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Anti-Aliased special edition: Hands-on with Darkfall


Aventurine was really kind enough to let us here at Massively have some play time on their game, Darkfall, and really get our hands dirty with it. Of course, I jumped to be first in line to get my account activated for beta and rush right into the world with my sword drawn.

So far, I've played for the entire weekend, and all the time I can spare during the week except when I'm writing here for Massively, of course. I've made three characters to play around with the different races, been trying out all the different weapons and spells, did some investigations into guilds and crafting, and toured the countryside. So, as a warning, these are preliminary investigations of all of the things I could do at the beginning of the game, sans guild. Just like a true newbie to the world of Darkfall.

So what's the final word? Well I guess you're just going to have to click the link below and find out.

The lights go up, the scene is set

I popped into existence in Monkswood, one of the three human starter towns you get to choose from. The town was actually pretty impressive, with nice strong fortifications and a cool low fantasy vibe. The game politely pointed me to the controls and introduced me to my leafblade, the weapon that I will never lose upon death.

Darkfall is a game will full looting enabled, meaning that you will drop everything you were carrying, including your worn armor and weapons, upon death. The game is more skill-oriented rather than item oriented, although items certainly help when it comes to taking down another player.

With leafblade in hand, I began to learn the controls. Right click for interface view, click to attack, shift to run, C to crouch, R to pull out weapon. The controls are unwieldly at first, but they do grow on you by the end.

Now if I only had a quest...

It's like Morrowind, just with surprisingly less Morrowind

Testers were right, monsters in this game are smart. These things were getting off hits that I could only hope to perform someday. I once just popped my head up from over a hill and one of the little green goblin squirts shot me right in the head with an arrow from across a river and over a barricade.

It didn't help that every quest I had gotten up to this point were all about goblins. Kill goblins, kill goblins and take their axes, kill 6 goblins in an hour, kill goblins and have dance parties on their corpses (kidding). Of course, it also didn't help that everyone in the world was there, attempting to kill the same goblins.

That's when I learned a neat trick. And when I say neat, I mean annoying, and when I say trick, I mean griefing. When attacking a monster and flailing all about, other players loved to run up into my line of fire. Weapons like to hit in a cone pattern in front of you, which is kind of wide. If I hit them, I get flagged as a "rogue player."

Getting changed over to rogue means I become a free kill for anyone who felt like it. Normally killing people damages your alignment with your race, but killing rogue players is a free pass. So, now that Mr. Jerk had successfully flagged me as rogue, he proceeded to kill me and take my stuff without any penalty. So much for "watching your back to avoid being ganked." You should watch your front more.

Also, I was introduced to the fact that everyone can loot what you kill. I kill a monster, and before I can sheathe my weapon to loot, here comes a little thief to take my stuff. Does it flag him as rogue for stealing? Nope. And if I hit him for revenge? I get flagged as rogue and have everyone in the area beat on me.

Oh, before I forget about looting, it's the old Ultima Online loot system. You know, the one where you have to click and drag items one by one into your backpack. So if the monster drops 7 things, you have to drag them over, one by one, and waste all of that time standing there with your sword in your sheath while you manually stack your arrows. Yes, I understand they want looting to take time, but it's really annoying when you're trying to grab those little gold pieces off of the corpse before a goblin scout puts too many arrows into your back.

Gathering resources

I was finally done with the kill goblins quests (thank goodness) and so very happy to try my hand with the crafting. The starting quest line (also the only quest line in Monkswood) had directed me to mine some stone and chop down some trees.

It wasn't until they directed me to find resin with the wood axe (on the 4th resource gathering quest in a row) that I was stumped. I knew you hit trees for lumber, but what about resin? Lo and behold, resin appears as a random drop from harvesting trees.

Resource nodes randomly drop materials, giving no warning what they will produce. So, getting 5 resin took me about 15 minutes of harvesting, which meant 15 minutes of staring blankly at my screen. You only have four resource nodes too -- trees, rocks, metals, and bushes. They all spawn everywhere, so there's no reason to go harvesting things outside of the safety of your starting town. No reason to go into the dangerous wilderness.

I stuck through it and got those 5 resins and 5 mandragoras. I turned in the quests, smiling, eager to continue when I was directed in the next quest to...

Kill 4 goblins and skin them for their teeth. Shoot one goblin with a magic missile to show dominance. I wanted to punch the quest giver. This was the 6th quest involving the same goblin camp.

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