Saturday, July 18, 2015

Early Impression: Skyforge

Skyforge is a new action/RPG/MMO hybrid game from the same development team that created Allods, a traditional WoW-style MMO. I played a fair bit of Allods, so I was interested in the team's Skyforge effort. It went open beta this week, and I jumped in with a couple friends. First impressions follow.

Gameplay in Skyforge is based on running missions in zones. There's a central city safe zone with a big globe you can use to teleport to hotspots around the world, and each mission is rated for difficulty and differing play styles. There are PvP, solo/small-group, and open world missions up. Controls are pretty straightforward, mouse buttons and 6-8 keys control most of the action.

This entire zone is a path like this - so yawn!
Character advancement is handled via the Ascension Atlas (you're a god, m'kay), a giant node tree that provides boosts, skills, and access to other classes. Overall character power is based on prestige, a global rating that reflects Atlas progress and gear. There are also the usual guild (pantheon), store, inventory, and other functions around, all integrated into a full-screen UI. Eventually, you get followers and they built you a temple (god, remember), but I haven't gotten there yet.

TL;DR version: Unimpressive

Ten Random Things About the Game

I'm here to help, trust me
  1. Skyforge is supposed to be an action game, but the combat is relatively dull. There are some flashy effects, but in the end, it's an HP grind. Character skills matter, but not hugely. Zones are ranked by prestige, and their relative challenge is reflected in a very easy to impossible label. Challenge ratings should be called boredom ratings since impossible missions aren't harder, they're just longer.
  2. No group for you! Skyforge caters to three-person groups, which is ideal for me and my friends. Or it would be if we could actually group. You see prestige differences make it impossible to go on missions together, and there's no side-kicking or mentoring function, a glaring omission in a modern multiplayer game.
  3. Terrible NPCs. I can forgive the non-existent lip-sync, the game was originally done in Russian, but NPCs are kind of terrible-looking. There's also some weirdness with their animation while they're yammering their way through yet another pointless dialog. It causes them to stagger back and forth across the screen (which led to many 'drunken Herida' jokes on Skype).
  4. City design is terrible. For some ungodly (ha!) reason, the devs decided to chop the city into multiple segments, forcing you to take a taxi ride, complete with a cut scene, when you travel between areas. Given they can do entire open-world zones, there doesn't seem to be a good reason for this, other than to annoy the player.
  5. Speaking of zones, the missions zones are attractive but mostly linear. The one open-world zone I've explored had a few branches, but it was mostly A to B to C to, well, you get the idea. A couple areas are literally a single path. Oh, the limited nature of zones could be ignored if the fights varied, but nope, you face the exact same foes each run. Double-yawn.
  6. Boss fights should be fun and varied. They're not. Most bosses have one or two tricks, and they're not particularly varied. They're giant sacks of hit points once you figure out which animation to dodge. Also, many characters have cool powers and abilities that can affect their foes. Except bosses. No crowd control for you! This is just shitty design for a game touted as an action RPG, and Skyforge is not alone in using cheesy immunity mechanics for bosses.
  7. You'd better get used to those zones too because you'll be back, again and again. I pretty much followed the so-called main story and quickly hit a prestige wall that prevented me from moving forward. To get past this, I had to go back and grind through old zones for sparks (the currency used in the Ascension Atlas). This is a clear "USE PREMIUM TIME!" ploy since my friends purchased the early access and didn't have the same problem.
  8. How bad are the quests? The last one I did was a linear romp through the some name I forget monastery. Kill a group, kill a group, kill boss, repeat twice more (I think, it's mostly a blur--see boring above). I ran it on very hard, and it took about 15 or 20 minutes. Then I got back to the city and spent 10 or 15 minutes running around finishing the quest. That looked like this: talk to A go to taxi, skip cut scene, talk to B, go to taxi, skip cut scene, talk to C, go talk to D, finally get reward. A complete waste of time.
  9. UI seems incomplete and vey buggy. We spent 30 minutes last night trying to get the friend request system to actually accept a friend request. This involved multiple requests and restarts of the client. It finally worked, I think. I'll cut the devs a little slack here, but if you're in open beta, the basic features should work.
  10. The chat system is, at best, crude. It's 2015 guys, and chat has been a part of gaming for decades. Get with the times.
The World Observatory

Final thought: Skyforge is an interesting concept burdened by an uninspiring combat system and a repetitive mission structure. The grindy mission reward balance seems designed to force cash purchases, and the non-combat area is poorly laid out.

I didn't touch on the character classes, but they do offer a fairly broad selection, three to start, ten or so more once you grind through the Ascension Atlas or pay for them with cash. Of course, after testing all the classes in the practice arena, I... just don't care. Melee feels clunky and ranged classes feel same-y. Some of the animations (I'm looking at YOU Alchemist) are just plain bad. Final answer: just not very entertaining.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: all comments are moderated to block spammers. Please be polite.