I wiped the sweat from my brow and slammed my pickaxe into another node of iron. Before long I sensed the weariness of my avatar and the aching of my index finger so I decided to take a well-deserved break. Slowly I sat down in the green foliage that surrounded me, carefully looking around to make sure my presence would go unnoticed. After deciding that the coast was clear, I headed into the many chat tabs of the game, clicking around for the latest gossip and happenings; it was mostly the usual banter apart from one stark warning- “Two outlaws in the wilds around Heart of Eanna, look out new guys”.
My heart began to pound; my mini-map showed that I was indeed in the wilderness close in proximity to the moated-town. Sensing the impending danger I forced my tired avatar to its feet, breaking into a sprint and heading toward the cliff’s edge that showed promises of civilization. Every step and shadow was magnified as I dashed onwards through the trees; finally I jumped from the cliff into water and swam toward the shore of town. All around me were newbies of the same ilk, all stumbling towards the centre of the settlement – some putting prized possessions in the bank, others simply determined to wait the warning out. Looking over the water and in the distance we could all see flashes of red and spells of blue illuminating the sky. In Darkfall, when the outlaws come-a-knocking, you-start-a-running.
Survivor Guy Rides Again
Emerging bloody and beaten from my travels in Mortal Online, I am back in the saddle of virtual adventure this time heading for the lands of Darkfall. Primarily this is a game which focuses on PvP but also harkens back to more old-school elements of sandbox and unashamed grind. For those that wish for a tough and brutal challenge, this MMO is talked of in hushed tones – tales of brutality and murder run rife: being a self-proclaimed endurance expert, I decided to check it out and see what all the fuss was about.
Perhaps my beginnings with this game were a forewarning of things to come – I have owned Darkfall for a number of months, having bought it in a haze of special offers on the website Direct 2 Drive. You see, being a bit of an MMORPG lover, I knew that at some point I would head into virtual realms it offered so, seeing a bargain, I snaffled it up and proceeded to try and download it for near-on a month and a half.
Through a mixture of crumby Northern England Internet-connection and a bandwidth limit that is threatening to break under the pressure of my daily fumblings, the download procedure for the game was endurance unto itself. For days I would try and download the client – sometimes getting as far as 7GB through the 9GB available, sometimes I would stall at a pitiful 500MB and watch in shame as my once strong and proud 1.5MB/S speed tumbled into singular figures. I was at my wit’s end and edging toward seeking solace in the new World of Warcraft patch when I finally decided to part with PayPal information and go premium on a download site. Let it be noted, aside from the RRP, this is the first survivor game that I have had to part money with to play – and in these harsh economic times that is most displeasing.
Me and the Moon
After finally installing the game and completing character creation, I found myself plonked squarely in the heart of a small settlement surrounded by water. My on-screen personality was dressed in what looked like an S&M bondage outfit and had a general demeanour that screamed out “Beyond Thunderdome extra”. Clicking past the multitude of text boxes and helpful greetings I began staggering around from building to building trying to find a way out of this concrete prison. Finally, finding a bridge I stumbled into the wilderness and began to take everything in.
Like any sandbox MMORPG, Darkfall simply plonks a player into the expanse and basically tells them to get on with their business. After exploring my direct surroundings for a handful of minutes, I began heading back the way I came and decided to get cracking with my survival tasks. Aventurine, the developer of this title, have seemingly taken heed of the community as the more unsure players can simply find their way to masses of information by simply right-clicking and heading into the correct contextual menu. Being a simpleton and at a loss at what to do, I did just that, finding my way to an option that said “First Steps” or something to that effect.
A few minutes later and several text boxes devoured for facts later, and I was ready to tackle this ‘bitch’. Heading back to my original entry-point into the world, I found the newbie-helping NPC and began a conversation. Apparently, this balding fellow had a few problems with goblins; and being a bare-chested-strap-wearing-Mohawk-equipped sort, I was just the right kind of hardy-sport that he was looking for. I was told that the troublesome goblins were somewhere to the south-east and up to all kinds of bother – I was to slay a few of their number and bring back a few weapons as a token of my deed. I set off into the night sky, the moon my only illumination, and the sense of adventure my only ally.