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.