I've recently been keeping an eye on the upcoming MMORPG Crowfall - or as the developers like to call it: a "throne war simulator". There are a number of reasons why this game is on my personal watch list, as it's sporting plenty of major innovations to the traditional massively multiplayer RPG model. That's probably why the developers feel the need to call it something different. Grouping it with other big titles in the genre would be a huge mistake, for the developers and for gamers too.
A unique Take On MMO World/Server Design
The largest difference (though there are many) between the concept for Crowfall and other current MMORPGs is that this game features a multitude of different worlds. Most games only feature one world, with lots and lots of different servers - but Crowfall is putting an entirely new twist on that concept. The developers understand that in a massively multiplayer game, you're going to get a lot of people that want to enjoy the game differently from one another. This causes problems for most MMOs that feature only one single world where servers are largely identical to one another (save for a couple rule alterations, like open-world player vs. player combat).
Not only does this create a more bland and generic experience to begin with, players are given very little guidance or direction towards selecting a server where they'll be on the same page with those around them. Other than selecting a region of the world and a specific server name, most players have no idea what the community on any given server will be like unless they do a ton of inconvenient research. Additionally, once you do pick a server - you're usually locked into that decision for quite some time (or even permanently). Even worse, let's say you find out about a few friends that are playing a game you recently picked up; in your average MMO those friends are probably on a different server (murphy's law) and unless you or they are willing to start over from scratch, you can't even play together.
Crowfall fixes this issue by having different worlds or "campaigns" that have a limited timeframe before resetting and starting over anew, which you can join with a persistent character that accumulates fame and fortune over time from many different campaigns. Your character in Crowfall will have access to some permanent worlds called "eternal realms" that function much more closely to MMO formats and features we're currently familiar with. You'll be able to come and go from the eternal realm between your campaigns.
It's a fantastic concept that turns a lot of the problems with server selection, new-player experience, social grouping, and community building all upside down. Each world or "campaign" will have a detailed description of its duration, unique rule-set, and other important factors that will inform you of exactly what is going to take place there (which is something you really don't get at all from current MMO world selection).
The game looks to incorporate a lot of strategic warfare and simulation elements too, which also sets it apart from other MMORPGs currently on the market. In those games, the only real strategy elements involved are usually large group raids and bigger arena battlegrounds, which fall dramatically short of the mark when it comes to real strategy-themed games. It will be interesting to see the creators talk about how they plan on pacing campaign duration with different mechanics and victory conditions.
The addition of Voxel Farm technology
Above all else though, the recent revelation that Crowfall will also be using Voxel Farm as a chunk of core technology really intrigues me. For those unfamiliar with the system - Voxel Farm is a game engine and rendering system that takes our familiar poly-plane type MMO worlds and renders them in voxelized meshes that are fully-editable at any point in time without the use of external software. It's basically like Minecraft on steroids and is the core underlying technology of Daybreak Game Company's (formerly Sonly Online Entertainment) recent titles Landmark and EverQuest Next. This system also is capable of complex and realistic procedural generation of maps.
This is huge for a game that plans on "resetting" campaign worlds to create opportunities for players to continue progressing on fresh footing (without always fighting that uphill battle against more experienced and more invested players). It means that players potentially won't even be able to memorize maps, as a world regeneration could change the entire landscape completely. If you're familiar with the board game Settlers of Catan - then you probably have some familiarity with a mechanic like this.
Crowfall would be the second official title that Voxel Farm has been licensed out to (at least that is public knowledge), with EverQuest Next / Landmark as the first. I'm very interested to see how these two wildly different games and companies will choose to utilize different core components from Voxel Farm's unique engine. We should be getting a lot more information by this time next week, so stay tuned for that - as I will definitely be watching for it (and sharing my thoughts in the near future).
As for a parting shot, here's an older video of the Voxel Farm engine with a user traversing down the side of a procedurally generated mountain. The scale is just massive, and remember that everything is editable (think Landmark or Minecraft).
Thanks for reading and be sure to comment with your thoughts and opinions below. I'd love to hear your initial thoughts about Crowfall, and how big of a role Voxel Farm might play in the creation and development of this game.
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Crowfall Game Page.