The last week or so have been a rather mixed bag on the gaming front for me. I’ve done a few dungeons in RIFT and started levelling a Mage, both of which have been good fun. I’ve also had a go on the free trial for Darkfall, which was uhm, interesting… and I’ve been playing Minecraft on the new Kill Frenzy private server, which has been epic.
So firstly, RIFT… For now I have completely given up with open-world PvP at level 50. There’s nothing organised and when we tried to prompt some, unfortunately no enemy guild would gather up to fight us, even when KF was standing outside the enemy capital city shouting challenges... There is of course the opportunity to roam around ganking people, but meh there’s no goal to it other than griefing, which aint my thing. I am dabbling a little with the warfronts (scenarios) and they’re fine, but no different to any other game really and as I’ve said many times before, I’m not that interested in instanced PvP.
Whenever I’ve had some reliable online time and a group of guildies available, I have been doing the expert mode dungeons. The dungeons in RIFT are great and with very few exceptions are well paced, balanced, visually impressive and atmospheric. I’ve not done much in the way of the raid or expert Rifts yet, but am looking forward to that. When logged in to RIFT but not doing dungeons, I’ve been levelling my mage. I played a Mage in beta quite a bit and was sorely tempted by one at launch, though for various reasons (mainly Riftstalker) I went with the Rogue. No regrets there, the Rogue is thoroughly entertaining, but the Mage is great fun too. I couldn’t list what’s changed, but it feels like its seen some good tweaking since beta. It’s early days for my Mage and I’m only using 2 different roles at the moment:
Chloro is pretty good healer with its healing primarily linked to the damage it does. Elementalist is a pet based DPS soul and Warlock is the usual heal draining nuker. This has combined to give me an un-killable pet, reasonable damage and has made levelling even more of a breeze than normal. I plan on playing Chloro in dungeons as much as possible.
I’ve mostly been using this for PvP in warfronts. Stormcaller is, as the name suggests, themed around lightning and the power of storms. It is a heavy AoE, nuking soul of awesome. I really like this one, lots and lots of ZAAAAAAAP! That said, I don’t think its quite as powerful as Pyromancer, but it has lightning graphics so it automatically wins. The third soul I’ve yet to decide upon, may just opt for the PvP soul.
So pretty much status quo for me in RIFT, the PvP remains very average, but I am enjoying the PvE enough to be more than happy with my subs fee for the foreseeable future (got a 3 month sub).
Now what about Darkfall then? Hmmmm. I must admit I have only played it very briefly and have barely scratched the surface, but a few things instantly stand out. Firstly, the graphics are not up to scratch for a modern MMO, in fact they’re fairly poor. Not so bad they’re deal breaking, but dated and a distraction. The game makes you spend a lot of time looking at your character’s back (which takes up too much of the screen), so it’s a real shame that they look so crap. Still graphics are not the be all and end all, as Minecraft demonstrates with the utmost finesse, more on that later.
The next big issue with Darkfall is the control system. It’s terrible. One of those systems where a right click turns the mouse cursor on for clicking round the UI, yeah one of those lol. I’ve not looked too hard, but I’ve not yet found how you mouselook without turning your character, obviously it must be possible because otherwise that would be completely retarded… On top of that, movement feels clunky, cheap and a bit rubbish.
Oh and then there was a lame player killing attempt on me within the first 10 minutes that was so dumb it was comedy. For your first hour on a new character you are immune to attacks from other players, which is cool and all, but it doesn’t stop a fully geared up dude following me around spamming attacks waiting for the time to run out. It also didn’t stop me just logging out a few minutes before the timer ran out to go make some dinner, which I did with a warm glow knowing I had wasted a retard’s time for 45 minutes as he had followed me around the entire time like a moronic angry puppy. Twat.
Yet despite these things giving an pretty poor first impression, the game has intrigued me a little bit. I did like the way the mobs behaved, their AI wasn’t exactly revolutionary, but they certainly take a bit more effort to kill than in other MMOs. They were also aggressive from much father away, their line of sight seeming to actually be far more than the usual 2 metres…
The thing is though, whilst I say I am intrigued by it and I genuinely am, I’m not hugely tempted to log in and play the free trial further. Which puzzles me somewhat… I do like the idea of the game, the old school concept is exactly my sort of thing and normally I can live with bad graphics in return for gameplay, but something isn’t clicking here. I’ve got another week or so left on this trial, but I just can’t be arsed. Hmmm that probably works quite well as a summary: “I can’t be arsed with Darkfall”.
Finally, Minecraft. Oh Minecraft, how I love thee.
Like most people I’ve been playing the game single player for ages and it’s beyond brilliant. Now however we have a Kill Frenzy private server running and it has been proper epic fun. I had started digging out a mine shaft below my home when I burst through into a series of caverns, which isn’t that unusual, however these ones have proven to be absolutely monstrous in scale and complexity. We’ve had groups of us exploring the caves and battling loads of monsters, it’s proving to be an epic task. Every time we think we’ve got the place lit up and stopped the monsters spawning, a bloody Creeper appears and we discover another series of tunnels and caverns. Quite a few of us have on numerous occasions got horribly lost and needed rescuing… It’s going to take a long time to get it all explored, let alone marked up and made safe. Awesome. Pure, undiluted, awesome.
And this has made absolutely clear another of the big things I am missing in modern MMOs: exploring. Proper exploring, not the guide me by the hand through point A, B, C quest chaining that the post WoW generation has brought us. I mean proper, wild world, where any direction can bring you something new to look at, fight or harvest and without zone boundaries after 5 minutes in one direction. Quests in MMOs were a good idea, but its gone too far. PvE wise now the quest is everything and all freedom of thought is not encouraged. You WILL kill 10 rats HERE and then you WILL kill 10 sheep THERE!
I’m not entirely sure what the solution is, because clearly the games that offer more freedom do not get the financial backing they need. Wurm Online, Darkfall, etc are comparatively low budget niche games and presentation wise are a million miles away from the WoW and RIFTs of the gaming world. The fact that all the big funding goes to the latter types says everything about what’s considered a safe investment. Surely though a safe compromise is possible? Minecraft MMO?