The second Crowfall playtest is upon us and the game has seen some significant additions. While the game is still very early in development, in this column, I’ll explain some of the upcoming MMO’s progress from Pre-Alpha 1.0 to Pre-Alpha 1.1.
Into the Hunger Dome for the last time, maybe
Crowfall will be a full-fledged MMORPG, however for the purpose of testing, ArtCraft designed a special game mode dubbed “The Hunger Dome.” It’s a team-based survival map featuring a deadly fog called The Hunger creeping toward the center culminating in an intense battle in the middle to see which team will be victorious. If a player dies, they are eliminated from the match.
As previously mentioned, this game mode was created specifically to allow for testing and will not be featured in Pre-Alpha 2.0, which is slated to begin early next year. However, the player response has been so positive that the devs are hinting that we may see opportunities to re-visit the Hunger Dome sometime in the future. We don’t have any specifics about how this may be accomplished, so stay tuned.
There has been some significant additions to The Hunger Dome in 1.1 that did not appear in 1.0. Below, I’ll highlight some of these improvements and additions.
A colorful and dangerous new world
The first thing that stands out is that the grey-box environments are no-more. Color and textures have been added and it makes the world feel much more alive. The changing of seasons (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter) haven’t been implemented yet, so the environment stays green for now. In the final game, worlds will experience all four seasons.
The world now also has NPC’s, and they’re dangerous. The Hellcats and Zombies patrol the world and they are no joke. In the final game, all items will be crafted. Since crafting hasn’t been implemented yet, gear is supplied in the zone. In test 1.0, weapons and armor were supplied through loot chests placed throughout the world. In 1.1, there are still loot chests but most loot comes from killing NPC’s.
Players quickly learn that when the devs said they wanted to add more danger into the world, they weren’t kidding! The NPC’s are tough and require teams to cooperate for the kill. It’s not uncommon for new testers to find their early demise due to underestimating the NPC’s. The Zombies and Hellcats aren’t messing around! Teams will continue to engage them however, since they are the initial source of items. Of course, full looting of player-characters is available, so testers can supplement their armor and weapons collection by offing other players as well.
One aspect that quietly made its way into this second playtest was passive skill training. Crowfall will feature both active and passive skill training and will not have player levels. I was surprised to find out that passive skill training not only worked, but was also effective. The tooltips and art are far from complete on these, so it’s not clear what each of them do. Testers are already experimenting with various skills and figuring out which ones are most effective to train for Hunger Dome play. These skills persist from match to match on a particular character so testers are able experiment and discover which are most useful for them.
In Pre-Alpha 1.0, players were automatically assigned teams. In 1.1, players could team up in pre-selected groups. This meant that testers who teamed up with friends were able to work together and strategize. This allowed for some extremely fun moments when I was able to team up with my friends and guild-mates. Since The Hunger Dome features a death-cam, players can watch surviving players continue to play, cheering them on until the end of the match.