Should you play The First Descendant: An Honest Review - Upcomer
Players in The First Descendant battle monsters.
Image via Nexon Games

Should you play The First Descendant: An Honest Review

I’d say The First Descendant has enjoyed a pretty successful launch, clocking almost 240,000 players in its first week on Steam alone. If you’ve read anything, you’ll probably be well aware that The First Descendant is very much a reconstruction of Warframe and Destiny 2, plus an absurd amount of micro transactions.

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But is it more than that? In this post, I’ll give you my most honest review of The First Descendant, and maybe just help to make your mind up on whether you want to play it or not.

What is The First Descendant?

Players in The First Descendant doing battle with the Stunning Beauty Colossus.
Screenshot by Upcomer

The First Descendant, which I’ll be referring to as TFD from now on, is an action RPG shooter. It’s fast-paced, requires quite a lot of focus, and can be plenty of fun. At the same time, it can be excessively frustrating at times, since hardly any of the mechanics are really explained properly. But also I’m the kind of player that skips over stuff, thinking “I’ll just figure it out” and then I complain about it later, so it could just be me.

When you do unlock new game mechanics, you’ve got this robot that speaks at about 300 words per minute, and if you haven’t worked on your reading speed, you (like me) probably won’t be able to keep up. His voice lines are just electronic garble.

That said, most of the mechanics are pretty easy to figure out if you have a shred of gaming experience. I’m no genius, but I can tell what a module will do when it says “Def +19%.”

I’ll be honest, it took me some time wondering why everyone else was so dang strong while I was pretty much just serving as a welcome distraction for enemies. It’s around this point that I realized I need to actually spend time with the modules and try to min-max my character a little.

There are also many layers to understand. You can get some things from researching them, others from certain missions only, and yet others purely based on luck. It’s all quite a lot to take in, but in time, it becomes second nature. So what does this say about the new player experience?

The New Player Experience

A new player in The First Descendant doing the intro mission.
Screenshot by Upcomer

I think Nexon has made some assumptions that players flocking to its game will have some Warframe or Destiny 2 experience. Thus, some things are left out – but in the beginning, all you have to do is point a gun and shoot. It’s not really that difficult.

As you progress, however, you’ll have to learn how to tweak your weapon and descendant modules effectively, or you genuinely will become a hindrance to anyone you play with. So there’s quite the learning curve here.

That said, while the game is still new and has a very healthy player base, it’s certainly not hard to find others to play with. This is especially useful on those annoying timed missions.

All in all, as a TFD first-timer, I’ve had tons of fun, I’ve been frustrated, and for now, I will be recommending this game to anyone who likes the genre.

Is it Pay-to-Win?

One of the premium skins from the shop in The First Descendant.
Ah, of course… Screenshot by Upcomer

Honestly, I’m not quite sure yet. It seems like most of the in-game purchases are cosmetic. You can buy in-game currency with real money that could help you progress faster, but since — for now — it’s a co-op game, the only thing you’ll be “winning” is… the game? I guess.

Until PVP gets introduced, of course.

In short, there’s very little pay-to-win going on for the moment. If you’re a free player, like I usually am, you’ll feel absolutely no pressure to purchase anything in-game. Everything can be farmed and achieved in-game, expect for some of the cosmetic skins.

Is the Player base Toxic?

Well, I haven’t really spoken to anyone yet, but from what I can see, the player base isn’t exactly beginner-friendly all the time. People tend to race through missions, seeing who can be first and get the most kills, I suppose? But there’s no real penalty in lagging a bit behind, so feel free to collect your drops while your peers race ahead.

In the dungeon missions, you’ll be teleported to the end along with them anyway. And, just like any game these days, you’re sure to encounter plenty of toxicity if you choose to join a party with voice chat. But since I haven’t yet, that’s just an assumption (which most of you will likely agree with).

But is the game actually fun?

We’ve covered some common gripes in the industry so far. But the most important question to me is, is the game fun? Is it worth spending your limited free time on?

In my opinion? Yeah. It’s a fun game. It feels good when you can mow down enemies in the beginning and feel like a bad ass. It feels even better when you get your modules right and can mow down higher-level enemies effectively.

Things do get repetitive though. After a while, you realize you’re just running the same missions over and over again. At this point, the only thing holding me to the game is the story.

The story itself isn’t bad at all, even if some of the events are as predictable as 90’s soap-operas. It’s no Mass Effect or Final Fantasy 7, the characters feel a little robotic at times, but they do each display their own unique characteristics, making them semi-believable.

I’ll be playing for a while, for sure. I want to see how this ends, and whether the Guide gets her Iron Heart in the end.

The Good, Bad, and Mediocre

Before I end this piece, I’d like to point to the fact that I haven’t played any of Nexon’s games before (except Maple Story way back when and never got into it). This seems like something totally different to what they usually do, so there are some misses that are likely to quickly get remedied. At least, I remain hopeful that they will.

I digress. Here’s everything I like about TFD:

  • Recoil Mechanics make the guns feel like they have weight – very cool.
  • Satisfying hit indicators and sounds really spike the dopamine, especially when you get that last hit on a tough enemy.
  • The grappling hook is awesome, and at times makes you feel like a futuristic version of Spider Man – although it can also be frustrating at times.
  • The missions are short and fun, making progression feel well-paced.
  • Public worlds are great when you’re struggling with a tough mission — if you wait long enough or simply teleport around, you’re likely to find some players farming that’ll make the mission a breeze.
  • The modules systems for characters and weapons are nice once you get used to them. They let you tailor your build according to the enemy you’re trying to take down — makes you feel like a genius when you get it right.

But not everything is great. Here are the things that I feel are mediocre, or even sub par.

  • Limited mission types – along the grind to level 40, you will start to feel the monotony kick in.
  • Unlocking descendants is way too luck-based. One player can take 2 hours and unlock a Descendant — the same action may take an unlucky player 20 hours.
  • The difficulty spike when you reach The Devourer is insane. I’m yet to beat this boss at the time of writing, but I’ll sure release a guide when I do.
  • When you’re invested in the story, farming players can really make you feel rushed, which is a pity — the story isn’t bad.
  • Farming can be quite painful, with drops rates not always making sense in The First Descendant.

That’s about all my observations for now. I’m very concerned that pay-to-win mechanics may enter the game the moment PVP becomes a thing — but we’ll just have to wait and see (and hope).

So, should you play TFD?

Bunny from The First Descendant stands in Albion.
Screenshot by Upcomer

If you like fast-paced games that move at breakneck speed and leaves slower players in the dust, then yeah, this game is for you. If you prefer to take your time and go slow, not really the game for it, unless you have like-minded friends to play with.

Arguably the best part of TFD is that it’s free. So anyone can just hop in and try it out. If it wasn’t free, I’d only recommend it to players who enjoy the genre. But since it is, and it’s a small download as well at only 36GB, I can certainly recommend it to anyone who’s curious about it.

I’ll leave you with one final warning though. Unlocking Descendants takes a lot of time. Unlocking weapons takes a lot of time. It’s easy to progress through the missions and pretty much fly through the game, but if you’re after more Descendants, be prepared to farm A LOT.

It’s definitely a farm-heavy game.

But that’s all I really have to say about the game, just my opinion about certain aspects. I do hope it’s given you some guidance on whether you’ll jump in or not. In case you do, you’ll want to bookmark our list of all Amorphous Material Patterns in The First Descendant and where to find them, and also the full list of Descendant research materials, for easy reference once you decide who you want to unlock.

What does the future of TFD look like?

It’s already beaten Warframe on player base on Steam, and I think that Trend might continue. But the player base will drop off pretty fast as more people complete the game and get sick of farming. It’ll maintain a loyal player base of around 50k, and then with every new update, around 300k players will crash the servers for a few days, and a couple of weeks later, it’ll go back to hovering around 50k.

So, pretty much the exact same thing as Warframe and Destiny 2.

It is an easy game to jump in and out of though, so it’s worth a download. And those are my final thoughts on TFD.

Image of Kyle Ferreira
Kyle Ferreira
As the content manager at Upcomer, Kyle brings a lifetime of gaming and over seven years of professional writing experience to the platform. He holds a tender spot for indie games, but can sometimes be found in an FPS getting destroyed in a fruitless attempt to relive his old CS 1.6 glory days. After which he can usually be found licking his wounds in a chill game of Kenshi.