Over the weekend I did a lot of questing and PvE in DarkFall, all spurred by one title quest turn in. And I had a blast, getting to see the new quest content Aventurine added since release and seeing how it plays out from the perspective of a fairly developed character. It also made me realize that you don’t need to drastically change up the familiar ‘kill ten rats’ formula to make questing interesting, you instead can just place those quests in an interesting and exciting environment.
On Friday night I was 160 hobgoblin kills away from finishing the third and final stage of my strength title quest, and so I went to a fast-spawning spot of grunt and veteran hobgoblins and began my mass slaughter. The advantage of this spot was neither mob was particularly difficult for me when wearing decent armor (scale/plate) and using a rank40 greatsword, and the timing worked out that as soon as I was done looting and skinning the last tombstone, a new mob would spawn.
For whatever reason, I felt particularly ‘grindy’ that night, and all 160 hobgoblins were killed in one trip and the title quest was completed. However in order to turn it in I had to travel back to the human starting area, a lengthy ride south from our normal home of Yssam. As I was riding down an NPC name popped up on my mini-map just on the boarder of orc/human territory, and so I took a small detour and went to see what he offered. He had two quests available, and one was to kill Swamp Hags.
Swamp Hags are of interest to me because they skin for hag hearts, and those are used for upper tier blood crafting. The other quest asked me to kill some Doom spiders, which happen to be close to the Swamp Hags. The nice bonus of questing in DarkFall is that when the quest is active, the target location or mob is marked on your map like in many other MMOs. The key difference here is that in DarkFall sometimes finding the right mob or mob camp is a challenge itself due to the size of Agon, and so having a quest show you a Swamp Hag spawn is a very nice bonus, and a great way to become familiar with the local spawns.
Of course, once those two quests were complete and I had gathered a small supply of hag hearts (with the full intention of coming back at a later time to farm more), turning those two quests in opened up a few more, and this little trend continued for 3-4 rounds. The final quest at this time was to visit another NPC location; the now-famous breadcrumb quest style. At this point I was pulled in by the lore and story going and figured I might as well see this to completion, so I bound myself to one of the NPC cities, turned in my title quest, and went off to continue questing.
I’d also like to mention that the lore behind DarkFall is often overlooked because the games primary focus is PvP. Actually reading the quest text was enjoyable, and at times even helps explain certain locations in the world. For instance, one of the quests talked about a town that is now abandoned because it was sieged by some elves. The quest sets you out to kill said elves camped near the town, along with destroying their siege supplies, but the lore itself explains just why you have a town in Agon that is devoid of any NPCs. Without the back-story, you could easily just assume those buildings are another under-populated area of DF. Another quest had me retrieve a lost amulet from deep within a cave. While just outside there is an NPC spawn, the cave itself is ‘empty’ save for the box holding the amulet, which you can only interact with if you have that particular quest. Without it, it becomes just another ‘cave with nothing inside’.
This highlighted another difference between the more open-ended world of DF versus a themepark like WAR. In WAR, anytime you come across anything of interest, you can safely assume it’s a quest target location, and you know you can pick that quest up from the local ‘quest hub’ in that zone. For me this dulled the ‘areas of interest’ because nothing was a surprise, you never discovered anything because all of these supposed exotic locations were all conveniently placed on each step of your path to the level cap.
On the other hand, even something as simple as a chest in a cave was somewhat of an ‘ah ha’ moment in DF, because while I had passed that cave and countless others like it before, now this one cave and box in particular were of special interest to me, and it was all completely optional. It truly felt more like exploring and discovering something, which was a great change of pace.
The other aspect that separates questing in DF from other games is that you are doing it in Agon, which means that while you might have your mind on a quest objective, someone else might be out looking to gank you. You can’t just ‘not PvP’ and hyper-focus on questing, and while out questing you might get your fair share of PvP. This happened to me multiple times, and since I was a decently skilled character in a starter area, more than once I was actually able to chase down and kill the would-be PK hoping for some easy noob kills.
At other times I would run across an enemy clan member, which meant that we could fight even within an NPC town. This gets rather tricky with other players around, as the enemy clan member is orange to you, but everyone else is blue, and one wrong swing will turn you gray and get you tower zapped. Most of the time, after a bit of sparing, we would both decide to play nice and not risk a ‘cheap’ death from a tower, only to have the dozen or so randoms loot our tombstone anyway.
Regardless of the situation or your intentions, you can rest assure that you always have to keep your head on a swivel in Agon, and that even the simplest quest might turn into a massive brawl.
(DarkFall-related post disclaimer/reminder. If you click the image link near the top-right of this page and buy a DarkFall account, I get paid 20% of the client cost. If you believe this taints my views and reporting on DarkFall, your opinion is wrong.)