So much has happened the past few days in the game that I can’t possibly keep track of when it happened. I’ve been playing whenever I have free time, which has been more often than I had anticipated given all that’s been happening in my RL. Good news out of it all is that Graev comes home today (in about an hour actually). The surgeon was able to get out all the stones from his pancreas area, the gallbladder, and fix up all the other issues there. He’s ready to come home after nearly 5 days in the Hospital to play some Darkfall!
The last time I left off I believe my clanmates and I had just arrived in the Eleven area after a nice long trek from the Human lands. We all rode on horseback which cut the trip down to about an hour and a half or so with only a few stops for safety and scenery along the way. The world is gorgeous. The terrain is very well done and everything feels “real worldish”, if you get me. The world is very empty though. There are not many mobs running around. In fact, had we not taken the scenic tour we probably could have avoided seeing any mobs altogether. Mixed feelings on this one. I like that I don’t have to worry about tripping over mobs everywhere like I did in WoW. The mob placement in Darkfall is closer to Oblivion. You have to actually seek out and find the mobs, or else you don’t find them at all. It works though, and I think if it were any other way then the focus of the game might shift.
The elf lands were pretty okay. The layout of their cities is really something. The design of their tree villages and the ambiance it creates can not be felt anywhere else in the world. I got a bit tired of the layout though, since everything was so spread out in the cities. When I’m in town I really want things to be simple and accessible, which they were in the Human lands but just not in the Elf. The hunting in the Elf lands was far superior to the Human though. The Elf Land wilderness banks/outposts were much more accesible and had camps of mobs nearby. This made them feel like the oldschool hubs where people gathered for support, socializing, and trade. Some exploring of the area yielded a desert not too far off (about 8 minutes run). In this desert we found Gnolls which were a challenge if we didn’t kite them a bit. The highlight of this exploration was the Flesh Golem! It was this massive creature that suddenly came charging at us from across the desert. As he ran at us we had more than enough time to pull out our bows and staves to begin casting and we had the thing to half HP before it even reached us. It felt like we were trying to fend off a large beast and the whole situation is one that we still talk about on ventrilo to those who weren’t there as though we slayed some epic beast.
PvP in the Elf Lands… it’s brutal. The Alfar and Mahirim do regular raiding parties. You can’t really blame them though, after all who wouldn’t want to cut a few elves down amirite? We took our licks here but we dished them out too. We have killed several Alfar groups over the past few days and even stolen a few of their mounts right from under their noses as they tried to mount and escape (heh heh heh). The highlight of our PvP adventures here had to be the player city we came upon. IMAGE clan and Redemption (Ork/Mahirim people) clan claimed a city about 10-15 minutes away from the Elf starting towns. We came up to the town one night and found most all of them AFK (unattended) macroing by running into walls and casting spells over and over. We did our civic duty and cut them all to pieces earning ourselves some great faction. After we had killed about 10 of them though they started coming back from AFK and a few of their geared members showed up. We only had 5 people there and they now had about 15. We made the mistake of sticking around when we should have just ran away. We died, and we have suspicions one of them was speed hacking (I have it fraps’d), but it was still fun and worth it. We promptly added them to our KoS list and chuckle ever time TheMercs declare war on IMAGE.
Yesterday we decided to pack up our bags and make the trip to the Dwarf lands. It took less time (about 45 minutes on horseback) to get there because it was a diagonal cut instead of a horizontal continental cross and the trip was completely safe. When we arrived the first thing I noticed is how different the area felt. It was a harsher climate and much more mountainous. The area feels very “Norse” and has a lot of dwarvish architecture that makes the area feel really masculine and sturdy.
One of our clan members (Roake Battleforge) has been mapping the dwarvish area for some time and sharing his cartographic skills with us, which has made the transition to this land much easier. We know where everything is and we have been able to adapt very quickly to our new home. I did some exploring last night on horseback and found several large camps of undead dwarves, these alien looking things, bears, Hobgoblins, and all sorts of mobs that will keep us busy for days to come.
All of my exploring had nothing on what we found lastnight though. We came upon this massive underground cavern (location and details I will not give as not to give away our secret spot!) that was full of higher level undead. These undead were dropping rank 40 weapons and lots of cash. We spent a great deal of time last night hunting these and earning money for our clan bank so that we can claim a clan city. It takes at least 4 of us to kill these without risk of death and we had a few mishaps lastnight. Overall it was the best PvE experience I’ve had in the game yet and I was really floored that we had found such a cool place.
I’m loving the pacing of the game. After spending slightly over a week playing, I look back and feel like I have accomplished soooo much, yet I haven’t at the same time. Someone could start playing tomorrow and catch up to me very quickly in terms of accomplishment and even start grouping and hunting with me immediately. The tortoise beats the hare in this game. Working towards your own goals at your own pace makes playing the game really relaxing. It’s reignited that feeling I had when I played Everquest for the first time and leveled my first character from 1-50 without knowing anything. In the end I could have done it faster, but taking it all in was something that I really thought would never happen again.
The game has obvious flaws which you have heard about by now. People have been cheating (Speed hacking) and exploiting mob pathing which Aventurine claims they’re now getting a handle on. This has really bothered me, and others I’m sure, because it does hurt the spirit of the game. But overall these clowns who want to abuse the game are not the majority. In fact, they are the vast minority – and they’re only going to ruin the game for themselves and become the first to say “I’m bored”. I have come across ONE speed hacker and never once seen a person with gear way better than mine. If they’re out there, they are hiding or off fighting eachother and the people who are playing legit are not being impacted by them. That’s no excuse, don’t get me wrong, but I feel I must say that so far it’s been a non issue for me personally. It will be an issue eventually if it’s not fixed, and exponentially worse as time goes on.
Darkfall has been a pleasant surprise. I thought there would be a lot more that I would have to cope or deal with … but I’m overjoyed that there just isn’t. Even though I was anticipating the game’s launch and knew all about it, it has come out of left field and pleasantly surprised me. The mechanics and style might be an acquired taste, but this small company of about 30 people has turned out a product far superior in so many ways to most of the games released in the past four years. I just hope we don’t have to wait seven years for the next company to make a game their way, instead of what they hope will sell 11.5 million copies.
Below is a sort of introduction video with audio commentary where I show a few things in the game. Hopefully youtube gets around to making a HD version of it. I’ll be adding more videos over the next few days.