Based on the Gamescom announcement trailer, Where Winds Meet looks like an Assassin’s Creed-sized undertaking, so it’s a little surprising that I’ve never heard of its developer, Everstone Studio. I have heard of its publisher, though: The studio is backed by NetEase, the second largest game publisher in China, so it’s at least safe to assume that it’s the big-budget open world action RPG it appears to be.
It looks cool, too, and I almost didn’t notice it during Gamescom Opening Night Live. The trailer starts with a poem by the last Southern Tang ruler, Li Yu, and I am fond of Chinese poetry (check out Meng Chiao sometime), but it’s all a bit sleepy and cinematic-ey, so I tuned out. At around 1:22, though, the trailer switches to gameplay, and we see the protagonist strolling through a city. The footage looks a bit jaggy and artifacted, but ignoring that, it’s a subtly impressive scene, with around three dozen locals going about their business in a small area.
And then there’s horseback riding, mountain climbing, frigid wind walking-against, wuxia-style floating, and the most essential videogame activity, blowing up barrels. The combat looks like the dash in, combo, roll-out-of-the-way stuff you’d expect from this sort of open world adventure. The publisher says it’s grounded in martial arts.
“The player can counter enemy blows, use Tai Chi to reflect their attacks, or use acrobatics to slip through their guard and strike them from all angles,” says NetEase. “The player also has access to a number of martial arts skills and ranged weapons, allowing them to break free from one fighting style and use a mixture of abilities to defeat their enemies, creating their own approach to combat.”
There’s apparently quite a bit more to Where Winds Meet than combat, though. Li Yu was a better poet than ruler, and was captured by the Song dynasty that would go on to conquer the other kingdoms of China’s Ten Kingdoms period, so the trailer’s opening lyrics are relevant to the game’s setting in the “final days” of that era. That detail perhaps reflects Everstone Studio’s desire to build something genuinely representative of Chinese history, the wuxia combat and fantasy beasts aside.
According to the press release, you can wander away from the main storyline and become a merchant or doctor, and according to IGN (opens in new tab), there’s an online element, so you can do jobs for other players, as well as NPCs. A studio representative also told the website that a player could become an “orator who uses the power of words to convince NPCs to follow their advice,” as well as a bodyguard or ferryman. There’s also a construction system with “over 600 authentic components that allow the player to build structures in the world and make it their own,” the press release says.
It’s not clear how engaging these side jobs will be—little breaks from the main quest, fixations for novelty roleplayers, or something players will genuinely want to spend a lot of time doing—but it sure sounds like a lot of game to pull off regardless . The building system was a surprise to me.
There’s another little surprise here: Where Winds Meet is a PC-only game. It really is a trip to the past, eh? There’s no release date set, but a beta test is planned for this year. As for the mystery studio, NetEase tells me that Everstone is primarily based in Hangzhou.
Catch up with our full list of Gamescom announcements from Opening Night Live and check our gamescom schedule to find out when to watch everything else.