Unfair Impressions: Darkfall, Final (?)

I was not sure there was going to be a Day 3 to this series. Hell, Day 2 came as a complete surprise for that matter. My default expression in life is “Impress me,” to which Darkfall just laughs. “Okay, show me what you have to offer.” “Show yourself.” There is an inherent nobility to that uncompromising sentiment, a sense that all the other games out there selling themselves are, indeed, engaging in prostitution. Darkfall instead has the purity of your back yard, with the creek your mother told you to stay away from. No one gave you a quest to turn over rocks to see what lied beneath them; you just did it because you were there, and hey look at that weird bug, I wonder what happens when I… eww.

Sorry, sometimes I get carried away with my own bullshit.



In truth, I continued playing Darkfall because I was interested in how onerous it would be to make arrows for my Skirmisher. The spiders never dropped any coin, the vendors were asking for 30+ crafting mats for 1g, and my initial try at crafting wooden planks left me with not enough gold to purchase a pick axe to mine the requisite stone for arrowheads. Considering my character was ostensibly an archer, would the game allow me to run out of arrows?

Of course it would.

I abandoned the spider spawns, and tried the other starter monster spawn location. It too was farmed out; in fact, I don’t even know what mobs spawn there as none lived long enough for me to point at them. From the map, I noticed some ruins off to the west. If there’s ruins, there’s monsters. Sure enough, it was zombie spawn city.

My potential future. Kill me now.

My potential future. Kill me now.

While I sat on the fringes watching characters in clearly superior gear farming through the zombies like butter, it occurred to me that there is a distinction between sandboxes that few ever make. There is the sandbox in which you perform repetitive actions in order to have fun later, and there are the ones in which you have fun doing fun things that leads to more fun later. Darkfall, to me, is the former; Minecraft would be the latter. And the funny thing is that the former doesn’t sound all that different from what I was required to do in WoW.

The zombies that trickled past the farmers did end up dropping hard currency – around 1-3g every 5-10 mobs. Examining the pleasure I felt when I walked away with 22g at the end of the farming excursion was a sobering experience. There were likely better spots for gold farming, even in the protected newbie zones, but it was a glimpse back into the churning abyss of a grind without end. Work hard today so you can have fun later, as opposed to having fun… having fun.

In any case, I remain pleased that I gave Darkfall the ole college try. Every time I read Syncaine’s latest post about ganking a dude and stealing all his stuff (and his boat), or about how he AFK farmed while writing the post, I can visualize what exactly all those shenanigans looked like. And then realize that game he and others are playing exists primarily in their own minds.

Which isn’t a bad thing, of course. It’s just not my thing.

Posted on May 6, 2013, in Impressions and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. “And then realize that game he and others are playing exists primarily in their own minds.”

    Explain that part to me.

    Also, based on the screenshots, you are not at the highest settings (you don’t have character shadows on, for example). The game is not Skyrim when maxed, but IMO the graphics are more functional than, say, GW2 where it counts (draw distance, geography as gameplay, large-scale performance).

    Other than that, interesting look at the game from someone clearly not in the target audience, and at least you did not EG it (graphics settings aside).


    • If I had not been playing Darkfall, your Peaks and Peaks post would have sounded epic and cool. But the whole time you were writing about killing dudes and stealing their boat, I kept thinking back to my time killing spiders in the cave and seeing that, rather than the sort of meaning behind it (risks involved, consequences, etc). Your version of Darkfall is a lot better than my version, even though we are technically playing the same game.

      If I were more willing to “buy-in” to the game, things would be different, of course.


      • Ok, that’s what I thought you meant. I’ll have a post up about your series tomorrow.


      • I think you’re right in saying it’s a question of ‘buy in’.

        If you had joined a guild focussed around a particular activity (crafting, PvP etc), there may have been more of these moments, particularly if you had committed the necessary 30+ hours/week.

        However, as cool as those stories are, a person that has made that commitment is already ‘sold’ on DF and is unlikely to be dissuaded by bugs/downtime/clunky systems etc.

        That’s why the Unfair Impressions were entertaining and relevant.


  2. You would have made a lot more gold at that spawn if you would have been looting the other players’ kills and taking their gold as well, although something tells me that you probably didn’t even think to try that.

    Either way, your series was an interesting read. You picked up on a lot of mechanics that most reviewers miss. What was interesting to me was that instead of asking around and discovering why the mechanics are set up the way they are (recall timer length, harvesting prowess gains, crafting costs, lack of quests, etc.) and discovering that every single one of them have been balanced the way they are for a reason, you simply compared the mechanics to other games and labeled them “ridiculous”.

    Having read all three of your posts about this, I can guarantee you that you have not, in fact, even touched the game I play on a daily basis. Playing with a clan that lives outside of the safezones, going to sieges, fighting other clans in large-scale PvP and naval warfare, and farming difficult mobs (flying dragons are a bit harder to kill than spiders) is nothing like what you experienced.

    Also, spare the gut reaction of “I couldn’t work up to that in just three posts.” Plenty of clans would have been glad to take a member of the Press™ in for a few days to show them the top tier of play. This is Darkfall, after all, and the mechanics don’t prevent you from participating in a dragon kill, siege, or anything else on day one.

    All of that would have required talking to someone, though. God forbid you have to do that in an MMO.


    • I had the opportunity to loot their kills a few times, but it never seemed especially productive. I steal their stuff, they either get annoyed and start stealing mine, or best case I get to act the part of a dick to total strangers because it’s possible to do so and get away with (in the safe zone). That’s a technical lose-lose to me. I did skin their tombstones though, because they clearly weren’t interested.

      I already know why the recall timer is that long (so people can’t just hide around a tree and teleport out of PvP), why crafting costs money (gold sink) and why there are no quests (it’s a sandbox). Knowing these things does not particularly make waiting for recall timer more fun; although, I’m sure it’s plenty exciting in the off-chance some starts attacking you with 45 seconds to go.

      As for the rest, yes, obviously I was not giving Darkfall a credible chance, at least for the parts everyone agrees is the best, i.e. clan play. I said as much in the very first post, if the title of “Unfair Impressions” was not enough of an indication:

      It is worth noting why this post is labeled “Unfair Impressions”: basically, I have zero interest in Darkfall: UW. In fact, I would say less than zero interest. The sum total of what I know about Darkfall is that it is a full-loot FFA PvP game that some say is the most skillful MMO out there. They also say it’s terrible playing by yourself. Fantastic. Let me wander around, lost and confused, as I endeavor to stay as far away from other people as humanly possible.

      Ultimately though, I’m not entirely convinced that games necessarily deserve a break just because other people make the experience suck less. It’s an MMO, yes. Other MMOs are also fun with other people. Subtract that from both sides of the equation and look at what remains. You like it, I don’t, no worries.


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