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Choose My Adventure: Agon awaits

Jef Reahard

Join me as I become an action hero for hire, experiencing an online adventure directed by you, the Massively readers. You'll get to choose the game, character creation options, and in-game goals, then sit back and watch how it all plays out (or join me in-game to get in on the fun). Choose My Adventure game arcs run for six weeks, and after the concluding episode, we'll do it again in a new title.

'Tis the season for voting, and I'm primed to do my part to balance the PvP, eliminate missed launch dates, and provide a strong national troll defense. OK, maybe I'm as full of hot air as your average elected official. Last week, though, while some of you were fooling yourselves into thinking the U.S. midterm elections were the most important voting opportunity in your lifetimes, the real action was going on right here in the form of the latest Choose My Adventure poll. Thanks to a monumental zerg by members of the Darkfall forum community, I'll be heading to the lands of Agon for the next six weeks. While Final Fantasy XIV and EVE Online both looked like early frontrunners, nothing could withstand the momentum of 1400 frothing FFA Forumfall fanboys (not even a late-week surge by Global Agenda).

If you're not familiar with Darkfall, join me after the cut for a brief history lesson. If you already know it all, join me after the cut anyway to help pick my character race, game focus, and social status.

For the uninitiated, Darkfall is an open-world MMORPG with a variety of sandbox elements including non-linear skill-based character advancement, a lack of traditional classes and levels, and a large (and largely seamless) game world. The title focuses on unrestricted free-for-all PvP -- though there are factional alignment penalties -- and also allows combatants to loot the corpses of their fallen foes. Yes, you read that right DIKU-folks. If your MMORPG enjoyment hinges on the ability to acquire pwntastic gear and keep it forever and ever, Darkfall will likely prove to be a daunting experience. Aside from that rather large caveat, the other aspect of the game that bears mentioning is its territorial conquest component. In fact, many players will tell you that the game's raison d'etre is large-scale clan conflict.

In service of that end, Darkfall features a significant crafting system, and virtually everything in the world of Agon is player-made, from the smallest piece of armor to the largest ocean-going vessel. That's not to say there aren't any loot tables in Darkfall; on the contrary, you're likely to acquire your first few weapons by removing them from the cold, dead fingers of the game's goblin NPCs. That said, you won't be finding any chestplates of noob-smacking +1 on the carcasses of spiders, both because mobs drop appropriate loot and because crafted gear is usually better. In addition to combat and crafting, resource gathering is of paramount importance in the world of Agon, and stockpiling common and rare components is essential to making both money and progress whether you're part of a clan or flying solo.

Darkfall is the brainchild of Aventurine, an independent game development studio housed in Athens, Greece. Way back in 2001, a group of Norwegian developers banded together under the Razorwax banner, intending to produce the type of PvP-enabled sandbox that had seen some success with Ultima Online (albeit in a much larger 3-D world). Razorwax added additional developer talent and relocated to Greece in 2002, morphing into the company now known as Aventurine.

After a lengthy development period that saw the formation of a rabid (some might even say under-moderated) fan community on the official forums, Darkfall finally opened its doors to the gaming public in February of 2009. A North American server was added to the initial European shard in July of 2009, a date which also marked the release of the first of three free expansions. The update added player housing, the village system, weather systems, and a host of re-balancing tweaks and fixes. The game's second expansion, Conquer the Seas, bowed in December of 2009 and brought changes to the siege mechanics as well as player housing vendors, skill additions, and other extras. Last month, Aventurine released the game's third expansion, Hellfreeze, which fleshed out Darkfall's PvE content.

It's at this point that your humble correspondent will be joining the fray. I'll be creating a brand-new character, and I need your help to get him started. Unlike a lot of MMORPGs, Darkfall doesn't offer class choices, so this week's voting will be pretty simple. Using the polls below, cast your vote for my character's race, game focus (combat, crafting, or hybrid), and social status (solo adventurer or clan recruit). This round of voting is open until Tuesday, November 16th, at 11:59pm EST, after which time I'll be firing up Darkfall's character creator and heading for the hills of Agon.

To the polls, ladies and gents.

Continue to Part III.


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.

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