There is something undeniably huge missing from Darkfall, something which in its absence makes the whole experience feel rather soulless. And now I know, Darkfall is a sandbox without the sand. That may sound a little weird at first but it perfectly explains the gameplay, community, and why it feels so lacking.
The box is there. They have many of the mechanics down that would make a decent sandbox game. It has a large world with many secrets spots and items of value that make you want to explore. There is a remarkable in-depth and complex crafting system that enables everything from gear, weapons and food. The focus away from the predominance of gear, ffa nature of combat, and decay on items has created an excellent economy that I believe will remain active and useful for the games life span.
Lastly and more importantly it has a free-form system of character progression, the ability to switch and progress how you please. The feat system is amazing for this because of how it rewards the gameplay and let’s players develop as they want but also how it offers a well made and customisable guide on what to do and how to progress for people who need it. Most sanbox’s miss this and to their detriment as starting off and gaining goals can be rather overwhelming for many.
But where is the sand. You craft gear, but due to its transient nature it really doesn’t have much importance, run around in the starter gear for you first 20+ hours and it really wouldn’t matter. You can maximise your points but attaining a decent build will happen in due time. There is a housing system that’s rather basic but unless housing is tied to far more important than a portal it seems meaningless as well. Taking over and destroying other people’s buildings and towns seems as meaningless as keep taking in gw2… Not to say it can’t be fun but it really isn’t a mechanic that has any depth.
Territory fights seem a little meaningless as you’re not really fighting to protect anything of value, most stuff seems to only have a time factor attached and the areas you fight over seem relatively similar in regards to resources. It’s never the only spawn, or node and there are many other places available to build on. The system also doesn’t really support large clan battles very well, mechanics and engine seem to limit it plus there is once again no real point to these battles other then bloodshed.
There is just very little world building and world-changing involved in… well anything and that seems like a key part for a Sandbox. In the end what happens in Darkfall is pretty much what I imagine would occur at my kindy if you took away the sand from the sandpit – the kids would just go around whacking each other with shovels.
Most of the power leveling playerbase has just devolved into this pointless ganking so if all you have is random pvp fights and gank stories to look forward to what’s the point. Because of this I really see no reason to gear up, or acquire wealth… or play. There are a lot of polished games out there to get that same experience.. Hell I was ganking people in rift many eons ago, the combat in Tera made ganking and defending oneself thoroughly enjoyable in the open world, and then there are countless others.
Thus ends my play in Darkfall as, Like Azuriel of In An Age said, “it’s just not my thing.”