First of all, sorry for the delay in my posting. It’s been solo-week while student teaching, as I think I mention a couple posts ago. Apart from that I’ve been playing a bit of Darkfall. Yes, that’s right, I got my copy. Here are my thoughts…

I finally got my Darkfall account this past Monday. You know, you’d think that I would have walked away with a bitter taste in my mouth but I really didn’t. I guess after putting so much effort (ohh… four lunch breaks I’ll never have back) into it, that feeling of satisfied elation really made up for the few days that came before it.

So far, I’m really enjoying the game. The combat is a blast. I really like the click to swing style of fighting. It’s a lot more active than most MMOs out there and you really start to notice yourself become adept to the fighting style after working with it for a little bit. Because the mobs will circle strafe and run from you, you’re forced to pay attention to the battle if you want to succeed. In Darkfall, many mobs can easily kill you if you’re off your game. And by now, we all now what happens when you die. Toodaloo gear. I mean, it’s possible for you to get your things back, I suppose. The mobs in the starting areas are so camped though that you’d be incredibly lucky to not find your gravestone empty.

Archery is one of my favorite aspects of ranged combat. Because mobs run from you (and players, for that matter) being able to fire your bow accurately while also on the run can be a real challenge. There’s a nice sense of satisfaction when you land a headshot. Arrows are prohibitively expensive to the new player, so you’ll often find that they’re some of the first items looted from mob corpses.

Looting. There’s a big topic and one of some debate. Kill stealing and loot stealing happen. There is no mob tagging, so the person who gets the last blow gets the kill. But anyone can loot the corpse in its entirety. It’s not uncommon, at least in the human starting zone of Sandbrook, to see people deliberate stay out of fights only to rush up and try to ninja the items from the corpse. Here’s the thing though, and I’m surprised I feel this way, I really don’t mind. Actually, I think it makes the standard kill/collect quests a lot more exciting then they’d otherwise be. You’re forced to be competitive and on your game or else you’re bound to lose. With the choice of melee, archery, or magic, you can strategize to figure out the best way to take the enemy down without putting yourself in the line of fire.

There’s been a lot of posts on the official forums from people that hate the open looting system. They feel that if they got the kill, they should get the loot. What’s kind of funny is that very few of these people complain about the fact that other people help kill these mobs too. In truth, I think we’ve all developed a sense of entitlement when it comes to looting. The recent crop of commercial MMOs do everything in their power to keep things “fair” and do away with competition over the little things. Darkfall encourages it. Once we get rid of the sense of entitlement, and learn to click and drag the most important items first, open looting will be something we all get used to.

Suprisingly, I haven’t seen much griefing. The alignment system helps to ensure that people aren’t constantly chopping you down. In Darkfall, if you hit someone, even on accident, you can be killed without penalty for 10 seconds (2 minutes for two or more hits). If you happen to murder someone, you’re a free kill until you take out kill 3 people of an enemy faction. In the starting zones, that pretty much means you’ll be killed repeatedly until you’re able to waste those other people. Not fun. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll probably run into the occassional idiot who doesn’t care. Those players are few and far between (in the starting zones) however and will most likely get chopped down.

So how does the game look/perform? You’ve probably seen the screens and videos but here’s my take. The graphics in the game are decent. They’re not amazing, in my opinion, but they work. I’ve seen a couple of nice visuals, scenery-wise, but I have to wonder how good it couple possibly get. It seems like the draw-distance is really low. I mean, you can see the forms of objects, like trees, for some distance but they appear to gray out (they’re just shapes, totally grayed in) when they’re not a real long ways away. I have my graphics on max everything, so I suppose I’m satisfied, and have seen zero lag or fps hiccups. I’m quite a bit from being wowed however. To put it in perspective, and only in the realm of distance-based detail, things gray out on max settings where they would on medium-low settings on WoW or WAR. For close up detail, however, Darkfall beats them both without question.

There are certainly things that are a little silly though. For example, in the video options, the text/settings layout is not wide enough for the text they have entered, which means that a couple of the option’s descriptions get cut off. Expanding the window just gives you a black area around the layout area. Additionally, they really give you no idea how high you can set things. Graphics settings are number based with an up/down arrow you can hold and there are no (or few, I forget) sliders. So, to optimize things, be prepared to play around a little bit. I’d like to see that changed. I also don’t really care for having to go into and out of interface mode everytime I’m like to change or loot something. It’s quick to go back into game mode but it’s still a minor annoyance.

Right now, I feel good about the game. It’s a different experience, to be sure, but it’s nice to be back in a kind of DikuMUD environment again. Going in, I expect a nostalgia trip. The nice thing is that I’ve found a lot to have fun with apart from just playing a visual version of an old memory.

Darkfall is game rough around the edges but that can be a lot of fun if you’re a good match for it. If you can balance little typos here and there, grinding by design, and real consequences with the potential for great reward, adreneline, and the group experiences you’re sure to relish, I recommend keeping an eye on the game. Things may change the further players get into it, so I won’t recommend a purchase yet (especially since queue times have been atrocious) but consider it. You may find a throwback to the past the next step in your gaming future.

UPDATE: I re-rolled a Dwarf tonight and named him Reign Stormbreaker. Yes, Reign. I’ve been called Raegan for a couple years now, so I figured I would do something about that by rolling with the traditional spelling. Funny thing, Dwarf beards are bugged. You can’t change their color and it’s locked to plain white. Which means we all look like a bunch of old men. Beware the wrath of our Jitterbug cell phones and little red scooters! We have horns and we know how to use them! Anyways, the draw distance issue wasn’t happening in their starting zone. Maybe it was just Sandbrook?