Crowfall On My Window
Crowfall was finally released live on July 6th, 2021. I bet that is news to you because Crowfall doesn't seem to have the hype train that many other MMOs have when they actually release. I've been following and playing Crowfall since the 2015 Kickstarter and alpha one, respectively. In addition, I've been playing it for the past 12 days, so I believe that I have a fair perspective on writing this review. Now that the NDA is lifted, I can share my thoughts. This is one of the weirdest games I've ever played. Very unlike any other game in this genre.
A lot has changed over the years, but the core mechanic has been fairly consistent. Crowfall developer, ArtCraft Entertainment (ACE), calls their project a throne war simulator, and they've added enough container streaming to fit a few more players onto the game shards to qualify as an MMO. The gist of this game is to level up your character in a PvE shard, then select a campaign (faction vs. faction or guild vs. guild) to jump into PvP. Also, there are player worlds that allow each player to create their own shard, and invite others to visit.
The reason ACE calls it a throne war simulator is the PvP focus, where players are pit against each other to gain and control territory in timed campaigns. The faction campaigns haven't started yet (likely to give players some time to gear up for them), but the guild campaigns are in full swing. Each campaign has a timer, rules (e.g. what players can bring into the campaign), and rewards. The guild campaign rewards are valuable enough to entice full guild engagement.
The focus of Crowfall is PvP. Only the starting worlds are PvE, and even those end in a mish-mash of PvE and PvP. The purpose of the starter world is to train you in game mechanics. Using a quest system tutorial, you are guided through various aspects of your race, class, realm, and crafting capabilities. The rewards for this tutorial are significant and geared to raise you up to level 30 by the time you finish the entire tutorial. The max level is currently set at 35, but each level past 30 is behind a crafting wall. This game is weird, and here's where the weird starts. To reach level 31, you must dig up corpses in the PvP region of the starter world, and assemble a new vessel of higher quality than your current vessel. The skills required to do this well are digging and necromancy. Alchemy is also useful to make ambrosia to help prepare the body parts for your new vessel. You start with a gray (poor) quality vessel, then you have to craft or buy a white (common) quality vessel to experience up to level 31. Then, in succession, 32 is green, 33 is blue, 34 is purple, and 35 is orange. That is a lot of digging up corpses, all the while getting ganked by others doing the same. In my guild, we already have crafters geared up to craft the higher-tier vessels, which are essential to winning PvP campaigns.
The action based combat system is still a little clunky. Sometimes you'll land a hit, and the mob/player will show the hit. Mostly, however, you just see a bunch of numbers flying above your heads. In Dregs combat (the guild vs. guild world), there was some battle lag as you would click, then wait a few milliseconds to see if you actually hit. This was a full-on battle with about 80 from my guild, and about 50 players from two other guilds fighting for control of the same fort. A day before, we took another fort with very little resistance and very little lag. The classes seem well balanced too, although race/class restrictions apply, and gear restrictions apply. I'm sure those restrictions are meant to balance certain aspects of PvP. Focus on what your team needs and you'll always be invited to the A team for the best combat experience. That means, e.g., use traditional roles like healer, tank, ranged DPS, and melee DPS. You can even skip the tutorial and get to level 25 if you just want to get into the PvP with your PvP build.
The graphics are highly stylized, like Albion Online. If you prefer gritty, crisp art, then you may prefer other games such as Elder Scrolls Online, or New World. Crowfall graphics are still growing on me.
Dedicated crafters are a thing in Crowfall. While you can buy multiple crafting lines (via knowledge stones that are called disciplines), you can only equip two at a time for gathering and crafting, so you are limited to two for a particular play setting. You can always start another character and get two more disciplines, but then you have to worry about materials. While there is a central account bank, it has limited space, and there are a metric ton of materials required to skill up each discipline. Look for a guild that has a legendary necro and alchemist, unless you like getting your butt kicked every single time. Everything in Crowfall decays. So eventually, you'll need to get another full set of legendary gear, including that corpse you've been, umm, occupying.
As a PvP game, you are going to gank and be ganked in Crowfall, constantly. In the starter world, you only lose half the gold you carry when you die in PvP combat. One the campaign world, you lose everything in your backpack. Everything.
I'm not a hardcore PvP player, but I found the PvP in Crowfall to be exciting and somewhat rewarding. I quickly found a huge guild that could roll over many other guilds, so that made the PvP experience enjoyable for me. Of course, that meant some other poor souls just lost all their loot. Welcome to a PvP game.
Although I enjoy playing Crowfall, I'm only going to play for another week or so, at least until the New World beta starts. Bad timing for Crowfall, but now we seem to be flooded with MMO's in the summer of 2021, woohoo! Then, I'll play the New World launch in August 2021 (assuming they don't delay another year). Crowfall will become the plan B, or C, depending on some other game releases later this year. Or, if Amazon fails to launch again, I get to go back to Crowfall. Either way, I win!