This week I had the rare (as of late) opportunity to put a good deal of time into both Darkfall and Warhammer Online. I’ve known it all along and said it a few times before that these two games play very different from eachother. Playing them at the same time, or rather in the same day for a good deal of time, really reinforced a few things that I want to share.
Last week I asked for your help in deciding where (as in what server) I should play. My decision came down to Phoenix Throne (where I have an 18 Choppa) or Dark Crag (where I have a 37 Shaman and a 30 Squiggy(Who I thought was ~35 but I mixed up with another char)). With your help I was able to decide on going with Dark Crag for now because I would be able to enjoy the leveling content of LotD with a Squigherder and the “end-game” content with a Shaman. I joined up with a great guild on Dark Crag and I’m now working my way towards 40 with my Shaman. Yesterday alone I made over 20% of a level and an entire realm rank (now rr36).
The majority of my WAR time yesterday was spent defending keeps and fortresses. On Dark Crag the Order have Destruction completely outnumbered to the point where they can push two zones at once and succeed. I wasn’t aware of how bad it had gotten in my absence – when I still played on Dark Crag Destruction had Order running away every day. Order made the first North American “legit” (?) King Kill and now Destruction is in really bad shape; demoralized, outnumbered, without city dungeons, and without strong alliances. I admit, I’m worried that when Land of the Dead comes out that Destruction will never have the chance to own it. We were successfully able to defend a Fortress last night and hold the Order zerg back, which should give people confidence that during prime time we’re able to win.
The 1.3 patch coming soon is going to make a ton of changes to the game. AoE’s are being nerfed across the board for everything from Choppas to Shaman AoE heals. I think that it will be better for the game overall with these changes, but they have me scared. Mythic has a track record of doing a scalpel’s work with a hatchet. This could either turn the game towards a more meaningful pvp experience with balance or send the game into a tailspin that takes months to recover from. My Shaman’s class mechanic is being completely reworked and all that I can hope for is that he’s fun after the change.
Ironically, my time spent in Darkfall isn’t all that different. Our alliance’s capital city was sieged at 3am (EST) in the morning last night and lost to a group notorious for exploits early in the server’s life. I wasn’t able to stay awake to see it go down, but from what I’m told the people who came to help ended up turning on us in the end and it was a done deal. We’ve had some great pvp in the past few days though. The glass in half full on this one for me. I enjoy the smaller pvp in Darkfall (as I do in most games) and being forced to live out in the wild (which is what we decided to do voluntarily, even though we own a Hamlet) makes for some interesting pvp. As a result of losing the property I imagine our alliance will be working together to cause some real havoc out in the world. We’re a solid bunch and all that most of them need is a little practice.
Haven (if you need a smaller guild of great friends check us out) is doing well. We’ve seen the effects of attrition on the game in our ranks but we’re managing at about 10-12 strong right now. The key for us is that we have friends. We run with another guild regularly where we’re able to muster up easily 15-20 which is a sizable force for hit and run tactics. The consensus among us is that Darkfal would benefit greatly from a new server where, after the exploits are fixed, players can finally start on an even footing and the game can be played how it was meant to be played.
Warhammer Online is fast and furious with non stop action. If you want to fight other players all that you have to do is click the scenario button and within seconds you’re whisked away to fight. Maybe it’s the lack of mez from DAOC or the overpowered AoE’s, but WAR feels really like a clusterfluck of chaos everywhere. Intended or not, the individual’s contribution is almost lost completely. In Darkfall, the individual is everything. Even in a big 200 vs. 200 fight the individual matters. If you don’t pull your weight in Darkfall it’s apparent and you’re going to die and probably cost your team the victory.
Even in smaller fights the importance of the individual in Darkfall is seen as more important than WAR. This is because of the class system. In WAR a good healer can make up for some shortcomings in his team or a DPS who knows how to really play can end a fight quicker. Darkfall’s skill system has essentially made it so that everyone fills every role. You are your own healer, you are the DPS, you are the tank, you are the caster, you are the melee, and you’re all of them at once. Whether you consider this a positive thing or not for Darkfall (it can be both) it’s different. Personally, I like playing a role and playing it to the best of my ability. This is where I wish that Darkfall’s skill system really mattered. I wish that I could build my character in Darkfall to be a heavy melee where people on the battlefield would say “okay here comes a heavy melee character – look at his plate armor” but instead everyone sorta looks the same and you never know what the enemy is going to do.
Where WAR is fast, furious, and a never ending source of action, Darkfall is slower. It could be a week before you see a huge siege or even two weeks as we saw this past month. You really have to go out and look for the action and make it happen. There is no incentive to fight in Darkfall unless you make your own incentives. Ideally there has to be a middle-ground between these two games where players can feel like action is out there to be had with a purpose. Ultimately, Darkfall suffers from being underdeveloped in some areas and released well before it was ready and WAR suffers from trying to be something it was not and always trying to recover from it. Both games feel like they’re two or three major (and I mean major) patches away from being really close to ideal. That’s a good thing.