Darkfall Impressions Part 3: PvP and Grouping

I finally feel comfortable with the game’s controls, the UI, and the overall sense of how Darkfall is played.   Yesterday, with this new felt sense of security, I ventured further off the beaten and known path looking for trouble.  I decided to head north of Sanguine, the human capital, and look for mobs that were tougher than Kobolds or Trolls.  After about 4 minutes of straight sprinting I came upon a very large graveyard.  The first thing I noticed was the combat sounds in the distance, which clued me in to the fact that this particular graveyard actually had mobs in it, unlike many places in the world which seem devoid of life.

When I approached the graveyard, as I expected, I found Skeletons and Zombies.  Finally something different to kill!  When I was close enough to see what was going on, I found the entire place camped.  Lots and lots of people were throwing magical spells all over the place and swinging weapons left and right just scrambling to get kills.  Doh!  Then I saw, for the first time, a player with a red name.  My pulse quickened… for this player to have a red name he had to have killed one of his own people – he had to be a true PK.  I kept my distance and observed him.   It didn’t take more than a minute before he launched into a flurry of blows on someone.  They fought and eventually the PK’s prey sprinted off.   The PK was somewhere around 60-70% hp and this is when I made my move.  I began shooting magic missiles at him to chip away at his HP and get his attention.  He didn’t like this because he started sprinting right for me.  I proceeded to back up and fire spells at him while walking backwards to increase the stamina he would have to use to get to me.

When he was in striking distance I switched to my 2 handed sword and began a strafing pattern around him.  I switched to my horizontal strike (t key) because it would allow me to swing my sword and hit him as he strafed, instead of having to be more accurate with a vertical strike.  I was landing almost every hit and he was missing all of his!  After about 30 seconds he was down to just under half.  I was down only a few percent.  At this rate I would no doubt win.  He began to sprint away and I pulled out my wand and began casting on him again. Bam bam bam!  I hit him with spell after spell.  Then he suddenly started moving slower.  His stamina was depleted! Bwahahah!  I had been conserving most of the fight, aside from the stamina taken to cast and swing my sword, and this allowed me to close the distance to get a few hits on his back.

The PK fell to the ground and his character screamed pitifully “Help me!”.   I swung my sword around in the air and stuck it down into him with my gank skill.  Victory was mine!  I was shaking at this point and could hardly grip my mouse.  My heart thumped in my chest.   Once the adrenaline rush began to subside, I noticed that I gained faction with my own people and the ability to loot his corpse.  I opened it up and inside was dozens of items ranging from rusty chestplates to bows.  I took everything this guy had and ran back to Sanguine to bank my victory.  My first 1v1 real PK experience ended in a huge success.  PvP in Darkfall is really exhilerating, and I’m craving more.

Later in the day when the servers were back up from a patch I was able to get together with four other members from my clan (Haven) to do some exploration and group hunting.  We wandered North West of Sanguine and came upon a burned forest.  Suddenly in the distance we saw this enormous skeleton (Giant Skeleton) running at us!  It was wielding this large 2h sword/axe/scythe looking thing.  WHAM!  It hits me and I lose 25% HP.  !@$#!  I start to sprint away and my guildies start shooting spells at it to kite it.  I turn when the thing is off me and start firing spells of my own.   We ping pong the Giant Skeleton until it is dead.  The loot consisted of several crafting materials.  Before we could rest to full again we saw TWO Giant Skeletons in the distance running at us.  Were they hunting us?!  All of us were down to half HP in mere seconds and we had to kite them apart.  It was then that one of my clanmates (Terminus) had the brains to pull out a shield and actually use the block skill (V key).  It mitigated almost all the damage done by the skeleton, but drained stamina at a killer rate.   Using this strategy we were able to all pull out shields and take turns tanking the thing while the others wittled away.  The Giant Skeleton hunting event was a huge success.

Even later yesterday night we formed another clan party and headed out south of Sandbrook (a starting town) across a river to explore.  We walked for a good ten minutes when we came upon this enormous floating landmass.  I’m serious when I say enormous, which does the size of this thing no justice at all.  It was ridonkulous in size.  It had a floating platform that circled it and came down to a platform.  We boarded the floating platform and headed up into the sky.  When we reached the top we saw a huge tree and hanging from it appeared to be nests.  My first thought was “Giant Bugs?  Drakes? something with wings?”  No, none of those.   The mobs were actually Water Elementals.  We engaged them to see what they were made of and found them to be the most difficult thing yet.  These mobs were clever.  They ran away and healed and took turns running in and out to fight us.  It was really quite alarming to see the strategy these mobs used, especially since the Goblins at the starting town were more like chickens with their heads cut off instead of ‘intelligent’.

Overall the group hunts were a huge success in my opinion.  We scoped out more of the human territory and found several more places that we want to explore later on.  We earned a bit of loot but most of all had a lot of fun experiencing group dynamics unlike anything we had played before.  It felt weird at first, but I’m starting to come around to the extremely random elements of group combat.  Player truly have to adapt to the situation and not pidgeonhole themselves into one playstyle.   You won’t find someone being the healer, someone being the tank, and others being DPS.  It took all of us to play multiple roles (none of us healers since none of us had the skill to heal others yet) to achieve victory.

If you have any questions feel free to ask and I will answer them in the comments section.  I still need to figure out a good way to take screenshots (might use fraps) and record video.

  • Very interesting stuff. I like the fact that it requires thinking and adaptation. That’s something many MMOs lack with preset classes etc. Hopefully this remains fresh and doesn’t gain a gimmicky feel after a while. I don’t imagine it would, but if the AI has ANY sort of predictable pattern then players will pick up on it and it’ll lose its edge. Here’s to hoping that sort of stuff doesn’t happen.

    I do like that the combat gave you an adrenaline rush. There’s nothing better in a game than feeling it and it having meaning. Your reviews are certainly making me wish I was able to play at this time. Alas I’ll still likely wait and see how things seem in a few weeks or so because often games have that new “scent” to them that masks all the downfalls.

  • Keen, you’re making it difficult to resist trying to grab a copy of Darkfall.

    But I think I’ll still hold off for now… Good write up.

  • Keen, man. I’ve been following the blog now since a little while before WAR launched, I played that for about 6 weeks then decided it wasn’t quite what I wanted. I certainly cannot say I am a hardcore, veteran PvP’er but I have got stuck into PvP in every MMO I’ve played that has had it; and for the most part I’ve been successful in my endeavours.

    It needs to be said that these blogs you’re writing are absolutely critical right now, coming from a player who wants to give Adventurine the benefit of the doubt and subscribe to play this game. Sure, the launch is a complete mess and they are showing their lack of experience, but with the various forums (official and the likes of mmorpg.com) packed full of generally useless threads and a lot of whining and flaming going on, content like this that you are writing is standing out and proves that not everything is as bad as it may seem.

    I’d like to declare this series of blog posts be upgraded to DEFCON WIN.

    Keep up the Darkfall blogging mate, my Google Reader account now loves you. 😉

  • Gotta say i’m eagerly awaiting more and more of your posts concerning this game! Can’t wait to see some pic’s and video.

  • It’s my pleasure. All I can give you guys at this point are my impressions of the game as I am experiencing it first hand. I wasn’t able to beta test and I haven’t a clue what the future holds, but right now I am enjoying the game and hope to continue enjoying the game down the road. Since Darkfall has no “end-game” and the content you experience is all up to you, it stands to reason that months down the road things won’t be too different.

  • Great i love to read what you think of DF.Im waiting to get a copy so the blog is all i got.As for you knowing the future there is no way so no worries all you can do is write what you think A.T.M. Its like buying a knew car and friends ask you if you like it and you say yes blah blah ect. two weeks later engine blows if those guys ask you now if you like the car there will be alot dif. answer lol……. thanks again for the work

  • Keen, I’m really wondering what you think about macroing in the game. Does it seem necessary to compete, is it rampant, etc..? Do you see people shooting magic missiles into trees over and over?

  • Keen – Can you describe the stamina and Hit point dynamic a bit. Do you have 100 points of stamina that regenerates slowly out of combat… or however it works. I hear a lot about stamina and how key is it, but have yet to see a “nuts and bolts” review on it.

  • @Kerzon: Macroing is not necessary. Macroing can get you ahead, but at the same time it completely destroys the spirit of the game. Why do it? I don’t get it, never will. I’ll work for my skills because that’s content. Aventurine frowns on unattended macroing.

    @bluefile2: I have like 240 something stamina or more. It drains when I swing my sword, cast a spell (drains mana too), sprint, jump, and that stuff. Wearing heavier armor affects your stamina. It regens when out of combat – i don’t know if resting improves the regen rate (probably does). Without stamina you can not sprint and can not attack or cast spells in any way. It’s absolutely crucial. HP is HP. Mana is mana.

    @FenixStryk: I’ll try!

  • Back to the macroing issue Keen… Any word on how much of it is going on? Is there anything that the devs really can do about it (besides players ratting out other players)?

    I hate seeing games like this screwed up beyond all belief because of cheaters.

    Jason (resident drunken idiot of Channel Massive who likes to sign his comments because it makes them 10x more valid)

  • Great series of writeups. I especially enjoyed the group questing stories “from the front lines”. Keep it up!

  • stop making me want to play! arg! sounds like it was fun, but it really shows that this game seems to be centered around playing with groups of players. Soloers will probably get fed up and quit early.

  • It’s nice to hear about the adrenaline rush. I’ve experienced the rush only once, when I was ambushed in WoW. It was by far the best 10 seconds I’ve ever had in an MMO. It was the reason I decided to buy WAR. But the only time I’ve ever felt anything CLOSE to an adrenaline rush in WAR is when I went looking for trouble in the enemy’s PvE areas.

    Maybe I’ll give Darkfall a try.

  • @Punk

    There is cheating in every game. I have seen speed hackers in WoW and WAR as well. All you can really do is catch them on video and report em.

  • I like the way this game is taking, did you already have a chance to get a profession Keen?
    what are the available profession? Does it worth?

    I dont have a good computer (P4 2.6,1G memo, FX5200) do you thing it gona be a problem?

  • What of Warhammer is that on hold or you still playing it until you find out if your going to be only sticking to this game until the next big thing?

  • Aside from the graveyard being camped this write-up makes Darkfall sound very intriguing indeed. On the one hand I’m keen to jump in, on the other I’m wanting to wait to see if you’re as enthusiastic two weeks from now 😉

  • I’m wondering how you compare the fun factor between DF and WAR.

    btw, Thanks for the articles you do .. I look forward to them everyday.

  • Keen,

    please tell us what it’s like to lose a PvP fight and get everything looted. On Mordred (DAoC) you didn’t get looted yet as we saw the population peaked early then started the downward trend to nothing. In order to prove myself wrong I must see reports from people who lose at PvP and how they recover, how much fun they have, etc.

    Winners tend to have fun, losers not so much.

    Thanks. 🙂

  • @Jason: Some people are macroing. Some are/were speed hacking according to rumor. They’ve been getting banned. Aventurine just posted their official stance on it.

    @Wreck: I’m still deciding what I want to do as far as crafting. Until then I’m just harvesting stuff (Which everyone can do).

    @Rivers: My WAR account is still active. I’m waiting to see how Darkfall turns out as well as how WAR turns out over the next few months. I’m not happy with Tier 4 and how it turned out at all. If the Land of the Dead can fix WAR, I’ll be playing it actively again.

    @Woop: I would suggest that you wait if you have any hesitation. Darkfall is a game of complete conviction. The first time you die and lose everything will be very hard on you.

    @Zar: Two entirely different games. WAR is more of a pickup and play and see HUGE progress. DF takes a ton of work but the fun comes from the immersiveness and the ruleset/gameplay that make it unlike anything else out there.

    @Mark: Look for that later today in my impressions part 4. I recently died and lost everything. But, in a game like Darkfall loot is easy to come by and I’ll

  • “Since Darkfall has no ‘end-game’ and the content you experience is all up to you, it stands to reason that months down the road things won’t be too different.”

    “Please stop making this game look so appealing, Keen.”

    I think what’s appealing to most of us is that “new MMO smell” (i.e. new types of experiences, etc). In this case though, Darkfall’s game mechanics sound truly different than most other MMO’s many of us have experienced.

    Still, Keen, I’m wanting to hear more of a comparative review instead, one in which you highlight issues with other MMOs that Darkfall seems to overcome (in effect, using your vast past experiences to review it). I realize the game is still new to you but, going forward, this is what I’m mainly interested in hearing.

    For example, starting zones in most level-based MMO’s are quickly left behind, yet Darkfall isn’t a level-based game. Based upon what you’ve experienced so far, do you think you’ll still see a “need” to come to this starting zone once you’ve explored it all? Are there resources or services unique to the area that will make you want to return to it again and again (i.e. trades people in town, material drops off creatures, etc)?

    With regards to well-geared opponents, I’m still assuming though that if you have a group of four or more new players, they should still be able to engage and kill a well-geared opponent (lets say someone with good gear vs uber gear). Is this correct? Again in level-based MMOs this is pretty much impossible, since the high level gear makes the high level player almost impervious to hits.

    With regards to drops, especially off monsters, are you finding items that don’t seem to have a use, yet may in the future?

    Does everyone just sell their stuff in town to a merchant for funds or are people trying to sell directly to players to make a bit of extra money? Or is equipment so difficult to get (and death can occur frequently) that most people just keep extra gear as a spare backup?

    And finally, I’m definitely interested in hearing about caster vs caster combat (i.e. strategies, movement, etc). In effect, since you’re actually having to direct your shots, does it feel more like what you’d see in a movie (i.e. spells narrowly missing you, clash of magic beams striking one another, etc).

  • So sales are open today??? and the forum crashed right after I read that update 🙁 anyone have any insight on that?

  • @Nollind: It’s tough to compare Darkfall to other game’s mechanics because it’s so very different. I’ll try later on once I have more of a feel for how the game plays in a week.

    Starting areas are useful all the time. My starting town is still my bindpoint and my base of operations days into launch. That’s a first for me. Even in Vanguard and the old EQ you would have left your starting town by now. Not in Darkfall (Unless you WANT to). These starter towns are very, very stable places to conduct trade and much more.

    A well geared opponent would stand no chance against 4 other people (assuming they were at least geared and had skills raised). At this point, I’ve never come across ANYONE who could 1v4, let alone 1v3. 1v2… maybe but doubtful. This will change as people raise skills and get better gear, but I don’t see it ever being a 1v4 possibility.

    Goblins are dropping a lot of gear you will want to use early on in your life. However, you’ll abandon it after a couple days and upgrade to better stuff, whether it be crafted or found. They do drop crafting materials though like leather and they can can skinned for enchanting materials like eyeballs.

    People sell their stuff to npc venders in town once they have a nice supply of backup gear (I have 3-4 sets of backup gear). They peddle their crafted or found goods in the race alliance channel and conduct business transactions via tells with other players if they want. I haven’t seen player merchants yet. Nothing appears to be “hard to get” yet, in the grand scheme of things. Mounts cost 250g (I can get that in 30 min).

    Caster vs. caster is all about knowing where to lead your spells. People strafe, run, move, and avoid your spells. It feels real, and with that you can assume that jumping, ducking, strafing, swimming under water, etc, will all come into play.

    @Bluefile2: Yes, “tonight” in Greece (so any minute now?).

  • I am currently playing a dwarf in the game. Someone asked if playing as a healer is viable in Darkfall. I believe it is. I purchased the “Lay on Hands” spell for 100 gold yesterday. It is a short range single target heal spell that requires a reagent (resin). The spell is about 50% stronger than a self heal spell, and has a shorter cool down. You must aim the spell at your target, so you can miss or even heal an enemy.

    I was in a group of four yesterday. We were killing these humanoid npcs that were decked out in full plate. It took the four of us to drop one. We ended up getting jumped by a group of four humans that were not willing to share this spawn camp with us. I did nothing but heal my teammates and we killed the 4 of them with 0 deaths of our own.

    I suggest that those that want to play a healer/group support roll should not neglect your shield block skill. Once others see that you are healing, they will focus on you. At this point I suggest equipping a shield and one hander to mitigate the damage (shield block negates 90% damage). You will go from healer to tank, but taking the focused damage will still allow you to do your job of keeping your teammates alive while they mow through the opposition.

    I am absolutely loving this game. I can’t get enough of it. Even the pve is fun and rewarding. I give the npc AI a 9 out of 10 in Darkfall. I would give WoW’s AI a 4, and WAR’s AI a 2.

    Avoid this game if you do not like pvp and cannot handle dying. The death penalty in this game is severe. It really sucks to have a full bag of items, that you have been looting from npcs and players, only to be killed and lose it all. Insult to injury is when you spawn naked with a huge floating shield above your head (invulnerability buff…the buff may as well say, “look at me, I just got pwned”.

  • A quote from the Darkfall team regarding macroing.

    “Anyone macroing within the tower protected areas will be warned once, and then kicked. Repeated violations could result in a ban. Spamming spells or any other disruptive macroing activity within the tower protected areas will be kicked without warning. Repeated violations could result in a ban.

    Unattended macroing could get you kicked anywhere in the world depending on the situation. You engage in it at your own risk.

    Any use of third party programs which modify or alter the game including cheats, hacks, mods, bots will instantly result in a permanent ban. There will be no appeal. No excuses such as “I was just testing” will be accepted. We will detect and enforce aggressively.

    Thank you,

    The Darkfall Team”

  • Good stuff. Thanks for the info Keen and Wickidd.

    From what I’m hearing, the game mechanics are definitely up my alley. I mean the beauty of the system is that part of it is based upon the player’s own skills (i.e. strafing, knowing how to attack and cast well, etc). So even if you create a completely new character, your own skills are maintained utilizing that new character.

    Guess the only thing for me is still the “drive” or “purpose” to the whole game. That’s where I find the “Society & Clans” section of the Darkfall FAQ extremely interesting, as it implies clans can partake in “conquest, wars, and ruling kingdoms” (with additional hints about “politics” which I’ve never heard of in an MMO before either).

  • im still on the fence.. but leaning towards a purchase.

    if i can bring the one MMO buddy i have left from my WoW days to DF with me, ill join in a heartbeat. but to me the thought of tackling this game alone is intimidating, since im coming from the sheltered gameplay of WoW, and have been there for some 5 years(only recently quit, been off and on for the past year)

    how do you think the world would open up for new players, who are coming in alone? is it easy to make friends and join a clan?

  • Very easy to make friends. People have to rely on each other in this game and if you can find the ones who also need a friend that you’ll find that you can become real close real fast. Joining clans is also easy – there are dozens recruiting every day.

    (Heck, we’re recruiting)

  • Your 1v1 experience sounds exactly like my 1v1 experiences in AoC, thrilling and there’s no telling how the outcome will be, heart pumping and adrenaline flowing. Problem was that at later levels it just turned into 2-5 people ganking me while I was at mobs or a NPC, the 1v1s just stopped happening.