The goblins now haunt me in my sleep
This was the point in my adventure when I was really fed up with goblins. Yet, apparently I still had to kill more goblins because even after those quests, I was sent to run 15 minutes away from the city with bad directions to this man who was surrounded by zombies and still wanted me to kill more goblins. What about the zombies? Is there no love for killing zombies?
This was the point where I internally screamed and decided to go do whatever I wanted to do. That's what this game is about, right? This turned into a very short list which included exploring dangerous territory and/or killing whatever I found in said dangerous territory with my really weak sword. So I decided to do the smart thing and sit in town, casting magic missile over and over again just to level up my magic abilities without putting myself in danger. Going outside was just too much of a risk because I had no incentive to leave my main city and I could easily level my magic inside the city walls.
The final verdict
So what's the word on Darkfall? Simply put, savior of MMOs this game is not. While combat is pretty nifty and lag free, the monster AI is pretty awesome, and the exploration factor is phenominal, this game has huge incentive problems. I wouldn't be so hard on the game if it wasn't in development for seven years.
All resource nodes give the same stuff, so starting cities have the same nodes as hidden cities, and staying in a starter city to do your crafting is probably smarter. Quest givers have no indication that they give quests until you talk to them, there's only one quest line for each starting city (see "Killing Goblins" above, as it's the same quest chain for every race), and finding new weapons and armor is a giant pain when you have to run 6-10 minutes to find anything. Plus, if you die, you lose everything and get sent back to the last stone you bound to. Now you get to have the "joy" of running 6-10 minutes again, naked, and with a really bad sword if you were unfortunate enough not to stock things up in your bank.
"I wouldn't be so hard on the game if it wasn't in development for seven years."
For every step forward it takes in regards to interesting sandbox play, it takes four steps backwards and impales itself, especially when you compare the game to EVE Online. You can do much of the same stuff in EVE that you can in Darkfall.
My recommendation is that if you're a fan of a really punishing experience and are really into PvP combat, try it. The combat is well done, the monsters are fun, and the exploration is top notch. If you like quests and directed gameplay, this is not the game for you.
This game isn't completely up the creek, however. As I said before, the exploration is wonderful and the vistas are great. If the game could approach sandbox gameplay like the Elder Scrolls series of games, players would be able to fall over interesting quest opportunities that get them to explore the game. That is exactly the approach this game should take to get the player population out into the wilderness and away from the safety of the cities.
It's not a horrible game, it's just, at this moment in time, not worth seven years of development and all of the hype surrounding it. A few patches, a little grease to the wheels, and you might be looking at a very interesting sandbox game.
If you have any questions about Darkfall and its gameplay, feel free to put them down in the comments and I'll try to get back to you with answers as soon as possible. I tried to cover as much as possible here in the article, but it's not always so easy to pack everything in. Or, feel free to e-mail me directly if you don't wish to comment. My e-mail can be found in the little blurb below.
Colin Brennan is the weekly writer of Anti-Aliased who is finally done with killing goblins. When he's not writing here for Massively, he's over running Epic Loot For All! with his insane friends. If you want to message him, send him an e-mail at colin.brennan AT weblogsinc DOT com.