I got into Darkfall around the end of January, so I haven't been playing as long as some, but some of you who haven't gotten in yet may still be jonesing for more news, so I'll provide what I can.
When I first got the e-mail link to the game, I was so excited I fired up my computer and tried to start the download, despite the fact that it was 11pm and I had to go to work the next day. After a bit of frustration trying to log in properly to download the file, I finally was able to do it. The initial download file is small and came across quickly.
I clicked on the icon, and watched in horror as my download speed appeared. It was downloading occasionally at up to 100k/s, but this came in bursts, and would on the next burst drop to 0, or go back up to only 40, and so on. After trying for a few minutes, I shut my computer off and went to bed.
The next day before I went to work, I fired it up and left it sitting all day. Download speeds appeared to be as bad as before. Until I got everything downloaded and got into game, they remained that way. However, to Adventurine's credit, patching speeds have improved significantly since then - my last patch downloaded at around 800k/s.
The game loading screen and such have fairly bad graphics, reminiscent of something from the days of Wolfenstein 3D or Doom. This concerned me unnecessarily, so I hope they'll work a bit on improving these. Once I finally got into the game, I thought the graphics looked a bit hokey as well - buildings had sharp black lines to tell you exactly where they were, ledges had the same. And then there was the difficulty of learning the UI (which is why I wrote my other lengthy post about it) and trying to figure out what I should be doing. There is absolutely nothing, at least in beta, to helpfully tell me "hey, come speak to me."
There was a NPC character standing fairly close to where I spawned, and since this was the only character around, it seemed like the one I should talk to. I walked up and tried clicking and such, but because I didn't understand the UI, I failed miserably in my attempts at communication and walked away.
At this point, I started to become a little depressed about the game.
But I persisted, exploring to the west a bit (I started in the western-most Elven city), and after seeing several more NPCs, I realized that only my lack of knowledge had prevented me from successfully speaking, and I went back to the beginning. Now I was able to communicate and accept two quests. Yes, just as I thought, the NPC closest to your spawn is the one who is designed to help you get your start in the world.
It was about this point that I decided to run in windowed mode instead of full screen, and it made a huge difference. The big black lines I had seen earlier, that made everything look hokey, are simply not noticeable in a tighter resolution. On release, I'll play as high resolution as my computer will let me, as a result.
So my first impressions were that the UI is not user-friendly (it's not) and that the graphics sucked, but the first I found I could learn my way past, and the second really started seeming more natural as I went through the game (additionally, because of the fairly natural passage of daytime and nighttime, the graphics started looking even cooler as time progressed).
What's good about the game
There's a lot to say for the game in terms of what's good, the first and foremost being that it really is your own skill that determines whether you live or die - more or less. I'll get into the bad parts of this later, but the good news is that if you're willing to apply yourself, it'll be much more up to you, and much less up to how buffed your character is with equipment and skill points, that determines whether you'll rock.
The graphics really do grow on you, and now I look at them and think they're amazing.
If you're into these sorts of things, city building and crafting are very important to game play and great if you're the kind of player who can't get equipment any other way.
You can hear enemies long before you see them, usually - this means that you can often sneak up on someone, or at the very least avoid them more easily.
What's bad about the game
While skill is the largest factor in determining your success, there are little things that you may simply not know, things like the reach of your weapon, that have a very large impact into how well you do. Those who were in the beta longer and studied them more intently completely owned me everywhere I went. This caused a problem in that I simply didn't have a desire to go out and get beaten down every time I spawned.
The alignment system really isn't a deterrent. Because there are chaos cities and vaults in the wilderness where you don't need to be stuck inside a city, no one really cares if you're red, gray, or blue in alignment. Sure, if you're in one of the starting cities it's a bit important, but outside of that - nope, not in the least. The best you can hope for out of it is that if you're in a starting city, you have slightly easier access to wood and herb farming nodes and thus you can farm these to your heart's delight without fear (generally) of losing your stuff. If you stay close to the vault, too, you can drop your stuff in it before your opponent kills you.
There is no way to get away when you're attacked. Your opponent moves just as quickly as you do (and, oddly, sometimes faster) and the person chasing has the advantage of aim and ranged attacks. Running away is one of those key abilities that every game should have - because there are times when you simply are outgunned, outmaneuvered, etc. and need to regroup and try to get yourself back in the game. That doesn't happen with Darkfall.
One of the reasons it can't happen is because only when you're moving forward are you at your fastest. If you try to run at an angle, or backwards, suddenly your speed drops off completely. There's a reason why the Quake series of games had you moving in all directions at the same speed - because that gives you the greatest maneuverability and the greatest chance to fight on your terms rather than your enemy's. Adventurine needs to learn that still for DF.
While crafting is cool, the resource requirements have at times been too high. Adventurine has worked to fix this, but it's possible we could see them too high again in the future. Just be aware.
What's wrong with slower movement?
First, as I already stated, there are times when you need to run away. I'm going to assume that everyone accepts that as true. In a game like Darkfall, where all movement other than straight forward is penalized in speed, that means that your only hope is running straight away. However, your opponent can run just as fast and use weapons in the process, meaning that a straight line away is not exactly desirable either.
So you have to make a choice to try to turn right and left, to try to get away at an angle. So, let's say that every second you can move distance X:
So every second, I cover this much ground. Now if I turn to the right or left, my opponent can turn to pursue me without having to turn as much:
This means that if you try to turn, your pursuer will be able to catch up even more, regardless of how you turn. Turning is basically suicide for anyone attempting to flee.
If you could strafe at the same speed as you run, then it would be no big deal - you suddenly break into an angular direction with no loss of speed and you can change that direction quickly and easily. Perhaps more importantly, you give your attacker no indication of where you're going to go. This means that he has to constantly react to you, and if you make multiple course changes quickly, this will give you an advantage. But when your body actually has to turn in order to change direction, you're making a big wide circle, easy for the attacker to see and adjust to.
In Darkfall, at least, there should never be any reason why your prey should escape you. And I posit this is bad, because sometimes when you're getting attacked, you need to get away. There should always be a chance to escape.
Lastly: a note about realism. The poster below said that you can't move at the same speed in real life, so it's more realistic this way. Perhaps. However, you also can't murder people at a whim without expecting some serious retribution. Retribution in Darkfall is not serious, nor is it permanent. If you chased me, I would head to some place crowded and well-lit, so that everyone could see, and that visibility would make you less likely to hurt me. Darkfall doesn't care about such things. Further, there are things I can do to you even while being chased that would slow you down, things that are not in Darkfall - such as trying to trip you, knock you or throw you to the ground, kick behind me, grab things and throw them over my head, and so on. Finally, in real-life you have momentum, and that momentum is not easy to change. If I am ready for it, I can use your momentum against you, to get you going the wrong direction, to trip you up, etc. Since Darkfall has none of these things, it's not a reasonable argument to argue what is "realistic" - the game is just a game.