I read quite a lot of blogs of people that talk a lot about MMOs and early January most of these people posted their predictions in 2008. Some interesting predictions yes, lots of talk about Warhammer Online, Age of Conan and even some Jumpgate Evolution, but one game that was missing pretty everywhere was… well, you’ve read the title… Darkfall Online. To me it’s easily the most interesting new MMO out there for me. At the same time it’s also easily the most mysterious MMO if you look at it’s development history. It’s the Duke Nukem Forever of the MMO’s, in development since early 2001, often refered to Forumfall and taken as vaporware. There was supposed to be a public beta back in 2002, another one in 2005, it was myseriously quiet for a long-long time somewhere in the meantime and then in early 2007 a trailer was publicized and again there was an announcement for a beta in summer 2007 that didn’t come. Add all the mystery behind Aventurine (the makers), the mindblowing features of the game, their awful PR and total lack of information and I guess you’re more than enough reason to be very suspicious.
I catched up with Darkfall Online somewhere last year in April and started following it. I got a bit excited as well when I heard of a beta in summer 2007 shortly after, but nothing happened and I won’t hype myself up for something as suspicious as this game. Still there’s good reason to believe they’ll come up with something, there’s this preview, where some old UO clan-guy is for some reason invited to play a year-old version of Darkfall Online, again it’s rather suspicious but it does sound quite good. The combat supposedly looks a lot like Mount&Blade (and if you’ve played that game, you should, try the trial!). They also had a bi-weekly dev-post on Warcry since last year.
Then again, even some industry big-shots bash it to the ground. And their PR is very poor, why not get a good journalist play that year-old version instead of some unknown old UO gamer? Why not spend a few days actually making a good trailer. Why not update that old ugly website? I don’t get it, but I could see two reasons; One, they just invest all their time and resources in the game until it’s close to done. Two, they’re just not convinced enough in their own game. I really hope it’s the first reason, but I’m not sure at all.
But a few days ago they added another trailer + screenshots, that shows how much Darkfall Online progressed graphically. Just compare this new screenshot with a screenshot of 2 years ago. It really – does – look good, something like Age of Conan still looks a lot better, but if they can get these graphics in a huge persistent world that supposedly is able to hold 10k concurrent players…
And just look at the features. Isn’t it what you dreamt of when you first heard of MMOs? (I remember how disappointed I was that nothing really happened when alliance attacked Crossroads for hours when I logged into WoW beta for the first time and saw it with my lvl 10 orc.) Being able to build your cities and fight over them, creating your own armor, a real economy that makes trading a viable way to play the game, mounted combat, a reasonably smart AI, dynamic weather and a huge-huge world where you can reach every place and actually be somewhere ‘alone’? And I didn’t even mention sea-battles and cannons. Hah. Aren’t these features exactly what you wanted of online games? There are a lot of people claiming that there’s no market for full-PvP MMO’s, but I really don’t buy that.
All the features are overly ambitious and are incredibly hard to pull off, there’s still enough reason to be skeptical. But at the moment I think Darkfall Online is the only MMO coming out in 2008 that I might play for more than a year. And when I play a MMO and put a lot of time in it, I – do – want to play it for a long long time. Other than that, there’s World of Darkness of course. Not that I like the vampire franchise that much, but it’s made by CCP and because of that it could be a MMO that just “gets it right”. (There’s a tidbit info from GDC that confirms this for me)
You can find the trailer here. There are also various videos with info / old trailers and screenshots on youtube, often fan-made.