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Cute, Cuddly & Stealthed to Kill

Crowfall Columns - By Tim Eisen on October 11, 2016

Cute, Cuddly & Stealthed to Kill

That last couple of development updates offered us a few small but important tidbits. While still not yet live; grouping, chat, friend lists and more importantly ignore lists are coming along nicely. Yes, indeed, soon you can all start ignoring my main testing character Stabby McStabbins...ok I don’t really have a character with that name but I should.

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If you’ve played a modern MMORPG these additions are right in line with what you’ve experienced many times before. While unassuming they are the little things that will push Crowfall to look and play like a full MMORPG rather than a combat test map.

More good news came for the folks that are interested in crafting. We learned a bit about how crafting stations will work. “In addition to acting as centralized locations to craft items, crafting stations in Crowfall also provide a collection of other services to the player. They can have inventories for storing resources (and completed items), they enable an "experimentation" phase (where the crafter is allowed to invest 'points' to adjust the attributes and stats for the items produced), and they offer NPC (thrall) slots. Placing a thrall into a crafting station will grant buffs and stats to the crafting process and enable the creation of blueprints. These stations also act as factories for 'mass production', in a manner similar to the bulk-production runs of “Star Wars: Galaxies”.” (Pours libations.) I miss you old friend, rest well. Don’t worry, Karma is sorting out the injustices forced upon you.

Being an overt Star Wars Galaxies fan I was pleased to see its influence is still with us all these years later. For all of its demons Galaxies was, and according to many still is, the finest example of MMORPG crafting ever created. For those that didn’t get to experience it, essentially everything quoted above is right out of Galaxies and it worked fantastically. I’m glad Artcraft (ACE) looked back to Galaxies and I hope they continue to do so for all things crafting, harvesting, economy and décor. It might not be fair to compare Crowfall to Galaxies but looking at their developer roster the reality is that expectation is natural when it comes to crafting. In Koster we trust! Combat on the other hand…I’ll just say they should probably look to Shadowbane for the combat! I love you Galaxies but even I can’t be that nostalgic!

Speaking of combat the Guinecean Duelist is a polarizing character due to its...shortcomings. The real challenge, I thought, was in making the class compensate for those deficiencies (for lack of a better term). Its early in design but it looks like ACE is moving in the right direction. “We decided to stick with one tray for both melee and ranged and to think of his firearm as more of a short-range burst power (an extension of his melee arsenal) so that he wouldn’t start to feel like just another ranged character.”

A unique weapon setup is intriguing but I’m not sure it could get the concept over. Fortunately, ACE gifted this character with a mechanic that is borderline religion to its fans, I’m talking about stealth. I love that “burrowing” will be how the duelist enters stealth. I assume it will be a fitting visual. What I found especially interesting were the options when a Duelist has burrowed. They can ambush, cannon barrage, recon or tunnel. Those last two were of significant note. ACE is still working on recon so they didn’t want to give too much away but we still got a tease. “Recon applies a debuff called “Exposed” that will be unique to all specialist archetypes. If a player has the Exposed debuff on them and is hit by a specialist archetype, nasty things will happen.” I’ll let you imagine what being exposed by a stealther means...

Not surprisingly tunnel offers a short teleport forward. Surprisingly it can teleport under/past walls and objects! That could open up all manner of espionage which is great. Unfortunately, it could really hurt how structures function, which is less great. I’m sure ACE will balance it carefully as to not undermine the entire siege concept.

I wasn’t overly excited to see another combo point mechanic as it's been done for stealthers so many times before. ACE will be calling combo points “pips” but chances are if you have played a stealthier in many MMORPGs in the last 10 years you will feel right at home with pips. “As a general rule this means: the more pips you spend, the more damage that power will do. In other cases, it might gain secondary effects or add to any buffs or debuffs applied.” We heard ACE decided to get rid of any form of energy and focus entirely on pips and cooldowns which adds a splash of new flavor to the mix.

What we haven’t heard is if their small stature was heavily considered when making them the stealth/ambush class. Aim in Crowfall is more FPS than MMORPG. That will certainly give these little stealthers another advantage, how much remains to be seen. A tiny character that hits hard out of stealth in this game could be a nightmare! Add onto that their ability to shortcut siege defenses and I’d wager we'll be hearing how it’s over powered (OP) minutes after it goes live; justified or not. MMORPG history shows us cries of OP and stealth simply go hand in hand. Fortunately, the concept seems to be progressing well so it will get a nice long balancing period.

You might not be sold on the aesthetics but if you enjoy stealthers you will be trying one because the church of stealth is one of the most devout. Stealth fans do not discriminate. If you have stealth, they will embrace you no matter how cute and cuddly you are, not that that is a bad thing. Personally I enjoy the contrast.

Tim Eisen / In my columns I walk the line between fan and critic as I document the development of Camelot Unchained, Crowfall, and Chronicles of Elyria.