Darkfall: Day Two

The continuing adventures of David X. Messer. His mission: to try out Darkfall while paying for a month's subscription. This follows Day One.

There was a tiny moment of doubt in my mind as I started day two but that quickly went away after I did two things to help myself. The first of which was: I applied some tips I'd seen during my lunchtime googling. There's a really useful "Consolidated Newbies Tips, Guides and Links" thread in the Darkfall forums which solved my click dragging problem (see end of this post) and a suggestion that turning off all the shadows would improve life no end. You know what? If it wasn't for the UI reminding me, I could have actually forgotten what I was playing. The difference was remarkable.

For day two I had a couple of things in mind that I specifically wanted to do: to get to grips with combat a bit more and to join a Clan. I have a day job, so my gaming on a weeknight is limited to 2-3 hours max, so for today at least I wanted to cram as much as possible in. Oh, and it's always useful to actually play the game and have something useful to say when you're supposed to be blogging every day of your subscription.

As I'm sure you've heard, unless you've been spending all of your time playing WoW, the combat system in Darkfall is completely different to most MMOs out there. We're not in Kansas anymore. Let me start with how the mobs work before we move on to the difficult part.

As best I can describe the mobs in WoW are like hooded teenagers you see hanging around on street corners. They're not very bright, a sloth would probably be more motivation, and they have no particular loyalty to each other. Let me expand.

Mob combat in WoW mostly boils down thusly: Even in a confined area, the chances are you can pull one of your group of mobs away from the pack, and quite happily stand there and hit them until they're dead. Their hoodie mates will just stand there and do nothing.

Assuming the pack are feeling particularly motivated today and come at you en mass in, say, a pack of 3 they'll all quite happily stand there while you beat the crap out of them and then there's a vague chance that when they're nearly dead that the mob you're hitting might try and run away.

If you find a single roaming mob, again, no matter what combination of buttons you mash he's going to stand there while you beat the crap out of him, and there's a chance they might run away.

Mobs in Darkfall, are for lack of a better phrase, devious bastards. You may be wondering at this point why on earth I'm bothering with the NPC mechanics and why I'm not spending all my time ganking n00bs all night long. It's quite simply this. I figure if I can't even kill mobs effectively I've got no chance against actual players who have been playing the game for more than the 2 days I have. Also because the combat in DF is so completely different I wanted a chance to actually work out what's effective and what isn't. Also I sucked at the archery element and needed the practice.

Should, heaven forbid, one of your mobs should be standing at a distance and use a ranged attack on you, well you could be the next gymnast gold medalist but it's not going to matter in the slighest as that missile is going to hit you no matter how quickly you move out of the way.

Mob combat in Darkfall works like this:

If you spy a mob, and there are some other mobs there, and you try and peel one away... the rest of them will see you and might run toward you and help their friend. Or they might disappear behind some scenery and try and flank you, or they might stand there and fire arrows at you, or maybe they'll run off and fetch even more of their friends. They also won't just stand there and let you hit them. They'll run around you, reposition themselves behind you, even surround you. And because you can't run through other characters/mobs in DF, if that happens you'd better be good at combat.

If you spy a mob, and he's on his own, he won't run toward you. He'll stand there for a bit, fire arrows at you, move closer, fire arrows at you. Or maybe he'll try and rush you. Or maybe he'll fire arrows at you and then run behind some scenery and try and flank you. Or maybe he'll run off behind some scenery and then come back with three of his friends.

If you're standing there hitting a mob, in line of sight of some other mobs, they'll run over and help. Or maybe fire arrows at you. Or maybe run off behind some scenery and try and flank you.

If a mob uses a ranged attack against you, you can dodge. The bad news is mobs can dodge too. Oh, and did I mention sound travels in DF? So even if you're behind a bit of scenery they'll still hear you...

As I said, devious bastards.

To make matters slightly more complicated (or simpler, depending your point of view) combat is a bit more physical than most other MMOs. When you're using a bow the view switches to a FPS style view where you need to actually aim the bow. There's no auto targeting here. Also you need to take into account gravity so if you're aiming at something far off you need to aim above the mob etc. This is trickier than it sounds given how much the mobs move around, but doable.

I like my PC shooters, but I still found the archery difficult to start with but by the end of the evening I was quite happily mowing down mobs just using the bow. The limiting factor here seems to be arrows. While things like Goblins drop arrows, it's only every in small quantities and for someone as low level as me 20g for one arrow seems a bit expensive. I'll have to find a better way of stockpiling arrows.

When it comes to using bladed weapons as soon as you 'draw' your weapon the view switches to third person. To engage your mob you actually need to be right up close to your mob and be clicking the left mouse button.

Now, I'm told there's method to this and it's not just a case of spamming the mouse button but even being as careful as I was to try timing my moves, watching the mob to see if click right after he's just attacked, I couldn't work out what was the most effective way to go about close combat. I think I'll be reading up on the DF forum about that one, and I shall report back. Again though, after a couple of hours I was happy enough just button mashing which seemed to get me through.

During my evening hacking and slashing I was keeping an eye out on the default DF trade channels to see if any Clans were recruiting. I quickly found myself in a Clan, after a short distraction filling in a short forum application form, and then I started picking up some interesting information regarding weapons.

Someone in my Clan pointed out that I needed to be using something other than the basic weapon to gain skill points in particular weapon use. And here's where things get sketchy. The one handed swords I'd been looting off mobs had "Swords one handed" in red, so I'd just assumed that I needed to buy this skill from somewhere or I wouldn't be able to use the weapon. The weapons trainer in my starting city didn't seem to sell this skill. As it turns out, the game just let me equip the weapon anyway. I don't know whether it'll actually let me use it or not as I ran out of time but I'll report back on that tomorrow.

Errata on Day One, the first in an occasional series

My issue with the lag on click-dragging pretty much went away entirely after reading the following in the Darkfall newbie tips thread in the forum :


"Disable mouse smoothing. It's a HORRIBLE option that makes it feel like 300+ ping is added to your mouse movements"

Syncaine commented on my post yesterday to point out the lower left status text could be turned off, and indeed the option I needed was:

Options->Chat->Location of small onscreen text.

Posted by Drew Shiel at November 10, 2009 12:36 PM

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