Skyforge’s big expansion Ascension launches today, and we’ve been playing the game’s pre-patch changes in anticipation of the big update. What we’ve found are a slew of very welcome changes to a game that seemed needlessly complex at launch. Read on for our impressions!
We wrote about this expansion in interviews, and in news articles, but until the past week we hadn’t really gone hands on with many of the changes its bringing. Much like other MMORPGs, Skyforge chose to roll out a load of the new system changes to the game in a “pre-patch” before the Ascension content hits the servers on the 19th (today).
Nearly every facet of the game saw some change. The Ascension Atlas is gone, and in its place is a Campaign Map that tries to more coherently tell the story of Aelion while guiding you through progression of your character and unlocking the classes. It was wondrous to see that my previous work on the game during the review had made it so every single class was unlocked, save the brand new dual-pistol wielding Outlaw. New and returning players will unlock them now through the campaign map, as you unlock missions to obtain them via the map and progressing through its various regions. Some might make the argument that this makes the overall arc of Skyforge more linear, but frankly it’s for the better here as it’s much simpler to understand how to unlock classes and what you should be doing.
Anyway, I felt like taking a chance, I bought the Outlaw Digital Collector’s Edition with my own money last week and went back into the game.
It’s worth noting that, even for someone who’s played several dozen hours of Skyforge, while the changes to the game’s progression, currency, and overall usability are mostly for the positive, they’re all also so new that it’s like relearning the game again. That said, understanding what does what and how you’re getting stronger with each upgrade is now much more intuitive. The key stat is Might, and as long as that number goes up, you’re getting stronger in your chosen class.
But what happened to the Ascension Atlas and all its associated bonuses for classes? Skyforge was one of many F2P MMOs that simply had too many different currencies. Now, it’s much simpler. You have knowledge which along with credits is spent at Strongholds, unlocked via the campaign map. Those Strongholds are simply UI markers where you spend knowledge and credits on the many perks and bonuses you once received from the Atlas. Meanwhile class-specific talents are now unlocked at Class Temples, where you undertake simple “kill this, kill that” class quests to progress through the class talent list. It’s a simpler, yet more in-lore presentation of the rather confusing and winding Ascension Atlas.
I’ve been way too overpowered it seems for a lot of the early campaign map nodes that I needed to complete, but that’s been refreshing too. I’ve joined most maps (both solo adventures, open world quest areas, and group dungeons), and had no trouble getting grouped or progressing. Whereas before in the earlier releases, if I progressed my character wrong I felt like I needed to go back and mindlessly grind earlier dungeons just to get powerful enough to keep going. This campaign map fixes that, but giving you clear objectives to follow on your path to godhood.
I still don’t know if the PVP has improved, and frankly there are still loads of new systems like Invasions I’m still trying to grasp since it’s been a while for my adventures in Aelion. That said, for the first time since launch, I’m enjoying Skyforge, as it seems a lot of my quibbles with the game’s needlessly confusing UI elements have been put to bed. Combat seems brisker, you sometimes now get super powerful limited use weapons to wield on bosses and mobs alike, and while the story’s still coming together it seems like it can be followed a little easier.
I’m unsure how the “new player experience” has changed, because Skyforge still only allows one character per account. Maybe we’ll take a new look at that by using a dummy email in the future. For now, know that Skyforge most definitely seems to be improving with Ascension, and if you liked it but left it now might be a good time to give it another look. It’s come a long way with this expansion.