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Review in Progress #1

William Murphy Posted:
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Skyforge is a bit of a dark horse. While I doubt the game will come away with accolades and throngs of fans attending cons to praise it, Obsidian Entertainment and Allods Team have doubtless crafted a unique and engaging MMORPG. I’ve been playing for about 15 hours so far, and while some things worry me, the most important part is there. Skyforge is accessible and fun, with loads of goals to work towards.

The cynical crowd will dismiss Skyforge as just another theme park MMO. Yep, it is. But look… you can play what you’re given and find the fun, or piss on everything and spend your days waiting. I’ll do the first one.  Then, if they’re still bad, I’ll piss on them (metaphorically).  Skyforge is indeed a content-driven theme-park MMORPG. But it does plenty different enough to spark my interest and keep me going a dozen hours in.

It should be noted that our founder’s packs have been provided by My.com, and I’m grateful, because I do think that Skyforge is a game where you’re going to want to pay if you plan on investing significant time. Let’s get this straight too: Skyforge is not pay-to-win (P2W). It’s pay to progress faster; simple as that. There are caps for every single player on how many sparks (essentially XP as a currency) you can gain, and paying customers will wind up hitting those caps faster. Subscriptions are optional, as is the purchase of the RMT currency Argents, but if you buy either you’ll be able to progress your character faster than others.

Does this translate to power? Yes, but it’s the same as buying an XP potion or skipping levels in other games. You’re not buying gear or permanent advantages. You’re taking a shortcut in progression from “level to level” (though there are no levels in Skyforge). It’s purely my opinion, but I see nothing wrong with this. When my founder’s time wears off, if I feel like seriously devoting time to Skyforge, I’ll likely become a “Premium Member” and subscribe for the very helpful boost in progress. I can’t comment what progression feels like without Premium status, but I’m betting it’s a little more sluggish and will require a good bit more repetition of content. 

The Kinetic is one of the game's many unlockable classes.

The game itself has proven to be really fun so far. In a lot of ways, Skyforge reminds me of Destiny if Bungie’s game were more MMORPG than Shooter. You have a hub world where everyone hangs out and coordinates (or spams chat with nonsense), and then you have larger open world zones where you can quest as you would in a traditional MMO. Though it’s worth noting there are no hubs or exclamation points, everything instead is handled sort of like Guild Wars 2’s events, though with more traditional “kill this or collect that” tasks.  In between all of these, you’ll be spending your time in more small group or solo dungeon-like experiences.  These are fairly straightforward early on. Kill trash, fight boss. Get loot and sparks (XP).  But by the mid-2000s in prestige level (effectively the game’s way of rating your progress and overall godly power) you’re fighting some pretty intense boss fights. Solo they’re hard, and since they scale with the 3-man groups the game auto-matches you with, they’re still hard there too. The Paladin class or the Lightbringer can live longer, but don’t deal nearly as much damage, so you have to know what you’re best at playing and dive in.

One such boss is part of the storyline in Thais Temple.  You have to learn his patterns and be quick with your dodges and know when to attack or you’ll die again and again. There’s a Mantide boss that calls rocks down from on high too, and unless you hide behind these when she charges an attack, you’ll get one-shot. It’s nothing intensely mind-wracking, but it’s really nice to be forced to play well and pay attention in an MMO. It’s been a while since that happened.

The gunner is unlocked for paying founders, but must be unlocked by free players.

Speaking of classes, it’s a really nice system that Obsidian and Allods have thought up. While you can eventually learn every class, at first you start with only a handful: support, tank, and DPS available. You can switch at will out of combat, and all of your gear except your weapons and amulets (obtained later on in the game) carry over. This effectively ties your power to your gear, not your class. You’ll want to keep your weapons up to par, which you can do by evolving the jewels tied to each weapon slot (not the weapon itself). So while you might not have the best sword on your Paladin because you haven’t played him in a while, you can still take care of business until you get a better weapon.

The only things you’ll miss out on when swapping classes are new skills and the stat bonuses that come from class specific atlas trees. It’s not been hard to keep my Prestige level at or around the same level when swapping classes between Paladin, Gunner, and Berserker.

There’s a big emphasis on story in Skyforge, but I’d say that it has been the game’s weakest link so far. There’s an invading force on Aelion (the planet you’re from and the planet you protect as an Immortal/aspiring God), and you’re trying to get to the bottom of it. Cinematics are done in-game, but are very basic and rely on the same few camera tricks. Likewise the voice acting is pretty bland and often-times doesn’t match the subtitles nor the characters’ lip movements (a result of Russian to English translation I’m sure).  It’s not a bad story, and does what it needs to, but it’s certainly not why I’m playing.

Character creation was pretty impressive too, but once in-game I’m surprised to see how few outfits there really are. Since costumes do not effect stats, I was hoping to see a few more options, or the ability to really choose my own dyes and coloring. Instead it seems you’re beholden to the classes’ main costumes, some pretty lame “Aelion-inspired” clothing, and different shades of each. And yes, before anyone asks, there are jiggle-physics here too. Though at least the men have a butt-slider alongside the females’ breast slider. And really guys, do you all NEED to put that slider at maximum? Surely those things would get in the way of swinging your weapons.

Skyforge definitely has its own style, that much is certain.

I’ve still got quite a lot to explore, from the Followers (basically your own Cabal of religious types who worship you and go on quests for you, a la SWTOR or Neverwinter), to the more organized PVP and Pantheon (guild) dynamics. Right now I’ve played solo a lot, grouped equally as much due to the simple and easy group-finder from the game’s overworld map, and done just one FFA PVP match… which I lost, badly.

I also want to touch on performance. I have a pretty great rig at home (see below) able to run Witcher 3 on Ultra, and my laptop isn't too shabby either, able to run Arkham Knight and Witcher 3 on Medium to High. But while I can run on High (not Max) via the game's recommended settings, I only get somewhere between 20 to 40 FPS. If I'm in a solo instance, it can climb higher, but it's very unstable. On top of that, I've had quite a few crashes on the desktop (though none on the laptop). In short, while Skyforge has become far better in terms of performance since early betas, it's still got a long way to go. It's a sexy game, but when you see folks with 980Ti's and new i7's complaining of 20 FPS in chat, you know something is up.

MMO gamers looking for something revolutionary or more open-world sanboxy won’t find a lot to enjoy here. However, it’s ideal for short-session play but can be delved into for hours as well. I’ll be diving in for loads more over the next few weeks and hope to have a final review done before the end of July or at least early August.  So if you liked Neverwinter, or Destiny, and enjoy pretty games with loads of progression, I’d give this one a shot when it hits Open Beta officially on the 16th. It’s too soon to say how long I’ll enjoy myself, but it’s definitely the best of the recent batch of F2P MMOs (excluding Trove, whicj came out in my book back in 2014).

System Specs:

  • Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-2500K CPU @ 3.30GHz (4 CPUs), ~3.6GHz
  • Memory: 16GB GSkill DDR3 RAM
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte Z68X
  • Storage: Samsung 840 EVO SSD 500GB


William Murphy

Bill is the former Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.