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Spouse Aggro!

I blog at www.spouseaggro.com, write for www.ablegamers.com, run www.mmovoices.ning.com and post all over the net. HOWDY!

Author: beauturkey

Darkfall: Uhm, this is actually quite fun.

Posted by beauturkey Tuesday June 9 2009 at 8:27AM
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That's it. This settles it. Me and Syncaine are going to be best friends.

Buddies, like Turner and Hooch, Dumb and Dumber...Bush and Cheney.

Can you find Beau in the picture?

Can you find Beau in the picture?

I actually LIKE Darkfall, quite a bit. NOW, stop..stop...no comments yet. I say that after a few days playing only, and I fully expect those strange half-fanboi-half-hater players to tell me "I love this game, and I play it a lot, but it sucks. You will see." In fact, they were out in full force the other night, kind of just complaining about what the game should do, how it should work, what Nectarine should do. (That's my new name for them. It's easier to remember.)

I would show you screenshots from the last few nights of gaming, but although I hit the keys bound to take a screenie, nothing happened. I looked it up: screenshots impossible? (I hit alt-s?)

Let's just get right to it, because there's ganking to do. And remember, this is a basic, basic review that isn't even covering half of what I have experienced. No death threats, please, unless you are 40 years old and living in Colorado.

1) The combat: DUH. That's what we're here for. I am kind of surprised people keep referring to it only as a pvp game, or as an "FPSMMO" (which isn't a bad description) and I can see that, yes, if you spend most of your time pvp'ing you would call it that. Granted, I've only been in about 4 PVP fights so far, but the PVE combat is really damn fun, too. The mobs will run after you, get help, run away...it seriously felt about the same as when I fought a player. You know, they do that annoying side-to-side thing (I jump for CRITS! (tm) )  and basically act as a player. For the life of me I could not kill some goblins for the beginning quests, and started to think that this game might be annoying, but then Jay Jay the Wonder Biscuit (that means cookie in their language) told me simply to switch how I was hitting. I hit T like he said and my lil guy switched to a downward chop instead of  a sideways swing. It worked! I killed two goblins and stomped my feet as the last one ran away.

If only I had a bow.....wait a second...I looted one off that last goblin! I equipped it, drew it, and pushed my mouse key. RrrRRRrrAAAHHhhh said the bow string as I pulled it back. Aiming it was pure fun, and when my arrow slammed into another goblin (I later figured out how to hotkey weapons) I thought to myself  "Ok, this just got A LOT BETTER."

2) PVP: Again, I have only seen a small part of it, but as with all pvp'ing (which I have seen my share in 10 years) it can get as boring as any activity. Seems to me that with the wide open spaces and the ability to actually hide (I LOVE that) you can avoid pvp if you want (or, of course, to allow you to pick someone off from those shadows!) PVP is one of those things that players seem to take great pride in, as with raiding, but I don't see the point of doing anything for such a great amount of time. I kind of want to suck at first, get better slowly, just like my lil demon man thing would if he were real. EVE was the same for me, meaning that I pvp'ed enough, but explored and snuck around more.

Luckily, Darkfall does play like an FPS, meaning that besides losing a few bits of decent armor, you just run right back to the spot you were before. It's ironic that in a "hardcore" game, death means nothing. Make me have to wait in a hospital for a while, make me sweat while my corpse lies there. Just don't let me pop right back up and get right back to it.

But I'll get to pvp later, after I had a chance to see some bigger combat. The whole clan-war-and-land-holding thang looks great, and at the very least I want to sneak around and shoot at people. PVP in Darkfall? Exciting and fun, need to investigate more. Yes, yes, I know...DF is mostly a PVP game. I will get to it. Let me enjoy some of the scenery, first. Speaking of which....

3) Graphics: Wow, Darkfall can sure look pretty in some areas (shadows are beautiful) and downright dated-to-all-hell in others. I WOULD show you a screenshot of this silly "welcome" sign in my starter town (as though demon monsters would build a "welcome" sign) but screenies don't work.

Having said that, I can understand if they intentionally left the graphics the way they are, being that they need the game to run on a wide array of PC's, and with good performance. On my older machine it runs a lil rough until I shut off shadows (which I hated to do, but liked the performance better) but I kept everything else cranked. On the newer machine it runs beautifully, and sneaking through the shadows is pure gaming joy. And to think that you can literally hide from players (and mobs I think?) in the dark is wonderful. Awesome. FUN.

I don't knock the game for looking so rough in some ways...so dated. It DOES look like a game that was started 7 years ago, and added to over time. Nectarine seems small enough, and if they built this engine themselves they should pat themselves on the back. Game-makin' is hard. But the light/darkness of the game is what makes it shine, and that makes up for any poor character design or rough graphics.

Don't get me wrong, the game looks great in most areas. This is a game of fog, shadows, and playing in the dark.

4) The sound: Dear, sweet Dog. Such dated sounds in some areas, and yet such great USE of some of those sounds. If I hear one more of those annoying blood SPLAT sounds (from Star Craft!) I am going to scream. It makes the game feel like they bought the sound file back in '99 and never updated it. Almost every sound needs to be tweaked for volume, and most of the sounds could just be more subtle. I understand, though, that some of these sounds could be audio clues to events like critical hits, but some are just over the top. (You can adjust them in sound settings I think.)

In DF you probably don't want music blaring so you can hear someone approaching, so I forgive the games lack of so many wonderful sounds/music. But it would be nice to hear more, like if players were chatting in a group, you could hear slight whispers.

I love the sound of the bow pulling back, and I love how some of these sounds will warn you of hidden players, but many of them just need to be updated/tweaked. Simple fixes that will probably come.

If you want to give Darkfall a try, go to https://accounts.eu.darkfallonline.com/account/ and go for it. Enjoy figuring it all out, although even finding that page is not something easy to do.

Let's not even get too far into why their website is horrible. Just looking at it will tell you why. At the very least, update it to today's standards...make it larger, center it, update the information. There's one simple, simple thing: add a link to a dev blog on the front, and go EVERY DAY and update that blog. Hell, players have been giving out better information than the developers. It doesn't matter if the dev's just put "Having some coffee while working on some bugs, click here for pic..." on the blog, it would let the community and potential customers know that Nectarines' web guy is not a guy in a basement that has been frozen in time since '01.

But I don't want this semi-review to seem all bad. All these things will be tweaked, I think, with time. I come from being the worlds biggest Vanguard fan (and still am) so if there is one thing I know about it's patience with a wonderful dev staff that might not have all the money in the world. Support them, and do it in constructive ways, and they will try their best. Remember, players and developers are actually in it together. This is the world of indie games, and needs to be treated as a community project. I get a lot of enjoyment out of seeing a small game get better, and the community helping along that process.

Speaking of the community: This community is about what you would expect. Mostly men (just a gut feeling) in general chat talking about a few subjects:

a) The developers suck.

b) So and so is a hacker. Haxxor. Whatever.

c) *beep* *beep* *beep*

d) Other games.

Typical MMO stuff, with the chat filter removed. Woop-dee-do. I have dealt with the worst of the worst community members in some of the players I know from VG (hate mail much?) so this is nothing. The simplest fix is to shut off the chat, which I always do anyway.

In the one-on-one world, the players have all been really cool. Within minutes of playing I had two players give me advice and offer help. While I became quite dead thanks to other players once or twice, that might of been the result of me hitting them first. ( I dunno, still learning all that.) But other than that, the community reminds me of any FPS community which is to say that the bad ones are easily ignored. It sucks that many, many of them are bad ones, but still easily ignored.

There seem to be players that are trying to role-play, but so few and far between that I wonder how many do. This game is PERFECT for role-play, from mild stuff to "hard-core" Immersion rules. The game begs to be role-played in!

And isn't it ironic that in a "hard-core" game in which the players take playing a game SOOOOOO seriously (think raiders after a major patch) that most of their characters names are "_______Mc _______sAlot" or some form of "IcAnHAZyerGear"? How do these serious players have such an easy time with their guild names or characters? Kids these days....

I am going to wrap up soon because I hate long posts and I want to get some playing in before Leala tells me to get off her nice PC.  All I can say is that, so far, Darkfall is one of those "diamond in da rough" that I have grown so fond of over the years. Ryzom, Mabinogi, Vanguard...all games that are taking unique ideas and trying to show you what they can do.  If the community is supportive and recognizes that the development team is not the size of a small town, and does their part in spreading the word (yes, I know it is the job of the developer, IF they have the money) by starting blogs, podcasts and constructive posts, this game could slowly climb up the ladder and stick around a while.

I will go into more PVP next time, crafting and all that other jazz. Understand that most of my info is pulled from in-game, and I usually avoid looking at websites and data-bases. That's a sure-fire way to kill my fun. I want to learn organically.

Now, if you don't mind, I am hiding in the shadows, pulling my bow back!

Beau Turkey