Darkfall Unholy Wars is Crap

Tuesday, April 30, 2013 | 19

All MMORPGs are Bad.

I feel like it's important for my readers to fully understand that my hatred for MMORPGs is no longer tinged with any shred of irony. They're all shitty, and I wish people would quit asking me which one they should play. You will be disappointed by all comers because they're all bad and getting worse. Darkfall Unholy Wars epitomizes the faceless garbage-machine that mass produces sub-par games that nobody asked for.

Like the Original Darkfall?

The Aventurine staff made it very clear that they weren't interested in their former niche audience by 'Carebearing Up' the sequel. If you enjoyed what small freedom the pseudo-sandbox provided before, prepare to be let down hard. Darkfall UW has become Planetside with safe-zones. The only thing that is the same as the predecessor is AV's horrible (non-existent) support who didn't dignify any of my support requests with a response.

The simplest way to review this game is by addressing problems with the original Darkfall, then describing how they fucked up the solutions for these problems. This could get ugly, folks.

What AV Needed to Fix

User Interface

The main complaint that most people who actually played Darkfall had was the shallow and mostly unresponsive UI. Most production quality MMORPGs have some form of UI customization or scripting options. Darkfall's UI was so bad that players were forced to create their own scripts with external programs in order to play the game competitively. Regardless of if options exist to improve the game, when your clients have to reach out to Rube Goldbergian solutions to solve simple issues like looting monsters, you've failed.

To fix this problem, the Darkfall team designed what could be the least intuitive and complicated UI system in the history of gaming. This is an example of the most common type of UI element in Darkfall Unholy Wars:



Seriously, what the fuck does that even mean? If you're going to use imagery in your UI, you better make fucking damn sure that it is recognizable imagery. It looks like a mongoloid with swirrels around it. Is it the button that provides access to the smush-face menu? You'll have to hover your cursor over it for seconds to get the tool-tip and find out! Fucking pointless.

There are also numerous radial menus and Skyrim style bar-menus because everyone fucking loves those. I didn't ever believe that a menu-system more convoluted and ridiculous than EvE Online could ever exist, and yet here we are.

Progression System

This is where things get controversial because I know there are numerous people who really like Darkfall's original skill system. I, however, do not. I believe that character planning is a fun part of games, so the original system where everyone can be everything simultaneously both increased an already massive grind and diminished roles. Because I'm a fan of specialization, this system wasn't good for me. I would have imposed a hard cap on skill-points much like Mortal and Ultima Online in order to allow players to focus less on grinding and more on thinking.

The Unholy Wars solution to this problem is a traditional roles system. This ensures that minimal creativity can be used to spice up PvP. You're a warrior, rogue, mage, or priest. Period. You can also freely switch between roles so that you never have to think out any decisions you make.

To solve the skill-grind issue, they implemented a system where you could assign generic points to various skills that you acquire by using any unrelated skill. Apparetly they didn't have any foresight whatsoever because literally everyone instantly started chopping trees and assigning the points to combat abilities because it's much safer than actually killing monsters or players. Great job guys! You did it!

Racial Balance

Power gamers are always going to look for an edge, and Darkfall was no different. Because different races had different hit-boxes, players could wrangle a minor advantage by playing a smaller race. This wasn't anything that couldn't have been solved with some minor tweaking because racial diversity make character planning more interesting and fun.

Instead of accepting that certain races could be used creatively, and tweaking swing radius and hit-boxes for better balance, all races were redesigned to be the same exact size and shape. If you're not following how funny this statement is, look at this picture:



This image has not been edited, and no, I can't imagine how high someone must be to think you can slap a fur-face on your human model and call it production ready. This image is the wolf-race, and the other races got the same treatment. Orcs are green humans, and Dwarves are hairy humans. This may just be cosmetic, but I believe it speaks to a much deeper issue.

Asshole Culture

Risky MMORPGs like EVE and Darkfall have a tendency to create a culture of assholes, but unlike casual games such as DayZ, MMORPGs require a legitimate community to thrive. In an attempt to improve the newbie experience in Darkfall, they used a typical karma system to prevent rampant murder. The problem is that the penalty for griefing is much less for a long-term player than it is for a new player so if a new player does find pvp, it was always one sided and curb-stompy. The penalty of not being able to enter NPC cities due to your murderer status doesn't matter when you're in a well-established clan with their own cities. Ultima Online used stat-loss to curb this behavior, but I'm not entirely sold on that for a game with a near infinite grind.

Unholy Wars decided to instead make the karma system purely cosmetic and add safe zones to newbie-heavy regions. The rules for the safe zones don't include loot rights, so a new form of griefing was born in the form of penalty free ninja-looting. Most people don't stay in safe zones for too long because they're basically the worst invention of Unholy Wars and serve almost no benefit to anyone.

The Grind

Nobody likes grinding, but the original Darkfall had it in spades. The typical quest in Darkfall required you to kill literally hundreds of monsters before completion, and the amount of time it could take to achieve a competitive skill level was ridiculous. This was mostly due to the aforementioned requirement for players to master every style of combat, use third party programs, and have optimal equipment to be useful. If it were up to me, i'd focus way less on "epic gear" and more on "fun" because equipment is just another meaningless grind, and you're probably going to be victimized by the zerg and lose it anyhow.

Unholy Wars uses the generic points system I mentioned earlier, but the dependency on equipment is still alive and well. If you're new and extremely good at the game but have average equipment, you will either lose or get so bored fighting that you'll give up because you do no damage at all. First person shooters are supposed to be fast paced, but the Darkfall team manages to slow everything down to a fast paced crawl. It's simply awful and I would never wish it on anyone.

Graphics

This is the least important part in my opinion because a game can be fun without having any graphics at all (see: rap battles), but Darkfall was pretty ugly even by indie standards. I always had assumed that this was because they spent around a decade in development with a small team. With Unholy Wars, they really had time to spend making the game look and feel more authentic and interesting. The graphics should be much better than the original, right? WRONG!!!!!

The Good

Error 192 - Content Unavailable

Breakdown:

  • (-12) WHY!?
  • (1) Clunky and Meh
  • (5) Pretty Original... For a sequel...
  • (10) Nope
  • (5) Open(ish) with Safe-Zones
  • (10) Risky Business
  • (-1,000) This seems really lazy.

Final Score: Mortal Online is back in the race!

Follow me on twitter @mmorpgssuck to see pictures of my week old baby! YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO SEE MY BABY, YOU ASSHOLES! FUCK YOU!

19 comments :

  1. Highest mmo score ever here!?!?!?!?! Just maybe but I am too lazy to number crunch. So this is the game we should play then right?

    ReplyDelete
  2. LOL, the tall dwarves are really funny.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Don't forget some people bought a specific mouse for the old Darkfall's UI..

    ReplyDelete
  4. you should post a picture of the old mahirim for comparison. To highlight to readers just how stupid the design choice was

    ReplyDelete
  5. Good call. This makes the folly more obvious.

    ReplyDelete
  6. It's Aventurine, not Adventurine. IMO there should be a development aspect to the rating system. In this category, AV should get the lowest possible score considering they made their borderline terrible game even worse over time... accounting for the fact that Unholy Wars is the premature sibling of the stillborn Darkfall 2010 come 3 years late, and doesn't even include most of the important features advertized for either version.

    ReplyDelete
  7. My new favorite website.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks Anon. I had been calling this shit company the wrong thing for almost 10 years. AV's failures are well documented, but if you ask anyone who plays Darkfall why they play it, it's because there is literally no better option.

    This is why I can't play MMOs anymore.

    ReplyDelete
  9. This is the best review of Df:uw I really could not have put it better myself..

    ReplyDelete
  10. I left a lot for later. I assume they're not done because it's obvious that this game isn't fully tested. Thanks for the feedback.

    ReplyDelete
  11. this is very spot on and i don't think i could have put it better i got to 40k+ points the game does not get better as there is nothing worth doing at the end and the game has so many other problems as well.rock on for having the balls to call it out.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Even long time fanboys seem to agree that at best, Darkfall is only the best of horrible options.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Yes, red safe in safe zones annoys me the most, it is really anoying the wolf looks like a race from Star Trek: TNG. God, I wish EvE wasn't so boring.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Have you tried Star Conflict on Steam? If EVE had that combat, I'd play it every day.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Despite all the negativity surrounding Adventure Time and their inability to create a game that's actually worth playing, this sequel has almost double the population from their original game.

    Currently there are 8 other players online at this moment, all of which are AFK, in safezones.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Havent played darkfall yet but mortal is horrible. No maps online or in game. Spent many hours the first 2 days being lost with nothing to do but run back from where I just came to try running somewhere else.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hello there, sorry for the necro but i'm interested in reading a revisit for this game, after the changes they made to it. I played it at launch for a couple of minutes (yeah, like six or seven) before uninstalling it, because i honestly didn't had the slightest idea how that game worked, that UI was beyond disgusting and the combat was retarded.

    Anyways, i'm downloading it right now and hoping for one of those free trial keys they're giving away.

    Great site, i always read it after playing WoW. Yeah, i play WoW. And no, i don't like pandas, but hey... is that or becoming an alcoholic, and frankly WoW is cheaper.

    Regards from Argentina.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I may end up taking another look.

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.