My time in Crowfall has been limited to harvesting, crafting, and fooling around in the Eternal Kingdom building. Writing about harvesting and crafting is fairly moot however with the drastic changes coming to harvesting in 5.3. Speaking of the upcoming changes to harvesting in 5.3, my previous article on the column mentioned my fairly disappointed outlook of what they then called “action harvesting” because, from what ArtCraft had demonstrated, they had not really changed the mechanics of harvesting at all. It was a change from using the interact key ‘F’ to right mouse button targeting. However in the latest Q&A, it’s obvious the opportunities those changes have created for the designers. Crowfall’s harvesting quickly leveled up from a standard MMO doldrum activity to resource gathering that will be interactive and have diverse play styles.
Resource Gathering Builds
A great deal of how a character specializes comes from Disciplines. These are rune-like equipables that grant characters an active power, a passive power, or both. Think of it like an item that adds these powers to your available active and passive power pool. You can only have so many of these powers equipped, but the disciplines increase the options you have to choose from. Players can mix and match these passives and actives to benefit their playstyle. This leads to a large variety of builds including harvesting build. I don’t think I’ve played many games that allow for different harvesting playstyles. Most gathering mechanics involve finding nodes, clicking on nodes, watching a harvesting animation on node while alt-tabbing or gathering materials from dead things.
Harvesting in Crowfall has raised the bar. The same mechanics for combat are being used in harvesting. Harvesters have what is essentially a combo system but referred to in the Q&A as pips. Pips are resources that players gain while harvesting and can have up to 5 currently. Characters can use these pips for a number of different things, like increasing the damage for the next few hits on a node, replenishing stamina that is used for harvesting, or if you have the foreman discipline equiped, give your pips to other harvesters in your group and replenish some of their stamina. Each discipline will have different abilities for the pip mechanic. Couple this with the other minor Disciplines, and there is a veritable treasure trove of combinations. Harvesting as a spec? Yes, please. Harvesting with multiple possible specs? That’s a pretty cool design feature. All of this was made possible by moving away from interacting with nodes being how players harvest nodes. Also, there are weak points on resource nodes that can be targeted with the target reticle. Blair used examples of harvesting builds like creating more frequent weak points, increasing damage done to nodes, and increasing how often a node yields quality resources. All great news for players who enjoy harvesting and crafting.
Singapore BloodBath Latency Test
Last night the Crowfall team started up the Bloodbath map on their Singapore server to test how their combat fares with high latency. The answer? Not well, but not that bad. That’s not to say any other game does will with near 400ms latency. Crowfall’s combat is completely targeted, as in skills shots, no auto targeting lock ons. It’s easy to see how high latency could negatively affect the experience. As a confessor, I found it problematic trying to hit anyone with any power other than a massive AoE like the Fire Tornado or the massive knockdown power. The LMB attack was as accurate as you can imagine when targets blinked about. Many of the animations skipped, most especially the damned rodent, aka the Duelist. Their stealth animation is normally easy to identify, and you can expect to have the squirrelly figure stab you in the back soon thereafter. With high latency and animation drops, the Duelist could frequently get away with pretty much whatever he/she wanted. However, getting anyone in the target reticle almost always results with floating damage numbers.
Last night was my first forray into Crowfall’s PvP combat. My usual route would be piddle around with the classes and disciplines then take off against the Hellcats in the area. I learned a lot thanks to the community. One of the things I learned was that I was awful at PvP. The other is that there are some tips that could save new testers a lot of heartache and pain.
Craft your gear
If you’re new, crafting is pretty easy. That’ll change when the ArtCraft gives crafting another pass. There are only 3 types of resources: wood, ore, and stone. Gather wood first. Use three wood to make your hammer to harvest stone. Use two stone and one stone to craft your pick. The pick will get our ore. Make your basic gear. This actually takes a fair bit of time since harvesting each nodes takes between 16-20 seconds. Thankfully, the future design of harvesting is quicker with disciplines.
Speaking of disciplines, make some. Characters without disciplines are at a severe disadvantage because the passives and the powers they grant are substantial. These only cost one ore currently. They are obviously named as to which class which discipline benefits which class best, plus the tooltip will tell you which class can equip each discipline.
Instead of crafting your gear, you could always spiritbank what you need from a campaign server and bring it over to the Bloodbath server.
Dying and keeping your gear
Testing on the Bloodbath map means you’ll die a ton. Making your basic gear takes a decent amount of time so having to harvest and craft all over again would mean there wouldn’t be much fighting going on. When you spawn into the server as a crow, you choose your avatar. When you died, much the same happens: you become a crow. So naturally I went back to my chosen avatar and respawned. But when you use the avatar statues to respawn, it gives you a new body, turning the one on the battlefield into a grave marker which can then be looted and starting you off from scratch. No gear. None. In order to respawn will all your gear (thanks helpful rodent man), move your crow to the large center statue behind where you spawn. Hold the interact key for a few seconds longer than it tells you, and you’ll return gear and all.
I’m excited for Action Harvesting. I think it’s a unique take on resource gathering in what is a mechanic that hardly has much iteration. Being a crafter and gatherer at heart, having custom builds available for those roles is exciting. I hope the second pass on crafting is as impressive as this evolution of harvesting.