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Choose My Adventure: Beyond the walls of safety in Darkfall

MJ Guthrie

Man up MJ, you said. Forsake the fetters of safety and wander the wilds of the world. Yes, folks, for the next phase of our Choose My Adventure project, you directed me to leave the confines of the starting cities and surrounding lands to explore and harvest in the unprotected areas in Darkfall Unholy Wars. That, and get familiar with the workbench for crafting. So said you all, and so I did.

I ran little Emey Brokenclaw beyond the bounds of the safe zones and introduced her to the vast lands stretching across Agon. I enjoyed some exciting experiences as well as learned quite a few things during that journey, though not necessarily what you'd expect.

Gallery: Choose My Adventure: Darkfall Unholy Wars | 93 Photos

Agon 101

Although I found the tutorial amusing, it did little more than introduce me to the basics of the gameplay and UI (and since those basics have some key differences to standard MMO fare, I am glad I paid attention!). So getting out into the game proper is where most of my learning was apt to take place. And learn I did! As this was the first full week I was able to really delve into Darkfall, I got the chance to do some independent study at the school of hard knocks. And I'm going to pass the Cliffs Notes (as well as the first week's CMA Live) on to you.

1. While you can't use AFK macros and just run into walls to build skills as in the first incarnation of Darkfall, you can semi-AFK harvest your skills up! Since harvesting racks up prowess and prowess can be spent on any skills (except crafting), you can strengthen your character by just harvesting in the safe zones while reading a book, watching shows, brushing your cat, or whatever. It's apparently a very slow method, though.

2. People can still be jerks in safe zones. Surprised? Whether I was being ineffectively attacked or getting bumped on mounts and having mobs trained on me while harvesting (perhaps in an attempt to interrupt the AFKers?), I found that some folks still go out of their way to be a nuisance, even if they can't outright gank you.

3. Some people in game are nice! No, this is not contradicting my previous statement; not everyone in Darkfall is out to gank you. And I have proof (see below).

4. Rivers actually carry you downstream. Very cool.

5. Every single sound in the brush outside of the safe zone makes you jump, even if it's just a tiny little rabbit. (Hey, I saw the Vorpal Bunny, so I know that rabbit does not equal harmless!)

Prepping Explosive Arrow
6. Explosive arrow is awesome!

7. Boosters don't maintain static pricing. When first looking at adding one of the four stat boosters (The Strong, The Agile, The Smart, and The Wise), I noticed each line cost 200, 400, 800, then 1600 prowess. But once I spent 200 on The Agile, the starting price of each of the others moved to 400 and increased from there! Whoa -- I was not expecting that. Must grind so many more prowess points.

8. Walking slowly (left control + direction) walks softly, so you can get around without others hearing you very well. Stealthy FTW!

9. When you die to mobs (or a player doesn't deliver a ganking blow), you eventually stand up where you fell. Of course, if mobs are close enough, they'll just kill you again! Total advantage to being ranged here, as I had a greater chance to be out of aggro range to run to safety than a melee character would.

10. The night is dark and full of terrors.

11. Trying to recall to a bind point after looting something significant is the longest two minutes of your life!

Emey's adventures thus far
Show and tell

So now that you've heard a bit about the highlights, I am going to share some details of a few specific experiences. Despite what some say, Darkfall is not completely newbie-unfriendly. And no, I don't mean just getting into a clan early for protection; remember, I did this week solo on purpose to experience the game as a new player without support would. So here's how it all went down.

As soon as you voted that I get myself hence from the safe zones, I started trekking across the land. Sometimes I was stopping to harvest; other times I was just reveling in exploring new areas. Most of the time, I didn't even come across anyone at all other than the native wildlife and the undead roaming the lands, let alone hostile players. It wasn't until my last few forays into the wilds that I had my first player encounters. And they were surprising in more ways than one.

Emey's first deathFor the first, I was peeking over the edge of a cliff at a mob encampment when one started firing magic at me from a seemingly impossible distance. How far are these aggro ranges, anyways? It was after notching and loosing one arrow (an errant shot, sadly) that I suddenly fell to the rocks with a red message flashing across my screen informing me I'd just been killed. It took me a few moments to understand that the big figure standing over my body and brandishing a huge sword was the cause of my death, not the bolts of magic. Seriously, I never heard a sound (I think he knew about the walking slowly hint, which I hadn't yet learned). But that wasn't really my death. Oh, no. I experienced my first player death when the screen next flashed that I'd been ganked. Seriously, Aventurine, you couldn't use something like "deathblow"? You had to use the term "ganked"?

Although I knew my meager items might have already been looted by my killer, I embarked on that long run to get back to my tombstone. As I drew closer, the sound of footfalls had me jumping and expecting certain death again. I kept spinning around to look, and when the aforementioned Emey-slayer sprinted up to me, I resigned myself to another quick dispatch back to my bind point. However, the player instead tried to trade with me and handed over a bunch of stuff, including gear and gold. He even apologized, saying he didn't realize my prowess (i.e., ability level) was so low.

Apparently, some people in Darkfall are looking for an honest-to-goodness fight, not just mindless slaughter. And that's the approach I find worthwhile. So hats off to all the Pat Macrotches in the game! You folks are one of the reasons why I can still see myself playing after Choose My Adventure runs its course.

My second death -- yes, I actually suffered only two at the hands of players this week -- was a little less friendly. Someone began mining metals out in an area I was working already, but he was leaving me alone, so I left him alone. Apparently, he was just calling in reinforcements. At first I thought he was running from a mounted guy who was after him, but it turned out he was just leading the fighter straight to me. Sure enough, death numero dos. It took me a while, but I crept back to my tombstone again and found that he'd removed my gold and harvested iron along with the pick, but he'd left my other stuff. Apparently he really didn't want me to be mining there!

Choose My Adventure  Beyond the walls of safety in Darkfall
Extra credit

The next experience drew me even further into the game. While exploring, I saw a trippy glowy thing in the distance. Unsure if it was some trap luring me to a quick death, I approached carefully and happened upon a Chaos Chest. Apparently, these chests are full of goodies; I netted 700 gold! Since I didn't want to lose that huge a windfall, I immediately started to recall to my bind point. That, my friends, was the longest and most nerve-wracking two-minute span of my entire career in this game! But the experience fueled my hunger for exploring and finding more. I've even heard rumors that housing deeds are found in these boxes. So just call me Emey Brokenclaw, Treasure Hunter. I will scour Agon for more treasure!

Darkfall is darkMid-term report

Contrary to predictions that Darkfall would mean misery, I am enjoying the game. I enjoy harvesting and exploring, and I've had the chance to experience that even before I had many skills. I know some old-timers whine and complain about the safe zones, but they should actually be grateful because safe zones are a boon to the game. By giving new players the chance to get acclimated instead of immediately being chased off because they can't even earn their first skill, the population grows more robust. And that's exactly what I have experienced; I have found over the last week of venturing out that my desire to play has increased. There are more treasures to be found, more places to explore, and more battles to fight! You can even watch me do just that during CMA Live on Thursday, May 16th, at 7:30 p.m. EDT on Massively TV.

But you know, it's time really ramp up our project, so you're doing some hiring. The following list comprises all of the contractors willing to work with us; these groups have offered their assistance, either here or during my travels. So who's coming on board to help? You have less time to decide this week: The poll closes at 11:59 p.m. EDT on Friday, May 17th.%Poll-82500%
Strap yourself in for the ride of (six weeks of) your life! Where are you going? Well, that's entirely up to you, the Massively readers, to decide -- the where, the what, and the how are all directed by you. The who is MJ Guthrie! For the duration of Choose My Adventure, her virtual life is in your hands! Join MJ in-game, on-site, and live on Massively TV to be a part of the adventure and watch the story unfold.

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