Darkfall: Rafts and Sailing
Boats are one of the parts of MMOs that have always fascinated me ever since I first rode the boat from Freeport to Kaladim in Everquest. Different games have a different take on sea travel, one of my personal favorites being Final Fantasy XI, where the boat gets regularly attacked. I wanted to take some time today to talk a bit about Darkfall's approach to sailing . I typically don't write about the day to day activities of playing, but after Inquisition had our first "Raft Night", I had a chance to experience a variety of the basics of sailing. Some of my guild members saw the prospect of sailing freely on a boat as one of the more interesting aspects of the game leading up to the game's launch. After a month in, some of them were able to focus their efforts into finally making some rafts in order to go out exploring and cause some trouble.
Rafts are the most basic and fundamental vessel for sailing, and don't require you to purchase any special tradeskill. All that is required is a skill level of 75 in wood cutting (which everyone has by default), and gathering the required materials to construct it. As you can see, the rafts are somewhat expensive in terms of gold and the amount of wood needed to build one, this makes it especially costly when you lose one. The 100 wood required is the refined wood, which is the biproduct of of the wood you get directly from chopping at trees. This converts at a 5:2 ratio from wood cutting, so it takes 5 raw timber from a tree to make 2 refined wood, making it a total of 250 timber for the raft. Once you have crafted the raft, it will appear as a figurine in your backpack the same way a mount does. When you want to drop it, you simply go to the water and use it, and you are good to go.
Once your raft is in the water, all you have to do is climb on board and press the "use" key on the steering wheel to gain control. Much like riding mounts, being in the steering position on a raft pulls your camera out into a 3rd person view, where you are free to spin the camera around at will to maintain a constant awareness of your surroundings. As far as movement speed over the water, the raft seems to move faster than a person can swim while holding sprint. One difference between boats and mounts is that unlike riding a mount, sailing a raft burns no stamina at all. This makes a boat an overall superior way to travel on water in every possible way. Steering the raft is a bit different from the way mounts move as well. While sailing a boat, you can't seem to stop and turn on a dime the same way you can while riding your mount. There seems to be some physics to the steering in the water with the inertia of moving and turning, much like you would expect in real life.
Our guild scheduled raft night a few days in advance in the hopes that we would have as many as our guys who owned rafts on as possible. Given the number of people who were interested in going, we wanted to have four rafts between us, but only three of our guys who actually had rafts were on, so we were going to have to make due. There was no real purpose specific goal or purpose to the adventure, we just wanted to have some fun and sail around. Since we expected to spend a lot of time at sea, we had everyone bring some fishing rods to help pass the time. We all gathered up, dropped our rafts in the water, and shipped off to the Gilligan's Island theme song being played in vent for our own three hour tour.
We weren't at sea for three minutes when the song came to screeching halt, and an incoming raft full of elves was spotted headed towards our makeshift fleet. The captain of my raft decided to plow us head-on into their raft while the rest of us starting spraying arrows at all of them, while others started to climb aboard the enemy raft with their weapons drawn. One by one each of the enemy crew went down to our assault until finally the captain died bringing the enemy raft to a halt. As vent filled with the sound of cheers, we dispatched all of the incapacitated elves, and seized control of what was now our fourth raft. This was a big relief to us because rafts can get very crowded when you play as Mahirim, which are the largest race in the game. Anything more than five or six of us on a boat and it started to get a bit cramped, but I think smaller races could probably fit a few more on and still be comfortable.
We continued our journey and made a point to make some stops at various remote islands just to see what what we could find in terms of PvE. Our next stop was an island with a castle full of some sort of death mages. We parked the boats off the coast of the castle and dropped our guys on the shore to fight some and check out what they dropped. The loot was very good but these guys were very hard to kill, and we could barely handle the place with all the people we brought with us. We decided to pack it up here and go check out another island.
After stopping at a few random islands, we finally spotted some sort of remote island city with a bindstone. We decided to do a hit and run on anyone who might be inside. We had the raft drivers drop us off at one end of the island that had good cover, and told them to meet us at the docks in about three minutes. Keeping the rafts deployed with drivers seemed to work good for us so that we could make fast escapes, and to prevent someone with a raft from being killed and having it looted (which happened the previous night). When we stormed into the town I was shocked at how many people were living on this place in the middle of nowhere. We took out as many people as we could until our rafts could get to the extraction point, where we quickly boarded and got out of there.
All in all, it was a pretty fun experience and I think it gave us a chance to sample how the sailing aspect of the game held up in a variety of situations. I originally wanted to wait until I had a chance to take a look at some of the larger ships and how they operate. After my interview with the alliance leaders, I was unable to get anyone to admit to having a large boat, but they are definitely in the game. I suspect that either they want it to be a secret or they simply don't have them due to how hard they are to create. There is a special ship building skill that has to be purchased for 15,000 gold that is only sold at certain guild city vendors, not to mention the materials must be pretty serious. It should be interesting to see how naval combat shapes up as the game matures, and whether or not clans are able to live the life of a pirate as a viable playstyle.
Co-Leader of Inquisition