Armchair Empire Home


Platform: PC
Publisher: TBA
Developer: Adventurine
ETA: 2006 




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Do you like waiving your fist angrily at MMORPG clichés that should have been weeded out of the genre years ago?  How about people that mistaken time sinks for challenge?  Yeah, we hate that crap too.  It would seem that Adventurine feels the same way, and they’re been hard at work over the last few years trying to do something about it as they develop a MMORPG of their own called Darkfall for the PC, which will attempt to address all of those little nuances that annoy the hell out of more than a few MMORPG players.


Taking place in the world of Agon, Darkfall is steeped in myth and legend.  Peppered throughout the continents and islands of the game are all sorts of ruins hinting at the ancient past of the game’s world.  There is a lot of lore waiting to be discovered as players make their way through the game.  There’s also quite a bit to look at, as Darkfall’s developers have gone through a lot of effort to create hand-made realms that players can appreciate, as opposed to some of the games out there where the environment seems to have been slapped together with automated map plotters.  A nice touch that will be included is a weather system that actually impacts the game world.  If a strong storm hits a region, players will have a heck of a time traversing it.  Rain and snow will be a lot more than just eye candy in this game.


What will likely get a lot of people excited right out of the gates is that character advancement won’t be achieved through conventional leveling.  So, no more acquiring a ton of experience points, and patiently waiting until you’ve earned an arbitrary amount of them before you can have a slightly higher number next to your name.  Instead, Darkfall is going for a skill-based system, where players can buy a basic skill like mining, or archery, and 

start using it right away.  The more a player uses these skills, the more proficient they will become at them.  The same also holds true for spells.  There’s going to be quite a few skills and spells in the final game, with 300 skills and 200 spells decided upon thus far, and 500 of each planned for the game in the long run.


Since characters progress in a skill-based manner, this also means that the game won’t be so class-oriented as most other RPGs are.  If players want to be a swordsman, they won’t choose to be a Fighter class, but will get basic training in how to use a sword, dodge, parry, and how to 



use related armor.  Also, players don’t need to worry about being locked into a given class, as they can just pick up totally new skill sets and fiddle with those should they get tired of their character in its current form.


As far as bonafide classes are concerned, these will come in the form of prestige classes like assassins, paladins, and enchanters.  These classes each have special skills, and spells that can give them specific benefits, though there are also downsides to going with such a class as well.  Whatever the case, none of them are mandatory, and players can just as well spend their entire time in the game playing as a classless character.


While things are fairly open-ended in terms of character development, the game is a lot more concrete in how it presents the various races of Darkfall.  With a total of six to choose from, players can be a human, a dwarf, a mirdain (an elf-looking race), ork, mahirim (wolf-like beings), or alfar.  These races don’t exactly get along well, so expect some tension depending who you play as, and depending who you meet.  Generally, humans, dwarves, and mirdain get along well, but they can’t stand the marhirim, and the ork, though these two races are quite chummy.  Then there is the alfar who pretty much hate everybody, and everyone hates them too.


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Due to these racial tensions, there will be quite a few opportunities for PvP play in Darkfall.  Players can form clans and team up in order to attempt destroying a town run by a different race, so a clan of humans and dwarves may try and take down an alfar settlement.  What Adventurine plans to do is provide a system somewhere between Shadowbane and Dark Age of Camelot in terms of players trying to destroy each other’s cities.  By this, the developers don’t want to punish players too harshly if they lose the fight, but they also want to make sure there’s a good balance of risk and rewards in this aspect of the game.  PvP won’t be a mandatory part of playing Darkfall, but players won’t be able to completely avoid it a la World of Warcraft by heading to a PvE server either.


One other area of the game that is worth noting is that items in the game decay over time.  Players will be able to repair them if they have the proper tools available, but they can only do this a certain number of times before the item is irreparable.  As such, it will be interesting to see how extremely rare weapon drops will be handled here.


At this point, Adventurine has been slaving away on Darkfall for four years, slowly tweaking and improving the project, getting it closer to how they envision the final product.  Between how the game will tackle character progression, and attempt to provide a balanced PvP system, there could be quite a bit to look forward to in this game.  The developers are currently looking for clans to help out with beta testing of the game.  If you and your clan think you’d be up for the challenge, all the pertinent sign-up info can be found here.


Mr. Nash

October 26, 2005