The ol’ college try

Last night, in a Sudafed and NyQuil fueled stuper, I decided to try a game I haven’t really given a fair shake in the past. It’s not a huge triple-A developed venture, and is extremely small population-wise, but it’s something that’s been sticking around and picking up players as it goes. It’s also a sandbox and non-level based, which is a fun twist from the classic MMO structure. I went into it, not really sure what to expect, but I wanted to keep an open mind. The game, (if you hadn’t guessed by now) is Darkfall.

Dun, dun, DUN.

In all seriousness, I’ve been mildly curious about this game for a while now, having grown into a greater appreciation for sandbox, open-world, non-linear game worlds. So, I’ve just needed an opportunity to just go ahead and give it a go. So, I had one early this week when I didn’t have the energy to run around frantically in WAR or do heavy plotting and thinking in EVE. So, I decided to bite the bullet and give this game it’s shot. A quick sign up and a couple hour torrent later, and the game was up and running.

With all honesty and openness, I’ve only played for maybe two-hours thus far. So, this is in no way a review, but more of a first impression. The best way to sum up that impression is “mixed”. The game is an odd duck. Not so much in that it has some old-school ways of doing things, because I get the reasoning behind a lot of it. The first person, or limited third person view. The necessity for sheathing for looting, and the manual organization of backpacks and what not. I grok it. However, there seems to be some strange mismatches in the game.

For instance, when in “movement” or “action” mode, your minimap disappears, but you can still open your overworld map. I don’t particularly understand why a minimap is included if the only time you can use it is when you’re standing still, at that juncture, just open your large map. Maybe I’m missing something here. Graphically, the lighting is fantastic, and the world is very attractive. When my avatar was harvesting stone, light would reflect differently off the studs of his jerkin as he rose and fell with his pick-axe in a very satisfying and realistic manner. But the stone itself, looked like an ugly jumble of grey coloring and black lines, and the character models are awful. Inventory management was unnecessarily difficult, not because it had to be done manually, but because it was SLOW. The mouse seemed sluggish, and icons for items hold a magical location where your mouse can actually grab an item to move it. Relatedly, anything done with the mouse over the UI felt slow. The entire interface comes off as an afterthought, which is  understandable, as the fighting in the game happens with most of the interface turned off.

Still, despite these annoyances, I’m not turned off on the game completely like some people. I was honestly pleased and surprised when my first trip out to kill an NPC ended with me dead. The reason was for two parts, the first, was that the NPC behaved more intelligently than I expected, circle strafing, kiting me to allies, and all manner of activity that is abnormal for what we’ve come to expect in an MMO. The other reason was the terrible, TERRIBLE lag. The damn NPCs were warping all over the place, one second they’d be within sword’s reach of me, the next they’d be 30′ behind me. If anything is to turn me off the game, it will be that type of behavior, especially if it happens in PvP.

I’m willing for sure to give the game the full 14 days of trial to really get a feel for it, and I’m curious to see what else I can find out as I go. The thing that has me most interested, is that his really feels like playing Ultima Online in a 3-dimensional world. It really struck home when I was hacking at a tree for some lumber. If this game has half the appeal that UO did, bad things could happen to my personal life.

About Shadow
Making serious business out of internet spaceships.

3 Responses to The ol’ college try

  1. Gankalicious says:

    The postings at Hardcore Casual (soz don’t have the link here) got me to try Darkfall as well. I remember the hype surrounding its release and have been looking for something sand-boxy as well. My opinions seem to mirror your own. I get it, I really do, but sometimes I think the game is being unecessarily unfriendly just to prove a point.
    Smart mobs? Yes please.
    No classes? Love it.
    Sheathing to loot? Hmmm..okay, sure!
    Openinng backpack, opening enemy corpse, dragging each item over to a large pile of crap in your backpack, waiting for mouse to stop lagging, ooops now being attacked? Not a fan.

    Interface-related stuff like that isn’t enough to put me off, mind you, but it’s just silly. My trial is up but it stands out as something I may want to try a little more seriously in the future.

  2. alchemda says:

    Good news is the next expansion will

    a. Replace current character models and many NPC models
    b. Continue to replace the textures of the environment to look more realistic
    c. Improve or completely redo the UI
    d. Rewrite their server architecture to be less laggy.

    • Shadow says:

      Right on, it’s always nice to see developers making substantial updates to their games post-launch. Which is definitely one thing Aventurine has going for it.

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