encourage players to rush past enemies and get things done as quickly as possible. The game wants players to explore its worlds and strive for better loot and then actively punishes them for doing so.

It seems then that the goal is to get players to the endgame as quickly as possible so that they can start climbing the loot ladder at a much more rewarding and much slower pace. “Dreamstones” let you revisit old battles with slightly new twists, and like the main missions, have recommended level requirements to guide you through them. This is coupled with the Ascended Tower of Trials available after campaign completion that poses an even more challenging test than its predecessor with better rewards. The endgame is the best place to be in Godfall which, in a way, makes more sense of the game’s push to get you there, but it’s still pretty mediocre in the grand scheme of loot collecting.

For all Godfall lacks in other departments, its combat at least has some depth worth exploring. Valorplate bonuses tied to each suit feel mostly inconsequential unless you’re maxing out a particular build or playstyle, but the moves and abilities in players’ arsenals create plenty of different ways to play. Mechanics like “Breaching” and “Soulshattering” are cool to say and even cooler in execution and create instances where you and another player will probably take down the same type of enemy in very different ways, depending on what build you’re running.

Some may complain about animations not being cancelable, but knowing that you’re locked into a move after using it makes you think more about what you’ll do and when, since it’s so easy to be punished for a mistimed move. The shield honestly compensates for a lot of those errors, though, with an absurdly large parry window that’s prone to spamming, but at least you’ll save skill points from never having to invest in increasing your parry window.

Regardless of how satisfying the combat may be, it’s only somewhat of a redeeming component to prevent the game from being a total letdown. Godfall has looting and it has slashing, to be sure, but you end up wading through so much to enjoy those parts. Perhaps loot fiends will get hooked on the endgame loop enough to stick around for a while, but what waits at the end is hardly worth the time it takes to get there.

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Rating: 3 out of 5

Godfall is now available on the PlayStation 5 and PC platforms and was reviewed on the PC with a code provided by the publisher.