Skyforge

I’ve been out of commish for a bit.  Off work til the start of the fall.  Just way too much work and a rather nasty case of burnout.  Ugh.  So most of the past few weeks has been about resting up.  It’s an odd thing, something a little wonky with the body.

In that time, I’ve filled the time with other things.  I’ve started painting some miniatures from my various board games, starting with Star Wars Imperial Assault.  I forgot how much time each one would take… around 30-60m per from start to finish.  That’s a fair chunk of time but well worth it.

I’ve also popped some time in FF14, hitting 60 with my White Mage.  I’ll write about that a bit later.  I also decided to try out Skyforge, which is in open beta but if you can read through that lie, it’s launched since it’s taking your money.

Business Model

Free to play, though I’m a bit confused as to the model.  Progress is based on getting crystals to move across a character progression track.  If you subscribe, you get 50% more crystals/credits while playing, which is a rather big boost.  The kicker is that there’s a weekly cap on the amount you can get, so you’re really only buying time to get to that cap.  And the cap doesn’t scale with your “level”, so it’s much harder to get at the start of the game than later on.  Otherwise, you can get an alternate currency for small upgrades, nothing too big.  It’s possible to play the entire game for free though, as I’ve yet to see anything that would be completely locked out to non-paying players.

Combat

It’s more or less Neverwinter but with crappy auto-attacks and more classes.  Movement and positioning is rather important.  It’s smooth but there are certainly bugs.  I’ve died from single shots more than a few times.

Interestingly there are 3 roles, tank, DPS and support.  DPS is what you’d expect, though a little low on stuns for my tastes.  Support gives out shields and there are no heals.  I cannot understand any group-based game that doesn’t have heals or stuns.  Tanks are the same, using temporary shields and taking a beating.  They are HP sponges, not tanks.  In solo based game play, it works ok.  In the 3 man content, you can get by since the damage is manageable.  In 5 man play, there are some serious balance issues.  Tanks have it easy, DPS really are the weak point since support can’t ever top anyone off.  And because the game is more or less a free-for-all up until group play, most DPS are pretty bad at what they do.

Avoidance is a really important part of the game, with really big hits coming from big enemies, bosses with 1 shots too.  There are tells to show it’s coming but with a ton of particle effects, sometimes it can be hard to track.  Plus the bugs, where tells won’t show.  I miss telegraphs.

So if you ignore 5 man content, it’s pretty good.  But the entire end game is 5 man content (and eventually larger group content).  Ehh.

Progression

There are 2 ways to progress – the Atlas and through Prestige.  The Atlas is a node-based progression map, one per class and another shared across all classes.  You unlock nodes with colored crystals, which you get from completing content.  Think FFX’s progression model.  The scaling is a little odd, where you have nodes with +7 and others with +75. Moving across the class-based Atlas unlocks more skills and talents, allowing some customization.  I will say that of the 2 classes I’ve played, the actual skill unlocks are poorly balanced.  Talents aren’t too bad though.  Moving across the atlas enough to unlock another class is about 2 weeks worth of work.  You can try out classes in a simulator but actually taking 2 weeks, or even a month, to play the class that you want seems odd.

Prestige is gearscore, plain and simple.  All content is gated by Prestige.  You can also unlock Prestige counts through the Atlas. Just like gearscore, stat balance is not taken into account.  It has less issue at lower score levels but at higher ones… wooo it’s a big deal.  As a tank, I went up ~5% of Prestige while I also upped my Health by 20%.  It made a world of difference in gameplay.  Low end game play is around the 3K mark, with mid-game coming in around 5K or so, once you unlock group content.

Further to this, since Prestige gates all content, it also acts as a level.  This puts a barrier between players while leveling.  Scaling is coming, which is good.

MMO or Not

It’s a lobby game with extremely limited chat and group functions. There’s a guild system, called Pantheon.  There are more than 4 people in the shared zones but group zones are limited in size.  The main town has everyone standing under a giant globe.  I like Neverwinter’s model of distinct zones, which brings some life to the world.  Even Marvel Heroes has more MMO to it.

Art/Style

This is high marks.  The game looks great and is only 10 gigs.  There’s enemy variety, colors, good music and the locales are neat enough.  The sci-fi fantasy setting really works here, with a bit of a tech/wizardry setting too.  Bosses are fun to watch and the screen is often filled with effects.

Overall

This is a launch and I have found dozens if not hundreds of bugs.  Most are innocuous, but there are plenty game crashing bugs and combat bugs that just kill you outright.  There are also some rather significant balance issues that need to be worked out.  The Kinetic and Witch/Warlock classes are miles beyond the others in terms of DPS output.  Classes on their own lack diversity in skills and balance.

It looks pretty and plays smooth but  it’s a solid 2-3 months out from being ready for the prime time.  It fits the drop-in/drop-out market, which isn’t one I’m a big fan of.  There’s a semblance of breadth but no depth.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s