Darkfall Launch Impressions

Today is the first full day of the Darkfall launch.  The servers technically came up right around 11:00pm PST last night, but I didn’t sit down to really play until after class this afternoon.  There is a lot of information floating around out there about this or that and most of it is probably true.  Darkfall’s launch is not going very well right now.  The account issues with the pre-orders have still not been entirely resolved.  Several of my clan members were screwed out of their copies of the game and some are still unable to even try to get a copy because of the big “sold out” sticker.

I wish that I could write about how today’s launch has turned things around and made it all better, but it’s simply not the case.  The biggest issue facing the servers today is something being referred to as “syncing”.  The servers are not synced right now at all – when I say servers I’m referring to how these games have a “mob AI server” and a “loot server” and a “combat server”  – I don’t know why it’s called that, but it’s a habit from the old days.  Right now the mob AI server is extremely out of sync.  Invisible mobs are hitting people, people swinging at visible mobs are seeing nothing happen, and sometimes you’ll even swing at the air and hit a real player who you can’t see.  It’s a mess, and it’s having ramifications on the game beyond being simply frustrating.

Some clans have decided to take advantage of this syncing problem by going to the higher level areas and killing mobs, somehow, that don’t fight back.  As you can imagine, the result is that they’re getting money and items they should not be able to acquire at this stage of the game.  Guilds have already formed (2,000g), clan stones have already been claimed (1,000g), and people are already gearing out beyond their means.  It’s… it just plain sucks.

There has also been some trouble with characters being unable to log in.  I have no idea why, but sometimes newbie characters are corrupted and have to be deleted to stop you from crashing to desktop when trying to log in.  There’s also a bug where you’re forever stuck at “queuing”.   I lost 3 characters (and 3 names since they don’t get cleared from the database) to these issues.  That ticked me off.

Aside from the Syncing, the lag for North American players is actually pretty good.  I’m in Southern California and getting ping from 170-200 with other people sharing my connection.  When the servers were not having extreme sync issues (earlier today) I didn’t even notice any lag at all.  The servers are coming down (probably down right now as I’m writing this) to fix the syncing issue – I hope they roll back or wipe those who exploited.

Aside from these unfortunate launch issues, I really think it’s important that I share my thoughts on the game with you.  After all, in a few days when this all quiets down the gameplay is what matters.  I have been pleasantly surprised.

The graphics are amazing compared to what I was expecting from the movies.  Much, much, muuuuch better than I ever thought they would be.  I’m running everything cranked up and, aside from some slowdown in the wheat fields, I’m getting amazing performance.  Some of the animations are a bit wonky, but I thought the same thing about LOTRO when I first played.

Combat is FUN!  When it wasn’t out of sync I can’t believe how well it actually works.  It’s really, really simple but it feels right for the type of game.  It feels just like Oblivion, except more responsive.  I’m impressed with how they’ve managed to get the real-time working so well, especially given the lag.   Questing has been very basic, but really rewarding.  Money is hard to come by (When you play legit, you clowns) and getting 60g from a quest and a chain tunic actually makes you super excited.  In fact, the first thing I did was bank my chain tunic so that I didn’t lose it while I’m still a newbie in the game.  Valuing a newbie item to that extent says something about the atmosphere.

The UI is very basic and reminds me of the old DAOC ui.  I always liked the simplistic UI’s, as you know if you’re a regular reader, so it doesn’t bother me.  You can move everything around and change transparency as well as turn on and off certain features.  I wish I could zoom the main map because it’s hard to see things clumped up on 1680×1050 resolution.

Pking isn’t as bad as people thought.  I was expecting non-stop fighting and to be ganked right when I step outside town.  People are being surprisingly conservative.  If you attack people then you will turn grey for a period of time and others can attack and kill you without penalty.  If someone kills you while you’re blue (meaning you haven’t attacked anyone) then they will turn red, lose faction, and can be killed without penalty.   That’s not something you want to mess around with this early in the game.  The result of this “I know you can kill me if you want to” atmosphere has created this sense of dire realism.  Stepping outside the newbie town and running 100 yards feels like an epic journey because I truly do not know what waits for me behind the next tree.  If you die, you lose it all.

Darkfall has a unique feel to it.  I feel like I’m living the game, and not playing it.  There isn’t this drive to level or to progress.  I have so many options and I don’t know what to do first.  I can harvest resources or complete some of these really rewarding quests.  I can go kill goblins and raise my skills as well as gather resources or I can kill players to jack what they’ve earned.  I can explore the world and run for hours in one direction never once seeing something familiar.  These aspects of the game are pure untainted win.

When the servers come back up I really want to take some HD video for you guys to let you see it.

I’ll be continually blogging this weekend to keep you all updated on my impressions.  I especially want to make sure I blog until the new car smell wears off to make sure I still feel as pleasantly surprised then as I do now.  If this feeling lasts, and the server issues are fixed, then I will highly recommend Darkfall.  However, until they do, I think people should watch from a distance.

  • Thanks for the update Keen. I’ve been checking your blog frequently to catch your thoughts.

    It looks like a lot of fun. I had originally thought it would be an utter PK fest, right from the get go, so I’m glad to hear their penalty system is having some impact, at least in the entry zones.

    I’ll be interested to hear what people think when the honeymoon period wears off. A lot of what people enjoy now may well turn into what they find annoying later. Personally, I like the retro style of the game mechanics.

    Hopefully, they open up normal account purchases soon so I’ll be able to join you 🙂

  • “The result of this “I know you can kill me if you want to” atmosphere has created this sense of dire realism”

    That is a great thing. Solid review and keep us updated since some of us can’t play currently due to this that or a evil laptop.


  • Great mini-review, let us know if they fix that syncing problem! It sucks that people are ALREADY exploiting stuff, but I guess that’s to be expected in any game.

  • Yeah, it happened in WAR and WoW and LOTRO and AoC and about every other game I can imagine. When people can exploit, they will exploit. Sometimes it’s worse than others… like in Darkfall it’s almost as bad as it can get. Some companies roll back, suspend, ban, or otherwise take care of the problem and others just let it go.

  • You can’t seriously compare Darkfall’s launch to being anywhere near as good/stable as WoW or WAR. Come on now.

  • I don’t think anyone compared it to being as stable as WoW or WAR kaybek. We’re talking about exploiting.

    But since you brought up WoW’s launch, if you actually played WoW at launch, you’ll recall the loot server being out of synch for days (maybe even more than a week?). People would bend down to loot their mob and the result would be the player being stuck kneeling down and not receiving ANY loot. You’ll also remember WoW’s servers coming down, crashing, zone crashes, queues into the 1000’s, and more. WoW’s launch was horrible.

    But, Darkfall’s is well on its way to being worse if tonight’s patch doesn’t fix the synching issues. If it does, then Darkfall’s launch will be slightly better than WoW’s.

  • A fair point, Keen. Your initial reply wasn’t clear to me that you were referring to exploiting. Thanks for clarifying

  • I was really surprised by how great the world is in Darkfall. The look and feel are unlike any mmo that I have ever played. I wasn’t able to kill anything today, due to the sync issues, but I did a lot of exploring.

    The world is massive and beautiful. The environment is much less restrictive than other games as well. I was able to climb steep mountains and see some breath taking views. I also like the physics of the game. If you fall into water from a great distance, your momentum actually plunges you deep into the water. River currents carry you downstream. It feels very cool.

    Hopefully the syncing issues will be resolved soon so that I can try out the combat. This game has potential. We shall see if it lives up to it.

  • excellent write-up

    I’m withholding my “first impressions” review until it’s actually playable. I did, however, find create a little mini-game within the “syncing” issues of trying to guess where people would kill the invisible goblins (blood splatter is the key) and then looting everything I can in a frantic click fest, before the others do. No combat needed!

    The performance was kind of bumming me, but I’m also in 1920×1200 resolution which can’t help. My computer far exceeds the rec. specs though.

  • I noticed the blood splatters too. Hard part is telling if they belong to a player or a mob. 😉 I went rogue quite a few times from hitting players.

  • Launch stuff doesn’t sound so hot, but I like the comparison to early DAOC. I’ll be watching and as a poster above mentioned, once the honeymoon period wears off, we’ll see how you feel about it. If it’s still all good, I may pick it up.

    Let’s hope it’s not one of those games where if you’re not signed up and playing on Day 1, you’ll never be able to enjoy the game…

    -nick / reroller

  • Good write-up. At least the issues are only technical (fingers crossed) and should be relatively simple to fix. Hopefully I’ll be able to buy the game over the weekend!

  • Keen, I hope youre right 🙂 I would hate to spend my weekend chasing after hot SoCal women when I could focus on a new MMO!! Probably spend a lot less $$$ too! BTW nice writeup

  • one more thing. Anyone have any suggestions on the download part? Is there a step-by-step deal that puts us in that torrent thing that I keep hearing about or can I be proactive and download it from some other website while I wait for my Pre-order key?

  • I must say logging in for the first time and not seeing a bunch of yellow ?’s to hold my hand gave me a flashback of logging into EQ for the first time some 10 years back. I only played a few hrs early yesterday morning when I finally figured out the 14001 error lol. I really like the looting system, drag/drop, never played ultima but i hear it’s very similar to it and it creates it’s own strategies on the battlefield for sure. The synching was pretty crazy and I ended up just standing around looting mobs for awhile that people killed because every time I would begin to fight a goblin and cast spells on it random people would go and attack it and with the synching issue I didn’t feel like risking hitting them. Overall I had some laughs for sure, I just hope the little bugs get stomped quick.

  • Sounds good, except for the launch issues. The thing that makes me nervous about the game, is that I heard from some beta reviews, that it’s still a grind to do stuff that you need. For example: chopping trees or whatever 😀
    Can you give me your thoughts on that? 🙂

  • So far this game is 3rd worse launch in my opinion. I understand issues arise, but the lack of communication from them bothers me. Would it be so hard to give hourly updates that say, “hey, we are still here, read and dwell on this for another hour”?

    WWII Online was the worst. Anarchy Online was the second worse. Darkfall was playable yesterday (very few sync issues first couple hours sever went up) for awhile. I was late for UOs launch but I’m sure that was a mess (but I don’t count them because they were the first to try). But I remember patching issues for weeks (months). WoW was messed up, Warhammer still sucks, EQ had mass downtimes, Star Wars Galaxies had problems. I bet even Hello Kitty Online had some hiccups (I’m sorry, I wouldn’t know for sure though).

    But I find myself sitting in front of my computer knowing all I want to do is play more Darkfall… yeah, I like it!

  • I forget to add something about the ‘exploiting’ going on. Of course people will take advantage of these things. As much as I hate to say it, I would prefer a wipe already. Those few that came up with the gold legitimately would suffer (as well as those who just crafted and harvested) but it can all be had again. It was only day one. HIT THE RESET BUTTON. 🙂

    I didn’t find money that hard to come by (before the sync issue) and the legit guilds could make it back fast without exploiting. I think a grouop of 10 people could honestly make the 10,000g pretty quick (some guilds have a lot more than that playing).

    Isn’t that what happened with Shadowbane too? That economy was screwed by money exploits if I remember correctly.

    Anyways, server up…

  • It was strange the syncing issue should really have put a huge dampner on finally getting into the game last night, but the sheer scope and look of the world just blew right past that.

    I tried to avoid the 5/6 guys outside town wailing on the static mobs after awhile as I was getting rogue’d due to the sync prob. Everyone was then just busy exploring and leveling their harvesting skills. Around 5/6 cities were claimed during the time I was on and thats pretty amazing.

    Few times I jsut had to stop and gape at the sunrises/sunsets which can be amazing, couple with the great shadows. I died once and that intial shock of losing all your gear was brilliant. You’ve never seen someone run so fast to get back to their gravestone before someone pinched it!!

    Really looking forward to trying the combat out without the current problems. One aspect that i was impressed with was archery, there is a reall tactile feeling of the bows power when firing it, really impressive.

  • “If you fall into water from a great distance, your momentum actually plunges you deep into the water. River currents carry you downstream.”

    my jaw dropped when i read this!

    So Darkfall is just 1 server like Eve correct?

  • Sync issues aside I was pleasantly surprised when I got to login last night. My first real MMO was WoW, then I moved on to Warhammer, but this is just such a unique experience… I really feel like I’m going to enjoy this game. The sense of danger when you step out of town, real danger, is something I’ve never felt in a game before.

    Last night due to the sync issues I just ran around the world and was amazed at how large it was. I ran into someones tombstone on the ground that apparently had just been killed, opened it up, and found it packed with loot. I looked around to see if this was a trap of some sort, and was amazed that I didn’t see anyone. I took everything and immediately started running back to town. This whole time I was constantly on the look out for someone, in total fear that I would die and lose all of this neat stuff that I just ran into.

    This game doesn’t hold you hand. It throws you in and you get to figure out what you want to do. For someone whose gaming tastes is completely different now than when I started WoW for the first time 4 1/2 years ago, this game fits me perfectly. As long as they are quick to fix issues, this might be my mmo of choice for a long time.

  • Interesting write up. It’s nice to read about it without all the garbage being spewed on forums.

    I look forward to more info once the servers get fixed. If this is something you all plan on sticking with, I might just give in and join your ranks as I miss what made MMO’s so fun in the first place.

  • This just in:

    3.00 PM GMT

    We didn’t manage to completely eliminate the sync issue affecting players in the game earlier today. Our real-time monitor alerted us of this as soon as we brought up the server and players started entering the game. We need to take more time to address this. There is no ETA as of yet. We’ll keep you posted on any developments.

  • The company’s stance on exploiters and cheaters is very important to me. I might let it slide if they ignore the exploiters this time, but hopefully in the future (once the priority problems are fixed) they won’t tolerate any form of cheating.

  • I can’t believe the sheer number of typos in the main entry. That’ll teach me to blog when I’m on only a few hours of sleep and up into the wee hours. /embarrassed.

    I’m glad you’re all enjoying the impressions and I’m very pleased to see that others have come forth, set aside any bias, and shared their thoughts.

  • bluefile2: There are probably several places you can dl the client from, I used Fileplanet. Still takes awhile but I’m not a torrent person so a different site was a must, just make sure you trust the site. Seems to have worked since it updated to the latest patch.

    Watching from a distance and waiting for new copies. Maybe I’ll take the time to sign up with the clan though I usually go solo at these things. Might be nice for a change to be with a crew once I get my copy and are ingame.

  • @Bluefile2: I used the torrent. It looks like Fileplanet has the pre-order client up, but I can’t vouch for it. After that you’ll need to download the 1035 patch. After that, and only when you get an account, you’ll be able to launch the lobby which patches another 300+ megs. Their patch servers are doing very well now though – I was getting 1mb/s dl.

    As for the torrent, you’ll need to find a link to the torrent file (I can’t find it… but I can email it to you). Then get Utorrent here. Double click the torrent file you downloaded and it should fun. You’ll need to open ports to make it work best. I found setting my dl to unlimited and upload to unlimited gave me the fastest speeds. Took about 15 hours to DL.

  • […] Keen and Graev have an early review up. There’s a great quote in the post … [The] “I know you can kill me if you want to” atmosphere has created this sense of dire realism. Stepping outside the newbie town and running 100 yards feels like an epic journey because I truly do not know what waits for me behind the next tree. If you die, you lose it all. […]

  • I am sort of glad that I am waiting on this for a bit. Though right now I seem to be out of phase for gaming, maybe in a few weeks, I will get the itch again. Still more and more I hear about this game it really seems to be going back to the old Ultima Online style of gaming.

    I am curious to see how “newb friendly” the game will be after a few weeks when the initial people are somewhat established. What will it be like for the new player who has no contacts with in the game?

  • Like the author mentioned, the game is more friendly than you might have expected. There were for example tens of people chasing the same Goblins but there was almost no PKing despite everyone turning into rogues due to lag.

  • Omg this game sounds so cool ! 🙂 I just resubbed to WAR though (after a break for 4-5 months) but for some reason I’m not that thrilled while playing WAR. It’s still fairly entertaining and is good for a 1-2 hour play session.

    I’ll definitely have to try Darkfall sometime in the future.

  • Hey Keen, I downloaded the client from Fileplanet (after waiting in the server line for 30 minutes) and it works fine. I’m not in the game, but it seems to be the real deal.

    Also, your blog post was posted over at the MMORPG.com forums! Check it:


    Those are the forums I’m following for info, since the official ones are down.

  • Thanks for the suggestions guys. Im now #26 in line for file planets 6gig download. Keen, if you want, email me that link too. Ill take a look at it incase fileplant gets pooched. [email protected]
    Thanks again

  • Good write up Keen. I had initially planned to play Darkfall at release, but it looks like I’ll end up waiting to see your more in-depth thoughts once the game gets rolling. We have a lot of similar views on what makes a game good, so if you still like DFO down the road from now I’ll likely pick it up. I’m currently still having fun doing small group PvP in WAR and will be playing the new Total War game a lot so we’ll see what happens.

    I’m not too worried about the rough launch Darkfall had. For a small company to even put a game like DF out is impressive. I bet it’ll turn out well.

  • Agree with Mosh. They should hit the reset button (both on characters and paid time) once they resolve the problem. It will give everyone a clean slate to start off from, plus comfort people’s frustrations of having to pay for something so messed up.

    And ya WW II Online was probably the worst I’ve ever experienced as well. Although reading Lum the Mad’s experiences of its launch were pure bliss. I never laughed so hard in my life. 🙂

    The positive aspects of Darkfall definitely sound intriguing though. Looking forward to hearing more, as well seeing the HD video. Thanks Keen.

  • Just a heads up for everyone who hasn’t preordered (or I guess at this point, just plain ordered) the game yet, the page where you go to buy the game has changed. It used to have a large paragraph, but now says:

    “This is where backorder information will be available soon.

    The shop is temporarily off.”

    That’s a recent change, it wasn’t like that an hour ago. Which means more copies may be available soon! But keep this between us and this page, so we can get the jump on em’! ;D

  • I’m almost tingling with excitement!

    I guess I’ll just keep refreshing that “BACKORDER” tab until my mouse breaks down.

  • Actually Ramathorne that change happened a while ago (I say a while ago because I was up at 3am est and refreshed to see it happen and am angry that it hasn’t change since).

    There has been a more recent update though:

    7.00PM GMT

    We’ve solved the problem some players in human areas were experiencing not being able to log back in after a crash. We’re looking into an issue some players are reporting about getting an “account not active” message. Finally we have a handle on the issue that caused us to bring down the server the last time, and we’re in the process of fixing it.

  • Funny thing is their billing system wont take names longer than 15 chars on the Credit Card entry screen.

    Amateurish and Idiotic.

  • Keen, were you in Anarchy Online at launch? I’ve always considered that launch to be a little worse than what Warcraft went through, and I was curious how it compared to Darkfall.

  • @bluefile2: You are only allowed 1 character total, yes.

    @Blue Kae: I think DF’s launch is almost as bad as Anarchy Online – maybe just as bad. If they don’t bring it up soon and with the sync issue fixed then it’s probably the worst launch I’ve seen.

  • just one guy… that makes the decision kinda tough. I was thinking to make a Dwarf simply cause they are small are harder to hit. Guess now I’ll have to look a little deeper into it since I only get one 🙁 What did you end up making and why?

  • Human because I like the way they look, their starting stats, their starting areas, and lots of my clan mates are human.

  • Is there a website that offers a clear breakdown of race stats & features. The one on the main site kinda sucks.

  • […] to pwnsauce some lolnoobs really hard. Seriously, I do. This game and the crazy posts (Exhibits 1 | 2 | 3 | 4) have turned me back into a wolf. But there are problems that my logical self (ego) […]

  • @Bluefile2

    Yes look a bit deeper into that. My first thought about dwarves (beyond crafting) was being smaller would be a nice little benefit when it comes to combat. And while yes dwarves are shorter they are also much wider than the rest of the races. once I get the chance to get ingame i’ll see if that makes a huge difference.

  • “5.22AM GMT

    Servers will be up shortly after we deal with a log-in issue some players have reported to us. ”

    At least we know things are happening.

  • GAH! I’m dying to just step foot in this game. I’m not even a die hard PvPer but most every review I read mentions that special ‘something’ that makes DF worth looking at. Damn Aventurine! 😉

  • Still no more copies available, crap.
    I really hope they make more available today, I’ve been refreshing that page over and over since I woke up.

  • Yeh, I check in on it occasionally too. Its getting retarded having to wait like this just to get into a game…..


    “9.30AM GMT

    The servers have been up and running smoothly for the past 3 hours. The bug we encountered was difficult to find because it surfaced in an area which has been working flawlessly for a very long time. We apologize for the downtime; we’ll be monitoring the server performance closely in order to deal with anything that comes up. Thank you for your patience.

    We’re looking into some user reports about getting an account not active message. We suspect this is a problem with the account management. Until this is resolved we have no ETA on new orders, but our partners have been working to identify the source of the problem.

    We would recommend that in order to minimize queuing, players should bind outside the starting areas.”

    No ETA on the orders…

  • Still no news about when more copies will be available.

    At this point I don’t even care about the servers being down, I won’t be able to play this evening anyway. ALL I want to do is secure myself a copy, that’s it.

  • For those that don’t check the news every 5 minutes.

    “7.00 PM GMT

    Servers have been up all day and running smoothly. There are minor issues we’re on top of and we’ll issue a quick patch sometime tomorrow morning European time.

    One issue that has been reported to us by a few users is related to long queuing times. Queuing times can be drastically reduced, even eliminated if you bind away from the starting areas.

    We got to the bottom of the account not active issue and we’re mopping up after it at the moment.

    We hope we’ll be able to open up sales sometime soon but we need to make a thorough check of the account management system before we do so as to prevent more unnecessary inconvenience to the users.

    We will keep you updated as much as possible on any developments. We would like to thank you for your patience again for bearing with us through the initial setbacks we faced.

    The Darkfall Team “

  • Why do I still want to buy this mess of a game? What is wrong with me that I keep checking to see if the store is back up. Why do I obviously hate myself?

  • I think people are overreacting. Yes the launch has been a mess, yes there are still sync issues, yes there are bugs. However, I don’t recall a single MMO in gaming history that Didn’t have issues during launch. of course it’s going to be a mess, but they are working on it as we speak.

    I don’t see how someone could expect a smooth launch, even thought it’s been in production for as long as it has. Sure they could have extended the Beta another month and probably taken care of some of the problems during that time, but the fact of the matter is that eventually they have to launch, and they decided that now is the time.

    Also, it’s a small company. They don’t have the resources companies like Blizz has, and they are trying to create something special.
    Open PvP
    Fully open loot system
    Skill based
    No lame targeting system where arrows and spells work like heat seaking missiles.
    I’ve been looking for something like this, in the back of my mind. And I wouldn’t miss it for anything.

    Last but not least, I REALLY want to hit someone in the head with an arrow from behind some rock, It’s going to be hilarious.


  • To fully beat a dead horse, I think 90% of the frustration is coming from being locked out of the experience and being strung along by AV. They should apply the business model of under promise and over deliver, instead of doing the opposite. Just imagine how happy most of the screwed pre-order people would be in Ms.Tasos said that pre-orders would be available next Friday and then by some miracle he was able to get them out on Tuesday. Think on that for a sec. It would put out a lot of flames, and people would actually be happy.

  • FYI – just saw this:

    Regarding sales of new accounts, please check the Darkfall News forum for updates. You will be given notice before we re-open the purchase page. It won’t be a sneak attack.
    Brannoc is offline Report Post

  • The game is playing so much better today. The world is massive. It took me over an hour to travel from the dwarf area to the human area today. A friend of mine tried to make the same journey, but got ganked by an Alfar on the way.

    The sync issues seem to be resolved for the most part. Now if Av could just let some of my other friends purchase the game….