‘Path of Titans’ Early Access Impressions: A Strong Skeleton That Cannot Bite Yet
We have spent some time roaming the prehistoric lands as dinosaurs and giant reptiles in Path of Titans, the sandbox survival MMO that is now available everywhere in early access.
While the big screen is still largely dominated by the Jurassic franchise, dinosaurs and other contemporary prehistoric creatures are quite famous once again on TV and in video games. When it comes to the latter, the big boom of independent developers of the last ten years is arguably the main driving force behind the rising number of dino-centric projects. And among them, we can find a handful of games which aim to craft immersive Mesozoic worlds that players can populate in MMO fashion. With a special attention to details, these games have attracted tons of big “dino fanatics” and folks who simply want a relaxing, community-driven online experience.
Path of Titans is one of those titles. It’s being developed by indie studio Alderon Games, located in Victoria, Australia. First announced in 2019, one could say it’s been in a perfectly playable state for a good while. However, that doesn’t mean it’s anywhere close to being finished, hence the “early access / game preview” tags it’s currently sporting. My experience with Path of Titans has been a positive one so far, but I walked away from the current build of the game with several questions, so allow me to elaborate…
Let’s get the great stuff out of the way first: the animals (more than just dinosaurs) in Path of Titans are beautifully realized, and I can see why they’re more than enough content on their own for anyone fascinated by these creatures. From the modeling to the animations, great care has been put into the stars of the show. That extends to how each species (out of 26 currently available) plays and feels; no quick re-skins here. For example, large herbivores are lumbering beasts that fit calmer, more defensive playstyles, and theropods vary from agile to bulkier forces of nature such as the (recently added) Tyrannosaurus rex. I was surprised by the seemingly conscious effort the devs made to shine some light on rather unknown species instead of simply focusing on the classics to get things started. So far, there’s a decent mix of well-known animals (with up-to-speed, realistic designs) and others which weren’t discovered or talked about much until recently.
Coming into Path of Titans, one would think it’s a dense game because of its precise description and self-proclaimed focus on survival and simulation. But that’s not the case. I found it surprisingly easy to get into, and the tutorial section which follows the “character creation” (yes, you can customize the animals) is short and clear, simply teaching the basics before letting players loose in the massive map. Perhaps the most unexpected thing about its mechanics is the presence of a fully customizable ability bar where new skills can be slotted as the creature levels up. Yes, there’s a progression system in place to simulate the growth and aging of the animals, which means starting out as small hatchlings and quickly moving into the “youngster” phase, and so on. This is governed by a straightforward XP system which, at this moment, might be a tad too slow considering how little — outside of social (and hostile) interactions — there’s to do.
There aren’t any real, pre-set objectives in the game. And I doubt that will ever change. That’s fine. Maybe some limited-time events in the future? Who knows. The game is being developed around the idea of roleplaying these prehistoric animals in a number of ways, but the systems aren’t pushing players in a specific direction. That’s cool, but at the same time, finding other players and things to do by simply using what’s inside the game is a bit tiring right now. With big but not massive player counts per server and a lack of guidance/suggestions besides a handful of repetitive fetch quests, Path of Titans feels a bit lifeless. That’s until you come across a large herd of herbivores or tight packs of carnivores… which only happens because of external interaction between the players. The community is amazing and very much active (especially thanks to cross-play), but I strongly believe Alderon should be looking at ways to bring much of that conversation and planning into the actual game — a chat and the ability to create parties won’t cut it, especially for console and mobile players.
Another — admittedly huge — change that would be a big push in the right direction is adding NPCs. As it stands, only small critters and fish are present, and their only role is to feed the carnivores. Again, the player counts aren’t big enough to fill the maps in a realistic way; we need more dinosaurs wandering around. Even if the game remains committed to its “make your own adventure” approach, this would go a long way towards solidifying the moment-to-moment experience, which is what will ultimately retain the more casual players. There are rumblings of AI dinos being in the works, with the critter AI serving as the first step towards that, and I get it must be a tough nut to crack for an indie team with big ambitions and plenty of other things to do, but the lack of transparency around this matter is concerning. Path of Titans will probably explode the moment it becomes consistently entertaining despite the “early access” tag, and that starts with making the world feel alive when players aren’t around.
Even though it’s clear that Path of Titans is a “PC first” project (though a mobile version walked alongside it), the console ports of the game, which released over the summer, have found a fair amount of success. I’ve been playing it on Xbox Series S, and the performance is perfectly solid for an in-development game (from a relatively small team) running on UE5. The switch to the latest iteration of Unreal Engine is a smart move, as it probably has made development for the Nintendo Switch and mobile devices much easier — Epic Games made a big deal of its flexibility when it comes to scaling. Undoubtedly, the experience on last-gen consoles, Switch, and mobile might be a bit rough due to the slower loading of assets and CPU capabilities, but I’ve only been able to test a current-gen version of the game, which sticks closer to the visual fidelity and performance that high-end PCs are able to put out.
The most impressive thing about Path of Titans may be how it already supports full cross-play and cross-progression across all platforms (through the use of Alderon Games accounts), plus modding is at the center of the experience and fully accessible in-game… even on consoles! New animals, maps, skins, etc. The community has been hard at work on content for the game, and it’s already paying off. The fact Alderon doubled down on interconnectivity and mod support from the get-go will certainly keep the game afloat as it evolves, grows, and becomes more attractive on its own. There’s a rough diamond in here, and I hope Path of Titans can get to the finish (1.0) line without forgetting about the critical flaws that are currently preventing it from becoming a mainstream hit. If you’re into dino-roleplaying and screenshot-taking, feel free to jump in. Otherwise, watch from a distance… for now.
Path of Titans (early access / game preview) is now available on PC (Windows, macOS, and Linux) through Alderon’s website, PS4/5, Xbox consoles, Nintendo Switch, and mobile (Android and iOS). As it stands, full access is granted through Founder’s Packs, with free trials also available. Pricing may change in the future as the game nears its full release.
Thanks to Alderon Games for the review code.
Francisco J. Ruiz is that guy who has watched Jurassic Park a thousand times and loves Star Wars. His hunger for movies is only matched by his love for video games. He graduated in English Studies from the University of Malaga, in Spain. As he keeps writing about what he enjoys (and doesn’t) for websites all over, he’s continuing his studies.