Ed Zitron over at Eurogamer.net was tasked with testing and reviewing Darkfall Online for the mega review site and proceeded to lay waste to everything that is Darkfall. While Ed obviously doesn’t like the game, he does do it an injustice in his extremely negative review – to the point of being a Darkfall hater. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m no Darkfall fanboy. I do play the game but have on several occasions considered quiting, mostly because I feel the game is still in some form of paid beta. It’ full of incomplete features and a major lack of content, it’s skill system needs work and there are bugs that need squashing. But it does have potential and is still fun to play.
But back to the point, Ed’s review has some holes in it – which are causing a big fuss and to-do between Eurogamer and Aventurine. The short of it is Ed trashed Darkfall and the maker’s of Darkfall are trying to stand up for their game. They claim that Ed only played the game for less than 3 hours before he reviewed it while Eurogamer is claiming 9 hours. Either way, I don’t think it’s enough time to experience enough of Darkfall to write an intelligent review of the game. So I thought I’d do Ed a little favor and point out some of the mistakes he made in his review to try to separate fact from fiction. I won’t touch his opinions of Darkfall, which seem to be a raw form of nerd rage from getting PK’ed one to many times (get away from those starter areas Ed! You’ll thank me later and actually get to play the game!!)
Point 1: Interaction within Darkfall Online
From Ed’s Review: ”…to ‘do’ anything – talk to an NPC, bind yourself to a location, loot a corpse, and so on – you have to click the right mouse button to toggle between interaction or movement mode. Unbelievably, to do anything that involves any interaction at all, you have to stop still – this includes any and all inventory management, looting, chatting – anything interactive. It isn’t totally clear whether this was a decision or a design oversight, as many other elements of Darkfall don’t quite work.”
The right click button will take you into GUI mode, which is used to bring up your option, skills window, etc. To interact with the game world, ie talk to an NPC, bind yourself, loot, etc. you have to press the “USE” key (default F). Things like inventory management and chatting can actually be done while moving and without hitting the Right Mouse button. Use the auto-run key (default NumLock) and you can do these actions, this is similar to WoW – which Ed seems to be a fan of so it shouldn’t be a big learning curve. Things like looting – still the “USE” key, but yes Ed is correct here you must stand still. However this is by design, looting in Darkfall is meant to take time. One thing you’ll learn quickly in Darkfall is if you are going to loot, make sure everything dangerous around you is dead first.
Point 2: Combat
From Ed’s review: ”You have a crosshair, and your hits are dependent on whether or not this crosses the enemy at any given time – like an FPS, except with little to no reference point.”
Not really sure what you are trying to say here Ed, you do have a crosshair which helps you to aim – largely used with archery and casting skills. It is very much like an FPS with the aforementioned crosshair being a reference point. Hence the confusion, however the basics of melee combat are simple, where you swing is where you hit. If you swing a sword and it crosses an enemy it hits him. If you swing and it crosses three enemies it hits three enemies, it’s not very complex at all.
From Ed’s review: ”Enemies’ AI boils down to running in circles, which is actually surprisingly effective, considering how slow and floaty the controls tend to be”
The AI is bad, granted but it is getting slightly better from patch to patch. The running around and dodging the AI tends to do can be effective at times but it’s not all that horrible most of the time. The controls being floaty is something I’ve never experienced, they seem to be pretty responsive to me.
From Ed’s review: ”The lack of hit detection saps the combat of any weight or skill, and makes it incredibly frustrating to fight enemies during PVE or PVP combat. Judging the distance that one needs to be at to fight a foe is largely guesswork, and, worse still, your combat skills affect how often you actually connect. It isn’t even an issue of timing your clicks based on the connection with your sword – it’s nigh-on random.”
The hit detection is actually not bad, could use some polish but for the most part if you swing and they are in range, you’ll hit them. Judging the distance is more practice than guess work and, to be honest, it doesn’t take but a few swings to learn. As far as your last remark on skills having an effect on whether or not you land a hit is just totally incorrect. Skills only play a role in determining the amount of damage you’ll do to your target – whether you hit or not is totally dependent on you. It is absolutely an issue of timing to swing when the enemy is in range – I do come from a FPS background originally, so this wasn’t a big deal for me to adjust to after playing WoW or WAR.
From Ed’s review: ”Using spells or arrows is somewhat less exhausting, but usually ends messily when an enemy decides to run at you, leaving you with the choice of changing weapon (a ten-second operation – five if you’re particularly nimble) or running backwards in the vain hope of not dying.”
Spells and archery are indeed a nice support tactic to melee with some players opting to go all out with spells. However, there is another inaccurate statement hidden here – the amount of time needed to change weapons. In Darkfall, like most MMO’s you are given a hotbar and, like most MMO’s, you can bind a weapon to a hot key. The amount of time needed to switch a weapon comes down from Ed’s best of 5 seconds to about 1 second. This may have changed your perception of the game a tad. However, even if you didn’t use the hot bar, the next easiest method to change your weapon is to simply double click another weapon from your inventory. The slowest possible method is dragging and dropping between your bag and your paper doll.
From Ed’s review: ”While playing for a few hours of reasonably solid combat only netted me a few increases in sword handling, a kindly fellow informed me that it would only take me “about six or eight hours to get good”. On further questioning, this was revealed to mean “keep banging your head against the same goblins until you can reliably hit something bigger”.”
This is true, skill gains are slow and honestly I like it that way. If you play any MMO there is a grind, there is just no way around it. Players come in with the mentality that if you aren’t max level that you can’t play the game and have fun. I disagree. Darkfall got it sort of right here, in spirit anyway, that they made the grind take so long that no one will want to do it and end up just playing the game! You gain skill by anything you do in Darkfall, you can’t not skill up by playing. The only downfall to this is early on player’s abused exploits and gained some pretty high skills thus forcing the rest of the population to grind to catch up.
One part I’ll agree with Ed on here is the lack of PvE content at low levels. Goblins are about all you can handle for quite a while without grouping up with other players, though Aventurine’s latest patch has introduced more low level mobs to the world, I haven’t experienced them yet personally to report on them.
From Ed’s review: ”At times you’ll be left waiting to die – for up to a minute.”
This can vary from death to death. Sometimes you are killed immediately and will re-spawn quickly. Other times you will get the timer, which is really not in place to punish you for dying Ed. This gives friendly players around you a chance to revive you. In the case that there is nothing but enemy player’s near by, chances are they are going to gank you (finish you off) before the timer runs out so they can loot you. In the worst case scenario, after about 15 seconds you can hit your jump key (default Space Bar) to basically commit suicide and go back to your bind point.
Point 3: Content
From Ed’s review: “…there’s very little to see. On many occasions I’d turn and wander in a particular direction, leaving the auto-run key on and navigating past things in the hope that I’d run into a town, or a dungeon, or possibly an angry pack of lions to save me from my torment”
True Ed, there is very little PvE content in the world and that is a big complaint from many Darkfall fans. However the world itself is a grand thing to see. Often times I will go out just to explore and see the world. Aventurine actually did a great job crafting Agon. It’s unique around every corner and there are tons of cool areas you’ll come across in your travels. Try climbing a mountain to it’s peak and having a look at the landscape. Granted, the starter areas where you appeared to spend much of your time is a tad luck luster and will need some sprucing up and polishing. I haven’t come across any lions yet, but if I do I’ll drop you a line.
From Ed’s review: ”the “core” of Darkfall is clan warfare. Players can build “camps” and “towns”, and fight each other in “epic” wars. This is, as you can probably imagine from the screenshots, rather more underwhelming and frustrating than the hyperbole would have you believe.”
I couldn’t resist touching this one – how did you manage to experience clan warfare in your short time playing the game? Clan warfare and city sieging it actually my favorite part of the game, however hasn’t happened a lot until recently. You see several large alliances had formed and initiated a huge staring match which effectively ended large scale PvP until recently when those alliances began imploding into themselves. Even still, there were some mid-sized skirmishes involved in clan warfare but I really doubt you got to experience much of that in your short review window.
From Ed’s review: ”There are none of the intricacies of World of Warcraft or Warhammer Online”
Exactly. That’s a breath of fresh air. Well said Ed, we like it that way.
Point 4: Griefing
From Ed’s review: ”You see, anyone can kill anyone. For the most part, your first ten or so hours in Darkfall are spent dying, repeatedly, at the hands of either the AI or a cyber-bully in a wolf-suit. In fact, past that mark, it feels impossible to avoid the clammy hands and bloodied sword of somebody who has specially allocated part of their day to griefing.”
While it’s true, anyone can kill anyone, I would hardly consider that the average persons play experience – getting griefed day in and day out. Being around other players will put you on your guard and make you pucker your butt when they get close, but many won’t attack you. There are no doubt griefers in Darkfall, just as in any game, but they are the minority. Most players are probably going to be more interested in recruiting you to their guild than killing you. There is a faction system in place to punish people of your same race from killing you, though it’s not perfect. If it is an ‘enemy’ race that kills you, well then you could hardly call that grief play – that’s what they are supposed to do. Assuming that you were the dwarf you are in your screenshots and you were killed by a wolf looking character, he was an enemy.
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