DarkFall: 3 month review

Edit: My newer, one year review of DarkFall can be found here.

DarkFall has been out just shy of three months now, and for me it’s been the most interesting three months of any MMO since UO, for a variety of factor. Going in with low expectations, finding an amazing guild to play with, and actually playing an MMO that is designed from the ground up to be all about impact PvP all contribute to a great three months.

The low expectations part has been well covered, but I think it’s important to remember what people were saying back prior to release. DarkFall is a game that was called vaporware throughout much of its development, all the way until the very day it went live. It’s the game many predicted would be a repeat of Shadowbane from a technical perspective, and it’s the game many claimed would fundamentally not work from a design perspective. It was low on my radar because after all these years following the MMO genre, I’ve learned not to get myself hyped up about website details, screenshots, or bullet-point lists like some little school girl waiting for Miley Cyrus at the mall. No one actually playing DarkFall will claim its perfect, or even at 75% of what it can be, but for anyone looking for a player-skill based impact PvP game, it’s hard to argue that DarkFall has not delivered on the promise to cater to that niche with a worthwhile product.

Most MMOs outside of the growing ‘solo hero’ segment depend on player communities to draw and keep players going. Anyone who has ever been in a solid, close-knit guild knows whatever game they are playing is infinitely more fun because of the people around you, which can make a good game great, or keep you playing something average just for the people. Inquisition is a great group of guys to game with, both because of their overall in-game skill and the leadership’s ability to maintain a good balance of serious yet laid-back gaming. We are not a dominant, all powergamer guild like TheMercs, but we are far from the casual, non-factor guilds that spring up and die after the first defeat. Given my current playstyle and gaming time, this fits me perfectly, and has added a ton of enjoyment to DarkFall.

Outside of my clan, I actually really enjoy the DarkFall community as a whole. Beyond the ForumFall aspect that non-players love to point at as a negative is a solid group of people who all love the same thing; good PvP. As the three months have progressed we have seen the niche start to establish itself, as players who can’t handle or don’t like impact PvP quit or go inactive, and those looking for exactly that rise up to be major players. In today’s MMO market you don’t need sheep among the wolves; you just have to provide enough tools for the wolves to keep them entertained. In three months, DarkFall has slowly started to shed its sheep, and continues to cater to the wolves as they go at it. As most MMO fans know, it’s not about how many other solo-heroes play the game on x server, but about the people you actually play with or against on a daily basis that matters.

Finally the game itself is above and beyond what I thought it would be. The graphics are fine (unless all you know is screenshots or youtube), most of the technology works until you get a zerg vs zerg battle, and for as complex a system as PvP is in Darkfall, balance is actually very decent. Compared to other MMOs, DarkFall has made good progress in refining its formula over the last three months, especially when you factor in the size and resources of the developer. While the outgoing sheep cry for Trammel before they go inactive, those actually playing know very well what areas need work and what needs to change to make DarkFall a better game. Beyond that, the player base is still in its infancy in terms of understanding the game, as just last night the server saw the first player-built warhulk in action. As the players become settled, more complex strategies and tools will be used, further enhancing the player experience. Just like EVE took some time to settle in and for player run empires to establish themselves, DarkFall is in that phase now. Expecting ships and warhulks to be common in the first months is a fool’s request, as is the thought that the first month of DarkFall looks anything like the third, or that what is happening now will remain unchanged in the next three. Unlike a themepark, a sandbox is always shifting, and so far DarkFall is shaping up nicely.

23 Responses to DarkFall: 3 month review

  1. Maedhros says:

    Three days into my subscription my guild (I was brand new) went off to siege Chahurac (sp, we called it Chewbacca) bay.

    First, the fact that I, a newb, was invited to a siege and could actually contribute floored me and delighted me.

    Second, it was a big siege, and I had no lag nor any disconnects. That was unbelievable to me and sold me on this game.

    Ironically, after one of the last few patches, I got the no more virtual space error whenever I went far to PVP, so it all balances out I guess.

  2. Loire says:

    Good writeup Syp.

    Maedhros you surprise me. Your response swing from 1/10 trolling to agreeable posting. I don’t know what to think with you.

    My wish for Darkfall: A day when you can walk up to the ocean at any given time and see a player owned boat passing by.

  3. Kash says:

    I can troll for you!

    You state the technology works except when you get in a zerg v zerg situation. For other MMO’s this is a cardinal sin but its OK for Darkfall? Why?

  4. Maedhros says:

    In the other thread, I had issues with Syncaine saying the Mercs were a good and honorable guild. I really did not see myself as being a troll. Sorry if it came out that way.

  5. Snarky McJigg says:

    I’m on my 2nd week in game. Last patch fixed 80% of my virtual memory errors.

    The game seemed nice but I wasn’t sold on it, until I got lucky looting a mount from a stone near some goblins. Took off exploring and loved it.

    Lost the mount and everything else but knew what was out there.

    Joined a clan, game got better, having a base of operations and a team really helps.

    Got a goal, I want to build ships, a hard goal to work towards but even just building rafts will help us on the coast.

    Found out our hamlet’s most valuable resourse was raiders, and I’ve had a great time pvping, even if I’ve yet to be successful.

    When you first start out, the entire game is an uphill battle, no matter what way you go about it.

    But it won’t take too long to find out how rewarding it can be so long as you stick to it.

  6. PeZzy says:

    Hmmm…not a single mention of exploiting, which is still pretty rampant in the game. I use to see at least one speedhacking/teleporting hacker everyday on the quiet island of Rubiyat. People are still attacking hard mobs in walls and macroing…using various exploits until they get warned by GMs. A majority of the players are using some method of exploiting the game mechanics. The best PvPers are using speedhack programs but keep the settings down so they don’t get caught. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPwI-Kq0EVw

  7. Werit says:

    Syn, how accessible do you feel the PvP is? In Eve, it can take a bit of work (time) to get your new ship ready if you lose one. Is Darkfall quicker to get back in the action?

  8. Maedhros says:

    Ok, here comes my crazy post Loire :>

    No talk of exploting because Syncaines’ clans new home is the home of TheMercs…admitted exploiters! Or at least, they “did” but do “not” anymore.

  9. [...] doesn’t seem alarmed about his imminent stalking as he looks back on three months of Darkfall and, with the tourists finally gone, likes what he [...]

  10. syncaine says:

    Actual 3rd party exploits are rare, and people confuse lag/sync issues with hacking all the time. We have one guy in our clan who gets called a hacker all the time, simply because he is just really good with a bow. If hacking was so rampant, why does everyone link the same 2-3 youtube videos, and why is the hacker always some no-name? The other issue is you have NA players fighting EU players, and usually the NA player has a ping of 150ish while the EU guy is at 40. Under that circumstance, the EU guy can look like a hacker to an uneducated player.

    Mob exploiting is more common, but each patch has taken steps to curb that. What was an easy place to farm a few weeks ago is now impossible to exploit. The wall hackers do get warned/banned regularly, and yes TheMercs did/do exploit that early in the game, as did/do most alliances.

    @Kash: Because zerg vs zerg PvP is lame, even if the server holds up. Almost everyone agrees that 50v50 or smaller encounters are simply more enjoyable, and the community as a whole is moving in that direction anyway. Even if DarkFall could support 300v300 fights, I still don’t think the majority would find them more fun than a good 30v30.

    @Werit: It’s easy if you plan ahead. All of us have a ‘pvp bag’ that we can quickly pull out of the bank and start running with, equipping everything as we go. Otherwise, how quickly you can get ready depends on how organized you keep your bank, it takes me maybe 30 seconds from naked to ready.

    • PeZzy says:

      “Actual 3rd party exploits are rare, and people confuse lag/sync issues with hacking all the time”

      I wasn’t born yesterday. I know the difference between lag and hacking. I’ve seen it with my own eyes and don’t need youtube to find them. I’ve seen a player use three different accounts in the course of a day to harrass players.

      Why do you complain, just like the Mercs, about zerg warfare, when this game is all about zerging? It was designed for ‘the zerg’. Yeah it may get horribly laggy, but it’s the game’s design. Otherwise we’d be playing instanced games like WAR.

      I like how Osium says it’s OK to logout in water when being chased because the enemy doesn’t deserve the loot, but the loot was exploited so the player doesn’t really deserve it in the first place.

  11. Paragus says:

    People are always so quick to scream hack when they get defeated. One of my guys got a hate tell from a guy he killed accusing him of speed hacking a few nights ago because he was able to run down a guy on foot while he was mounted. It happens in FPS games all the time, and it happens here. People need to cling to some sort of excuse to justify how they could possibly be defeated so they can sleep at night.

    Sometimes you just get owned. It happens to me, it happens to everyone, but when you start pointing fingers without a basic understanding of game mechanics you are only making yourself look like a fool.

  12. Maedhros says:

    Paragus and Syncaine are no longer able to talk about TheMercs in any objective way now.

    They essentially joined with the Mercs when they agreed to occupy Aradoth with them.

    Take anything they say about them with a grain of salt.

    And, to note, I still respect their opinions on just about everything else, its why I read them. Just not about TheMercs or exploiting anymore.

  13. Snafzg says:

    I’m simply amazed you didn’t find some way to work an unnecessary WOW-bash into this post! Kudos! :) As for the game, I’m glad you’re enjoying it. Hopefully, more independant developers can develop a niche game for a niche audience and we can move away from the “everything for everyone” scheme found in most AAA MMOs these day.

  14. syncaine says:

    “unnecessary WoW-bash” – That’s impossible.

  15. Anne says:

    I’m glade it is an actual MMORPG instead of a glorified zelda game. Glorified in the sense, that zelda is a much more entertaining single player experience. WTB

  16. Beleg says:

    I was expected a post about the sieges last night. You there?

  17. lack says:

    Yeah, Snafzg, why would there be an unnecessary WOW-bash?

  18. syncaine says:

    @Beleg: Our part was somewhat limited during the siege (shard defense), and I was not online for all of it, so what I know about it is mostly from the forum or guildmate stories. Defending the shard was about as boring as expected.

  19. Medory says:

    From all the ventrillo chatter I’ve heard from numerous guildies who played the game at launch and expats since then, DF has both a rampant hacking and macroing problem. One of the reasons we don’t play it. (The EU/US thing doesn’t help, either).

    This post does not represent the opinion of my guild – but it should =D

  20. pitrelli says:

    Well Im hardly a fan of Darkfall but having played it over the past 5 days I can understand the appeal. Whilst it probably doesnt tick all the boxes for my own gaming needs I’ve seen enough to know that people shouldnt write it off without giving it a bash.

    I agree fully with Syncaines sentiment it only feels at 75% however the more I get used to the gameplay and controls the more I am getting out the game. Will I stay for a second month? probably not due to I need to push on with Fallen Earth however Darkfall is a decent game in its own right

  21. Kong says:

    Its cool when u cut peoples head off, this is the best feature in game. Sometimes i go out hunting and i only return to camp when i have decapitated 100 heads. Sometimes it takes a while, but my record is 77 decapitations in a row!

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