Darkfall: Unholy Wars – End of beta and the plan going forward

Originally I was going to chronicle the DF:UW beta from day one to close, but a lot of what I had down no longer applies, and after re-reading it, it was honestly not that interesting. Instead, I’ll just type up a few quick hits, and then talk a bit about what I expect at release and beyond.

Day one of beta was a comical disaster of epic proportions. You had the normal issues of login queues, disconnects, and patching failures that most/all MMOs have on day one. But magically, on top of all that, you had some pretty unique stuff as well.

For instance, since all new characters now start in a tutorial area, on day one everyone was piled on top of each other, and since DF has hard collision detection, most people were stuck and unable to move.

To make things even more fun, on day one characters stayed in the world even when you would disconnect, which meant the meatpile in the starting area was an ever-increasing trap of fail. The cherry on top was the inability to delete a character, and with DF:UW only allowing one character per server, if you were stuck in the pile, you were done playing.

For those lucky enough not to get stuck, they encountered the wonder that was the persistence bug. Basically, whenever you crashed or logged off, every item on your character and in your bank would go poof. For the first month or so, the only way to safely store anything was to put it in your clan bank, and you needed 2000 gold to start a clan. Oh the joy of farming 1900 gold and crashing!

Fast forward a few months, and Aventurine fixed many of the major issues and game became more (or reasonably) playable. Once that happened a lot of feedback was given and many things changed, not the least of which was the prowess system. In the last few weeks of beta, AV did a lot of patching around combat balance, and the last few days felt more like DF1 than at any point in beta.

Finally, debug mode, a mythical unicorn of performance issues and other assorted items, will be turned off for the live game, and what that means will be something to watch.

The false-start of the November launch burned a lot of Inquisition members, among them leadership, and as a clan Inq won’t be playing DF:UW at release. I and a few others will be playing with The Old Timers guild, and I’m really looking forward to being part of that well-established, solid group.

One of the interesting things right now about DF:UW is how similar it is to DF1 at release. On the one hand the game is missing a lot of features (few dungeons, few boats, no hot-spots like Sea Towers, only 2/4 specs per role), the performance is less-than-perfect, and no one really knows how certain aspects will play out (like the reduced number of holdings, or how the prowess system will hold up long-term).

On the other hand, even in its debug beta state, playing DF:UW is still more fun than just about any MMO out, the combat system makes games with ‘active combat’ like GW2 look like a bad joke, and it’s one of the few true virtual world PvP games out (still).

DF:UW won’t live or die by the minor tweaks it made to an established MMO formula like GW2 or SW:TOR did, simply because if a game like DF is your idea of a good time in an MMO, your options are to play DF or spin on your thumb (or fly a spaceship of course). It will live and die by how quickly AV can fix the major issues (and there will be major issues), and how quickly they can deliver the missing content and then keep going with new stuff.

DF1 was able to remain a subscription MMO for three years because in the first two, AV did a good-enough job with the updates and fixes. At the same time, DF1 could have been FAR more successful if major design mistakes (bloodwalls for example) where not present. DF:UW is that chance, and hopefully they don’t blow it.

Should be a fun ride. Hopefully it’s a long one. More to come as the game goes live tomorrow (probably…)


About SynCaine

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

15 Responses to Darkfall: Unholy Wars – End of beta and the plan going forward

  1. sid6.7 says:

    Good write-up. It’s a shame about Inq. I’m suprised you didn’t group up with VAMP again. They suddenly got pretty active after the Primalist patch.

    I wrote up some thoughts on my perspective on the prowess system today that goes a bit more in-depth on how this eliminated blood walling and macro’ing.

    A number of my top concerns got addressed in the patches that took place over the last week. Combat is much more balanced. Mages still have a tough field to plow but groups of them volleying spells during sieges is devastating if you don’t have LOS or cover.

    A lot of people didn’t notice because of the combat changes but “resistances” were added back on a lot of the creatures so I think you’ll find that they’ll be slightly more difficult (taking longer to kill) which will slow progression down a bit.

  2. Loire says:

    DF2.0 was supposed to take what was great about DF1 and improve upon the package. What’s the point of re-releasing the game, essentially in the same shitty state DF1 was in at launch, missing key features that were in DF1 prior to shutdown. What exactly are DF1 vets trading up for? What we’re the months of little to no updates in DF1 for? All I see is another game being forced out the door in possibly a worse state then it’s predecessor.

    • SynCaine says:

      DF:UW is a lot different than DF1 though. That’s one of the issues on the forums; a lot of people want a DF1 expansion, and DF:UW is not that.

    • sid6.7 says:

      The fact that AV is attempting to launch this game on Steam should tell you everything you need to know about the new vision. Is it still Darkfall? Absolutely. Is it the same game? No – and that’s by design.

      The vets don’t like to hear this but the truth is that AV doesn’t need the couple hundred loyal DF1 vets as much as they need the 5,000 to 10,000 people who will sub up from Steam.

      I think criticism at some level is fair but not on things like combat (after the recent patches), the Prowess system or the UI. That’s not to say that there isn’t room for improvement but many of these things are vastly superior to the old system.

      And what things there are to criticize have been getting addressed by AV. If they keep up the work, we’ll see a better game than DF1 in 6 months with a higher population.

      A 5-month beta was simply too long. They needed to launch so that people wouldn’t need to worry about the next wipe.

  3. wloire says:

    The issue is that the players went through this already. What exactly are they trading for? Why are they being forced to go through a shit beta and what will likely be another shit launch (inevitable for all MMO’s)? For a new combat system? A new U.I.? Is it going to be another two years before fundamental issues are taken care of? Why even release missing features that DF1 had upon launch? No dungeons? Really?

    Unholy Wars needed to be better than this, to prove it could play with the big boys. To pull together a core group of players that would only grow over the years. This isn’t it. The game is following the same path as its predecessor and nobody has learnt from their mistakes.

    • wloire says:

      Fail reply.

    • SynCaine says:

      Yea I just don’t see it that way. I think at its core DF:UW is better than DF1. It does not have everything DF1 did after 3 expansions and however many patches, but it would be a little crazy to assume it would.

      I’m glad they started fresh with UW than continued to bandage DF1.

  4. Dril says:

    As someone who loves Mount&Blade: am I realistically looking at the best shot I’ll have in years of an MMO that takes M&B sieges (combat and all) and puts them in a persistent world that’s worth living in?

    Also, EU servers?

    • SynCaine says:

      There is an EU server, yes.

      The combat is closest to M&B in an MMO, but its not a 100% match. The rest of the game is kinda close, in the big clan leaders are like the lords, and most people are the foot soldiers. Plus MMO PvP, crafting, and that stuff.

  5. JJ Robinson says:

    Honestly, after reading that update/review there is no way I’m touching this game. Sounds like to me this is a classic case of a MMO not ready and the dev basically out of capital and time and as a result will rush it out the door not even remotely ready.

  6. Dà Chéng says:

    Here’s hoping! I’m excited by the chance to re-enter the world of Darkfall (is it still Agon, or is there a new world?)

    I know it’s early days yet, but what is the new crafting and selling system like? It was very hard to establish a market in DF1. Has anything changed in that respect?

    • SynCaine says:

      It’s still Agon.

      Crafting is largely unchanged, although there are now mastery skills for refining mats, plus the salvaging system.

      AV has said they are working on some kind of market system, but its not in the game yet. Player vendors at houses are, like in DF1.

    • sid6.7 says:

      Crafting is one of the low points IMO. It’s pretty important but it’s not very deep and parts of it feel incomplete. I think part of it is that there is no Enchanting profession so Alchemy and Skinning feel a bit more problematic.

      I think it would be 100x better if they simply added color options to the Armor pieces.

  7. Chris says:

    With all respect to AV for producing a unique game, it’s pretty sad that a) they were going to release back in November knowing the game was in it’s current state (thanks Steam for being more important than their current subscribers); and b) that after four+ months in beta it’s still “missing a lot of features (few dungeons, few boats, no hot-spots like Sea Towers, only 2/4 specs per role), the performance is less-than-perfect, and no one really knows how certain aspects will play out (like the reduced number of holdings, or how the prowess system will hold up long-term).”

    • SynCaine says:

      Such is MMO life of late. Either you have something like GW2 which is complete and solid and you finish in 3 weeks, or you have something like DF:UW which can keep you entertained for months or years but frustrates you to no end in some aspects.

Comments are closed.