Friday, July 13, 2012 | 21
The 20x gains were too tempting.Darkfall Online is a deeply flawed game with glaring deficiencies, but until now the biggest problem was the unprecedented grind. Now, no such grind exists. I fired my account back up with a few (now more) guys and found that the game still sucks, but not quite as bad as everything else.
There is stuff to like about Darkfall, especially now that character development doesn't take years, but let's start with the terrible decisions that only AV could imagine.
Review Part 1: The Flaws:
1. The UI is Fucking TerribleSeriously. There are UI elements inside of the Darkfall client that load external web-pages. These web pages are cut off are incorrectly sized BY DEFAULT. The "hotbar" isn't flexible. The crafting interface isn't organized in any sort of logical or intuitive manner, nor can it be modified. The accents around the UI are obtuse and ugly. I really can't put into words how horrific the interface truly is.
Most players opt to gut or remove as many UI elements as possible in lieu of a Ultimaesque key-bind memorization. For a new player experience to be easier when you can't see your UI seems somewhat paradoxical.
How to fix: When you don't have quality UI designers, less is more. Stick to minimalism and adjustable elements and people won't shoot vomit out of their eyes. There isn't a good reason to have a loading screen on a UI element... ever.
2. No Specialization, No Identity"Everyone can be everything" is the same type of hippie logic that leads a socialist country to produce nothing, riot, and ultimately destroy the euro-zone. I don't have any problem with flexible character development, but MMORPGs require social interdependency in order to generate a strong economy, among other things.
Why would you buy swords from Rolf if you can make your own swords... and shields... and boats... and houses? You wouldn't. Rolf is useless, and there is no reason why he even needs to exist anymore. Why would you recruit Franz the fire-mage if you can have all the skills he has without any drawback? Franz is now a useless freeloader... Get the point?
How to fix: Limit trade-skill and spell specialization per character. (possibly open up multiple characters)
3. Worst Quests Ever?I don't know why MMORPG developers even need to create inconsequential quests, but the quests in Darkfall are worse than any other game I've ever played. The Kill 5 Rats equivalent in Darkfall would be: Kill 320 goblins. That is not hyperbole, there is actually a quest that insults you to that extent. Shameful. On top of that, there is no way to blow through these ridiculous "Title Quests" because monster spawns are both spread out and limited in the number of enemies.
How to fix: Take that shit out of the game, and stab the person who came up with it.
4. SLOW Character Development (until now)The biggest barrier that prevented new players from flocking to Darkfall was the speed of progression. Sure, it's no EvE, but Darkfall, even with hard-caps on skills was quite daunting for a new player who would spend 3-4 months of his character development getting manhandled by players who have played for years. With 20x gains, you can actually get competitive in a matter of weeks, which is acceptable to most MMOers.
Grind mechanics like this are an antiquated relic of the P2P MMORPG. Grinds only exist because developers were brainstorming ways to retain a player for longer in a game with finite content. Sandboxes have infinite (player generated) content, therefore grinds are unnecessary and insulting.
How to fix: Run all systems under a filter with a priority on removing all elements that aren't fun. Grinding isn't fun in any game, so your 'grind' should be minimal or non-existent if possible.
It's also the best MMORPG out there...
Review Part 2: The Good
1. It isn't owned by EA or BlizzardThe chokehold that big-money studios have on the industry is frightening and has suspended genre-innovation. AV has shown that they're more interested in making their shit-game than making money. This ensures that, for better or worse, Darkfall will stay hardcore for a long time to come.
2. Darkfall lets you be youFor better or worse, you're free in Darkfall to do what you want (within reason). If you're a lone wolf who wants to choose your targets and pick off stragglers, that's possible. If you want to zerg, there are plenty of talent-less newbie guilds to join. Ultimately your success or failure is up to your own personal abilities, and that's just great.
3. What other options are there?Between a weak Mortal Online whose developers have shown that they don't even have a handle on their own code, and cookie cutter releases on the horizon (GW2, TSW, etc) there simply isn't a better option right now. You'll get used to the problems, and if you bring friends with you, i'll have more people to kill. Win-win.
There is some substantial talent ready to own you in DarkfallDarkfall is a FPS. Like any FPS, you're lose fights, but you'll get better. The game has a real learning curve, and that's a welcome change from the tab-target MMO machine.
- (5) No Penises
- (7) FPS Meets High Fantasy
- (3) Watered Down Socialist UO
- (10) No
- (10) Open World Goodness
- (10) Risky Business
- (-1,000,000) Worst. UI. Ever.