Darkfall Online takes a different approach than most MMORPGs. This title features a very nonlinear style that gives the player an enormous amount of freedom in all aspects of the game. Darkfall characters can be developed and improved to an enormous extent, and this is largely the goal of the game. Politics, clans, group work, and of course PvE all have their place in the game; but PvP is what Darkfall Online is all about. There is a large selection of features that stand out in Darkfall, but three prominent themes show through.
Freedom: There are no classes in Darkfall. Every character has the same potential as any other, and it is up to the player to train any desired skills to become more powerful. This design gives players total control over what they do. Some may desire to excel in combat, while others may favor crafting or gathering. Players are completely in control of their character and can even attack other players that see them as a friendly target; Darkfall truly lets you play the MMO any way you would like.
Politics: Teamwork and clans play an enormous role in this MMO. With such freedom available to players it is often necessary to travel with friends. Knowing who you can trust and who you can’t is an important skill in Darkfall. This makes joining a clan borderline mandatory later in the game. The powerful clans in Darkfall control cities, trade routes, and raw materials. These benefits make clan membership, business, and alliances a big part of Darkfall Online.
Risk: Aside from an allotted 24hours of ‘Newbie Protection’, just about everything a player does in Darkfall comes with a risk. If you decide to go fishing, you’re leaving yourself vulnerable to attack from other players. If you summon a mount and get off, another player can take it. Even while traveling from place to place, your character is constantly in danger. The trump card is that when killed, a character drops all equipped items and inventory in a pile free to be taken by anybody nearby.
Freedom, risk, and politics give Darkfall the perfect atmosphere for the most important part of the game, Player vs. Player combat. There may be some quests, storytelling, and monsters to kill in Darkfall, but they are just there to help prepare characters for PvP. Darkfall Online is the perfect MMO for players looking for total freedom and brutal PvP.
DarkFall Featured Video
By, Kenneth Bodzak
Darkfall is a brutal MMO in which PvP is King. Developed by Aventurine, the game is very open and puts the player in supreme control of their character. Players can attack enemies, attack friends, raid cities, and take advantage of multiple vehicles. Even better, every player can do everything; it is a classless MMO and every character has the capacity to be good at every skill. While this can make Darkfall Online seem like the perfect open-world PvP MMO on paper, in reality it does have a few weaknesses.
Starting Out Cold
Stepping foot into a new MMO for the first time is sometimes difficult, but Darkfall Online is especially harsh on beginners. The game is remarkably complex and has a lot of features that players have to figure out on their own. The Interface is far from state of the art and the help files aren’t very accommodating, making starting out an unpleasant experience. Most modern MMORPGs do quite a bit to “ease” players into their games, but Darkfall seems to throw players into its world without any real direction. Players are left to fend for themselves and figure things out on their own – which is actually a rewarding experience for those patient enough.
The game doesn’t completely leave players in the dark, as there are numerous player-posted guides on character development. These 3rd party sources of information and help are priceless and worth the time spent reading them. These guides make getting a feel for the game infinitely easier. Despite the lack of direction, Darkfall Online does a great job placing the player in huge playable world with a very realistic feeling. New characters are set loose right away and are on their own to learn the ropes. New players are given 24 hours of ‘Newbie Protection’, without this starting a character would be extremely unnerving. Even with the guides on the game’s official forum, I can safely say the learning curve for Darkfall Online is incredibly steep.
It doesn’t take long to notice that Darkfall is just about as hardcore as MMORPGs come. Gathering is tedious, combat is intense, and players can be killed anywhere. Starting quests are relatively few and far between, but there are enough to keep you going and get you into the mood. One reason I say Darkfall is “Hardcore” because its one of the only truly “Sandbox” MMORPGs out there. The game won’t tell you where to go or what to do. Players have to decide that on their own. Players have their 24 hour protection to become accustomed to the gameplay. Afterwards, they need to catch on quick to avoid being attacked, killed, and looted by another player.
Darkfall Online smothers its playerbase with choices. The game breaks away from the largely standard concept of classes and ‘set professions’ found in most MMORPGs, and allows each character to have access to all skills, professions, and armor in the game. It is also worth noting that only one character is permitted per account. With a classless design, each character is essentially a ‘Jack of all trades’. While this is an interesting concept and certainly provides an enormous amount of personalization to each character, it also forces competitive players to level up each and every skill to be successful. While this seems fitting, the big picture is that ‘endgame’ every character ends up similar, because the game has no skill cap. It is worth mentioning though, maxing out all skills can take many months of hardcore grinding.
On top of the classless design, professions and crafting also play a huge role in Darkfall. Gathering resources is just as it is in most MMOs, tedious yet rewarding. Gathered materials can then be combined and crafted into items, food, and armor with other skills. Every character is free to experiment with the game’s crafting system and the more a player crafts, the higher their crafting skills will reach.
All Skills in Darkfall are developed through their use. You level up your swordsmanship by using swords in battle, and your magic by casting spells. The enemies you face are largely irrelevant to skill gain; it is the actual use of the skill that matters. This is again a very interesting system, but it’s one that’s identical to the skill system in Ultima Online.
To tie everything together, Darkfall Online boasts a huge world rich with caves, dungeons, cities, ruins, and waters. There is far too much area to cover by foot, so mounts and boats are available to assist players in both transportation and combat. The virtual world plays a huge role in Darkfall because the game has no targeting system. If you lose track of your enemy, it’s your responsibility to find him. This makes knowing the terrain crucial in PvP, and PvP is what Darkfall is all about.
Darkfall’s heart lies in the PvP combat, which isn’t exactly a surprise. After all, the game marketed itself as a spiritual successor to Ultima Online. Once a character’s newbie protection is lost, that player is fair game for anybody else. Meaning they can attack or be attacked by ANYONE else ANYWHERE in the game. This includes players from the same race, faction, and group. When killed, a player drops all his armor and inventory and is spawned at their chosen clanstone. By the time players return to recover their corpse, it’s often times too late, as their items have already been looted by their aggressor or passerby. The brutal open world PvP in Darkfall Online makes PvP in games like World of Warcraft and Warhammer Online look like a round of Candyland.
Risks like these make Darkfall a wonderfully exciting game for some, and absolutely bothersome for others. Simply traveling between towns puts you at risk of attack and the loss of your equipment. The only way to preserve equipment and items is to store them in your character’s bank, as you can only lose items that your character is carrying. To make matters worse, it is extremely hard to catch up to well developed characters due to the grinding nature of the leveling system. To overcome this, adventurers in Darkfall Online must take advantage of strength in numbers.
Politics, Politics, Politics
So where does this lead? Teamwork. Survival in Darkfall depends largely on who you know. Joining a clan is borderline mandatory and traveling in numbers beats traveling alone in almost all cases. Clans can take control of cities, wage war, and even stockpile resources. It can actually be fair to say that you’re only as strong as the clan you have backing you up. This isn’t exactly a bad thing, as Clans in Darkfall can be extremely powerful and war between them can be a lot of fun.
The larger clans collect taxes from their cities, siege enemies, and bail out allies. They horde materials and often have monopolies on rare reagents in the game, which forces individual crafters to make deals with clans who control vital resources. This brings some focus away from actual combat and places it on business. Later in the game it is important for players to maintain strong relations with those in power for both protection and to allow themselves access to important resources.
A nice political touch can give a game a good deal of depth, but can also hurt it in the long run. Large scale warfare, naval battles, and sieges can be incredible experiences and provide lasting memories, but players who prefer to go it alone may find like difficult in the world of Darkfall. A strong character can fend for itself very well and even devastate a group of unsuspecting travelers, but a little backup can go a long way in Darkfall.
Final Verdict: Great
Darkfall Online delivers breathtaking freedom and ruthless player vs. player combat at the cost of convenience. The game is very unforgiving, tough on beginners, and requires some serious dedication to excel at. Strength in numbers holds true in Darkfall, and makes teaming up the way to go. Pleasing visuals, outstanding gameplay, and a whole new world of depth make Darkfall Online a great MMORPG and one that’s not for the faint of heart.
DarkFall Town Trailer
DarkFall Official Gameplay Trailer
DarkFall PvP Gameplay Trailer
DarkFall System Requirements
OS: Windows XP / Vista / 7
CPU: Pentium 4 2.5 GHz
RAM: 1 GB
HDD: 12 GB Free
Graphics Card: 128 mb, PixelShader 2.0 compatible
OS: Windows XP / Vista / 7
CPU: Pentium 4 3.0 GHz or better
RAM: 2 GB or more
HDD: 18 GB Free
Graphics Card: 128 mb, PixelShader 2.0 compatible or better