Moon Studios delivered one of the best games in the Xbox One library and of the metroidvania genre in 2015 with Ori and the Blind Forest, and soon, they’ll be bringing more of that magic and beauty with its sequel. Ori and the Will of the Wisps looks beautiful and exhilarating, and so far, it seems like it’s going to improve upon its predecessor in truly meaningful ways. Obviously, we’re quite excited to get our hands on it, and as we gear up for its imminent launch, in this feature, we’ll be talking about a few key piece of info on the game that you need to know about. So without further ado, let’s dive right in.
Given how crucial (and impactful) the story was in Blind Forest, fans are more than a little curious to know what the central narrative conceit is going to be in its sequel, but Moon Studios have been keeping that information pretty close to their chest. But though they haven’t yet revealed much about the game, they have promised an emotional narrative experience. It’s been confirmed that the game will take players beyond the boundaries of the Nibel forest, which was the setting of the first game, as players unravel the truth about the lost ones, and unravel the mysteries surrounding Ori’s destiny.
Given that Ori and the Will of the Wisps will see Ori travelling to the world outside Nibel forest, you can expect it to feature a much larger map than the first game. Some locations will be returning, but there will be a host of new ones too, and they’ll range across a variety of different kinds of environments. From icy caves and swamps to other much more sinister locations teeming with new and more dangerous threats, expect to see a lot more environmental diversity.
Ori and the Blind Forest’s combat was perhaps one of the game’s most major (and very few) weaknesses, but Will of the Wisps is making several upgrades on that front. One way it will be doing that will be by allowing players to equip a variety of different weapons. Weapons that can be used in combat include a fast-swinging Spirit Sword, a slow but strong hammer, a bow for ranged combat, a spirit bomb, and another slow and powerful projectile weapon, also for ranged combat.
Players will also have access to various abilities that can be used in combat. At any given time, three of these can be equipped to three different face buttons, and can provide both offensive and defensive advantages. When it comes to abilities, the developers have cited Diablo as an influence for this system, with its primary purpose being to encourage players tailor their playstyle in different ways.
Similar to fellow metroidvania icon Hollow Knight, Ori and the Will of the Wisps also features a new shards system, which, in theory, should provide greater depth to the new abilities. Players can find shards scattered throughout the game’s world, and can equip four shards in total. These shards can provide various unique advantages, such as providing a compass that always points to the player’s next goal, or giving players a triple jump ability, or increasing weapon damage at the cost of lower defence, to name a few.
Enemy design is something else that Moon Studios seem to be focusing more on in Will of the Wisps– and we don’t just mean visually. Supposedly, enemies will now have varied movesets and arsenals of offensive abilities, and a big part of the combat will be players being required to read their patterns and attacks and deal strikes to their weak points more effectively. It remains to be seen just how widely this will be applied to even the more common enemies in the game, but so far, it definitely sounds promising.
It becomes clear in context of all the improvements being made to the game’s combat the build variety and greater freedom for players to tailor Ori’s progression the way they see fit is a big focus in Will of the Wisps. That, in turn, should lead to greater replayability, as players define their playstyle in different ways.
NEW MOVEMENT IMPROVEMENTS
Various improvement have also been made to the movement and traversal mechanics in Ori and the Will of the Wisps. Various moves from the first game will make a return, of course, but as you’d expect, several new ones are also being added. One of these allows players to use a grappling hook, letting Ori swing through environments.
MORE MOVMENT IMPROVEMENTS
On top of the movement improvements we just discussed, there are a few other similar improvements that Moon Studios have talked about up until now as well. For instance, Ori also has a new burrow ability that lets players dive through sand and reach new areas through it. Jumping back out of the sand after diving into it also provides players with a boosted jump, giving access to higher areas.
Exploration is a crucial part of any metroidvania title, and though Blind Forest was by no means lacking in that area, Will of the Wisps is going to make even further upgrades. Players will now have greater freedom to explore, so that if you should ever get stuck, you will have more freedom to explore other areas, gain new skills and abilities, and then return to have a better chance at progressing forward.
Blind Forest was a pretty lonely experience, in terms of how many other characters you met throughout its runtime, but Will of the Wisps is truly expanding its world. It will, as such, feature many different NPCs. Some of these will serve as vendors that you can purchase things from, while some will even hand out side quests for you to complete.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps also has asynchronous multiplayer, thanks to its Spirit Trials, which will be scattered throughout the game’s world. These are time trials that see players racing through a specific course, using Ori’s abilities and skills to get through the course as quickly as possible. Players’ data will be uploaded online, allowing you to compete with others players’ “ghosts” to beat their best times.
XBOX ONE X ENHANCEMENTS
Given that this is a game being made under the Xbox Game Studios umbrella, it goes without saying that Moon Studios will be leveraging the Xbox One X’s more powerful hardware. Though there are not too many details revealed about the enhancements so far, it has been confirmed that the game will run in 4K on the One X.
NO SWITCH VERSION PLANNED
Moon Studios and Microsoft took many people by surprise when they released Ori and the Blind Forest on the Switch- but don’t expect its sequel to follow in its footsteps. Microsoft have made it clear that the first game came out on the Switch because that is something Moon Studios – who are, after all, an independent entity – wanted. That said, Will of the Wisps is going to release only on Xbox One and PC. Well, for now, at any rate… you never know, so keep your fingers crossed, Switch owners.