Unfair Impressions: Darkfall, Day 2

I felt like the screenshots were not enough to fully immerse you in the world of Darkfall. So here is a video of me attacking some spiders. Don’t forget to switch to 1080p quality!

In terms of the tutorial, I finally realized why I was stuck on the “skinning” portion. While you can loot leather from the glowing gravestones, if you have a skinning knife you can also skin… the gravestones. Because that makes sense. The failure rate seems ridiculously high, but eventually I loot one.

The next step is to hearth to your bindstone, which I did exactly two minutes later. Literally, guys, it’s a 120-second cast. I started it up and left to make my lunch for the next day.

This actually reminds me of another curious thing: AFK-farming seems encouraged in Darkfall. Much like in Guild Wars 2, you must buy a logging axe or herbing sickle in order to gather materials, and these items have charges (durability in this case) that deplete on use. The difference here is that you can start up the animation in Darkfall and walk away from the keyboard – your character will merrily continue chopping timber until (presumably) the axe is worn down to the nub or the tree runs out of wood. It reminds me of what I have heard about mining space rocks in EVE, insofar as gathering only requires button presses once every half-hour. Is that supposed to discourage people from farming, or a concession that farming is so boring the game will do it for you while you Tab out and play something more engaging?

At the Southern FFA border.

At the Southern FFA border.

In any event, the next stage of the tutorial was taking a 100kg (!) mount idol from the bank and summoning a mount. From there, you are tasked to running to the border of the protected area, sticking your toe over, and then coming back inside. Ah… so I was paranoid for no reason this entire time. Well, sorta. Apparently if you aren’t careful, people can actually steal your mount and ride away. After which I assume you are shit outta luck. Considering that unsummoning the mount takes a minimum of 2 seconds after dismounting, you’ll never want to actually be in town riding the thing.

After much squinting at the abysmal UI, I finally found and dabbled with the Prowess system. Essentially, you earn Prowess doing things, doing a certain number of things (Feats), and presumably other ways too. Prowess essentially act as skill points you use to upgrade skills, increase your ability scores (Strength, Dexterity, etc), and so on. Most skills start a 1 and can be increased up to 100 with an increasingly harsh cost ratio (1:1 up to ~25, then 2:1, etc); each upgrade level typically improves cast speed plus some miscellaneous qualities by some percentage. As an example, putting points into Archery lets me fire faster and deal more damage per arrow, whereas Mining let’s me increase my AFK-yield.

That all makes sense, but I was taken aback a bit from the “Boosts”. At first, I was thinking they were F2P-esque boosts, but that does not appear to be the case.

Ha ha, we got you good.

Ha ha, we got you good.

Instead, they are… err. Well, you can buy the first rank of “the Agile” boost for 200 Prowess, and it increases Dexterity by +10 and the Stamina by +37. Considering that manually boosting Dexterity by +1 costs 30 Prowess, I don’t actually know the point of boosts in this context other than a designer “Gotcha!” moment. I mean, I suppose that it is a way to quickly achieve your class’s optimum stats while still offering a Prowess sink for long-term players (e.g. Warrior dumping extra Prowess into Intelligence once everything warrior-y is bought).

If there is a third day of playing Darkfall in my future, my goal is to figure out the crafting side of things. I understand the basics, but I’m a little uncertain about how one actually goes about getting hard currency; considering that crafting consumes gold as well as mats, you have to have a baseline of income from somewhere. None of the mobs I have killed dropped gold thus far. Does it all come from vendoring goods? There are no “quests” of course, and there doesn’t appear to be an AH either.

So… yeah. Darkfall.

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Posted on April 30, 2013, in Impressions and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. The prowess system does sound like a decent mechanic; at least as good and less arbitrary than leveling up or talent points. I can’t get the 120 second hearth though. Presumably it is to keep you from hearthing away from enemies, but wouldn’t 20 seconds have done the job?

    • I’m fine with the Prowess system in the scheme of things, as it lets you get to the sort of baseline for your class fairly quickly while still offering incremental progression later on. Being the best possible archer will take only X amount of time, whereas someone with 3 months of progress on you will “only” have more options, like stronger magic and the like.

      I am not sure that I like the stew this mechanic simmers in though. For as much as this system tries to avoid the sort of Skyrim/Oblivion “sneak in the corner for an hour” skill increases, having AFK resource gathering (which grants nominal Prowess gains) seems counter-productive. This is somewhat offset by the Feat system, which grants you huge blocks of Prowess points for hitting certain milestones, like killing 150 Spiders, 150 Zombies, etc, which should make it more quicker to “level up” by killing things. On the other hand, it’s hard to beat the efficiency of AFK skill points. Supposedly there is some kind of cap wherein you stop gaining Prowess from gathering, but that almost seems counter-productive; wouldn’t it encourage people to AFK their way to the limit, then start actually playing their character?

      As for the 2 minute hearth timer, yeah, it’s as ridiculous as it sounds. You get warned when you log off that your character will stay out in the world for 40 seconds, so at least it’s fairly consistent. At first, the hearth timer actually swayed me to hoof it back to town rather than porting there. Then, I realized that I could alt-tab and/or start making a sandwich and let it do its thing.

  2. Entertaining series. Selfishly, I hope you stick with the game for a few more sessions to keep the comedy going.

    I assume the hearthstone cast time is intended to prevent its being used as a fallback device if PvP is threatened, since encouraging as much actual combat as possible seems to be the way to win the hearts of Darkfall’s demographic.

    Perhaps I’m simply missing the point of the prowess system, but isn’t it essentially the same kind of ‘as long as you do something in the game, you get xp’ principle as in various modern MMOs? (GW2, WoW to a point, even good old Lotro) The flexibility of spending the points directly on stats and skills as soon they are earned does sound nice.

  3. You are going to have a rough time of it if you continue to go solo — and a boring time if you stick exclusively to the safe zones. This game is not built for individuals – you’ll have a horrible experience if you continue down this path.

    It’s best to think of this game less in terms of a traditional MMO and more in terms of an FPS shooter that evolved into an MMO. One where everyone else is playing Team Deathmatch and you are trying to play as a Team of One. It wouldn’t be fun in an FPS and it’s not going to be fun for you in this context either.

    All I ask is that you keep that in mind as you report your experiences.

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