Saturday, January 31, 2009

Darkfall Online: Updated Impressions on Build 110

MikeAtUAH has updated his impressions on Darkfall Online beta with the current patch.

In my original beta impressions post, I tried to offer an objective impression of Darkfall, after 5 days of experiences. In the last day or so, server stability has made a HUGE turnaround. Hourly disconnects have ceased entirely, and the server has only gone down when the devs have shut it down (once today, while I played).

In my original post, I cited the following issues. Since I've been able to play the game for extended periods of time (6+ hour stretch), I've seen a great deal more. I'd like to update my issues with my new experiences:

1. The Darkfall server
The server improved in stability yesterday, and today it was quite stable. Pings were very good, and I witnessed no server lag.

2. The world is absolutely devoid of life.
Since my initial report, I have run for miles and miles and miles. While I have seen more mob types (Golems, black knights, minotaurs and baby dragons), I have yet to see any sort of wildlife. Around all starting areas, the mob population is extremely sparse, and needs to be addressed. Friendly NPC population is in a similar state. The world of Darkfall, while incredibly compelling, needs a population overhaul.

3. Movement speed is painfully slow.
This is still a major issue for me. The sprint mechanic is a poor implementation, and needs to be scrapped. Run speed should simply be a skill that improves with exploration. When a weapon is wielded movement speed should simply be reduced.

4. Combat feels laggy and disconnected.
Since the server stability has improved, this has as well. However, combat responsiveness is not nearly as snappy as it needs to be.

5. The user interface is quite simply the worst I've seen in a game.
I have the same opinion. It's really, really bad. Along with sound, it's the most unfinished component of Darkfall.

6. The clip plane is bad.
I have the same opinion of this as well. The game's environments are so incredibly well crafted - it's a shame they're hindered by such a jarring clip plane.

7. Poor sound effects.
Same opinion. Sound effects and music need a great deal of work.

8. The chat commands are difficult to use, and poorly thought out.
Again, same opinion. The design of commands in general is poor, and the lack of GUI-based alternatives only worsen the issue.

With all that said, I must also say this: Darkfall has the most compelling world I've witnessed, since EverQuest (which I think was amazing). Even with the lack of wildlife and NPCs, it still manages to captivate you. Seeing an enormous tree in the distance, and finding as you get closer that it is the base of a city is quite an incredible sight to behold.

If the developers can manage to see Darkfall through, to a state of completeness, I think it will maintain a large and devoted following. It's a unique experience that is incomparable to any other MMO available.

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