Four years ago, finding a digital copy of Darkfall was damn near impossible. Fast forward to the present and AV has improved its billing apparatus but certainly not its delivery mechanism. After nearly three hours, DFUW's patcher managed to pull down 90 MB out of 6487. I switched to the torrent download, and while it was faster, I still had to leave it overnight. So technically this is day two impressions even though it's day one for yours truly.
The rude awakening started with character creation. Some of you might remember my Darkfall Choose My Adventure from 2010. The six weeks I spent as Swiftsnout TheCrotchety, a fledgling Mahirim who trekked across the wilds of Agon to join the NEW clan, are some of my fondest memories from 15 years of MMO gaming.
The Mahirim were Darkfall's answer to werewolves or wolfmen or whatever you want to call an anthropomorphic cross between humans and wild canines. In short, they were bloody awesome, but with Darkfall Unholy Wars, Aventurine has dispensed with the wolf part and basically offered up a human with an extra-hairy face. This might seem like a small thing if you're coming to Darkfall for the first time or if you're a PvP vet who just wants to gank and be ganked. I found it pretty disappointing, though, and I spent the first five minutes of my DUW experience tabbed out looking at my old Mahirim screenshots to make sure I wasn't losing my mind.
Nope, he actually was an armored wolf with a sword and a greatstaff. OK, moving on.
Elementalist, ah, now we're getting somewhere. Arcane discipline, mana reserves. Mmhmm, that's what I'm talking about. Wait, what? He can wear only light armor? Well that's different. My original Darkfall Swiftsnout could basically do whatever he wanted if he chose to skill it up. I'm not sure how I feel about this but I suppose I should wait and see how it plays out in the game. Oh yeah, there's also Primalist, which sounds a bit too much like a necromancer for my taste. Elementalist it is, then.
There's some sort of weird bug that has apparently disabled my keyboard and rendered me unable to enter a character name. Rebooting doesn't fix it, but I am able to click the generate-a-name buttons. So much for Swiftsnout TheCrotchety.
Unlike Darkfall 1.0, Darkfall 2.0 takes a stab at a tutorial. You'll spawn in a newbie area and be walked through control basics by a left-aligned coaching window that you can minimize or maximize with your Z key.
The camera is initially fixed behind your avatar in third-person, and the main controls are easily grokked if you've played an MMO before. There's WASD to move, C in concert to move while crouched, and shift to sprint. You know the drill by now. The R key sheathes and unsheathes your equipped weapon (and also brings you into a mandatory first-person view with ranged weapons), while the mouse wheel scrolls through available weapons, and when clicked, equips them.
Left-click swings, the V key parries, and holding down the left button notches an arrow or readies a mage blast. I go through these motions with a few training dummies. Arrow physics mean you have to take distance and gravity into account, which is as fun and as challenging as I remembered.
At this early stage, it's pretty simple to run around switching between an offensive magic bolt and the healing spell, but later on, when both wheels are full of various abilities and PvPers or mobs are bearing down on me with ill intent, I imagine that switching and firing abilities (never mind aiming) will get pretty hectic and enjoyable.
The escape key enters the game's GUI mode, and it's here that I get another rude reminder that this isn't my daddy's Darkfall. While the original game's UI was much-maligned and deservedly so, I enjoyed the Ultima Online-style bag and inventory mechanics, which were the closest I've ever seen a game come to the haphazard hamhandedness that I imagine is inherent in a real adventurer's backpack. Darkfall 1.0's inventory screen was basically a free-flowing pane in which you could drop anything and everything you wanted as long as you could bear the weight. There was no order to it save for what you made yourself. If you dropped a bunch of crap on top of a bunch of other crap, the latter pile of crap was well and truly buried at the bottom of your bag.
This was probably a nightmare for gamers raised on orderly themepark inventory screens, but I dug the rough-around-the-edges simplicity, and dare I say it, the immersion that grew out of being able to meticulously organize your stuff or dump it wherever. DUW's inventory bar is cleaner, but it's lost a good deal of charm.
Anyhow, I'm out of time and space for this first edition of Massively's Darkfall Unholy Wars launch-week impressions. Each of these journal entries is basically an off-the-cuff accounting of my playtime as it happens, so don't rage too much if I don't cover absolutely everything in a particular installment. Until next time.
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