Gaming My Way

18 Nov

Darkfall: Ushering in a New Era for the MMORPG?

Now that I’ve caught your attention, let me say that while I like the fact Darkfall is treading a lot of new ground, I still can’t recommend it as the MMORPG to play, even if it does pull off all of its goals. I’m certain the game will appeal to a large group of gamers though if they pull it off. The reason for this will be apparent later. However, I do think that it could be a valuable proof of concept for a lot of things I would like to see in the genre.

For more info on the game, you can check out the Darkfall homepage and Darkfall Wikipedia page.

First, I want to talk about the good, and there is a lot of it. First off, this will be the first MMO I’ve heard of to make use of true real time combat. They’re going with an fps style, so it will require you to actually hit your targets, as well as allow you to dodge your opponents, with your own skill, and not some predefined stats. The game does have stats of course, and it will likely still have fights which are clearly one sided, but at least you should have a fighting chance even if your stats are heavily skewed. I hope this is the case at least.

Now honestly, I’d prefer more of a Zelda lock-on style of combat, but perhaps that can come after Aventurine SA proves it’s possible to do any form of real time combat in an MMORPG. Of course, they may not prove it possible, but I’m definitely pulling for them in this regard.

Next up, there are no levels. Instead, the game uses a system in which the skills you use get better over time as you keep using them. This, along with the FPS style of combat, has me thinking someone took the idea of Morrowind or Oblivion as an MMORPG to it’s inevitable conclusion. Either way though, the lack of levels in the game will hopefully cut out a significant amount of grinding, though I imagine people will just grind skills by repeatedly using them whether warranted or not. Hopefully this will be less necessary than grinding xp in most MMOs is, and I also hope Aventurine can come up with a way to make sure the system isn’t abused other than the Terms of Service. As an additional bonus of this skill system, it won’t be possible to permanently mess up a character, since you just practice what you want to get better at and then you improve.

Prestige classes are a cool idea, especially if they’re implemented the way I imagine from the desription. Basically, join an organization, take an oath or perform a service, and gain power by abiding by that oath and continuing to lend your services to the organization. Hopefully, this is how the devs will implement them. It will still be possible to leave the class if you realize you’d rather be something else, so even this won’t prevent you from trying a different build on the same character.

Now, for the bad parts. First off, being a new MMO making the most of current technology, it will in fact have a monthly fee. Par for the course, but still something I’d like to see become non-standard with the genre. I still can’t justify giving up four to five new games a year for just one, no matter how good it is, or how great a deal it is in dollars/hour. This won’t be an issue for anyone who’s willing to pay for subscription based games though.

Next up, they have “unrestricted PvP.” Some people will love this, but I think it’s a bad idea. Too many people love a fight they know they can’t lose, and there should always be a way to opt out of PvP against a clearly superior group, even if that method is being within a “safe zone.”

On the upside, town guards will attack players who initiate attacks on others, but that doesn’t mean you’re safe in town, just that the fight is harder for the attackers in town than it is out of town. On top of all that, when you die, everything on your corpse will be lootable, meaning that not only can you not avoid fighting griefers, but then they can take all your stuff. Is it realistic? Absolutely. Will this appeal to some players? Definitely. It’s just not for me, and I can’t imagine playing such a game.

Now, there is one disadvantage to PvPing when unprovoked: evil points. Certain actions will make you become evil, such as unwarranted killing and using certain types of magic. Apparently, it’s not hard to become evil, but redemption or becoming truly good takes a lot of work. If you’re evil, many npcs, and likely players too I imagine, will attack you on sight or refuse to deal with you. With this penalty in place, I hope that a lot of unwarranted PvP will be curbed, but it’s not enough to convince me it’s a good idea.

Still, I think it will do a good job at doing what it wants to do, which is to create a more realistic fantasy world than is typically found in an MMORPG. And I have high hopes that some of the better ideas, such as real time combat, will be snatched up for another MMO that will be more fun for a casual crowd, as well as those who want to play the game instead of worrying about being ganked by a large group of people with more gameplay experience or those who don’t want to lose what they worked hard to gain in the first place. Of course, time will tell if Darkfall can deliver what it promises, so we’ll have to wait and see. Either way, I commend them for trying something different.

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