20 innovative things about Crowfall
Crowfall is an amazing new MMO that is the works (due to launch sometime late 2016-early 2017). This is definitely an MMO to keep your eye on, especially if you are like me, and you like intense PvP, character creation, meaningful choices and consequences, and bragging rights.
My goal today is to write up some of the reasons I think Crowfall is going to be awesome, that way:
- People who follow my blog can become aware of the game if they aren’t already.
- People can share this with their friends to get them interested.
- I can get this out of my system, because I am addicted to Crowfall news.
Here are 20 things about Crowfall that I think make it different and new when compared to the current MMO scenery.
1. Permanent character, temporary world
This is the hallmark feature of Crowfall. Their goal is to make a strategy game that is also an MMO. The thing with strategy games is a shift of power begins somewhere in the game, and then there is a clear winner. The problem with combining that with an MMO is that MMOs are by nature persistent. The world exists when you are offline, and the world is permanent.
Crowfall is going to flip the system, and the characters and their progression are going to permanent, and the worlds will be decaying. Part of the character’s progression is going to be personal pride, as well as skills and power level. To help express this personal progression, each player will have an Eternal Kingdom (EK), which is permanent, but not where you do your gathering or combat, typically.
The gathering and combat happen on the Dying Worlds. The players will start Campaigns on a Dying World that may only be around for three months or so. Players are dropped into a dark world with a Fog of War, just like Civilization. Once they complete a Campaign, the world ends, the players take their resources back with them to the Eternal Kingdoms, and the process starts again.
2. Feudal system
These Eternal Kingdoms have a feudal system built into them. This feudal system allows players to add other players as lords and barons, etc, on their EK. This has a couple of ramifications.
First, people will want to have a commerce stall on large, high-profile EKs, since there won’t be an auction house (see #14). This means that players can build their profile, invite other players to be barons on their EK, and then take a cut of the proceeds. They want to be reasonable, however, since if they put insane taxes on their land, players will leave and go elsewhere, diminishing the profile of the EK.
Secondly, there will be relics and other buff-granting items that could be gained from completing Campaigns. These buffs might be rare, depending on the quality, and that would bring more players to your EK to set up shop.
3. The housing system looks amazing
The EK functions as a housing system, with resources from Campaigns making up the building blocks for expanding your realm. As you build, you can add other players and see benefits from that. While not a lot is known about the customization of buildings, it is obvious that you can have a castle or manor and show off your goods, your victories, and your skill. You can run a mercantile empire from your EK, or use it as a staging ground into Campaigns. There seems to be a lot of built-in flexibility, and this is very exciting.
But here is the really exciting part. These aren’t just housing instances. They are actual worlds, same as the Campaign ones, they just don’t spawn resources. There are mountains, valleys, rivers, etc, for everyone to explore. You can decide how multiplayer you want to be with them, and you can dole out land to whom you see fit. Each plot of land is the in-game size of an acre, so they are actually huge.
4. Truly dynamic worlds
For a world to be truly dynamic, I think a few things are required.
- The first is there must be some measurable change from one point in time to the next, spontaneously.
- The second is players must be able to affect the environment.
- The third is players shouldn’t be able to predict everything about the world.
The first requirement is met by the Hunger. The Hunger takes over the world, slowly but surely, and we see this in phases like Seasons. The player is dropped into a world that is in Spring, and the wildlife is dangerous, but not too deadly. As the world progresses, it eventually gets to Winter, where the wildlife has been fully corrupted by the Hunger and is deadly.
With this change is supposed to come environmental factors that affect players on every level. For example, the Centaur race is known to have the weakness of requiring more food and warmth than other classes, which means they could be a detriment later on in the Campaign if not balanced out by classes that don’t have that weakness.
The second requirement is met by destructible environments (see #5).
The third requirement is met by the fact that all of the worlds are procedurally-generated. This means that when you are dropped into the world naked in a Fog of War, you have no idea where you are going to get weapons, food, or even find your guildmates. By the time you get your crap together (which could be a couple of weeks in), you still have to build a power base and begin gathering materials to fortify your position, not to mention worrying about your enemies’ movements. Only after using materials to strengthen your position can you even BEGIN to think about taking those resources back to your EK and start planning for the end of the world. Every single game will have different scenarios depending where people are, what they have, what they need. The world sculpts the strategy you use.
5. Destructible environments
And thanks to destructible environments, you can use strategy to sculpt the world. Now, I don’t exactly know to what extent the world is destructible, but I do know it is made of voxels, which are 3D building blocks that allow for really reactive and malleable environments. It is definitely confirmed that tunneling and castle destruction are just a few of the concepts we’ll see at launch. Even player skills can affect the environment, such as the Forgemaster throwing his hammer through a castle wall (after it has been weakened of course).
6. Actual physics
A lot of this is also thanks to the fact that all of this will be built on a real-time physics engine. Projectiles have flight time, attacks have force, and collapsing walls (from the destructible environments) can kill. Guineceans, the guinea-pig-based race, is probably going to be half or less of the size of Centaurs, so they will have less momentum, and if they get hit by a battleaxe by a Centaur, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them go flying. In fact, I’ll be down-right disappointed if they don’t.
7. Action combat
Crowfall is aiming to couple this dynamic physics-based combat with a cone-based attack similar to Wildstar and combos similar to Tera. They are incorporating the dodging, sprinting, and double jump from Wildstar as well. This is definitely a deviation from the tab-targeting of the past, and a welcome one!
Each Campaign world will have different rulesets that define the Import/Export rules, the factions, the reward structure, and probably more.
Import rules will define whether you drop in naked or take certain amounts of items or resources, and Export rules will define how many resources and items you can take back to the EK. They are going to do this by using Embargo Vaults that allow you to lock in items or resources to send back to your EK when the Campaign is finished. Winners and losers will each have their own percentages of how much of their vault gets sent back, and the rewards increase the more difficult the ruleset.
The factions are defined by the ruleset as well.
9. Factions done right
Each player swears fealty to a god from one of the three factions, Order, Balance, and Chaos. There are four gods in each faction for 12 gods total. Currently, the rulesets for factions have four different themes.
God’s Reach – Three-faction warfare
Chaos and Order fight for supremacy, and Balance wins if there is no clear winner between Chaos and Order. This is (from what I understand) very similar to Dark Age of Camelot, which is widely held as a standard for three-faction warfare.
The Infected – 12-faction warfare (god vs. god)
While we don’t know a ton about this, I can definitely see that some gods will have a large presence, and other gods will have to ally together in temporary alliances. This could be a really interesting gameplay mechanic, and it certainly adds tension to going from the God’s Reach ruleset to The Infected ruleset, because former allies could literally be using your own weapons against you.
The Shadow – Guild vs. guild
This seems like an exciting ruleset, but bigger guilds will definitely flourish here. Good thing my guild is about to hit 10,000 members across all of its games! Though I have my suspicions not all of us will be playing Crowfall…
The Dregs – Free for All
This is where the savvy solo player will probably have a great time. Hiring oneself out to other players as a bodyguard, hunter, miner, etc, will probably play into this quite a bit. I am looking forward to seeing what this ruleset is like…after I work on my character a bit though.
10. Guild tournaments
This is a newly-announced feature, as it was part of the stretch goals for Kickstarter, but it already has me really excited. Basically, if you are an actor, and the Campaigns are like a movie, and the talk shows and commercials you do are like your Eternal Kingdom, and the guild tournament is like the Oscars. Or something like that…we don’t know much about this, except that there will be serious bragging rights.
11. Items aren’t permanent
Between the facts that there will be item decay, that you won’t be able to import equipment into Campaigns with the more rigorous rulesets, and that you can lose items from your inventory upon death, the goal of the game isn’t really to get that big, bad, best-in-slot weapon. It is to take the weapon you have and beat the other factions/guilds/players over the head with it.
The fact that items aren’t permanent is actually no different at all from the WoW model of things. The items you work really hard to obtain from that boss are just replaced in the next expansion when the level cap increases. The only difference between that and this, is that you don’t have to get frustrated about losing your gear, because that wasn’t what it was about to begin with.
12. Gear grind replaced with bragging rights
Speaking of bragging rights and gear grinding, gear-grinds are out, bragging rights are in.
That’s right, Crowfall is going where an MMO hasn’t gone since…I can’t remember when. Basically, Crowfall wants to make their rewards not about getting that Uber Sword of Awesome that will one-shot noobs, they want to make meaningful trophies and progression that allows the big difference between players to be skill.
Because all the items in the game are temporary, the worlds are temporary, and basically everything that isn’t non-combat is temporary, the real permanence and progression is with your character, your EK, and your reputation as a good fighter, hunter, scout, or crafter.
13. Dedicated crafters
Crafting is going to be a really important factor in the economy and in the Campaigns, since the items are all temporary. You might have to make 1000 swords for the guild armory in a particular Campaign because of a huge siege coming up. You might have to repair armor for other players to prolong the time before decay, since you are out of iron resources because the other faction took your mine.
Crafting isn’t just something that you do on the side, it is a profession by itself. There is deep customization and progression for crafting. For example, you could pick up Blacksmithing, which would open up all of the Blacksmithing recipes. No having to grind up to get to a better recipe, though you might not be as successful at crafting it as better Blacksmiths would be. You might have to wager good resources on an iffy craft, or see if leveling it a bit more first would help! You could also specialize in Weaponsmithing or Armorsmithing to increase your recipes in that area.
You can also slot souls you harvest from Campaign worlds (kinda creepy, I know) into items to make them better. These are called Thralls. This is somewhat like enchanting, though the Thralls have numerous uses in-game.
14. No auction house
All of the economy is going to be player generated. It will be purely bartering-based, though they have mentioned the possibility of making pressed metals into money being an option, but they would have to see how that would work.
With no currency randomly dropping from mobs, all of the economy will be fueled by player efforts. This means mines that produce metal have to be mined, the miners have to be compensated with protection, the crafters have to be compensated with extra materials to craft for you, and there is no auction house.
Instead of an auction house, there will be the ability to slot Thralls as shopkeepers into buildings to sell your wares. This increases the value of having Thralls in multiple EKs, as well as having good relationships with other players to increase trade with them.
15. People can take your stuff
One reason you don’t want to irritate other players (aside from the fact that is a good way to get kicked from their EK) is because there is 100% inventory drop upon death in the Campaigns. That’s right, if you die, they can loot your body.
In certain Campaigns, you might even drop what you had equipped. This definitely increases the crafter’s role in the economy, because there is no way you are surviving as a scout if you run around naked instead of having a friend make some clothes for you.
Since no one can do everything, there is always something for players to do.
16. Mortal mounts
Along with the idea of temporary items and corpse-looting, your mount is mortal. Not just in the “oh my horse is dead, gotta revive him” situation from Archeage, but 100% mortal. As in, you need to get a new mount.
This seems like a huge loss, until you realize that mounts are part of the Campaign world, and thus are not something you start with each time anyway. Mounts are tamed by players with the taming Discipline (more on that in #17), sold to other players at a price determined by the market, and thus are just like any other equipment. You die, it goes away. It all does eventually.
Again, by making the items temporary from the start, it make the market take that into account, and your items are no longer make-or-break items. They are simply tools to the real goal, the victory.
17. Truly customizable characters
Characters in Crowfall are going to have lots of layers of customization. All of the layers are the primary goal of the game, along with bragging rights. Your character maintains its skills from Campaign to Campaign.
Your main source of progression is through progressing your skills, both actively to gain proficiency, and then passively over time. By using swords, you increase your Sword skill, but there is a cap. Your choice of Archetype, Advantages, Disadvantages, Promotion class, and Disciplines all determine how high this cap is.
You can train up to three skills passively simultaneously, and you do this by selecting a primary, secondary, and tertiary skill to be trained. It is planned to take one month for primary skills to train to 100%, two months for the secondary, and three months for the tertiary, and you can swap them around at any time. It has a diminishing returns curve though, so the first bit of training comes pretty quickly, and the last 10% takes the longest, so you shouldn’t be sitting at low values for very long.
It is important to note that Crowfall does not have levels. It is all based on individual skills.
The first layer of customization is the Archetype. This is slightly different from a class, as you are really just picking what starting skills you have, what natural Advantages you have, and what kind of role you will be taking on, but all of the things I just said are very flexible because of other layers. Currently, there are 13 Archetypes, with the possibility of new ones post-launch, and one of the perks of the VIP program (their subscription-like thing) will be to be able to have a headstart with an Archetype before the non-VIP players get to play it.
There are lots of options for roles, and the known roles are below:
Support: Druid, Forgemaster
Tank: Knight, Templar
Melee DPS: Champion, Legionnaire
Ranged DPS: Confessor, Frostweaver, Stalker
Specialist: Ranger, Assassin, Duelist
The second layer is called Advantages and Disadvantages. Basically, at Character Creation, you spend a certain number of points on your character to pick all of its strengths and weaknesses. Archetypes, starting stats, and Advantages all cost points. Advantages affect some aspect of your character, such as Eagle Eye, which increases ranged damage. Some of the Archetypes are worth more points, such as the Legionnare (which is a Centaur), because they naturally have more Advantages pre-loaded. You can also add additional Advantages if you have the points, or you can alternatively add more stats. You can also add Disadvantages, which give you back points to spend on more things, but they are things like Dim Witted, which decreases your Intellect. All of these selections are planned to be permanent.
The next layer is your Promotion class, which determines how you want to take your Archetype to the next level. Do you want to make your Knight more about damage, defense, or ranged abilities? You could select from the Swordsman, Crusader, or Sentinel Promotion classes, respectively, to get the increase in skills you like best.
The final layer is your Disciplines. Individually, they are available to multiple Archetypes, and this is where you get your crafting, your gathering, the ability to track other players, the ability to turn into a werewolf, etc. These can be swapped in and out, but you will lose progress if you do.
Also, ArtCraft has been clear about the very real possibility that you will gimp yourself at Character Creation. They are okay with this, as any system that has really deep customization will have the possibility to create a bad build or character. It just comes with the territory.
18. The available races are unusual
There are humans, dwarves, and elves, as per usual, but there are also new races I haven’t seen in any MMOs before (at least not any I’ve played). We have minotaurs, centaurs, and a rodent race called Guineceans, and probably more on the way.
19. No “Classic WoW” feeling
There are not going to be bosses, world or raid or otherwise. No dungeons. No instanced content at all, from what I can tell. And that is great. I am sick to death of competing against other players for content development. I want to play a game that is unabashedly a PvP-focused game, and I think this will be the game.
If you didn’t notice when you looked at the list of Archetypes up on #17, there are no dedicated healing classes. Because of the fact that this is a purely PvP game, there isn’t really a need for what they term “firehose healing.” That is only necessary for long, drawn-out fights in PvE. PvPers have a more defensive mindset, even as DPS, so they are going to be allowed to be responsible for their own defensive skills, at least to some extent.
While this breakdown of the Trinity would not be ideal in a PvE-based game, in a PvP-based game, I think it is probably going to be perfect.
20. They have room to experiment
Because of the transient nature of the worlds, if something goes wrong, the devs can change how they make the next worlds. They can remove any rules that don’t work, and add anything on the fly that they think will spice things up!
Overall, the entire game is built on the premise that adaptability reigns supreme. There is a lot of promise of a game that’s different, not only from what we’ve seen before in the genre, but also from itself from month to month.