Darkfall: Mounts and Politics
After being one of the lucky few to get a copy of the game, I have decided to write about two aspects of the game that I have been introduced to in the first few days. While mounts and in-game politics have little to do with each other, these features are the ones I have been able to experience at length in my first few days. A lot of people responded to my beta review wondering more about the mounts, so hopefully this should give you a bit more insight. After the write-up about the guild functionality, I was finally able to put it to the test when I soon found myself up to my eyes in political wheeling and dealing.
Mounts in Darkfall are much more a privilege than a right unlike what we have seen in a lot of the MMOs in the last few years. Instead of going to your local mount vendor and buying one, mounts are created via a form of crafting called "taming". The way my guild has approached this is that we have a few select members who are the official mount makers, much like you would have a designated armor crafter.
I logged in the other day to find out that my guild tamers had successfully cranked out a bunch of mounts for us to take for a test drive. The mount is an item that can be traded like any other item, and goes into your backpack with the rest of your items. In order to call the mount, you hotkey the mount statuette into your bar and press the assigned button.
The mount will appear wherever your crosshair is pointing. This caused a great deal of confusion at first because if you are looking across town, that's where the mount will appear. This means that if your sights are not pointed at the ground very close by, you could accidentally summon your mount 50 yards away. The issue with this is that once your mount is summoned, anyone can jump on top of it and ride off. This makes it very important to be aware of your surroundings to avoid having some random stranger jack your ride and ride off into the sunset.
Once your mount is summoned, you can climb up by pressing the "F" key (default for "use"), and to despawn the mount back to your backpack, you press the "G" key. We held a small guild drivers class, and all went out for a ride. The mount controls were surprisingly tight and it handled well, and I found that my death pig was able to turn on a dime. The mount travel speed is faster than a player can sprint, but riding it does use stamina very slowly . Riding a mount like almost everything in Darkfall is a skill that can be raised, we are under the impression at this point that a higher riding skill reduces the stamina drain. It is also worth mentioning that mounts in this game can swim as opposed to other MMOs that despawn your mount as soon as they touch water. We were surprised and amused to watch our death pig doggy paddle across a river.
Darkfall does seem to support mounted combat. The one issue I have with it is that in order to fight with your mount, you need to have a 1 handed weapon equipped. As someone who has opted for a 2-handed weapon approach to melee, this is a minor annoyance to me because I have to keep a 1-hander stashed. I suppose I can somewhat understand the realism side of it trying to balance yourself on a horse while swinging down with both hands, but it is something you want to keep in mind if you plan on putting yourself in mount combat situations. Mounts also have their own life bar, meaning they can be killed and also healed.
The mounts themselves have 2 different attacks from what I have seen. The first type is the basic forward attack to try to hit someone directly in front of you. The death pig I was riding would try to bite or gore whatever was in front of me by clicking the mouse with my weapon drawn and running forward. The second type is a rear attack that can be done by pressing backwards and attacking. This resulted in my pig performing a sort of mule kick to anyone who would be directly behind me. The "Q" and "E" keys can be used to lean side to side to swipe at people. Combat damage from being on a mount is substantially more damaging than if you were on foot. I remember seeing a patch note at the end of beta where they raised it, and it is definitely noticeable. People who are the victim of a mule kick or being gored are often times knocked back or forward. Yesterday I was chased by a guy riding a dwarf ram that kept butting me down the road over and over as I fled for my life.
Anyone can ride any races mount as can be seen in the above screenshot, and we actually met a wolf riding a ram he looted from a dwarf he had killed.
From my very limited time in the game so far, I can say that Darkfall has had more political dealings than any other MMO I have played. The people who have cities want to keep them, and the guilds who don't have them want one. Aside from that, there are people who just want revenge on other guilds who have attacked their members which often times leads to a declaration of war. Being at war with another guild allows you to attack their members without receiving an alignment hit (even if they are your race), and guard towers will not intervene if a brawl breaks out in town.
This leads to a very complex web of relationships between guilds who are at war and in alliance with each other. My first night in game I literally found myself in a ventrilo meeting with the leaders of about 4 other guilds. We all sat down and decided we were going to try to be friendly with each other for a variety of reasons. Everyone disclosed to the others who each guild was at war with, and who they were viewing as friendly. Much like a game of Civ 4, we formed various forms of pacts and treaties and decided we would work together against our common enemies.
One thing that I think hasn't been mentioned in regards to the politics and city conquest is that there is no way to know the location of your enemy's city. This means that finding out where they live is actually a key step because there is no political map in the game at this stage to tell you where the cities are located, let alone who controls them. When you enter a guild controlled city area, it does give you a message as to who is in control of it, so in this regard scouting and information is very useful in this game. Whether the absence of a political map at this point is a good or a bad thing, I will leave that up to you to decide. I think a lot of people may actually prefer the fact that gathering information is as important as it is, while others would rather have the game disclose it.
One interesting aspect about declaring wars and alliances in Darkfall, besides the massive pop-up, is that the game discloses some information about the other guild in the system chat. The information tells you the clan's size, the number of cities they own, alignment score, and some other data which I have not yet quite figured out. Just a side note about the clan size, I find this to be very interesting because you know just how large or small the threat is, something in other MMOs that seems to be misleading. An example of this was my guild alliance in Warhammer Online that showed the other guilds having a roster of well over 100, but after factoring out alts the true size was somewhere near 40. Since Darkfall only allows 1 character per server, you know the number reflected here is probably very accurate.
I just want to add one final thing about guilds before I wrap this up. Darkfall allows multiple people to share the highest rank in the guild, which is called Supreme General. This has been an issue in some other MMOs because my guild has 2 leaders, and previously we have been forced to make one of us a lesser rank with limited power. Since the game displays your guild rank under your name for all other players to see, you have to be careful because everyone likes to target the guild leader for a good old-fashion looting.
Co-Leader of Inquisition