Ok, so first of I just want to say that Darkfall does not suck, even if some could claim that. Mechanical and in terms of polish it is lacking in many areas and if I was going to judge it based on the standard areas with a numerical system it would fall into the maybe 4 range.. So technically speaking it’s mediocre at best but if that was all we were basing mmo’s on then your swtor and GW2 would have been a massive successes and brought the genre forwards.
But they aren’t and they didn’t because mmo’s at their core are more then the graphical fidelity and complexity of mechanics. What Darkfall does well, and what most mmo’s miss is that all encompassing feeling you get while exploring the world. A myriad of emotions mixed in with gameplay that make it better then the sum of its parts and moving towards that one massive goal of being a virtual world. In Darkfall I finally feel like an adventurer, a glorious and pathetic adventurer being apart of the world and carving out my own niche in the way I so choose. It creates a wonderfully rich feeling experience from the most basic and mundane tasks and promotes growth rather than completion.
The world exudes excitement as you really don’t know what it has in store for you. Firstly it is massive, truly massive and there is much out there to explore at first; monster spawns, materials, lakes and oceans, waypoints, and towns (pre-built and player created). Lots of wonderful and interesting areas that are often just as appealing as they are frightening. The world keeps surprising me so far as well, I had originally discounted it as mostly dull and uninspired, the abundance of plains and similar tree tops made me think this but it is honestly more then that. Even with it’s simplistic graphical style the world invokes a sense of wonder as what these more boring parts do is highlight the amazing or unnatural points you come across. The world contains a lot of mystery and while most of the time it is the exploration of the familiar Unknown the interspersed points of an alien nature really make me incredibly interested to see more.
What’s more is that the nature of players in game add a sense of tension to the environment, you can’t help but feel a little apprehensive when seeing a silhouette on the horizon or traveling through some brush nearby. You never know their intentions and this adds to the thrill of exploration. Out there alone or with a group it really can become a rather eerie experience, every sound invites caution and every turn some danger in its own way. Being brave or cowardly, terrified or stern it is really a mixed bag of emotions on a constant basis.
Many of the more valuable areas in the world are already being coveted by certain groups, and for the adventurer you don’t want to be near those but occasionally you have to, the rewards can be greater here to accommodate the danger but often times it is an area to just pass through. The good thing though is that there are still many relatively unclaimed areas of more valuable spots out in the world and because you’ve worked more to find these areas the exploration and acquisition feels more rewarding… and honestly, more enjoyable.
Where Darkfall truly fails is not the lack of polish in the world or even the combat system (although that is a big part), it is the relative insular and hostile nature of the community. Due to the nature and maybe even partly the community I don’t see as many positive encounters out there in the world, everyone is either out to kill you or just as skittish as yourself and getting a response out of them seems rather hard at times. The conflict over resources and over territory right now is being taken to an extreme because of the need to maximise prowess that it is a rather unfriendly place to most.
People say to join a guild, right now I sometimes go with a few of my guildies but even if in a guild or not there seems little community occurring. Guilds are out there only to benefit their own right now and the conflict surrounding territories really isn’t conducive to communicating with others. It just doesn’t seem like a community that is growing in the right direction to accommodate the growth of the world and establish new connection, it is overly hostile to most and this is to it’s detriment. The connections people make not just within the guild but out are a wonderful thing, in GW2 because of the nature of WvW our guild has expanded to meet and talk with many others on a regular basis, we are building new relationships and larger communities all the time which makes it have longer lasting potential. This is a community that is corroding the games potential from within, yes there should be griefers, and territorial conflict is a must as are the random fights that just happen but there should be an equal balance to this.
You don’t have to be an asshole to like hardcore PvP, or even be good at it (that’s painful clear).. unfortunately it draws those personality types like a moth to flame and it doesn’t seem to be moderated effectively in game and on the forums leaving it a rather formidable place for new players and potential fans, and even those looking for more.