The Journey Continues: Darkfall

uggh where to begin…

It seems to me that Darkfall has fallen prey to the same sort of issue that face most new indie sand boxes, nothing is polished enough. A result usually of not enough time, money, and man power that results in a half assed game at best. You can see this lack through the world; blocky and limited landscape, graphical glitches, awful animations, clunky combat and just very little content. Darkfall fails in pretty much every area, the funny thing to is even comparing it to games of the last decade it doesn’t do that well.

This is puzzling though as this isn’t their first rodeo, they have developed and run a game,the same game previously so I just can’t understand why this version is still so lacking. You would think mechanically that there would have been vast improvements too, well everything but no. It’s like they just wiped everything from the previous iteration and started from scratch, metaphorically and literally and learned very little from the previous system.

First impressions while not exactly indicative of an mmo’s true fun do tend to leave a lasting impression and the first here is “why the hell did I waste my money”. I never played the original Darkfall so I don’t know a true comparison but if it was anything like this I now know why it was the nichest of niche and it isn’t that it’s a free for all griefing murderhouse with an abundance of trolls.

Let’s start from the beginning.

The character creator screams lazy or incompetent developers.. Just wow, If you can’t figure out how to design 3d models stick to sprites. Now that probably sounds rather harsh, I have no idea the complexity of the task but what I do know is the many alphas and such of nameless failed sandboxes throughout the years that had much better avatars then this. While there are different male and female base options every other difference between the races seems like some very minor cosmetic change, Orcs are green with a funny jaw, some feathery race, some ugly old race.. they’re all so unremarkable (they weren’t before though it seems). Some height, same build, same general face structure. And then there are no choices beyond mere cosmetic changes to make your avatar unique, no variations on the face model like eyes nose, jawline, and mouth just hair and accessories.

DFUW 2013-04-21 08-20-10-41

colours and feathers.. oh what wonderful choice

Now this could be forgiven if it was in order to create stronger mechanics and a more fluid responsive combat system but it feels like the complete opposite. Movement and combat is incredibly clunky. Parts of animations seem like there missing all the time which gives movement and combat a weird jittery vibe kind of like your fps has dropped, aiming is just pathetic as the reticule is very unresponsive and even in melee hit detection seems bad. I can be swinging a large axe through an enemy model for it to miss, yet the ai has no problems connecting remarkably well against me regardless of movement. I’ve heard tell that this is an aussie ping issue but I’m not entirely convinced. We have an abundance of excellent and remarkably responsive fps mmo’s, even action rpg’s now that have the ability to accurately record the areas being hit, so this not even having an appropriate swinging arc to weapons is awful. A lot more work for ranged weapons needed on top of this as this is probably why warriors are so popular right now.

The radial wheel is nowhere near complex as people claim either, with the use of q and e it is just like cycling through 2 skill bars and with the use of keybinding you don’t even need to cycle these. It is just not that interesting and seems poorly designed in that it’s only purpose is to confuse those new to the game and annoy most everyone else. From an Elementalist point of view as well the skills seem rather generic and lackluster, cycle between big hitters on the right and regulars on the left… most times just spam number one because it’s so bloody hard to hit anything.

At least with a terrible combat system they do have a rather robust crafting system for you to spend your time on. Gathering while rather time-consuming with its abundance of failed messages at first feels rewarding. There are dozens of different material types that pop up for each gathering type that pop up now and then that, I assume are all useful for something. Finding that rare node is exhilarating as well. Most nodes have a set amount available that can be completely used up and gathering that all for your own, your guilds use or for trade feels rewarding. Trade is abundant right now as well, chat looking for sellers and buyers in chat is with such regularity that you would think it is the games absolute focus..a large world trading simulator.

DFUW 2013-04-21 09-33-25-15

The first Monster Spawn

Because of this focus on materials, the lengths people go to gather, and the rarity of some of these it really highlights what makes Darkfalls FFA PvP nature so utterly mesmerising, the sirens call bringing home its people. The conflict such things cause with regularity has created some very interesting gameplay experiences whether it be running away from a gank group with a bag full of expensive ingredients or whether you’re the ones waiting in ambush. It feels amazing during these times and is quite the rush of adrenalin whether you win, lose, or just survive but right now those moments seem obscured and hazzy..kind of like a midday sun through a thick fog, you know it’s there but it’s impossible to make it out and enjoy its wonderful warmth. In fact it makes you colder just seeing that glimpse.

It seems right now that the team they have is just not experienced and talented enough to fully realise this vision of theirs, they have had a big chance before and were lucky enough to get another shot and yet it is still just so raw and incomplete. There are peeks of brilliance here and there, some of which like the prowess system that actually get completed and polished (and it is a remarkable system) but nothing else here is worth discussing except as maybe a warning to other would be indie mmo companies. I am going to keep playing for a little while here and there to see what other shiny little nuggets of experiences are out there in Darkfall buried in excrement but it’s honestly hard to be excited for more.

So I guess the journey that we are all on (us murderous folks that is) continues for a PvP sandbox (not eve) , because Darkfall is in all probability not it.

One thought on “The Journey Continues: Darkfall

  1. Pingback: Listmas 2013: Favourite MMO Experiences | Healing the masses

Comments are closed.