My first post scratched the surface of what Darkfall is. It left a bunch of questions open and made clear that it was from a new player perspective. This is a follow-up and a more in-depth view of the game itself.
It's been one months, where do I stand now?
Well, I still love the game and I do think that it has a huge potential. However, the past few weeks have grown a few concerns. Not enough to make me quit before the end of my first month but enough to make me wonder if I shouldn’t go try Aion or Champions online... Who knows, I might actually fall in love with the more mainstream genre.
Then again, the next game I'm going to will be CITY XL.
DarkFall: A Solid Glimpse
It’s been four weeks since I arrived in Agon. Life has been ruff but exciting for the most part. My character is getting stronger and stronger but compared to the more hardcore players, I’m still fairly weak. I’ve concentrated my skills into Archery, Polearms, armorsmith and bower. Fighting Gnolls, Skeletons and goblins for countless hours and then taking a break on a tree or a mineral node. Zag has been doing his best to minimize his downtimes in assuring a constant flow of skillpoints. Meanwhile, he got promoted to lieutenant and is in charge of leading PVE and PVP operations for the clan.
Since my first post and this one, I’ve got the chance to lead hunting several hunting expeditions, visit a bunch of dungeon, fight against various players and explore the world a bit. You have to be a very bored person to find Darkfall boring. Sure, like any other games, you’ll hit a few downtime moments but generaly, there’s always something to do.
Hunting expeditions in Darkfall are for me a lot of fun. They feel like the old school Everquests or SWG hunting parties. You camp spawns for a few hours and gather all the loots and then split it among everyone. Since spawns are static, you always have a red or two roaming around, hunting for a prey. So you have to watch your back at all times and that’s keep things pretty exciting. However, life in the npc towns is harsh and very often discouraging. Because the game allows everyone to be everything, you’re group is not dependant on key players. Instead, it’s dependant on tactical positioning and good communication. In my book, that’s a lot more fun and since it’s much harder, it’s more intense then let’s say, ahem… World of Warcraft. =P
However, life in a clan can also be very harsh and frustrating at times. Trust me, you’ll die a lot and unless you have a city on a remote island, you’ll die on a daily basis. You see, in Darkfall, joining a clan opens the door to a lot more griefing then you could ever imagine. In this game, clans can declare war to each other without any restrictions or cooldown. All you need to do is open clan tab, search and select the clan you wish to declare war against and voila, you’re now capable of killing them in the middle of the town.
Most wars are declared in that fashion:
Small clan player is crafting at a station, ganker clan goes behind the crafter and waits for a few minutes to make sure that the small clan player is really crafting something in bulk. Small clan player doesn’t notice the roaming player and suddenly, he dies while the war declaration appears on screen. From that point on, the Small clan gets decimated and griefed anywhere in the game. The newer players are unable to skill up, craft or even move around. Eventually they quit their clan or the game for that matter. A few days later, the small clan is unable to fight back and simply vanishes from Darkfall. I’m sure a probably don’t even make it through their first month. I understand why and it’s not because they’re carebears. The logic behind Darkfall is well, not really present at all times.
I am not joking when I say that each time I see a wardec, it’s usually a ganker killing a crafter. 4 clans have declared war against ours and they all started with a crafter gank. With luck, the one that ganked me only found about 300 pair of pants in my inventory and I was actually happy about it. It saved me the trouble of dragging 300 freaking pants from my inventory to the vendor.
I don’t think AV took much time to think about their war system. At the current moment, it’s probably the most imbecile system I’ve ever seen in an mmo. You can create a clan with only 1 member and you can declare war to anyone you like without any consequences or cooldown. I’m not asking for a system like EVE where the corp that declares must pay a certain fee and wait 24 hours before the war officially starts. I’m not asking for towers to still defend me while we’re in a war. All I’m asking is for a minor 10 minute cooldown with a certain limit or fee on the wardecs. At the current moment it lacks meaning and it’s simply used as a ganking tool. Not to forget that most ganking clans that wardec someone always have neutral players acting as a shield in hopes that we hit them and get blown up by the towers. A valiant effort indeed…
Fortunately, the clan I’ve joined is large and strong enough to fight back and that’s what we’ve been doing ever since it’s creation. Most wars are in our favour and there’s not much our enemies can do when we decide to seriously fight back. We do not employ zerg tactics but we have sufficient numbers to always match the enemies force. It’s a fun experience but also a very frustrating one and it is not always an easy one. Actually, the first week it was not even fun, my arrows were barely scratching someone and my melee skills were even worse. Since most gankers have blood walled, exploited or even hacked at some point, it’s pretty hard to fight on equal grounds. Actually, I don’t even think I’ve ever fought someone that was remotely close to my skill level. I’ve done a few kills but most were either 1 day old noobs, taking a random jump on me or I was in a group and my mediocre arrows got a nice back shot. Yes, Archery and Melee skills are mediocre pvp skills compared to magic. Melee requires you to be close and usually, good luck hitting someone. Archery skills has an arching in the shots and your arrows can sometimes go through the arms and legs, plus let’s not forget that the damage is low against certain type of armors. Magic on the other hand, doesn’t require any severe aim, the projectile goes into a straight line, because it’s a big ball of fire or ice, it’s not to hard to hit a target, you can also use area attacks to make it even easier and finally, the damage potential is at least two or three times superior to melee and archery. It’s not that Melee and Archery sucks, it’s the fact that for a medieval game, it’s rather silly that these two combat styles are very situational while magic is good in practically any situation. Let’s not forget that since the last patch, you can level up magic 6 times faster then any other skills in the game.
I fear that eventually, I’ll have no choice but to grind magic skills as well. First, it’s because I want the elemental buffs for Archery and second well, it appears to be the only viable option for PVP. Now before I start hearing “I own with Melee skills and bla blabla…” understand that I am aware of that possibility and that you need to remember that this is glimpse about the game, not an encyclopedia of all the little tricks in the available. Of course, the underdog can and will win against the odds, of course you can be David against Goliath. That’s exactly what I’m trying to do myself. However, there’s no point in hiding the flaws of the game. Magic does win the crown in general situation.
The other neat thing I discovered is that hacks do exist on this game and do not be fooled by anyone saying otherwise. In less then 30 seconds of searching on google, you’ll find Radar hacks, Speed Hacks, Teleport Hacks and so on. Not to mention that you can exploit the game in various easy way. I’m sure these issues will be ironed out in the future patches but right now, all you can do is wait. Oh, I’m not sure if you can even get banned from the game. After all, it’s money and the more AV can make, the better. It’s a small company and I’m sure they’re still struggling financially. Let’s just hope that they fix these issues quickly enough before it gets worse.
(Edit: You can find some hacks on pretty much any mmo but the difference in Darkfall is that it's twitch based. This means an aimbot or speed hack will really make you unstoppable. You can bot all you want in WOW but if someone has the gear, he'll destroy you. If not, then it's extremely easy to know that something is wrong.)
Now, at this point, you guys must be wondering; “Why are you still playing?”
I actually like the Darkfall, it’s not my favorite game of all and when I do want some real hardcore PVP, I go play EVE or Quake Live but in Darkfall, if you don’t exploit or hack, whenever you achieve something, you’ll be pretty proud about it. I haven’t killed many players one on one but when I did, I was pretty satisfied of my kills. I’m near level 75 in logging, mining, tailoring, archery, polearms, alchemy, herbalist, bower and near level 100 in most defensive skills. I have this strange feeling that I’ll become quite powerful very soon.
Because of the harsh environment, It’s very natural to instantly group with your clan the second you log on. The latest patch brought in good fixes and tweaks to the game, while there was a little unhappy 5% players, I think that AV is doing a fairly good job. I can only hope that their October Expansion will be as good as promised. If not then I’ll probably leave and find another indie company. I think the biggest thing that plays against me is the time I have to spend on the game. I have my 10 year old clan playing fps games, my band, a crap load of work and a girlfriend. Playing 3 or 4 hours a week and maybe 2 or 3 hours on the weekend is the maximum time I can put and well, considering that it takes about hundreds plus hours to master archery alone, I’m likely not going to be a top dog anytime soon.
Ok someone was asking me about the sound and wondering why I haven’t really talked about it in my first glimpse. Actually, the whole truth behind is simple, it’s crap and this means, I have never really paid attention to it. There’s a lot of details and it serves it’s purpose but compared to triple A titles, Darkfall looks like it was made in the 90s. Another very silly aspect of the game is why can’t I just turn off the music and keep the sound effects? I’m getting tired of hearing the same music, over and over. If I turn off the ambiance sound, then I also lose all my surrounding sounds. Since sound is the only source of tactical intel on the field, I wouldn’t recommend playing without it. Perhaps there’s a way but if there is, then I shouldn’t have to look for it. It should just be available in the option under: Music on/off
(EDIT: I stand corrected, sorry for this miss information. If you do turn ambiant sound down, you will shutdown the music but not the ambiant FX. The issue was my computer. I am using an M-audio Delta 44 soundcard for pro-tools... it conflicted with my onboard PC card)
Did you opinion on the community changed?
My opinion on the community is the exact same. On the forums, it’s retarded and I don’t think it will ever get better. However, in-game, people are actually really nice and I’m surprise at the amount of girls that actually play this game. Now, I only had the chance to meet 3 or 4 on ventrilo but I must have met at least 15 in-game. For now, I’ll take their word for it. Girls usually attract more girls and this means, it usually adds a bit of contrast to the community and that’s a good thing to have. In my point of view, it’s important that both gender coexist in games, they complete each other and generally forms a much stronger community. Anyone that played SWG pre-cu would probably understand what I’m trying to say here. Obviously, every girl I’ve met were Elves. =P
To conclude this log, I’m still enjoying this game and despite it’s flaws and difficulties, I am still here and playing it. I’m currently exploring the Elf lands and I got to say, I love their cities. Actually, as a human, I’m very jealous at their cities, they look great. In-game, the graphics are stillquite nice and while not on pare with Crysis, Aion or EVE, I think it’s a solid balance between details, quality, depth and performance. My clan and alliance are about to take over a city and that in my opinion is going to be a fun first time experience. I'll be sure to keep you guys updated on our progress.
I think that this should be the last "technical" post for a while. I'll try to find other interesting things to talk about in the futur, I promise.
Catch you in-game!