A City in Darkfall
With all the buzz around Darkfall right now, we wanted to take a look at why so many people are excited about this game. Can it possibly live up to the hype? Will this game carve out a healthy niche for itself in the increasingly competitive MMOG market? Can Darkfall show that you dont have to be a WoW clone to succeed with a new MMOG today? Well, with the release date right around the corner, lets take a look at what Darkfall is promising, and see if they can beat the odds.
After over seven years of development (and many cries of vaporware), Darkfall is about to finally be released. On February 25th, Darkfall will make its splash and attempt to buck the trend of MMOs today. While other game companies are closely following what can arguably be called the WoW model (no they didnt do it first, they are just the biggest, so they get the title), Aventurine SA, the creators of Darkfall, are taking everything WoW has done to date and throwing it out the window. Thats right, everything you loved about WoW Gone! No levels, no classes, no safe areas away from PvP. Its your game, your world, you decide how to play. They are going back to the roots of MMOGs, with many calling Darkfall the spiritual successor to Ultima Online. No other mainstream MMOG has attempted to give players such an open sandbox style of gameplay than what Darkfall is promising.
A Dark Knight Attacking
Is this a good thing? Lets take a closer look at what Darkfall is offering.
One of my biggest complaints with current generation MMOGs is the class system. I make a character, I invest months, even years, into making him great. My friends and guild mates know me as that character, and now that I want to try out something new I have to start all over. That is just so frustrating! I dont want to play a new character, I just want my current character to learn to do different things. Well, Darkfall promises that you will never have to roll up an alt unless you want to. They feature a skill based system for advancement. So, if you are a fighter and you want to start using spells, well much like in Ultima Online, just start using spells. If you decide you want to use a bow, and then later, you decide the bow isnt for you, no worries. Just start using whatever skills you want to and in time you will get better with them. The lack of levels and classes in Darkfall will quickly separate it from nearly every other MMOG out there.
A Dragon in Darkfall
In another attempt to separate itself from the pack, Darkfall features real-time combat. You wont be fighting in this game while eating a sandwich, or clicking on icons and watching for your attacks to slowly recharge. If you prefer that style of gameplay, stay away from this game. In Darkfall combat is fast and responsive. It doesnt take the reflexes of a first person shooter, but it plays much more like an action adventure game than it does the traditional MMOG.
One of the biggest features, and the most controversial of the game, is the truly open world sand box style of game play. There is no flagging yourself for PvP, no safe zones to avoid other players. If someone wants you dead, you better be ready, because they can kill you pretty much anywhere. Thats not to say there is no punishment for killing players. Darkfall has an alignment system that punishes people for killing other characters. This doesnt mean you cant do it, it just means there are consequences for your actions. This feature will more than likely be the reason that players either love the game, or hate it. Its something we havent seen in a long time in mainstream MMOs because of the griefing that so often follows this style of game play. Aventurine is betting on the rewards and thrill of a truly open sand box will outweigh the negatives that come with this freedom.
One of the mounts in Darkfall
Finally, Aventurine continues to challenge the status quo with how they are going to release the game. They have recently announced that they will limit how many pre orders they take and how many copies of the game they will sell at release. Claiming they will not sell more copies than they can handle, and instead if demand is high enough for the game, they will go with a staged release. According to Tasos Flambouras, Associate Producer of the game, Its also not a matter of simply throwing up a few more servers to meet increased demand. Darkfall being a sandbox, real-time, seamless world able to support over 10 thousand concurrent users requires considerably more infrastructure and support in place than your average MMOG. We will do what is necessary to support the demand, but its not going to be instantaneous. Meaning if you dont get your copy right away, be prepared to wait.
Another mount option
I have told my friends and colleagues for some time now that the next great MMOG will be nothing like WoW. That at some point, a company out there will realize that making a WoW clone with a different skin isnt the change players want. Is Darkfall that game? Well, it definitely isnt going to be a WoW killer (lets face it, nothing any time soon will be), but that doesnt mean it cant be a great game with a strong player base. And one big benefit Darkfall has is that for players that like what Darkfall offers, there is no other game out there even close to this style of game play. So, will it be great? I dont know, but I do know that I am looking forward to the breath of fresh air that Darkfall promises to deliver to the genre.
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