Crowfall is a New Take on the Tired MMO Formula
Two months ago I did something I never have before; I backed a video game on Kickstarter. I had viewed hundreds of Kickstarters before, many even had me hovering my mouse over “Back This Project”, but I never pulled the trigger. So what was this exciting and enigmatic project that finally had me throwing money at the screen? Crowfall. So what set it apart? It featured buzzwords and interesting graphics like all the projects before; MMO, Voxel technology, new and exciting, change the world with your decisions, sandbox, choices… the list goes on. While certainly the idea of a fantasy sandbox described as “It’s like Game of Thrones meets EVE Online” gets my blood pumping, none of this is actually what drew me in. Instead, it was the track record of the developers themselves. We have all heard the nightmare stories about Kickstarted projects being abandoned after the money was raised, so previous experience matters more now on funding sites than ever before… at least to me. So imagine my delight when I learned that the team behind Crowfall have Ultima Online, Star Wars Galaxies, Star Wars: The Old Republic, ShadowBane, and even more under their belts. These are all games that have interested me at one point or another, and while I have admittedly never played Ultima or Star Wars Galaxies (I know, I know), I have heard the amazing stories and heard of the beloved mechanics. Now put this all into a fantasy setting and…
Eternal Heroes, Dying Worlds
This is the core premise of Crowfall, and something that we really haven’t ever seen before. Instead of having one static, “theme-park” setting (imagine an immovable world like WoW’s Azeroth), Crowfall will have procedurally generated campaign worlds that transform slowly and then die. When you join Crowfall, you are in charge of choosing which campaign world you wish to join. This campaign world will then undergo seasonal change; spring, summer, fall, and winter, with the world becoming more dangerous and deadly each season. After winter, the campaign is finally devoured by the enigmatic enemy “The Hunger” and players return to the permanent regions of the game; the Eternal Kingdoms. So what does this mean from a gameplay perspective? Well, you know that fuzzy feeling of wonder and exploration you get from you first few months in a new MMO? This means you get to relive that again, and again, and again. Mountains, valleys, rivers, castles, ruins… it will all be new every time. New choke points to capture, new resources to find. No map the same, no experience the same, but with a character that is increasingly powerful and renown. That’s damn exciting.
Land Ownership and Kingdom Building
I just mentioned that the only permanent locations are found outside of campaigns, in the Eternal Kingdoms. Well guess what? You start the game with your own kingdom, and you can do whatever you want with it. Do you want to grow your land, build towns with merchants, forges, castles, and booming trade? You can do that. Want to invite your friends to move in to your land so you can vassalize them and grant them land? You can do that. Do you want to let it rot and forget about it entirely? You can do that.
Campaign Rules Change the Game
Not only will campaigns be different because of the shifting maps, but the objectives and goals for each campaign will also be different, as well as the time cap on each campaign. It’s up to you whether or not you want to play a campaign lasting 1, 3, 6, or 12 months. Each have their own unique benefits; shorter campaigns mean a faster prize and more feverish plotting and gameplay. A year long campaign means a lot more depth, dedication, and better rewards. As mentioned before, different campaigns also feature different rules. Crowfall campaigns can decide which races can participate, the duration of the campaign, how teams are decided (by their Gods, the guilds, and more), what resources can be scavenged and how abundant they are, how harsh survival is (what effect does death have), and much more. They have also designed the game so they can easily implement new rules easily down the line.
A Game with Environmental, Permanent Destruction
The primary reason that I left conventional MMOs is that no matter what I did, it had no effect. Sure it could have the illusion of effect; I could destroy that tower, down that epic raid boss, kill that NPC… But in 30 seconds the tower model would revert, a new raid group would take on the same boss, or the NPC would respawn. There was no permanence, no real change. This is why the only road for me now is sandbox, and it is why Crowfalls destructible voxel technology sounds so appealing. That’s right; a castle wall stands in your way? Destroy it voxel by voxel with a siege tower and flank their defenses with a small vanguard. Want to go in quieter? Spend three days digging a tunnel from your forward base to theirs, and burrow into their grand hall. You see a large force moving towards your keep? Destroy the bridges to hinder their progress. This technology also works in reverse in the form of building. Found a great spot for resources? Build a forward operating base. The enemy has placed their base nearby? Construct a forge within your base to keep your men well armed. Feel like building an extraneous but awesome looking monument? Go for it.
Crowfall Combat is Skill-Based
Sure, there is lots of skill involved in tab-targetting games, its undeniable, but there is something truly special about a system that relies entirely on skill. Yes, there will be abilities like any other MMO, but landing attacks, dodging, and hitting spells and projectiles are entirely up to the player… That is pretty darn cool. The level of your character takes a backseat to how well you perform in the thick of battle, and full scale assaults and duels alike are no longer determined by who simply has the higher level. This also means that people who don’t have all the time in the world to be grinding at an MMO simply don’t have to. And did we mention? There is no grinding. PvE will be very limited in Crowfall, which is taking a page from EVE’s passive levelling. Instead of killing for XP, you will queue up various skills you want to level and they will train while you are online or offline.
Sandboxes Create Stories
So there you have it, this is why you should all have Crowfall on your radars, and why I am positively so excited. No medium of video game generates the amazing stories that sandbox games do. There have been numerous times when games like Eve Online have been featured on mainstream news sites because of the stories and impact they have. Crowfall is promising in the sense that it looks like it can generate these same amazing moments; the 13 hour sieges, the epic set-piece battles with crumbling walls, flanks, retreats, and glory, the guild espionage that changes the face of the campaign map. So keep your eye out for Crowfall, and sign up at the forums to start getting active in the community. We need to band together, because the Hunger is coming.
Learn lots more about Crowfall at their FAQ and main site and watch the incredibly awesome and informative video below!