Oy. Well, if I had to do it over again, I'd have scheduled this whole Choose My Adventure thing in such a way as to avoid the December holiday rush. Last week was rather hectic from an out-of-game perspective, and this week is shaping up to be even more so. That's not to say there wasn't any time for Darkfall, though, and I did manage around 20 hours of in-game activity for the week. As a testament to the title's staying power, there simply wasn't as much time as I'd have liked.

The fifth week of my Agonian ramble-on was filled with low-level PvP, a bit of questing and crafting, and more exploration than you can shake a candy cane at. Join me after the cut for a recap of the week that was.
Swiftsnout in Red Moon
I spent the majority of last week's play time on my anonymous alt. As I mentioned in the previous installment, I'm having second thoughts about playing Swiftsnout as my main at the conclusion of this six week run, primarily for personal reasons. Last week's comments and emails brought up another consideration too, and that is the race-specific (dis)advantages inherent in playing a Mahirim. The most obvious sticking point is the giant hit box that a Mahirim avatar offers in comparison to the tiny Alfar and Mirdain races. Aventurine has fiddled with hit boxes in the past, but the fact remains that the larger races are somewhat ungainly, particularly in melee conditions against anyone other than a complete newb.

In any event, my human character got in quite a few PvP scrapes last week, whether it was fending off the newb-gankers who like to frequent the goblin spawns around Monkfield and Copperdale or engaging in a bit of opportunistic PKing of his own deep in the Agonian wilderness. I'm starting to feel a bit more comfortable with Darkfall's combat (no small feat for someone who rarely PvPs outside of Global Agenda), and I'm getting to the point at which death is much rarer than it used to be. That's not to say I'm pwning players left and right; far from it. I still end up running more often than I score a victory, but the point is that overall survivability has increased dramatically after five weeks of skill-ups, practice and situational awareness. I've also sparred with higher-level players very infrequently, and whenever I can get around to making the time for practice of that sort, things will only improve on the combat front.

Red Moon Christmas treeSpeaking of combat and other players: This past week I was introduced to alignment farming by a guy who happened upon one of my favorite hunting spots not far from Hammerdale. After surprising me in the middle of a fight with a couple of mobs, he quickly incapped my character and sent me a private message asking if he might use me for alignment. I figured that whatever he was talking about was probably a lot better than a gank and the subsequent loss of the bag full of reagents I'd been accumulating over the last hour.

I agreed, and he set about incapping and rezzing me another seven or eight times before thanking me and continuing on his way. The moral of this little anecdote is that not every PKer is out to ruin your day, and in fact, he might even teach you a thing or two. My kill/death ratio took a hit, but again, Darkfall is nothing if not an exercise in trade-offs, and frankly I'd rather have the reagents.

The biggest hurdle in acclimating to Darkfall's combat has undoubtedly been the attitude adjustment I had to make since I come from a predominately PvE background. This is an ongoing process (i.e., I still get annoyed on occasion) but Darkfall, moreso than most games for whatever reason, seems like it's worth the trouble and the time investment. This could be because an exceptional experience is lurking somewhere beneath the game's somewhat unrefined exterior, or it could be because I'm in dire need of anything resembling a sandbox. Honestly it's probably a bit of both.

Aside from the ongoing PvP hazing, I found time for some PvE as well, both on Swiftsnout and my alt. I traveled from the clan city of Hammerdale across the map to my former home at Red Moon (my original motive was a title quest turn-in). Once that was accomplished, I was reminded of the Aventurine Christmas paraphernalia that debuted with last week's patch, and I poked Swift's snout into the sewers below Red Moon hoping to get a few of the random seasonal drops. Unfortunately my first attempt was a dismal failure on account of the recurring mob spawn bug that occasionally plagues the creatures of Agon.

For reasons I've not yet discovered, sometimes mobs just refuse to pop in certain areas of the map. Darkfall does away with the traditional MMO timed mob spawn and lacks random NPCs milling about an empty game world. Instead, AI mobs only spawn when players are in the vicinity (which can be a handy little warning sign that you're not alone in a particular area, by the way). Occasionally this process is bugged and the mobs simply refuse to spawn, and I've been thwarted on many a goblin hunt by this particular defect (and now also in my quest for Christmas flair).

Darkfall humanBug annoyances aside though, it was a good seven days, and to cap it off, it's time for what passes as a Darkfall feel-good story courtesy of a player named Inkarnation theUber. Several weeks ago I was dungeon-crawling in the depths of Mabria, a sprawling castle ruin infested with reanimated skeleton mobs that make for good newb skill-ups (not to mention dings that count towards a certain title quest). As I was a much younger and naive wolf at that point, I foolishly ventured down into a room that I now know holds several deadeyes as well as a few nasty spiders. I managed to pull a couple of them into a hallway and dispose of them one at a time, stopping to rest in between, but I was totally unprepared for the fast respawn.

Consequently I ended up as a pile of blood-soaked puppy fur on the dungeon floor in extremely short order. Ordinarily I would've simply respawned in Hammerdale and shrugged it off, but this time I'd left a full suit of scale armor as well as a Justicebringer (a crafted rank 60 greatsword) on my corpse, all of which had been gifted to me at the Zealot funhulk event I mentioned in an earlier column.

After an eternity of rezzing, grabbing a mount, and riding/swimming the considerable distance from my bind point back to Mabria, I finally made it past the mobs to loot my corpse only to find that it was completely empty. I figured that an enterprising player had happened by and helped himself to my equipment (which happens fairly often in the world of Agon). I was correct, as it turns out, but fortunately for me, the player in question was the aforementioned Inkarnation, a NEW ally who put all my gear in a sack and held it for me for the better part of three weeks until our paths crossed on Saturday at the Hammerdale bank. So yeah, Agon is full of thieves, murderers, and malcontents, but it's also got its share of Inkarnations, so keep that in mind before you dismiss it out of hand.

That's about all I've got for this week. Until next time, Merry Christmas if that's your thing, and if not, well, peace on Agon and good will toward Mahirim.

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Join Jef as he morphs from a ranty writer into a grindy action hero in a Choose My Adventure directed by you, the Massively readers! Add Jef in-game to play along, or simply follow the column every Wednesday for a recap of the week's mischief. When six weeks are up, we'll spin the wheel of fate and do it all again.

This article was originally published on Massively.