A Beginner's Look at Darkfall - How to Get Ganked

Every week, Ten Ton Hammer's Cody Bye takes some time to write out his latest thoughts on competitive MMO gaming. When he decided to take a spin with Darkfall, however, Cody got more competition than he bargained for. In this commentary, this Ten Ton Hammer staffer explores the differences in Darkfall and where the game initially falls short. Plus, you get to see a picture of him getting ganked. Enjoy! The first time I logged into the game, I felt like I was a new MMO player all over again. I was wet behind the ears, my skin color was green (alright red and furry), and my eyes hurt from squinting to see all of the unknown details in my UI. Little is explained up front, and even looking into the "Help" menu reveals only a few scant details about the game. To make matters worse, I hadn't explored any of the "Here's what to do in Darkfall" threads on the official forums. Much like the early days of EVE Online, if you aren't prepared or at least slightly invested in the world of Darkfall, you may be in for a hard beginning experience. To read the rest of this Darkfall commentary, click here!
Darkfall is hard.

Your first view of a naked newbie.

I’ll admit it. Darkfall is a game unlike anything I’ve ever played in the MMO space. After coming off of another recent stint with EverQuest, I felt primed and ready for some challenging, old school, hardcore MMO action. 

And I got what I asked for. The developers of Darkfall toss you into a world with a few simple instructions - basically a multi-step tutorial - then they set you free to make your way around the continents. The first time I logged into the game, I felt like I was a new MMO player all over again. I was wet behind the ears, my skin color was green (alright red and furry), and my eyes hurt from squinting to see all of the unknown details in my UI. Little is explained up front, and even looking into the "Help" menu reveals only a few scant details about the game. To make matters worse, I hadn't explored any of the "Here's what to do in Darkfall" threads on the official forums. Much like the early days of EVE Online, if you aren't prepared or at least slightly invested in the world of Darkfall, you may be in for a hard beginning experience.

The first quest that I participated in was a giant splash of cold water in the face. While the first questgiver in my home area was directly in front of me (a common practice in modern MMOs), I couldn't find the destination that she wanted me to go towards. With inexorably slow walking, I began exploring the areas around my city. After twenty minutes of searching, I eventually found my destination.

"Whoa," I thought to myself as I stared at my Mahirim warrior. "What have I gotten myself into?"

Thankfully, it's my job to stick with a game for more than twenty minutes, or I might have simply tossed in the towel with Darkfall and called it quits. People just don't have the time of day anymore to spend hours trying to figure out how to get to  particular area in a game. Once I'd found my goblins, I immediately went into "combat mode" by pressing "r" and began running around wacking little green men with my two-handed sword. To be honest, I found the combat to be fun, if not the most inventive system ever created for MMOs. Lag wasn't ever a problem, but I soon found my frustrations to be with other players.

The world in Darkfall is absolutely beautiful.

If you die in Darkfall, you leave behind all of your equipment, much like what players were used to in EverQuest or Ultima Online. However, you also leave all of your loot behind as well. Anything that you may have been storing in your backpack, and that includes quest items, is fair game to anyone that happens to run by and click on your tombstone. While this isn't news to anyone that's been following Darkfall, I really didn't think it was going to be an issue until I happened to die with a load of quest items stored in my bag.

"Ah crap," I muttered at my monitor, and I immediately began hauling ass back to my tombstone, hopeful that no one had stumbled upon the tombstone with a PC name on it. Of course, on my way there I run into more goblins waving and shaking their spears at me. My second death of the day came quickly after the first. Somehow, I actually managed to find my first corpse, which had most of the items still on it. Everything except for a) my money and b) the four axes I was trying to collect for my initial quest. The other player must have been feeling generous, but the removal of my quest axes made me fume.

But it was at that point I realized that Darkfall is not a "questing" game. It's not a game where grinding out the quests from NPCs if the objective. On the contrary, Darkfall is much more akin to a game like EVE Online. Your destiny isn't set by a group of developers, nor is it limited by some yet unknown mechanic. Your actions are what set you apart in Darkfall. Not only is there a whole host of political and siege options in the game for higher end players, but gamers are also encouraged to stray off of the beaten path.

Don't be so busy taking screenshots that you don't see an enemy riding you down on a war sheep. GANKED!

And also like EVE Online, guilds and alliances form the backbone of the higher end engagements in Darkfall. While solo players can certainly entertain themselves by wandering around the world looking for monsters or other lone adventurers to fight, most players will probably try to join a guild to experience some of the siege warfare and politics that are intrinsic to the game's foundations. These tight knit communities will certainly be looking for more adventurers as the game continues to gain popularity throughout the West.  Every guild needs legions of players to defend and attack their enemies, so if you're eager to join a competitive guild, the time is now.

That said, Darkfall isn’t without its bugs and design flaws. The magic and combat systems are fun for the first few days, then you soon realize that you have only four abilities as a melee combatant and a very limited number of spells as a magic wielder. The skills that your character accumulates pop at every 25 skill points – so 25, 50, 75, 100 – and before that mark you won’t have ANY increase to your actual in-game sword/magic slinging. So when you encounter another player, especially one that's riding some sort of mount, I'd advise turning and hauling ass and hope he doesn't see you. Or else you'll end up like my inadvertent screenshot: Ganked.

However, the concept of a “sandbox” game still exists in Darkfall, even with its flaws. On my initial foray into the world of Darkfall, it was readily apparent that my character was never on rails. Not once did I feel like I was being directed to a location. For better or worse, I was shoved out into the wilderness and left to fend for myself. At some point, I felt confident enough to go explore my surroundings and really try to get a feel for my surroundings. What I found was a world that's full of beauty and danger; one that surprises as often than it frustrates.While Darkfall may be "hard," it certainly isn't impossible. Gamers that are looking for a challenge or want to stray away from the theme park mode of World of Warcraft need look no further than Darkfall. Even if you're content to stay with WoW, make sure you keep an eye on Darkfall and the numerous games that are set to come out in the next few years that are taking a similar path to this PvP adventure, albeit with a bit more money and support behind their development teams.

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