As others have pointed out, the bastion of journalistic integrity, Eurogamer, has another DarkFall review up. It seems since release, DarkFall is now 100% better in the ever-virtuous eyes of EG, funny how that works…
To quickly summerize the four page review: DarkFall is a good game for it’s audience, but makes a poor WoW clone. Thanks EG.
But just as with the last go-around, there is comedy to be found in this review, starting up front with the author claiming he never read the initial review. Barry Bonds also never did steroids kids, he swears. It makes sense to deny reading the initial piece though, as it gets you out of the odd position of having to confirm, to the same employer, that the first piece they not only published but defended was/is indeed garbage. Yet while no direct ‘he got this wrong’ statements are made, reading the two reviews makes it rather clear who actually played the game, and who spent a few minutes on a forum gathering ‘facts’ while trying to get past character creation.
For instance, odd that in the first review, that ‘professional journalist’ Ed Zitron had major issues with the basics of the UI, to the point that he found them crippling to do even basic tasks such as NPC interaction or looting.
Unbelievably, to do anything that involves any interaction at all, you have to stop still – this includes any and all inventory management, looting, chatting – anything interactive.
The above sounds rather major to me, and certainly something I myself would point out if I was to write a review. Yet the second time EG takes a look at the game, they are somehow able to not only get past these major issues, but never even mention them. Either they are trying to keep a positive spin on DarkFall and hide the truth, or perhaps the forums got some facts wrong the first time around. Yes, how odd indeed, and certainly not the only example.
Perhaps even more telling is that the review itself is positive in the spots that count, like the combat system, PvP, and even PvE:
Even better is the actual player-versus-player combat. The first time I was hunted was absolutely thrilling.
Most of all, when something goes wrong, it’s often a case of you realizing entirely you were pushing it too far. Losing a couple of hours’ worth of random loot when I stop to wipe out some goblins on the final length home, letting my health deplete and then getting jumped by some opportunistic bastard… well, it’s annoying. But it’s also my fault. I’m annoyed with myself more than the game. Bad play. I was punished for it.
In my time in Darkfall, when going player-versus-environment, I fought far fewer enemy types than I would in any other major recent MMO… but I didn’t care. The variety in the conflict based around situational elements – luring people out with arrow-fire, using the terrain to separate members from the pack, whatever – kept it as entertaining.
Now if I’m looking for an MMO, and I’m going for the one with the best PvP, how exactly does the above go hand and hand with 2/10 and: “…every little thing Darkfall does is tragic… any attempt to glean joy from this torrid husk of an entertainment product is met with disdain.”
If I’m looking at the scale right, a 2/10 game has no business being ‘thrilling’ or ‘entertaining’. But hey, EG stands behind the first review, and Ed is a really honest guy. But do tell EG, is “every little thing tragic”, or is it “thrilling”? Is it a “torrid husk of entertainment”, or is it “entertaining”?
The final score (the original non-issue that gaming journalism can’t seem to stop harping on) the second time around is also telling, not because it’s low/high at 4/10, but because it had no other place to go. Higher than that, and EG might as well call themselves garbage for backing the initial 2/10, and it would be hard to match up anything lower than 4/10 with what was actually written in the review.
As with any score on a review, it’s also meaningless. If you are a WoW player happily running your daily quests, DF is far below a 4/10 for you. If you are an MMO gamer from the UO/AC days, or just someone who likes a little player-skill over hotbar mashing, DarkFall is far above a 4/10. And since Aventurine is not aiming to capture all 11 million WoW players (or even one, for that matter), so long as the niche crowd supporting the game is happy (and the recent ‘expansion’ did a lot for that), EG can keep entertaining everyone with their high standards and hard-hitting ‘journalism’.
Now excuse me, I’m off to join the rest of the miserable and play my tragic husk of a game.
The only thing we can lay on Eurogamer this time is that they write for the general public. For the masses out there, like you said, DF would be far below 4/10, and those are the ones that are targeted by Aventurine. I very much doubt that the crowd that is attracted to DF even reads Eurogamer, so yeah…
This was my thought on the matter. I’m not surprised it gets a low score if it isn’t a game that caters to all or does anything overly mind blowing.
The above sounds rather major to me, and certainly something I myself would point out if I was to write a review. Yet the second time EG takes a look at the game, they are somehow able to not only get past these major issues, but never even mention them.
Actually, the new review does mention the looting and acknowledges that it’s an integral part of the game ruleset:
But other bits of the rules work brilliantly. The looting system itself is painful – the game deliberately forces you to drag each individual item from a pack across, a “realistic” system which makes it harder to just kill someone and run, but automatically adds an area of hilarity when someone’s carrying dozens of scavenged weapons.
Also, the review discusses UI issues at length on page three and finishes with this:
It’s worth stressing, in light of the previous paragraph, that there may be a way of setting a default spell. I just couldn’t find it. The game is incredibly bad about documenting itself. I understand entirely why there were apparently factual errors in the original review. It speaks primarily not of the character of the review, but the character of Darkfall.
As you might have guessed already, I do agree with that statement. Smooth, intuitive and dare I say, polished controls are something that every game, regardless of genre or target market segment should have. And like I mentioned before, I think that this is something that Aventurine can improve without compromising their overall vision.
It mentions looting being slow, but notice that the second review sees WHY it’s slow, while the first lumps having to stand still to loot (a design decision) with the incorrect statement that you also can’t type, do inventory management, etc while moving. For anyone who has actually played the game, they see the very clear distinction, while someone who reads a forum might not. That’s really the overall difference between the two reviews, but from an outside perspective it’s likely to be missed.
As for the UI overall, in my opinion it’s more different than difficult. I don’t find any issue with switching from a sword to a bow, or a bow to a staff to cast spells. It takes more keystrokes than doing something similar in WoW would, but it’s not like after the first few times I’m constantly struggling to cast a spell in combat. And keep in mine, if it takes me 3-4 keys to heal myself, it takes that many for my opponent to do the same.
The default spell idea is a good one, but it’s certainly not a make or break feature, or even really worth mentioning when reviewing the game as a whole. Pieces of the UI are indeed awful, starting with the clan page and journal, but the stuff you use all the time, especially in combat, I think works as expected once you adjust to it. There are no major UI issues like WAR had, with the hotbar lagging behind the actual game, or make/break issues like in WoW when you could not loot a corpse. DF is full of nagging little issues, and a few that might be more major, but it’s core (PvP) is rock-solid.
Pretty much why any sort of review is bollocks. It’s all subjective really. I think magazines/reviwers/journalists etc whatever you want to call them just feel threatened by bloggers and their opinions.
Bottom line is that I’d rather read facts about the game and lots of people’s opinions from varied sources and then make my own mind up.
Pretty much why any sort of review is bollocks. It’s all subjective really.
How is “it all subjective”? So the way that darkfall’s UI works is “subjective”? The combat system is “subjective”? There are plenty of factual statements about game systems that one can make in a review. This EG reviewer did so. The opinion part (i.e. “this is bad”) can be fairly considered subjective, but that does not account for even the majority of the content of the review. Good reviews (which I seldom see) give some analysis of the facts of the game system after presenting those facts and offer a perspective on how well the game works.
I also hate ridiculous blanket statements like “it’s all subjective”. If we’re going to take that seriously, we have to come to the conclusion that every single conceivable bit of information is subjective because only subjects can perceive information. Where can you draw the line of what is objective and subjective? I don’t see an easy place to draw such a line under careful consideration (and this is backed up by a lot of serious philosophy; see John Dewey, C.S. Peirce, Richard Rorty). This doesn’t point to everything being the “weaker” of the two–subjective–it points to objectivity and subjectivity being almost meaningless when placed under serious scrutiny. You cannot reasonably assign some ultimate value to how subjective a statement is, because it’s impossible to figure it out with any level of precision. Instead, you should use the perceived subjectivity of a statement as input in your assessment of if the statement gives you useful information.
There are plenty of opinions that are highly subjective but very informative. Understanding the source of an opinion and the information behind that opinion (even if it is flawed information–which it always is) do you much more service than just dismissing subjective statements because you proclaim them subjective statements.
I think the review was spot-on, but he didn’t seem to have a 4/10 experience.
Was it just me or did he seem to have a better time than 4/10? Maybe 6 or 7, but 4? Anyway, who cares if you don’t agree with it…just have fun playing, that’s all that matters.
A 6 would mean DF is even closer to a good game, and there is no way in hell EG could put that score up and not be laughed at harder than they already are. But yea, if you read it without looking at the score, I doubt most would guess he gave it a 4/10.
I was thinking the same thing. I don’t really see how all the positives he mentioned add up to 4/10
Wow, I agreed with Beau. Strange days these are!
That was my thought. I would have to read all 4 pages again, but he seemed to say more positive than negative.
He essentially said it was rough, and that some things needed tweaking. Oh well. I have always thought the main weak point was the community, or at least the few bad apples that are allowed to act as representatives. In time, those players will get bored and leave. If anything, DF might be an advantage to attract those douche-bags right from the beginning, to get it over with.
My favorite part:
“For the record: If I ever actually find out conclusively that someone was lying in this matter, I will do everything I can to destroy them.”
In the review he states Aventurines log are easy to modify, so implies that’s what they did, when there logs show 2hrs of play time and Ed Zitron claims at least 9 (lol!!). So who do you believe? So you have to wonder what more it would take to convince the guy Ed lied? How about starting with reading his review and comparing it to your experience with the game?
He did not say that is what Adventurine did Coppertone.
He said that both sides had good reason to doubt each others claims, Adventurine fudging the logs or Ed Zitron lying about actual time played. He specifically states that he doesn’t have a clue as to what the truth is and he is here just to review the game, with no bias toward past events.
I, sigh have to agree with Beau that from the review that he gave it sounded a lot more positive than the actual score he assigned it.
Darkfall is a rough game at this time. You never know, it could be the next Eve Online. Hell imagine in the next few years a graphic patch, addition of new skills, more crafting recipes, more unique mobs, etc.
Yes I didn’t really explain my thought clearly. Thumb typing on the iPhone isn’t conducive to grammar or lengthy posts. Unless Ed counted afk at the login screen or Aventurine doesn’t count character creation as part of ‘play time’, one of them clearly is lieing. And stating server logs are easily changeable implies it’s just as easy for Aventurine to be lieing as Ed.
And it was good he didn’t read the original review so as not to color his opinion. Although already knowing the score and the reason for the re-review basically accomplished that anyways IMO. But given the part of his review I quoted, it’s now time to read Ed’s review and decide for himself if parts of that review were fiction or not, as many already have on the interweb.
When it comes down to it, it’s an opinion like any other. Reviewers, like other people, have their own thoughts, ideas, and yes, biases. The first reviewer had them, the second reviewer had them, and this blog has them too. We all do.
MMO reviews are honestly hard to make “comprehensive” based upon the simple fact that you don’t get a good idea about any MMO until you play it for an extensive amount of time – certainly longer than it is to have a “fresh” review. If reviewers could wait six months to put up what would be a more expansive review for MMOs or their content, that’d be great, but it’s unrealistic to expect as such. For example, I disagree with Syncaine’s impressions of WAR’s LotD but while I could base part of my disagreement on him probably not having played it enough, it’s not realistic to expect that, either.
It’s the same with this whole Darkfall dramatic. No matter how you slice it, the re-review got a 4/10 on the second pass, so trying to pick it apart on anything that can be grasped upon to do it is honestly wasteful after a certain point. There are flaws in any MMO – some more glaring than others – but it all comes down to the simple question of having fun. Are you having fun playing? If the answer is yes, then there’s little to be gained by being worried about someone who doesn’t agree with you – even if they are a reviewer or a major gaming site.
Darkfall, like EVE, may end up being one of those games in which the drama that affects things outside of the game is more interesting than the game itself. But as I wrote, there is a certain argument for there not being such a thing as bad PR.
As the original review raised valid questions on the reviewing procedures in the industry. This second review makes me wonder on the power of the fans in the industry. To me a 4/10 is enough to not piss many people off and still defend EG’s initial reaction to the game. Add to this the possitive comments that are a bit too many for a 4/10 game and we need to start asking, is this review “forced?”
I’don’t know where this leaves the industry but it is sure not in a happy place. I can imagine (I have wierd imagination) gaming sites and reviewers recieving perks or even money for favourable reviews from a few companies out there, I also see a small company using it’s small but intense fan base to threaten a reviewer (pro or not) and a web-site. I am not sure I like any of the two.
A review is subjective. Its opinion based.
“How is “it all subjective”? So the way that darkfall’s UI works is “subjective”? The combat system is “subjective”? ”
No… but the first reviewers opinion on these factors, while wrong, were still his opinions and Eurgogamer stood behind the reviewers opinions. Which they are entitled to do.
Lets clear that up right away. They stood behind the REVIEWER. Which means they may or may not think the game was worth 2/10, but they stand 100% behind their reviewers right to the OPINION that the game was 2/10.
The second review doesn’t match the first one in several key places because, reviewing is subjective and opinion based.
Its not rocket science.
“But hey, EG stands behind the first review, and Ed is a really honest guy. But do tell EG, is “every little thing tragic”, or is it “thrilling”? Is it a “torrid husk of entertainment”, or is it “entertaining”?”
Yes, how indeed could two subjective opinions be different? I cannot comprehend how such a thing could happen. EG are contradicting themselves by standing behind each article as valid! I will not for even a second consider that EG are standing behind the reviewers OPINION on the game. No no, that would be logical and only being in a quarter of the hits/comments.
How many bosses believe some random customer over a time served employee when the only ‘facts’ at hand are controlled by the accuser and can easily be changed to show whatever they want?
That’s not how things work in life no matter how much you like the game or want to believe that reviewing is not subjective (hey, that’s why we get 20 reviews from separate sources that all say the same thing and are scored identically right? Metacritic? What a stupid idea!)
The initial problem was not over Ed’s opinions, it was over his facts. The forum rumors he tried to pass off as facts got him called out, and it was rather obvious to anyone who actually played the game that he had not. When you start with a base of lies, what value do your opinions have? Then when a company backs those lies instead of doing what’s right and taking the piece down, well, you get the situation we had.
Oh hey look, lets attack the reviewer and technicalities of an article again instead of actually proving that the game isn’t as shitty as the review states it is.
What did you think of the game when you played it heartless?
Well. Hello people. Hello indeed.
Syncaine I think that in reality, this second review was one of the best I’ve read in a long time. I actually enjoyed (*gaspnothehorror*) reading it. As the Kieron (the second reviewer, and actually a minor celeb among UK reviewers) stated, there was no way out for Eurogamer, Tom Bramwell (editor). Not sticking behind Ed would have seriously diminished the view of him for other reviewers. The whole thing was a mess really. Oh well. What was I trying to say?
You might enjoy these “directors notes” from Kieron, some real insight there:
Random Lurker who does not know how to use HTML tags.
Interesting info, although the whole ‘defending Ed’ part I seriously disagree with. The only reason Ed got himself into the situation was because he pretended to play a game he was set to review, hoped no one would notice the lies he wrote, and wanted to make a quick buck while writing a scathing review for whatever reason (maybe he got PKed in UO and never let it go?). He got called out, his employer had to take the bullet, and yet somehow Ed is the victim? I’m not saying death threats were the way to go (but then again, this is the internet, so are we at all surprised?), but it’s not like the fury over his review ‘just happened’; he caused it, got caught, and paid for it.
There’s obviously a huge amount of subjectivity and bias when it comes to reviews. Take 100 random people and ask them to review the same book, movies, or MMO and they’ll come back to you with 100 different reviews.
They may all get a similar feeling and rate it within the same range (say 2/10 to 5/10 or whatever), but their reviews are going to cover it from a bunch of different angles and weigh the various criteria differently.
A game like Darkfall is really aiming for a niche audience: One that enjoys hardcore PvP and is willing to overlook polish emelents to get it.
The 4/10 second review captures this. EG rates a 4/10 game as “below average,” and as the very first commenter posted here, EG writes for the general public who would probably score it the same.
And I don’t see what the big deal is between these two reviews. Eurogamer must stand behind their reviewers or they might as well never publish another review again…
That’s not how niche product reviews work though. When PCGamer reviews a flight sim, the score they give the game is certainly not the score an ‘average’ gamer would give it, but rather how that flight sim stacks up to others in it’s genre. Otherwise, every flight sim review would look like “too complicated, strange controls, bad graphics, no action”. That casual Joe does not ‘get’ a flight sim has zero impact on a flight sim dev. Same deal here, that a gaming fan or WoW player might not get DF is of no concern to AV, they are aiming for MMO gamers, specifically those that like quality PvP. EG (or anyone else) should be reviewing the game based on those expectations, not what some Peggle player might expect. In that regard, the 4/10 is meaningless, as a WoW fan should give DF a 1/10, and MMO gamers looking for PvP would go far higher than 4/10.
Perhaps you have identified the problem. It has been so long since a fantasy impact PVP game has come out that there is little basis for comparison. I would imagine this would change once Mortal Online comes out and then the two can be compared. The fact that to compare DF to a similar game in this genre requires references to games that launched 7-10 years ago certainly raises some eyebrows.
“When PCGamer reviews a flight sim, the score they give the game is certainly not the score an ‘average’ gamer would give it, but rather how that flight sim stacks up to others in it’s genre.”
I think this is a very valid point. Indeed, it’s more useful to have a score relative to other roughly concurrent games within the same genre than to a meaningless “average” game or average gaming experience/satisfaction.P
As the others have said, this is a very good point. The question is:
Should Darkfall be reviewed by the same criteria against all other MMOs or just all other MMOs like Darkfall.
If it’s the former, then things get really complicated because aside from basic criteria like (UI accessibility, performance, etc.) there is a world of difference between various MMOs (Darkfall vs. WoW vs. Wizard101).
If it’s the latter, there really isn’t much for a basis of comparison out there right now. You could compare it to old school UO, and maaaaaaaybe EVE. Unfortunately, Moral Online isn’t out yet. That would at least give it a more fair chance though.
I guess the most basic thing I’d base my review one would be “Does it do well what it sets out to do?”
You can compare DF to UO circa 1999 , AC-DT, DAoC, WAR, Fury (lulz), SB, etc. And you do so with the mind-frame of “Is this fun for PvP fans?”. Again, AV does not care that Joe Casual the Peggle player will find DF’s UI difficult or the game overall boring, they don’t care about Joe Casual and attracting him is not in the business plan.
Scoring the game from the perspective of “will this game be fun for people who enjoy this kind of game?” may give some information, but it mainly goes to show the uselessness of a scalar value for describing the quality of a game.
When people ask me if Dynasty Warriors 6 is a good game, I say “I’ve enjoyed each major release after 2–I really like them. They aren’t particularly good games, though.” What does this mean? It means that the quality of the product does not directly translate into your enjoyment of that product. Your biases have more to do with how fun you perceive a game to be. Any objective criteria of “a good game in the context of all games” is only tangentially relevant to if a game is fun for an individual.
Giving scores to games “in the curent context of the whole gaming world” is jumk. It gives me no help in deciding if I will like a game enough to play it. I would prefer a thorough (though concise), factual review where the reviewer gives accurate gameplay accounts that are concise and illustrate the core mechanics. That said, there should also be some way for readers to see all the scores/reviews that the reviewer has made in the past to judge his taste.
A yes, Centuri is on to something. But we also have to remember that supposedly you have to be “hardcore” to enjoy DF to the fullest. And how many review teams will have a harcore MMO’er on their staff? Virtually none. (I know this is a shaky point. Feel free to go wild with your brilliant, blinding rhetoric) This, coupled with general consensus on the bad UI and documentation probably will keep the game below a 7 for major review sites.
Oh, another suprisingly relevant link, linked from what I already linked (mindbenders ftw). It’s by Keiron again.
Man does not know how to respond to posts.
At the end of the day, every game has flaws. Some more than others, but they all do and they all will. The question is, are you able to tolerate them to get to where your fun is and enjoy it? Or are those flaws severe enough that no matter how much fun the fun is, the flaws detract from the whole thing?
This changes from person to person, so it’s perfectly well and possible that the reviewer found some fun in it, but the flaws are bad enough to eclipse that. I’m sorry but if you tell me “There is some fun in this, but you’re constantly aggravated by these severe flaws”… which is essentially what the text of the review is saying… that’s not very far in my book from a 4/10 or a 5/10, being generous.
And of course the reverse happens when you go to the other extreme; some games are just entertaining and fun through and through, so the flaws are easily tolerated. Of course it happens.
So what’s the problem? That it doesn’t follow or contradicts the original review? It wasn’t supposed to. It was supposed to be a review of much better quality -which it is-, not a point by point rebuttal or confirmation of the previous one. The score is not high enough for some people’s tastes? Why should it be higher? It’s got flaws not even the most stalwart defender can ignore. It doesn’t really matter one bit if some people can ignore those flaws and have their fun; in fact, more power to them that way, but that doesn’t make the flaws magically disappear.
Issues that would automatically bring down a score (IMO) would be things like being unable to connect to the server, CTD, extreme hardware reqs, etc. I don’t put “having to hit three keys instead of one to cast heal” in that same category, especially if everyone is playing by the same rules and so healing is ‘harder’ for everyone.
Lets compare WoW and DF, with the user being someone looking for PvP in an MMO. Without doubt, WoW has more ‘polish’ and a cleaner UI, and still is an MMO with some PvP. But if I’m looking for the best PvP in an MMO, do I really place a pretty UI over the fact that DF just straight up has better PvP? If I’m Joe Casual, maybe that clean UI is more important because I don’t really care to get super deep into the PvP, but then Joe Casual is not who DF is designed for.
But Syn, a crappy UI by any metric and nonsensical design decisions (not saying DF has these, just illustrating) are flaws nonetheless regardless of whom the game was designed for, to what aim and if we can get past those flaws or not. To the extent and severity of a game bluescreening? No, probably not. But those are rough flaws regardless.
It’s not about being niche or being different; it also has to be good at it. And from what I’ve seen, DF gets lambasted not because it’s niche or different, but because it’s just not that good, regardless of its intentions and regardless of how many nuggets of fun it might have.
It’s like the camera direction in “Battlefield Earth”. It’s “different” with all its crooked, angled shots, but it doesn’t get panned for that. It gets panned because the camera was was awful and confused people.
So yes the UI and polish -do- matter regardless of what you’re trying to do with the game, and we’ve known this for a long time. It’s not about being a carebear or not wanting to be different or following the herd or any such nonsense. It’s because we’ve come to learn that in the vast, vast majority of cases one action to heal is better than three, regardless if “the other guy” has to do the same. It shouldn’t be “it’s fine if we make things as crappy as we can as long as they’re evenly crappy for everyone”, it’s just not well designed, period.
It’s like making a car with square wheels because “every other car has round ones”, and then getting pissy when you’re called on the car’s lack of overall quality compared to others. Doesn’t matter if it’s a sports car, an SUV, a bus or a motorcycle, and it doesn’t matter who you’re trying to sell it to: The thing has square wheels.
In the end both defenders and detractors make subjective judgements, and I find it a bit hypocritical for one side (any side) to decry the other side’s judgement when there’s subjectivity on their end as well. Defenders make a subjective judgement to ignore the flaws as long as they get to their nugget. Detractors make a subjective judgement not to ignore them.
This review is not at fault in any way.
This line of debate reminds me of the Photoshop UI vs Gimp UI debate.
I don’t get it and I never will. Darkfall wears its outsider status on its sleeve. It’s a “niche game” and “carebears” should “go back to WoW.” Hell, it’s “not for everyone” according even to the sainted Tacos. God forbid the “WoW tourists” come piling in and ruin the experince by begging for Trammel.
Given all this, why do you niche guys give a holy freak what Zitron did or didn’t do, what score he gave the thing, whether Gillen got it right or wrong, what score HE gave it, and all the other horsehockey folks have been whining about? Hell, by that standard, Eurogamer has done Darkfall and Tacos and the niche gamers a massive favor by keeping the tourists at bay. What kind of score should a mainstream website you give a game that’s “not for everyone” anyway?
Honestly, it’s the same with all supercool outsiders. They wear their outre status on their sleeves for all to see, but god forbid anyone ever treat them like outsiders. Tacos and the Darkfall fanatics are like a goth kid whining about church ladies staring at her while she cuts herself in the mall.
Manufactured controversy. Both sides are at fault, but unwilling to admit to it.