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My Love/Hate Relationship with Skyforge

By Michael Bitton on July 22, 2015 | Columns | Comments

My Love/Hate Relationship with Skyforge

I’ve developed a sort of love/hate relationship with Skyforge as of late. The game piqued my curiosity when I first saw it a while back, but as I played through the various beta phases, my interest waned. Oddly enough, once open beta rolled around and I could play in confidence without fear of my progress being wiped, the game somehow dug its hooks into me in a way I didn’t expect. Don’t get me wrong, Skyforge is a pretty fun game, but it’s obviously flawed in so many ways. So much so that my desire to keep plugging away at the Ascension Atlas, repetition be damned, is something that boggles my mind whenever I click play.

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Maybe it’s my obsessive compulsion to want to complete everything. I don’t know. There are plenty of games on the market that do what Skyforge does and none of them have held my interest. Hub based games full of repetitive dungeon runs such as Vindictus, Dragon’s Nest, Warframe, and the like are all fine for a certain subset of the MMO playing populace, but these have just never been for me. Yet here I am, running the same crap over and over trying to ensure I’ve hit S-Rank so I can get the most out of the resources I can acquire each run.  Bill did a great job at highlighting some of the game’s myriad issues earlier this week, but I wanted to follow up with a few of my own, and what the game’s developers can do to address them.

Better Tutorials

Skyforge is needlessly complex in many ways and the game doesn’t really do a good job at introducing you to it all. There’s so much to digest in terms of how gearing works, the bazillion different stats and currencies that affect your character, the nuances of progression, and the importance of your Order, that it can all feel fairly overwhelming. If you aren’t committed to doing your research and making sense of the jumbled mess of a game, you may be in for a bad time.

Elite: Dangerous is another game with some fairly complex systems, but the folks at Frontier Developments often put out tutorial videos that do a great job at helping you get acclimated with the game’s more granular features. I feel like some heavy handholding and videos would go a long way at helping players understand some of Skyforge’s more obtuse quirks and features.

Itemization

On the surface, it looks like there’s a lot going on with all the complex statistics (Tactical Sense and Solidity? Really?) and choices, but once you really dig into the game, you realize it’s all pretty simple, and in some cases, broken. For example, you might start gearing your character looking for items that boost your Prestige (Skyforge’s best approximation of your “level”), but this isn’t actually optimal. Bonuses to skills you use and a fairly universal trifecta of Strength, Luck, and Critical Chance are really all you need to look for on gear no matter what class you’re playing (except for tanks, who value Stamina for obvious reasons).

Prioritizing the Might and Prestige of a new weapon you’ve picked up over other things will actually hurt you. Might is essentially a useless stat right now, but it’s often put front and center in the game. There are a huge number of stats in Skyforge and it’s nothing if not ironic that most of them are seemingly irrelevant in a game that focuses on choosing your path on a giant grid of stat bonuses and different classes. The developers could stand to condense the ridiculous number of stats and improve the major ones such that making choices is important from class to class and on the Ascension Atlas.

Visual itemization is also a bit lacking. I don’t mind the costume system too much in terms of determining your overall look, but it’s fairly disappointing to pick up new weapons and offhand items that mostly look alike.

Balance

Game balance is an ongoing issue for just about every game out there, but the issue is highlighted in Skyforge for a number of reasons. For one, unlocking classes is gated behind a huge grind as Bill mentioned recently, so finding out that the class you picked sucks can be a real downer, especially if you disliked playing as the three starter classes in order to get to it. On top of that, some classes appear to have dramatically different experiences in content than others.

Playing a squishier class like a Witch or Slayer, I expect to take more damage, but the survival disparity between playing these squishier classes vs. playing some of the tougher ones is often incredibly punishing. Slayers, for example, are great in PvP, but if the game offers me a mission where I can get a double or triple resource bonus for playing the class in a PvE mission, I will often decline and choose something worth less. Why? Because I could likely complete that mission three or four times before I’d be able to finish it once on some of the squishier classes.

To make matters worse, I get the feeling that the game is OK with this sort of dynamic. I feel as if the design is trying to tell me that some classes are better in certain activities than others and I should be OK with the notion that I might want to switch to X or Y classes for a particular piece of content. While I appreciate the game’s flexibility in allowing me to do this, maybe I only want to play one or two classes because those are the classes that interest me. However, if those classes aren’t so hot in what I’m looking to do, I may be SOL if the developers lean on the game’s class flexibility to band-aid over the issue.

Oh, and for the love of god, remove executes from PvP. They’re ridiculous.

Performance

Performance leaves much to be desired in the game right now. The game is poorly optimized or they have a memory leak going on or perhaps both, but framerates tend to nosedive pretty quickly in most areas even on powerful systems and this needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

Bonus: Consolidate the Currencies!

The amount of currencies in Skyforge is simply obscene. There are at least 23 different currencies! I thought about listing most of them here, but my mind began to melt as I began typing it out. Let’s just say you will be beyond confused when you first lay eyes on the game’s Currency tab. If you thought you couldn’t make sense of the 20 or more stats for your character, you’re gonna have even more fun mousing over all the various currencies to learn what they are for. Most of these currencies have weekly caps, too. And when you hit those caps, you earn entirely different currencies in their place until the caps reset.

The game doesn’t need this many currencies. Simplify it.

What’s your take on Skyforge? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager.
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