Forspoken, Square Enix’s particle effects showcase that comes with a side of high fantasy RPG, is probably unlike any game you’ve ever played. You use “magic parkour” to zip around a realm from another dimension where the rules of physics don’t apply. Forget loadouts — you juggle literally dozens of spells at once. Also, your companion is a talking cuff named, uh, Cuff.
But in spite of its weirdness, Forspoken has undeniable charm — one of those oddball action RPGs that seems destined for cult classic status in five years. If you’re hopping on the train early (Forspoken is currently out for PlayStation 5 and PC), here are nine things you should know before starting.
Cuff will automatically block enemy attacks
Bucking decades of game design trends takes a while to get used to, and Cuff’s defensive prowess isn’t impenetrable: You’ll occasionally still lose some health. That said, when you’re out of stamina (indicated by the diamond-shaped nodes above your health bar), Cuff. That’s when you should run and hide for a few seconds.
Yes, there’s fall damage — kind of
Similarly, Cuff can protect you from certain falls. If you have a full stamina bar, falling from a great height will deplete your stamina with no impact to your health. If you’re out of stamina, though, you’ll take damage when you hit the ground. In other words, be careful when you’re fighting on a bridge!
Visit every single pilgrim’s refuge
Pilgrim’s refuges are Forspoken’s way stations, small chapels that serve as places you can fast travel to and heal yourself at. There, you can also craft items and upgrade existing gear. And if you interact with the pulpit (located in the threshold of each refuge), you’ll reveal undiscovered locations in other parts of the map. But most crucially, about a quarter of the way through the game, you’ll be able to access the spellcraft library, which allows you to select challenges that can improve your abilities.
Make sure you always have three active spellcraft challenges
Spellcraft challenges are relatively straightforward, requiring you to complete a set number of actions (i.e., “kill three flying enemies”) with a specific spell. Every time you complete a challenge, you’ll gain a permanent increase to your magic stat, plus increase the power of the associated spell. You can juggle three at any given time, and since it only takes 1.68 seconds to fast travel to a refuge, so there’s no reason to not have three going at all times.
Disable the spellcraft menu (and other settings)
While you’re at it, go to the accessibility settings and turn off the spellcraft challenge display. When you have active spellcraft challenges, every time you make progress toward one, Forspoken will show you a pop-up detailing your progress toward all three challenges. There’s no tangible benefit to this visual clutter: Once you complete a spellcraft challenge, you’ll get a notification anyway, and you can always check your progress toward any current challenges in the magic menu.
Beyond that, Forspoken features an impressive array of settings, allowing you to adjust everything from the visual mode to the challenge factor to even the frequency of Cuff’s grating dialogue. Here’s a list of all the settings we’d recommend you tweak from the start.
Unlock support magic first
As you play, you’ll earn mana, essentially Forspoken’s take on skill points. It’s tempting to spend mana upgrading your existing base combat spells, but you’re better off unlocking new support spells (on the left side of the skill tree). All of the support spells — from the health-stealing tendril to the disperse mini-turret — are enormously helpful for early-game battles. The sooner you unlock them, the easier life will be.
Also, support magic is limited by cooldowns. Unlocking all eight spells means you’ll pretty much always at least one ready to go at any given time.
Some tricks for the map...
By clicking in the left thumbstick, you can pull up a list of any fast travel locations you’ve unlocked. You can also mark various points, which then show up as waypoints in your view. If you want to remove them all of your markers at once, just hold triangle. Frustratingly, you can’t rotate the map in its default view. But if you zoom all the way in (with the right trigger) you’ll be able to rotate the region you’re in.
Not everything in the open world is worth your time
Forspoken is post-apocalyptic, meaning its open world is for the most part conveniently devoid of characters (i.e., anything actually interesting and worth interacting with). You won’t get anything special for 100%-ing a particular region, either, so unless you’re a true completionist to the bone, it’s not worth ticking off every ticky box. Still, some general points of interest should be on your radar:
- Monuments: These structures will give you a permanent boost to a single stat, and are generally easy to reach.
- Locked Labyrinths: At the end of these dungeons, which culminate in a boss fight, you’ll get a new necklace or cloak. Throughout Forspoken, it’s worth accruing as much equipment as possible, even if you don’t plan on using it. Every cloak and necklace comes with a unique perk; once unlocked, you can then apply that perk to other cloaks or necklaces at crafting stations. Since every piece of equipment comes with three perk slots, you can eventually make some ridiculously powerful combos.
- Rosewood Founts: Each fount will give you a new spell you’d otherwise not be able to unlock through standard level-ups.
- Certain caves, towns, and forts: Some are worth checking out, some not. You can tell by the associated symbol on your map. Anything with a plus sign will give you experience, key if you find yourself getting your ass kicked in the current region. Upward arrows reward a stat boost — similarly helpful, though you could just get the same bonus from a monument for half the effort. The most important symbols to look for are the cloak, necklace, or nail icons. Any time you clear one of those areas, you’ll get equipment.
If you see clouds, tread carefully
As you explore Athia, you’ll come across cloudy regions. Inside these zones, you’ll have seriously reduced visibility, what with everything clouded by a blue miasma. Enemies, whom you can locate by pinpointing purple dots floating in the fog, are also significantly more powerful. In exchange, though, you’ll generally earn a ton of XP, plus rare gear. Make sure to save before going in!