Darkfall: Unholy Wars going F2P and other problems sink it

Darkfall and I have had an interesting history (the fact that I heard about the first game from Tobold entertains me to this day), and unfortunately I think this post marks the final chapter. The game is going in multiple directions that don’t appeal to me, the community has lost those who make the game worth playing overall, and comical developer incompetence and corruption was the final little push I needed to finally move on.

Let’s start with the game itself. Recently a cash shop was added, which sets the stage for the game’s F2P conversion coming ‘soon’ (it’s already F2P in Asia). I was asked here a while back if I would continue to support DF even if it went F2P, and at the time I said I would not. This is made all the easier since buying more than just fluff is already in the shop. You can pay AV $5 for a prowess (XP) reset, which is pretty ‘convenient’ when you have a game in constant flux due to a massive combat overhaul and general developer indecision about balance and the direction of the game. How many times will someone accept their current build being nerfed into the ground and told they can fix it for just $5 before they get fed up?

Plus how many times have MMO players heard the song and dance from developers about not selling power when F2P is announced, and a few months later the cash shop is offering you the One Ring? When things get dire, devs get desperate, and DF:UW’s core issues persist to this day.

And what are those core issues? The main one is the game is still an oversized arena PvP game, rather than an MMO. There is no reason to PvP other than for the sake of PvP, and this is reflected in the quality of the playerbase. Where games like EVE have people like The Mittani creating content for tens of thousands of players, those key people have long since left Darkfall, and in their place stand directionless ‘leaders’ providing little if any content. Even DF1 was able to initially attract some of these valuable players (Manus, Glut, Osium, etc), which is what kept that game’s meta interesting for the first two years or so. But as they saw the state of DF:UW’s beta, and the general design flaws of the game, they never even bothered showing up on day one. Inq to this day mocks me about trying to get them to give the game another shot.

The above is also why DF:UW gets laughable indifference from so many EVE players. My alliance would always wonder what I see in a game with no long-term plan, goal, or point, and admittedly I look a bit foolish now with my “they are working on that guys!” enthusiasm, because nope, they really aren’t. So why grind up to play in an arena when you can play a better version of exactly that in games like Chivalry or even your MOBA of choice. At least those games understand what they are, rather than awkwardly pretending to be something they clearly are not capable of delivering.

A more recent core problem has been the combat overhaul. To say it’s a surprising disaster would be unfair, because if you didn’t see it being a disaster pre-release you must be painfully blind. Imagine if CCP, in the name of ‘player freedom’, allowed any ship to fit a doomsday on it, and the balance explanation provided was that since everyone can use it, it’s balanced. That’s what AV did with DF:UW recently. I wish I was joking, but I’m not. They took armor, weapons, and skills all previously designed and balanced around fitting into classes, and just removed the concept of classes without the overhaul to everything needed to make it work. At least in DF1, which had the same ‘everyone can be everything’ system, balance was attempted with that in mind since day one. It was bad, but not “lulz doomsday spam” bad.

The result is not just the expected FOTM lameness that happens in every MMO with such a system that has poor checks and balances, but that combat overall is a cheesefest of who can come up with the cheapest AoE/CC combo to drop people with because nothing was designed with this system in mind. Imagine DAoC roaming 8s cheese but turned up to 11, and that’s DF:UW. The only reason the abuse isn’t nearly as bad as you might expect right now is because of the above point; the playerbase doesn’t have the top-tier talent to create the best builds quickly, but those who remain will eventually get there.

The above are further hurt by the still woefully pointless economy, made more comical by F2P-forbearing gimmicks such as double loot weekends. Having a ‘full bank’ in DF:UW is trivial, and once that happens, it’s just another brick stacked on top of the directionless mess that the game is overall. Again, imagine playing EVE with limitless ISK and you get a good idea of what DF:UW offers once you grind it out for a month or so.

The final and minor side note is how AV handles their community. The most toxic members are left unchecked, especially in-game, where global chat will drive away anyone who has evolved beyond 8th grade gym humor and the lowest of internet meme trash. On the forums the moderation team is all over the place, at times deleting an entire and often valuable thread due to one post, while at other times leaving a cesspool up no matter how low it gets.

When members of the community would try to work with moderators in a productive manner, the end-result was as likely a temp-ban for the one making the effort as it might be for those destroying it, depending on which moderator you happen to get. Double-speak excuses were put forth when confronted about this regardless of how far someone escalated things, which ultimately resulted in many once-helpful people leaving the game in disgust.

To list just one sad example, the head community manager specifically stated that since they somehow can’t verify the content of personal messages on their own forums (yup…), they won’t take any action for that content. If you ever want a place to throw out death threats without consequence, Darkfall is your place. Hell, it already has an Erotica1 clone running rampant, without that pesky CCP getting in the way of those community-building torture sessions.

Even the once-productive MVP forum has so many like-minded people included now that it really serves no purpose, especially since AV has stopped sharing key details and instead are now just throwing out pie-in-the-sky ideas (alignment system, one-off quests, etc) without following up. Even small, silly things like there recent survey, with all its mistakes, could have easily been improved with some feedback, but they don’t use the resources available to them for whatever reason.

Much like Shadowbane and other PvP focused MMOs that have come before it, I think future developers can learn a thing or two from this experiment, and hopefully MMOs like Pathfinder take some of these lessons to heart to become successful titles. This was a good run, with at least as many highs as lows, but with F2P lurking and things overall not improving (the number of bugs and exploits in the game right now is almost back-to-beta bad), it’s time to put DF:UW down.


About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in Darkfall Online, MMO design, RMT. Bookmark the permalink.

45 Responses to Darkfall: Unholy Wars going F2P and other problems sink it

  1. Rynnik says:


  2. Caaahl says:

    Wow, you are horrible and show how little of a clue you have about the game.
    DFUW is doing great thanks to awsome work by the devs lately and the game is heading in the exact right direction.
    People are having a blast ingame like never before in DFUW and you act like it is “in it’s final chapter”.
    You are nothing but a butthurt fool who tries to damage the game that is not ctering you like you wish.

    You are pathetic.

  3. Syncaine has consistently been one of the most toxic members of the community for awhile now, always quit to hurl personal insults and attacks rather than actually debate. It is extremely amusing and very predictable to see him put forth so much misinformation in a fit of rage after being suspended (finally) for multiple personal attacks.

    You won’t be missed by the Darkfall community at all. Hopefully you find some other game to pretend you know everything about as you personally insult everyone to keep yourself busy.

    • SynCaine says:

      Now if I was AV, I’d ban anyone who didn’t agree with this lovely little example of the community.

      Thanks for helping drive the point home.

    • The dick that fucked your ass says:

      I find it hilarious you tried to report my PM telling you to get run over a bus of special ed children. Only you would be so affected to try to get me banned over vomiting in your general direction. There is a handful of people OUT OF THE ENTIRE DARKFALL COMMUNITY WHO LIKE YOU. I tried to make people hate me, and I still garner tons more respect than you could muster.

      Enjoy playing shitting MMOs while your bush greys, I’ll be down to mass to fuck your wife later, god knows she needs that real dick.

    • Adam says:

      “…Syncaine has consistently been one of the most toxic members of the community for awhile now, always quit to hurl personal insults and attacks rather than actually debate…”

      This from someone with a handle that infers that Syncaine might be a pillow-muncher and a website that supposedly is racist against white guy’s genitalia.

      But when the ferals get this feral it can only mean that the writer, in this case Syncaine, is hitting his target dead center.

  4. No problem hope you get run over by a bus full of retards.

  5. Aventurine is actually more active than they ever been since Darkfall 1 launch, and no, the game is not F2P. They just released a huge patch and already hotfixed it, following the feedback of their community. If there is a moment to try the game.

  6. syncainetakesitintheas says:

    Your arrogant attitude and dogshit ideas will not be missed. It’s not surprising to see crying like a little child on your worthless blog(that nobody reads).

    Good riddance fuckhead

  7. maybethereisagod says:

    Glad this toxic loser is gone, please don’t come back.. ever

  8. The BBQ King says:

    Hey what’s up kid I heard you quit Darkfall
    Is it really true? Come back man I want moar huggles

  9. SynCaine says:

    Guess someone does understand how IP reporting on WP works, too funny.

  10. This blog blows and so does syncaine says:

    This is the best news to ever come from this blog. This guy infected DF with his horrible ideas. His leaving will not be a big lost.

  11. Maedhros says:

    Wow, glad you are gone. You have done nothing but attack AV and hurl insults at people that disagreed with you.

    Av is way more communicative and are patching and changing their game.

    You will universally not be missed.

    Happy trails

    • SynCaine says:

      100% honest now, I will miss you hangman. It was fun, and hopefully someone else comes along to provide you some rope to play with.

      • Maedhros says:

        This is what I am talking about. You were never able to answer anyones argument. You always responded with flaming that got worse when you were not getting your way.

        AV is 10x better now than they have ever been. They are working on their game and changing things that needed changed.

        You are claiming that you are a prophet because you predicted balance issues when they introduced the new skill system. That’s not predictive, that’s captain obvious.

        The game is alive, the population is booming, and almost everyone is happy. Even people that are not happy with certain changes are still optimistic given AV’s current track record.

        Ever since about 2010 your focus has been other games, like EVE. Your proposed changes to Darkfall were copied straight from EVE’s design doc.

        I have yet to meet anyone in game, and I do talk to a lot of people, that agree with you or even like the new you.

        The only question is, is the new you a product of trolling and being pissed off? Or is it the you you have always been?

  12. gofuckyourselfsyncaine says:

    Eat a Dick Syncaine. Have fun watching your spaceship auto-fly through warp points, baddie.

  13. Fuck you. All that needs to be said

  14. Jenks says:

    Ooof, my condolences.

    At least for the first time in many years I feel like there are some interesting things on the MMO horizon. There’s some indie/niche games like Pathfinder, nostalgia fixes like Camelot, and Star Citizen which looks to be a completely new MMO experience. So, things could be worse. The SWTOR through Wildstar era has been depressing as hell.

    DF community seems pretty cool, I’m probably going to check the game out now. I follow syncaineisafaggot on twitter, and he said the game’s most toxic member just quit and there has never been a better time to start.

    • syncainetakesitintheaz says:

      i follow him too!

    • Anti-Stupidity League says:

      Unfortunately Pathfinder looked pretty craptastic based on its early previews. I have higher hopes for some kickstarted UO-clone, an isometric rpg should be a bit more manageable to do with less money, IMO.

  15. thorin987 says:

    The fact that last weekend has been DFUW’s best weekend since launch pretty much discredits your opinion.

  16. zets says:

    Your not leaving Syncaine, your just a bleeding heart who is probably unhappy with a recent change. qq, lrn2play rookie.

  17. Malcolm Rennolds says:

    There’s something I find insanely amusing about people confusing high post patch activity with long term success. It’s a subscription game, making a huge change and getting “The fact that last weekend has been DFUW’s best weekend since launch pretty much discredits your opinion.” as a response is hilarious.

    It’ll be interesting to see how DF:UW does in the next year. The current changes seem designed to drive short term success and hope that they can salvage this into a fully fledged MMO and not arena pvp. However, I’m not hopeful. Making short term changes and hoping to make long term fixes later is basically the opposite of every piece of respected business advice.

    It’s like a new homeowner painting walls and cleaning the carpets before moving into a moldy house with messed up plumbing. You’ll get a few months (maybe) but sooner or later it’s gonna be a shit storm.

    Aventurine is on a reactionary war footing, they make huge changes to respond to the most immediate threats but don’t plan for the medium and long term. MMO’s (unlike most games) require a medium and long term. If I play fable or skyrim or starcraft or league I don’t give a shit about the month to month or year to year strategy or development. I want fun day to day gaming; I want to turn my computer on and have fun Now. The second I step into an MMO though I want fun now, but I’m also keeping a weather eye on the horizon. I want to know if what I do today, what I build this month, is going to mean anything next month, next year.

    When WoW had this I loved WoW. When I felt that the character advancement I did this month was going to matter throughout the next year I dove into character advancement. Now if I know I’m going to take 3 months off I know the optimal strategy is to simply not play today because anything I do today could be done in half the time when I come back.

    This actually leads me to a good test:

    Will my day-to-day actions this month be meaningful if I take a three month break?

    In WoW the answer is definitely no. In DF:UW the answer (because of the economy issues and the constantly changing seascape of skills, abilities and classes) is probably not. In Eve or on a public minecraft server the answer is likely yes. Diamonds I store at the end of spring are diamonds I have in the fall. A good ship now might be bad in the fall but will be unlikely to have fallen in price more than 10%. This is why,knowing I will be busy as hell for the next month I spent this week making isk and not playing some day-to-day game.

    • Rynnik says:

      >This actually leads me to a good test:
      >Will my day-to-day actions this month be meaningful if I take a >three month break?


      I know I could resub my EVE accounts tomorrow and have ‘value’ immediately based on the effort and gameplay I had invested into the game over the 3 years I played. While it certainly wouldn’t be ‘pick up exactly where I left off’ my skillpoints, wallet, and hanger all have morphed and changed while I was gone, without a single isk, item or skill becoming OBSOLETE during that hiatus.

      That is such a key design element for me I just can’t bring myself to contemplate an investment in an MMO that doesn’t deliver it.

      I logged back into DF (sub is still ticking down for another month or so) and my bank, my prowess, and the year I played more or less daily since launch might as well have been cleanly wiped. If I use the same skills I am woefully underpowered and require magic class skills which I always snubbed for nothing other than roleplay reasons (I roll like that – sue me). My bank is devalued by the day due to rampant inflation and the aftermath of a massive duping bug. The change to gear means what I have stockpiled and have ground up to being able to craft no longer works for ‘optimal’ builds. Fuck. That. Shit.

      I guess the summation is I either crawl back to EVE soonish or just stay away from MMOs completely until a miracle release occurs (LMAO). Thank goodness for Might and Magic X right now as it is 95% of my gaming time with LoL basically filling the other 5% and my PvP urges.

    • Thorin says:

      Universally damn near everyone besides syncaine enjoys the game much more now after custom roles. You’re forgetting enough people were interested in unholy wars to green light it in 24 hours. Turns out poleople didn’t like Classfall.

      Literally everything in this blog is contradicted by what is actually happening in game.

      • Scree says:

        LOL Steam Greenlight is meaningless. I could count on one finger the number of titles recently that look remotely interesting via Steam Greenlight. Thats like saying that because a game has a website its going to be a good game.

  18. Vett says:

    DFUW now on sale on Steam for $5.08…….. Hi Syn hope all is well!

  19. Obs LoD says:

    OP could not be more wrong about the game… unless this was written 2 months ago. Game is better now than it has ever been, with a higher pop than it has ever been. It sounds like it a good thing you are leaving looking at all the people here who literally hate you with a passion.

    • Anonymous says:

      “looking at all the people here”

      I’m getting a strange vibe that “all the people” might be one person with a large chip and way too much time on their hands

      • Xyloxan says:

        Exactly my impression. Same childish language and zero rationality.

        • Galien says:

          It has to be Syncaine himself making mischief. The comments are proving his point way too effectively. /tinfoilhat

  20. Scree says:

    I think its comical how you commented on how toxic the community is and people are using names like “The dick that fucked your ass” or “gofuckyourselfsyncaine” to argue the point against you.

    It made me laugh.

    So yea, heres to a long slow death for DFUW. Pathfinder MIGHT be the answer. Its too early by far to tell. What I’ve read bodes well for it, however.

    • This blog blows and so does syncaine says:

      It is funny how this post here came up after he was suspended on the DF forums for being a douche.

      • wloire says:

        When DF1.0 started out Syncaine was just about the only blog that would touch that pile of shit and he convinced a significant portion of his readers to give the game a chance. When Unholy Wars finally dragged it’s corpse out of the hearse Syncaine was just about the only blog of any significance following it.

        Bringing AV business is all well and good but the second you start criticizing their decisions you get a forum ban. Good business practice.

  21. GamerDroid says:

    The game is fundamentally broken. I’ve played it on and off since launch and that’s only because there is currently no other alternative (other than EVE). Since the skills changes, the game feels even more broken. A better move by AV would have been a full pp wipe, and then at least it would have had a feel of early launch. There are only so many villages I can be arsed to fight over.
    The addition of the cash shop is the final straw for me. I’m not paying a sub and having game options obstructed by a pay wall.

  22. Responses to this post seem to validate that DF is dying. Or at least the community representation here sounds toxic enough that it will kill or chase off any potential new players/growth.
    Sort of like the EVE HTFU bittervets in this regard. Is this what will happen to EVE once CCP starts catering exclusively to existing players instead of thinking about the 90% that leave after the first month?

    • Rammstein says:

      ” Is this what will happen to EVE once CCP starts catering exclusively to existing players instead of thinking about the 90% that leave after the first month?”

      No, because that’s been CCP’s modus operandi for years already. DFUW and EVE are not the same game, so they don’t have the same playerbase.

  23. GamerDroid says:

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with catering mainly for your player base. The problems start, I feel, when you give in to their every want without being objective about it. Players’ immediate gratification is not necessarily in their best interest in the long term. And although there does need to be some sort of democratic process, there also needs to be some sort of intellectual debate about the overall direction of the game, and any changes need to fit with them.

    I do agree however; catering exclusively for your player base is never a good strategy, especially when the game is a sandbox PVP that depends on players for content. Wolves still need sheep to survive.

  24. Pingback: Probably The Worst Comments Thread In The Universe | Tremayne's Law

  25. Raelyf says:

    Well, these comments sure have convinced me the Darkfall forum community isn’t toxic.

  26. Dahakha says:

    I’m actually hoping you’re wrong, Syncaine, and DFUW is doing just peachy. If you’re right, all these lovely people will have to find other games to play soon, and I’m not sure letting them into civilised company is advisable. Much better for them to be kept contained, away from decent folk.

Comments are closed.