Darkfall Day 30
David X. Messer's final Darkfall post... for now. And I'd like to thank David for his work on this over the past month and a bit; it's brought a great many visitors to the site, and I've really enjoyed reading it all myself.
Start any MMO (with the possible exception of WAR) and you're going to need a touch of paitence to get used to the UI. Initially I found the UI Darkfall an exercise in frustration. Everything seemed to take several more mouse clicks that it needed. Most of these things I managed to get over simply by repeated use so they became second nature and I could largely ignore them. Apart from the Journal that is. These days I just don't bother opening the Journal as it takes so long to navigate through it to get the information I want from it. Two simple pieces of information I wanted when I first started playing were what quests I was on and who from my Clan/Guild were logged in. I've no idea why Darkfall makes these simple things so difficult to get. It got the point where after about day three I stopped trying. You've probably already gathered I'm not a huge fan of Darkfall's UI.
As a player new to Darkfall there's no way I could have made it with a solo career. Too many of the mechanics are new to me and certainly if I wanted to get into any group action, this was my ticket. As luck would have it I fell in with a new mature Clan who were just starting up and everything fell into place. Once I'd joined a clan there was the wider support network of the Clans that we were allied with. From here this gave me access to the allied cities across the Darkfall map. The problem here was that there's no in-game way of seeing where the allied cities are. This is where another element of the Darkfall community comes in. There's the Darkfall political map which shows you where all the cities are across the world, and it colour codes them depending on who is allied with who. This seems like a really useful thing to have and without it it's really hit and miss when you're coming up to a city and you don't know whether you're allied with it or not until you get in range and can see whether they're shooting at you or not. Realistic? Sure, but a bit annoying if you're doing a spot of PVE.There is certainly PVE content in Darkfall, despite it being a PVP game. I found what little I saw of the quests to be pretty shallow, but I'd expected that. The starter quests were a great introduction to how to use the gathering skills and some basic mob quests that teach you the basics of combat and magic. The gathering/farming is a pretty interesting because the map in Darkfall is huge. It will take you upwards of 2 hours to cross the map and that's before you start on all those little islands. The PVE mobs vary from the easily soloable to the downright diabolical. Search youtube for the Kraken video and you'll see what I mean. I think I barely scratched the surface of what PVE there is, I didn't try any of the dungeons and in my experiences of the PVE mobs there didn't seem to be much of a gap between the easier mobs and the mobs where you need a group. Though as I say, I feel I barely scratched the surface there.
So the PVP then. I have to be upfront and say I didn't really experience a lot of PVP. Outside of raids on one of the cities I chose to hang around. The main thing I loved about 70% of the PVP I took part in was that most of it was melee. There aren't a lot of buttons to press, it's pretty simple. Which means it was very easy for me to at least contribute something to helping defend the city when we were attacked. As a new player it was a great feeling to actually be able to help out despite my relatively low skill level. After a couple of attacks by sea (!) it was quite easy to see what the potential is for large scale battles. And this brings me to an interesting point. Like EVE, the politics of Clan alliances, who holds what territories etc is all player driven. In battles to take control of areas the players themselves are shaping what the world becomes. So in WoW where you can take control of Wintergrasp, it doesn't actually mean very much. In Darkfall is means everything, you're contributing to the history of the game and that's a very powerful thing.
So anyway. Despite not trying a lot of PVP, in what is a PVP game, I still had a cracking time in what little PVP I did see. The whole dying thing and losing all of your gear really isn't such a big deal. You learn not to carry so much stuff around with you and the notion that a players gear means anything about how good a player they are is meaningless here. I didn't find Darkfall a particularly difficult game to get to grips with. Well, perhaps with the exception of one thing, and I'm afraid I'm going to have to be a bit of a WoW tourist here. The one thing would be motivation.
The most obvious difference between Darkfall and WoW for me wasn't so much the fact Darkfall is PVP centric but rather the motivation. In WoW I found myself mesmerised by the XP bar during leveling. The game had such a in your face way of telling you that you're progressing. It's almost overbearing. It's a constant reminder, a pat on the back, that friendly voice telling you that you're doing well and to just keep going that little bit more because you're near the next level or bunch of buttons to press. The leveling process in WoW is, for the most part, pretty brainless. Just keep killing the badgers and before you know it you're level 80.
In Darkfall life is a bit different. There are no levels. There is no XP bar. Character development comes through developing your skills which come in tiny increments as you build them up. You aren't given a gold star for increasing each 0.01 of your stats, you have to be self motivated. Think about this for a bit. You can spend an hour grinding away and you'll see your stats move 0.10 of a skill point. It's pretty demoralising. It's at this point I realised the game wasn't going to hold my hand anywhere along the way. It was entirely up to me to find my own means of measuring my progress. I'd need to be so much more motivated because there are no badgers in Darkfall I wasn't in Azeroth anymore.
So I know what you're wondering at this point. Did I like it? I did like it but my problems with it are largely my own. When I come home from work after a hard day it was sometimes really difficult to spend the time needed to organise a group or debate the options with the Clan on what to do with the evening, so instead I chose to mindlessly grind my stats with some vague notion that it was the very least I could do and still do something useful. From that point of view I don't feel like I gave the game the time it deserved to form a real opinion on whether it's a good game or not. I'll tell you one thing I do know for certain though. I've formed a new found appreciation for those passionate players I see in forums defending their game, because they damn well have to work damn hard when they are playing.
Posted by Drew Shiel at January 4, 2010 8:06 PM