When it comes to playing MMOs, I tend to approach each one differently. I’m a firm believer in playing an MMO on its own terms, rather than projecting some unattainable expectations on a product I took no active role in creating. So depending on how core systems are structured my focus will shift to account for the how one game naturally differs from the next.
One of the only constants tends to be that I would consider myself a very goal-oriented MMO gamer. The goals may be different in each game I’ve played, but they are always goals I set for myself rather than being part of a formalized system like achievement unlocks. There are definitely those times when my personal goals and things like achievements overlap, but for the most part I find more satisfaction in successfully completing objectives of my own design.
Skyforge is a very appealing MMO for players like myself who like to set multiple goals at once. With few exceptions, nearly every activity in Skyforge feeds directly into character progression in some way, and there is a very distinct freedom of choice that simply is not present in most triple-A games in the genre.
Having participated in each of the closed beta events, I had set a number of goals for myself by the time open beta arrived and things like character / account wipes drew to a close. Exposure to those beta events also proved to be somewhat of a blessing and a curse. I always had the goal of unlocking the necromancer, but also discovered that I enjoyed playing the witch / warlock even more.
The Curse of the Casual Player
Given the nature of what I do for a living, I tend to have less time than most to dedicate to playing a single MMO during any given week. I really enjoy Skyforge and play as often as I’m able, but have also fallen far behind the average when it comes to the player progression curve. I’m at roughly 10,000 Prestige which isn’t bad, but at times it feels like I’m crawling forward rather than making meaningful progress towards my goals.
A couple of weeks ago I finally managed to unlock the necromancer class, and naturally couldn’t wait to switch over to actively playing it. That’s when many of the weaknesses of the class unlock system became very pronounced for me, and helped me realize that I may never reach the ultimate goal of unlocking the witch / warlock without some serious time investment.
Considering it took the better part of two months to get the necromancer unlocked, it is going to take a hefty amount of sparks for the long stretch of the Ascension Atlas between the two classes. A part of me questions why some classes are nested so deeply within the Atlas to begin with given the fact that being able to play a class you truly enjoy is one of the biggest factors of player retention in an MMO. Having to spend months getting there really defeats the purpose, at least for me.
In the meantime, I’ve completely missed the first Invasion, and will no doubt miss out on the new Mechanoid Invasion as well since I’m spending sparks to get to the class I want to play, so have not been dropping the major chunks required to unlock the Divine Atlas. Mind you, to even make the necromancer playable I’ve also needed to spend sparks on the first run of skill and talent unlocks, setting me back from my other goals even further.
Pound Me the Witch Drums
Another questionable byproduct of the class unlock system in Skyforge is that it sets you up to fail when switching to a freshly unlocked class for the first few times when playing solo. For starters, my Prestige dropped a full 1500+ points due to having no class-specific gear, and no way to obtain even a starter kit for the class.
So with no weapons, amulets, or talents, and only a few skills available, the severe disadvantage my necro was at was readily apparent the first time I engaged a group of enemies in combat. The same groups of weak mobs that my berserker would whirlwind down in two seconds were suddenly unstoppable killing machines that could mow down my fledgling necromancer without breaking a sweat.
The Prestige system insures that you only have a narrow slice of content available that will give you needed drops, so it was an uphill battle for the past two weeks just getting some basic gear for my necromancer. That transition period was certainly painful, and one that the training simulator does very little to prepare you for when trying out new classes.
All things considered, the necromancer is one of the easier classes to unlock in the Ascension Atlas, so I shudder to think about how difficult things will be once I finally unlock the witch. Sparks are coming in at a snail’s pace, so it will no doubt be quite some time before I even get there.
While I think Skyforge is an amazing MMO and regularly recommend it to people looking for a new game to play, the class unlock system may ultimately be the silver bullet that kills my desire to keep logging in. I see some very major flaws in the concept of having to play something you might not otherwise given the choice for a period of weeks or months so that you can eventually unlock the thing you do want to play.
The goal-oriented MMO gamer in me wants to see unlocking the witch class as a challenge, but the practical part of me doesn’t understand why I can’t unlock it through a more direct means. I’d gladly purchase the class unlock directly were it an option, but only selected classes have been available through that method so far.
In the meantime, I’ll keep honing my skills on the necromancer and at least find some comfort in the knowledge that I’ve made it past the awkward gearless dirt nap phase.
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