Little did I know that I'd still be stuck looking at Darkfall: Unholy Wars from afar on the game's anniversary date because Aventurine still hasn't gotten around to launching its sandbox reboot just yet. Huge delays are par for the course with this game, and I suppose the latest pales in comparison to the decade-long development cycle and the interminable Forumfall buffoonery that fans of the game suffered through prior to its original 2009 release.
And yeah, I could link my old account and my new account and go beta Unholy Wars, but 15 years as an MMO fan has cured me of any impulse to test these games, particularly ones that I'm likely to enjoy post-release. Anyhow, that's a pretty long-winded intro that essentially boils down to "join me after the cut for an anniversary recap of Darkfall's past 12 months."
In Aventurine's defense, the company has basically made a new game, and the year-and-a-half development time is much more palatable than the odyssey that was Darkfall Part One. That original version of Agon has been relegated to a strange sort of limbo for the better part of the past year, though, as players waited to see what would become of their original characters and the game world they inhabited. In fact, one of the first bits of new information concerning the revamp focused on the death system and its new "limbo" mechanic.
We also got a few dev blog updates dealing with the magic system revamp, a new newbie experience and tutorials, and tweaks to clan permissions during the early portions of 2012.
In June, Aventurine axed the original Darkfall's client cost, reduced the sub fee, and increased skill gains across the board. In September, the devs announced that Unholy Wars was "in the final stretch for launch," and a November 20th release date was rolled out. Soon after, the company confirmed character wipes and elaborated on the differences between the new game and the old game in terms of stats, skills, and the world itself.
In October, we interviewed the devs and learned a bit about Unholy Wars' new UI. We also learned that Aventurine was considering microtransactions. "We're not going to force it just because everyone seems to be hopping on the microtransaction bandwagon," said producer Tasos Flambouras. "We understand that more players would try out the game, but they could also end up having to spend more money."
The company then made the original game free-to-play for a couple of months leading up to Unholy Wars' original November 20th launch date. The devs also released a couple more diaries focusing on safe areas and the new role system. In mid-November, Aventurine announced that it was delaying Unholy Wars to December 12th, and the firm also made a successful bid to land Darkfall on Steam via Valve's Greenlight initiative. On December 17th, Unholy Wars was delayed again due to a loot-eating beta bug, which basically brings us up to the present day. There have been a few assorted dev diaries released since the first of the year, all of them focusing on things like crafting changes, the new UI, and various aspects of clan functionality.
To sum up, it's been a fairly frustrating year for Darkfall fans. Ultimately, though, I suspect that the wait will be worth it, much as it was when the original game finally launched after a decade in development. Massively will bring you a first-hand look at Darkfall Unholy Wars as soon as Aventurine opens the doors.