DarkFall: The shift to group PvE and it’s PvP impact

Now that I’ve had a little bit of time with the new patch in DarkFall, I can safely say the PvE changes are a definite step in the right direction for the game. It ultimately comes down to group PvE being more rewarding than solo PvE, and that’s exactly how it should be. Solo PvE should be a last resort option; you should only be going out to solo PvE when nothing else is going on, rather than having it as the most efficient/effective method, and this patch shifted that balance correctly.

As I mentioned before, but have now confirmed, mount farming is no longer viable, which means the more difficult mobs can no longer be soloed effectively (you can still bow down just about anything, but the amount of time it would take you to down something tough vs just fighting easier mobs does not make this a smart choice unless you have a specific reason like an enchanting mat or some item to farm). This is not to say that soloing is now impossible, its not. Anything you could solo on foot before the patch you can still solo, and more or less the rewards for such mobs are fine (just not when they got compared to battlehorn farming 1200hp mobs).

Group PvE itself is actually not that difficult in DarkFall once you know what you are doing, as even mobs that hit extremely hard and have a great deal of HP can be taken down by a small (2-3 man) group so long as everyone is playing smart. Parry when needed, heal and buff each other, and focus on the same target and soon the mob will fall. The better you get the faster you will be able to clear a camp, and so long as the respawn is fast or you have a second camp nearby to work on while you wait, the money will accumulate quickly.

And because of how DF combat works vs the more traditional model (where once a mob is on you, its stuck on you unless taunted/agroed off), even two players are far more powerful than one when farming simply because you can have one player running away or parrying while the other is dealing damage or healing, and the amount of time a mob spends between players is significant. Under the more traditional model, if a ‘red’ mob gets on someone, its going to pound you until you drop, and there is usually very little that you can effectively do to stop this from happening (short of reseting the mob, which just makes killing it impossible anyway). DF combat being a bit more fluid and not as restricting means that player action and skill can help overcome pure damage and HP imbalances. Enhanced mob AI does not always mean the mobs are geniuses and destroy you, it also means they fight and react a bit more naturally rather than following a set script, and this makes them more interesting to fight. The mobs in DF, when compared to other MMOs, do indeed accomplish this, even if not perfectly.

Ultimately though this balance between group vs solo is exactly where an MMO should be. You SHOULD be encouraged to group up with your buddies, as not only is anything more fun with friends, but the system should actually reward you for making the effort to get a group together. It sounds so simple, yet so many MMOs (DF included until this patch) fail at this basic concept, and so the rather simple gameplay of any MMO (even DF’s more active combat is relatively simple when compared to any console action game) can easily be taken as ‘the grind’ when you are ‘forced’ to go it alone. And again, soloing should still be an option (no early EQ1 please), but as stated above it really should be a last resort. If someone truly wants to play solo in an MMO, they should NOT be encouraged with the fastest advancement path. The more grouping you encourage, the stronger the social bonds between players will become, and the more ‘hook’ your game will have once someone gets into it.

Usually when DF comes up the topic is PvP, and ultimately that is the main selling point of the game and the source of its highlight moments, but just having great PvP does not make the game a complete MMO, especially one aiming at the sandbox style. My guess is that once the community adjusts to this patch and we see more groups heading out to PvE, the amount of random wilderness group vs group PvP will also significantly increase. What adjustments players make because of this will be interesting to see, but it will be nice to see more than one mounted player at a spawn going forward.

(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.)

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in Combat Systems, Darkfall Online, MMO design, Patch Notes, PvP. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to DarkFall: The shift to group PvE and it’s PvP impact

  1. Tobias says:

    Thank God, someone who gets it.

  2. sid67 says:

    Out of curiosity, how are you dealing with loot drops? A rotation of my mob, your mob, his mob?

    • Billy Hicks says:

      My Clan does Master Looter. One guy grabs it all and we share it out at the end.

      If we are forced into a PvP fight, the master looter tries to escape while the rest of the group attack and try to distract the enemies.

    • SynCaine says:

      If we are out specifically to farm, we usually master loot/skin. If we are just out for a bit, normally we just switch mobs.

  3. I group PvE often (ie 2 to 3 trips per day). I’ve always enjoyed it more than solo PvE, even when it was less profitable. Can’t tell you how much I like this patch — it was so hard to get people to come out to group PvE when they just wanted to bhorn all the time for mad profits (and who could blame them?).

    A couple things to add:
    1) I’ve already used strongboxes a lot. They are very useful when farming spawns with heavy drops (see: wood, stone, iron, or portal shards [10kg each!]).

    2) I plan to use strongboxes to set traps for PvP. I’ll let you know how this turns out! :)

    3) In grou PvE, I always use the “master looter” system, with another person acting as the “master skinner”. If using a strongbox, we just FFA and put it all in the strongbox when we can.

    For those non-DF playing lurkers, looting/skinning is often a chore rather than a perk — it takes time, and the mobs don’t “wait” for you to pick up their crap. In addition, heavy items can cause you to become encumbered (ie very slow).

  4. silvertemplar says:

    “And because of how DF combat works vs the more traditional model (where once a mob is on you, its stuck on you unless taunted/agroed off), ”

    Can you explain how exactly Darkfall works with this? Are you saying there’s no taunting/aggro-mechanic at all? So if a mob is stuck on a healer, it’s stuck forever and all the healer can do is kite?

    • SynCaine says:

      There is agro, although it’s a bit more ‘random’ than the traditional model, so you might only hit a mob once and it will turn towards you, or you might be chopping it in the back for 4-5 swings before it turns. And there are no classes, so no one really plays a ‘healer’, even if their job during PvE is to try and focus on healing others.

      But what I was really getting at is since you can actually dodge mob attacks in DF, even if something really powerful is throwing spells or arrows at you, player skill is a huge factor. In a tab-target system, no amount of player skill will stop a red-con mob from nuking you down. Also in DF you can dodge melee swings if you time it right, where in a tab-target system dodge is usually a dice roll rather than a player action.

  5. Ep says:

    From my lowbie experience and 3 man grouping in one of the instance type things.

    Mobs seem to have threat but also they use a random mechanic.
    Say the mob has a list of actions…

    Run back, Melee, Ranged Attack, Run Towards, Switch target. Run left, Run right, Retreat

    Every very few seconds they choose one action. Its not exactly random as they may have preference depending on mob and Random really gives the wrong impression. e.g Caster mobs will stand back nuking then dodge you left and right run in to melee then run out and nuke again.

    Either you can see this as intelligent AI or just Random AI. Personally i dont think it matters either way. It causes some really genius gameplay from mobs.

    Mob threat seemed standard but if you “roll” a Switch Target you just had to go with it.

    • sid67 says:

      Agree. I was going to write something similar. The AI in Darkfall may feel more intelligent, but it’s not actually that sophisticated.

      A big part of the reason it feels more intelligent is because mobs are harder to hit. The AI is not WHY they are harder to hit, the “aim” nature of your attacks is the reason. But a harder mob to fight is going to feel smarter by virtue of our own arrogance.

      Combined with the random movement actions you are describing above (again, not advanced AI decision making) and a more mobile harder to hit target feels way smarter.

      • SynCaine says:

        It’s not sophisticated in terms of deep If-Then thinking, but when compared to your average MMO mob AI (which is the key here, because the bar overall is so low), the mob AI in DF is above average.

        Different mobs also have different ‘skill’ settings. For instance, easy mobs like goblins will shoot more randomly with arrows/spells, while high-end mobs like the Blood Knight will shoot every shot straight at you. That’s not advanced AI in terms of logical thinking, but it IS better AI from a players perspective. Weaker mobs are weaker not just in terms of stats, but also their ‘skills’ at the game. They react slower (run longer before turning when you are hitting them in the back), their aim is not as tight, and their range of spells is smaller.

        Another example: Moonbeast ravagers are murder in melee for just about anyone, and they also have a good assortment of spells. If they have a clear shot at you, they will likely cast their strongest nuke. If you are around rocks/trees, they tend to cast a weaker spell with a bigger AoE (that if they place right, can actually hit you behind a tree/rock). If you get closer to them (but not in melee range) they will attempt to cast Come Hither (which is easy to dodge), which pulls you directly towards them. If they land that and you panic and run, they will drop you with melee back hits. None of the above is a script like a WoW boss, it’s just the AI making simple decisions.

        • sid67 says:

          What you are describing is a function of tuning the AI to be more difficult. It’s not actually a more sophisticated AI.

          An AI isn’t more advanced just because the player perceives it as more difficult.

          For example, it’s actually more difficult to make a mob MISS than it is to make them hit you with deadly accuracy. The simple reason being that the AI starts with perfect facing and aim, and the dev then has to modify it so that it’s not perfect.

          That said, I agree with the net effect that mobs are more challenging in Darkfall. However, as I wrote above, that’s more a function of gameplay.

  6. Dblade says:

    Problem though is you wind up getting what EVE players call “blobs” groups large enough to dissuade others from PvPing them. A solo player or duo of newbies might be tempted to pvp a lone player on a mount, but if all they can find are groups of vets, they might just stay away or evade combat entirely.

    I don’t think DF has the population to make this an issue as bad as EVE’s is, but it is a danger.

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