My epic ascension to god-hood slowed down this week. The reason was twofold. On one hand, I had to review Kyn (a fun little Indie RPG), but on the other hand I was actually very glad to take a break from Skyforge. After putting in over 40 hours since Open Beta Head Start, the repetitive nature of Skyforge’s content is starting to get to me.
As many have reported on the forums before me, after several hours into the game, you start to realize just how much Obsidian and Allods Team expect you to repeat missions in order to progress. I’ve said before that Skyforge is like Destiny, and that’s both for good and for bad. It’s good, as long as you’re playing other games and just mixing Skyforge into your rotation. But if you’re playing only Skyforge, you’re likely to find yourself frustrated and smacking your head against the wall when you’re asked yet again to go back to Factory 501.
There’s no variation to the content of Skyforge, and that perhaps is the biggest flaw in its design. Repeating areas wouldn’t be so bad if there was some sense of random layout to them. You are given little minor “bonus objectives” each time you go into an adventure, but that’s hardly the kind of variation I’m talking about. No instead you’ll be spending countless hours running the same areas again and again, and often are tasked to play through places you might not enjoy to get the most out of your sparks-earning.
I do still like the progression model. And while I would love a shortcut to unlock classes (seriously, I’m not the only one who would pay for these), I’ve settled into playing what I like and worrying about unlocking others down the road in the far future. With that ideal in mind, simply playing the game and getting one class more powerful is a joy. But there’s something I do wish the devs would address: why does every weapon look the same?
I can stand the fact that costumes are the main way to differentiate yourself visually from others, though I do wish there were more options here too. But as a visual person, and being used to visually appealing gear as a part of MMOs, it’s always a little bit of a letdown when I get a new weapon that looks just like every other weapon. For a game with such fantastic art direction, the team sure did skimp on the finer points.
I also want to mention that I really liked the Daily Login rewards for the first week, however broken that was. This little addition, basically free sparks, free currency, or whatever the day’s login reward was, made sure I logged in. And once I logged in, I played. It’s something a lot of F2P or B2P games institute, and I hope the devs bring it back for a more permanent feature.
Also, I think it’s important to mention that any MMO which needs a Reddit Thread like this to help people along is probably not doing a very good job at explaining its own systems.
Lastly for this week, Skyforge needs to find itself some more down-time activities. Adept Missions and Managing your order alone are not enough. These amount to a Facebook game, and while they’d be awesome to have access to while offline (like Neverwinter’s followers), they’re not the kind of thing you can really devote time towards. Skyforge doesn’t have any sort of crafting, and perhaps they don’t plan on adding it in, but there’s just so very little to do beyond queuing up for the next mission and killing things over and over again. One could argue this is true of a lot of MMOs, but other MMOs give you plenty of chances to stop and smell the roses. Skyforge seems hellbent on just keeping you grinding those sparks away, hoping you won’t realize there’s no real point to what you’re doing beyond raising that arbitrary prestige number.
And that’s the most difficult thing to change in an MMO. These games need to be good at disguising the grind. They need to give you as reason to fight, goals to work towards. And while classes and the eventual god mode loom above you, the story and repetitive nature of tasks wind up making me feel like I’m a rat in a skinner box. Of course, lots of RPGs and MMOs give this sensation, but for some reason it’s a more enjoyable experience in Diablo or even Destiny. That I can’t quite put a finger on: maybe I’ve just become too hard to please, or maybe Skyforge’s grind is a bit more obvious. Either way, it’s not something I willingly want to devote time to these days.
And that’s a shame. Because I was looking forward to becoming a god.