Darkfall Launch Impressions Part 2

Since my initial Darkfall Launch impressions so much has happened.  Shortly after I published that first post the servers for Darkfall came down for 27 hours.  We were told that the servers would be coming down to fix the sync issues.  Every so often Aventurine would update us on their progress and say something like “we’re working on it” or “we know the problem” and even the classic “soon”.  Many of us sat around all day and into the night hoping for the servers to come up, but they just didn’t until late the next day (around midnight PST).

Yesterday was the first full day of play that I’ve been able to get in Darkfall.  The server stability was absolutely perfect for me (190 ping from SoCal).  The syncing issue is 99% gone and the queues for the human (most populated) area only happened for me in the morning during Euro prime time.  After that, I was able to log in immediately every time.  I spent pretty much the entire day online and feel confident that Aventurine has resolved the issues and will not need to bring the servers down that long ever again.   The entire fiasco has placed Darkfall’s launch in the top 4 worst MMO launches that I’ve experienced – that’s counting EQ, WoW, Shadowbane, etc.   However, just like most of the other horrible MMORPG launches, a bad launch means almost nothing after it’s over as long as the game can make up for it.   Darkfall does!

I spent the greater part of the day exploring and I didn’t even mean to.  I had this desire for most of the day to find special camps of mobs relatively near my starting town so that my guildies, all 5 of us who have the game so far, could get together and kill some stuff.  What I soon realized, or rather not so soon since I was at it for hours, is that this world is larger than I could have ever even anticipated.   Imagine having to go to the store 5 miles away without a car.  That’s what it feels like to run to the nearest town from your starting area.   I wanted so badly all day to chart the wilds and learn the land, but I had to stop and realize that it wasn’t possible.  I had to actually take a step back and realize that it’s going to be months and maybe even a year before I see all of the world.  It’s very overwhelming, but at the same time it’s liberating to have so much freedom.

When I finally stopped and decided to put my time to productive use, I found one of the less crowded goblin areas and began to kill them to earn money.  It takes 2,000 gold to form a clan in Darkfall and with only 3-5 of us playing actively we weren’t able to pull more than a few hundred gold an hour.  This made it clear to me that Darkfall is a large group game.  You need a clan.  You need friends.  That’s not to say you can’t solo in Darkfall, I’m sure you can.   I just can’t imagine myself ever doing it because of the way this game has been tailored to the point of being “hardcore”.

I geared up my character pretty well.  The funny part is that it wasn’t from the goblins.  It was actually from that time I wasted trying to explore!  How can someone gear out from exploring?!  Well, I found a big Centaur camp with Centaurs that were way too tough for me to take on.  I guess they were too tough for others too because I found a couple tombstones from dead players and I picked them clean like a vulture.  I got a really nice helmet, shoulders, boots, shield, and all sorts of goodies.  I then banked most of the extra stuff.

Combat in Darkfall is growing on me.  I really enjoy how it takes more player skill than character skill to fight someone.  Shooting a bow or spells takes knowing how.  I’m horrible with the bow but I’m getting better with spells.  Melee combat is almost the same way, especially if you use a shield.  It’s not all about running in there and waving your sword like a lunatic, although that can be effective too.  PvP is also more than spaztactics.  There is definitely a method to fighting someone that involves tactical retreats and using ranged attacks even if you’re trying to be only a melee.  It can get slightly frustrating to have someone always run away from you if they have a lot of stamina saved up, but that’s just part of the game that people (myself included) will have to get used to and overcome.

When we did finally get our Clan formed, I was in complete shock to see the depth that Aventurine went to with the clan tools.  I think it’s the best clan management system I have ever seen in a game.  There’s options for everything.  You can set your charter, motto, recruitment, politics with other guilds, wage war, make peace treaties, form alliances, have in-game forums, manage a KoS list, approve applications through the in-game applying, keep track of the clan vault,  and so much more.  The only complaint I have here is that I can’t figure out how to edit the ranks.  We seem to be forced into using the military ranking system, up to “Supreme General” … which makes me sound important as “Supreme General Keen Swordbreaker” every time I chat in guild chat, but it’s a little over the top.  I would like to have the option to edit these, and then edit the permissions associated with them to match my guild’s hierarchy we’ve already established.

Crafting in Darkfall is another one of those overwhelming things.  You can’t expect to jump right in and see yourself making enormous progress without working at it.  It’s going to take dedication and a little bit of learning.  There are some people who were in beta that are already making and selling armor, weapons, and mounts (all of which can break or die in the case of a mount) so I know that it must be possible to progress at a decent rate but it’s still more work than most MMO’s.  Harvesting is going to be a chore if you don’t enjoy that type of thing.  You have to sit at the node and mine, chop, reap, or whatever for a great deal of time to get the resource yield you’ll need to go back and refine and then craft something.  In the end though, if you’re a crafting junky, you’ll feel like you have accomplished something.  There’s substance here for people to devote their entire playtime to being a crafter.  The game’s design supports full-time crafters with item degradation and making crafted items slightly better than most.

I’ll stop here for now and wait for my Part 3 impressions before posting screenshots and possibly a video.  I’m going to include my experiences with PvP a lot in Part 3 – there are a lot of specific details that I’ve left out here about a few run ins that I had.

Darkfall has shown me that it is a game with substance.  It’s not a game to jump right in an conquoer, but a game to savor and enjoy.  You will not know what to expect each time you log in.  Every day brings new sights and new dangers, as well as new friends and new knowledge.  I think this sense of unknown is, in a way, exactly what will be bringing me back for more tomorrow.  I know that the world will provide me with so much, but I also have to create my own content.  If I sit in town all day and hide then I won’t see much – but that’s my option.  If I want to go out and explore or wage war on another Clan then I might see a lot and die alot – but that’s my option.   Options… that’s going to take some getting used to…

If you have questions I will do my best to answer them in the comments.

  • Interesting stuff Keen. I’ll say that you’re impressions make the game sound very appealing. I’m going to wait and see what your impressions are in a month or so due to some RL things, other games and not being sick of WAR yet.

    I liked the part about some mobs being too tough and you looting the tombstones. What an interesting way to get geared up lol.

  • The six people that are able to play seem to love Darkfall. I wish I was number 7.

  • So I don’t know anything about the gameplay or anything but is there any ability to heal in the game? I know there aren’t classes, but can anyone learn a healing skill?

    I don’t want to play the game just to fight. I only play a healer in every game I’ve ever played. I’m interested in trying this but only if I can heal people.

  • You start out with a very basic healing skill. It will take time to gain potent ones though.

  • Magic is a bit different than most games. As you use your magical spells you become better at them. This allows you to buy more spells and start to specialize in a school. Going into some schools of magic will bar you from other schools. You start with “Lesser Magic” which has a self heal. You can eventually get an AoE heal which is a sort of group heal (will heal enemies if you can’t use it right) and it costs a reagent to cast (as most higher spells will). These reagents come from harvesting and stuff like that.

  • They did add a heal other spell to lesser magic during beta, but I never got it.

  • I must say the game is extremely fun. Turning red by “accidentally” killing another player and then having to hike into orc lands avoiding raid groups and well armored people, while trying to find reds/orcs that I could kill to get my rep back up, was easily some of the most fun I’ve had in an mmo in a long time.

  • At the moment, the most exciting part is that you can advance your character any way you want. There isn’t a scripted path from 1 to 50 or quest hubs where you pick up 20 quests, do them, and then go to the next hub…it doesn’t feel like you have to jump through certain hoops…and do almost the exact same thing as the next guy…it appears to be a unique experience. If you find a cool spot to hunt that is out of the way…it’s your discovery…it is so refreshing.

    As such, it reminds me of AC a lot…game play is fun so far…

    The graphics and animations – well, for the people who care, I hope they hire and actual 3D artist and animator some day…luckily this takes the back seat to good gameplay!

  • It sounds so similar to UO when that game launched. All the good parts.

    If the community holds up I might end up trying this after all.

  • Speaking of community, I’m seeing familiar faces around towns and out in the hunting areas. One wouldn’t think that would happen often in a big world but the communities forming around these starting areas are really kinda neat.

    As for PvP, I have indeed seen some action. I’ll write about it in part 3.

  • This is a typical Keen write up. He loves everything that comes out and talks it up like it is the next best thing. All Keen does is move from MMO to MMO and is never happy.

    He did this with Vanguard, Lotro, WAR, the list goes on.

    In a month (more or less), he’ll be looking for a new MMO and will be saying how disappointed he is with Darkfall.

  • I’ve been playing it non stop since the servers came back up. I’m so surprised at how much I enjoy this game. I went in thinking I would hate it, but damn it’s fun. It’s really rough around the edges, but the fact that it’s so different has been very refreshing. I’ve found it really hard to log back into WAR now that they took the server down for this patch. That sort of makes me sad because I enjoyed that game, but I think I’m hooked on what Darkfall is offering me. I just hope this sticks and there is enough depth there to keep me playing for years to come.

    Also, I definitely agree if people buy this game being in a decent clan is key to having a good time. I don’t think anyone trying to solo, or even duo with a buddy, would have as much fun as someone in a clan is having.

    Looking forward to part 3.

  • This is a typical Keen write up. He loves everything that comes out and talks it up like it is the next best thing. All Keen does is move from MMO to MMO and is never happy.

    He did this with Vanguard, Lotro, WAR, the list goes on.

    In a month (more or less), he’ll be looking for a new MMO and will be saying how disappointed he is with Darkfall.

    His “problem” is not that he keeps quitting games – but that he keeps trying games and (gives them a chance). There hasn’t been a game to be excited about which was worthwhile to play for a long time (not since I have followed this blog at least). I know what you mean with your statement and it may look like it – but then I am thinking – what game has there been where he should have stuck with it…I sure didn’t stick with any of them…

  • There is a spell called “Lay on Hands” that can be trained for 100 gold. It has no prerequisites. I will be purchasing it soon along with a spell called “Launch”, that is a really good knock back spell for 250 gold.

    I had a learning experience in the game today. I was focused on mining some iron ore and not watching my back. My dwarf was jumped by 3 Alfar (dark elves), with halberds, that pinned me to the rock and mowed me down. I was only about a 60 second walk from a starter town, where i thought I was safe. The main thing I learned was that I should have stored my gear in the bank before mining. I lost a full set of chain mail armor.:( Lesson learned.

    I can’t help but think that this game is giving me the experience that I was hoping WAR would have given me on a pvp server. The death penalty in WAR is really laughable, while the death penalty in Darkfall is rather painful. Some may think that a stiff death penalty is a drawback, but it isn’t. Dying in Darkfall evokes emotion. It makes you fight your heart out to stay alive. Dying actually matters. The losses actually make the victories that much more rewarding. I liken it to watching a movie that evokes emotion as opposed to watching one that doesn’t make you feel anything. You remember the movie that makes you feel something and actually want to talk about it when it’s over.

    The 3 Alfar that jumped me were in a guild called “Wonder Bread America”. I am pretty sure they are an rp guild…. They will be the first guild on our KoS list. My death will be avenged.

  • Argorius, if someone is a game reviewer for a magazine or something then this is expected. He is not just playing different games to provide one set of impressions then moving on. He is talking them up to Fanboi epic proportions and then when the next release is on the horizon, he then whip all that he hates about the game and it’s over.

    I read back at pages on pages of rambling remarks about Age of Conan from Keen. He spent weeks, if not months on different aspects of the game, then finally, gets to level 30 and closes his account and bashes the game. This prompted flames at the end of a 125 comment string in which he locked.

    He spent so much time talking that game up, making videos, talking about spells, combat systems… only to drop it like a hot potato. He’s doing (did) the same with WAR. I remember him talking up Vanguard against the haters when that launched. He was also big into Lotro.

    Don’t you see a pattern here?

    After a while, you lose credibility and I just see him as someone who jumps from game to game. Don’t get all excited (all of you) about his comments, he’ll dump this game in a month, I GUARANTEE IT. This game isn’t as polished as Lotro or WAR and that will get the better of him.

    Keen just strings everyone along in his blog then looks for another game. He’s a gamer, sure, but play what you like and take his enthusiasm with a grain of salt.

  • @Dubious: I didn’t realize it was a crime to try a game, like it at first, but then realize the game isn’t for you down the road. Guilty as charged. See Argorius’ reply (#15) – he took the words out of my mouth.

    You have to remember, that’s why I call these my “impressions”. I’m telling you what I feel right here, right now. Tell me how I can see the future and we can all save ourselves a lot of heartache.

  • Your impressions don’t mean a lot after a while because it just shows that you will never be happy in ANY game for any length of time. We don’t need to “see the future” because your track record is the same..every….time.

    Do you understand what I am saying?

    Let me look into my crystal ball. OK. In a month or few months time, Keen will say how bad Darkfall is, how tired he is of the bugs and will be looking at the next MMO on the horizon, whatever that is.

    Everyone here is curious what you think and may get excited by what you say, which, initially, is usually fist pumping (but cautious) excitement. Then, the fanboi blinders come off and you overly focus on flaws, then bag the game. As a new MMO gets closer to release, the amount of disdain for your current game grows exponentially, but you think that next game will really make you happy, but it won’t.

    Every MMO is awesome and then every MMO sucks, when is the next one? That’s pretty much your motto.

    It kind of reminds of the boy who cried wolf or a guy who tells every girl he meets that he loves her more than any women he’s ever met, but yet dumps her in a month when he meets a new girl…and tells her the same thing.

  • @Dubious

    Several friends of mine loved AoC until after level 20 when they found out that the cake was a lie.

    “He’s a gamer, sure, but play what you like and take his enthusiasm with a grain of salt.”

    We should take everyone’s opinion with a grain of salt. The fact that we’re human means that we all have different likes/dislikes. This is not “Keen and Graev’s Gaming Facts”. Troll somewhere else imo.

  • Hehe, ya I must be guilty of the same crime. When I beta tested WAR, I absolutely loved it, primarily because the Tier 1 experiences were epic with huge clashes of people. As it has been pretty much said already by others, the higher in level you get, the less enjoyable the game seemed to get. I mean I was really looking forward to keep combat but over time, after repeatedly playing it for a while, it became really boring and superficial (without much meat) so I canceled my subscription.

    I mean you have to realize were not talking about FPS games here, where you can get an excellent feel for the game just by playing one map. In MMO’s, to fully experience them, you need to play all aspects of it at all levels to truly determine if the game has lasting appeal. Very few MMO’s meet these expectations which is why so many people go from one to the next.

  • I’ve cleaned up the trolling (and responses to the trolling, sorry). Let’s not entertain the trolls. The fact here is that it’s my blog and you’ll be reading my opinion. Yes, that means even if my opinion changes. Thanks!

  • Loved part 2, keep it up.

    My questions would be, is there anything else besides goblins to kill for PVE? o, there is centaurs I know, but all we read about is goblins…. tell me theres more, alot more to PvE.

    Also, be cause of the nature of the games mechanics, will Macroing be rampant to build skills? I think I read somewhere that harvesting nodes don’t actually disappear, so whats to keep someone to sit and hit the same tree all night with a macro? or cast the same spell over and over to max the skill?

    Just curious, thanks

  • Nice review Keen, could you tell us more about skills?
    Can I play in a dagger/archer style? there are skills for bow?

    The Latency on a FPS realy breaks the entire fun, how Darkfall works with 200ms? is it like FPS games that your enemy gains a serious advantage against you, if he have a lower latency?

    How hard is to get a Horse? with a so large world not have a kind of vechicle is a serious problem.

  • I wouldn’t say that he’s bias, it’s not like he’s been giving free subscriptions to these games in an attempt to hype them up to his readers.

    He’s merely giving you his impressions, it’s also quite typical to be really excited for a game, and then after playing it for awhile realizing its flaws and moving on. When you’ve played one or two stellar MMO’s you’re always going to be searching for the next-big thing, because you desperately want that experience again.

  • “I think I read somewhere that harvesting nodes don’t actually disappear, so whats to keep someone to sit and hit the same tree all night with a macro?”

    This actually interests me as well because I’d like to see more MMOs that have set resource areas (high cluster of nodes) that eventually become highly prized and controlled (pretty much like how nations claim ownership over resources and pretty much like Warcraft II which is the foundation for my own community-based MMO idea). This would obviously give much more meaning to territorial control. At the same time though, it would be cool if over a period of months (i.e. six months) the resources do eventually disappear, requiring the discovery of other resources in surrounding areas (which shouldn’t be a problem considering the size of the world).

  • I have a question. So you were being a vulture (which is awesome, btw). When you pick clean a gravestone is the player notified that their gravestone is gone, or do they have to truck out to their death site to see if their loot still remains?

  • Keen, the more good things you say about DF, the harder it will be for guildmates to get it. Please stop, and just pretend you can’t leave the starter area without being ganked and looted. Thanks.

  • “Imagine having to go to the store 5 miles away without a car. That’s what it feels like to run to the nearest town from your starting area.”

    I’m sorry, but this sounds more like a pain in the ass than an awesome feature.

  • I have some time between classes. Let me try to answer your questions.

    @Dismantled: Goblins are the first mobs you’ll encounter. There are quests to kill them and such. I’ve seen, just around (10 min run) the newbie area, Goblins, Kobolds, Trolls, Hivekin, Centaurs, Air Elementals, Bandits, zombies, skeletons, weird lanky things that i can’t describe, and GIANT skeletons. I know for a fact that there are plenty other types of mobs because I’ve heard people on ventrilo say “Ohh I saw a raptor!” and stuff like that. The world is huge, so finding stuff just takes time.

    People ARE macroing, but it’s frowned upon by Aventurine. Do it at your own risk (unattended).

    @Shred: You can play anything you want. Dagger/archer, archer/caster, caster/tank (battlemage), anything you can imagine you can do pretty much. Some limitations would be the types of magic you can mix, but that’s all that I know about.

    Playing Darkfall with 200ms doesn’t feel any different to me than playing at 50ms. When I shoot my arrows and spells they hit people like they should.

    It’s hella easy to get a horse. I have one. It costs 250g on average from another player, or you can get the skill and harvest the stuff and get your own.

    @Pseven: I have not once, ever, received a free subscription or copy of a MMORPG. I have been contacted numerous times by marketing teams for companies like Capcom, Nintendo, and Ubisoft to review their games but most of the time I turn them down.

    @Ravious: They have to go back to find out if it has been looted or not.

    @Vas: For some people it will be. I enjoy the big world and the sense of actually getting lost (which I have about a dozen times already).

  • Sounds interesting! I await your upcoming impression posts! 🙂

    Since there are no levels, I hear it will be somewhat easy to join friends a month or two after launch and not feel like you can’t contribute.

    Is this the case?

  • Relatively speaking it’s very much the case. If your friends are all in awesome gear with skills leveled up significantly then you won’t necessarily be “as good” as them, but you can group and do things with them with no system or mechanic stopping you. Heck, your friends can twink you.

  • Keen said, “When I shoot my arrows and spells they hit people like they should.”

    I know Darkfall combat is more like that of an FPS, so exactly how do the spells and ranged combat work?

    In WoW the Clefthoof had an attack animation where they tossed their head around, and because their head was always the automatic target of ranged attacks it was not uncommon to see arrows twist and turn in midair as they homed in on the Clefthoof’s head.

    With that said, in Darkfall do arrows follow a predetermined path from the moment they leave your bow, thus is it possible for an agile opponent to dodge your arrows?

    Or if a target is in your sights at the moment of release does the arrow follow them like a homing missile, regardless of how much they move around?

  • yeah you can dodge arrows… its really hard though you kinda gotta guess when they are gonna loose then turn left or right and jump or duck when you do it.. its very skill based like most other aspects of darkfall… it does kinda suck starting out and finally exploreing to get ganked by some macro skilled bastard with twice your health but if your hardcore and you wanna play a game that truly is hard and will prolly take a year maybe more to max out skills and get bored this is deffinately a great choice… darkfall is all 1 huge grind but its a fun grind unlike everquest’s AA farming and WoW’s constant need for gold/expendables.. I have been just like keen with many past MMO’s… Everquest, everquest 2, vanguard, WoW, War… the list goes on and on they are all good for a while but the grind is just too unbearable to continue for long periods of gameplay…