Hello. I'm a Crowfall (and Camelot Unchained) backer here. The first unofficial campaign just took off and I just wanted to give my thoughts on the state of the game for those interested.
First off, I want to say that at its current state** I cannot recommend the game**, so unless you just want to see for yourself or help guide testing don't bother getting a starting package yet.
All right, so this is kind of what a lot of us were waiting for, a "peek" at what the final game's (which is going to come five years later at this rate…) play loop will look like, and, well, it's not good.
I do want to note however that there have been a lot of GREAT improvements, FPS/lat, and general performance is better than ever, the game looks better than before (though the style is still up to taste). PvP, when you actually manage to find it and in somewhat balanced manner, is actually fun.
Unforuntately, the game has some glaring core issues. Some of it I can't comment fairly on, i.e. low population means low amount of crafters, so the economy flow is impossible to judge, and passive learning is currently at an increased rate, so hard to say how much I'll like, hate, or ignore it.
There ARE somethings I really have issue with however. For one, you start utterly naked, which while understandable leads to a really weird gameplay loop where you spend the first hour being forced to play as a crafter and have to minecraft your way across the landscape harvesting to make a really shitty set of basic gear. I'd rather everyone start with the set and just have it be worth nothing. This is easy to fix, but forcing people to play as crafters when they might just be here for the PvP is not a great way to start the game. In this it plays more like a survival game like Rust or Ark, and indeed, your "default" tray is the survival tray. They seem to be doubling down on this, so if a fantasy MMORPG Rust or Ark is your wet dream, maybe keep an eye on this.
This might however be migitated by guilds/factions having their personal merchant vendors out with basic gear in a campaign that's been going on for a while (also like Rust/Ark in some instances), but the start of each is going to be an annoying rush of people chopping down trees and breaking boulders in their faction's safe zone just to get some shitty sword so they can start PvPing.
This transitions to the next big issue I have, which is the vestigial leveling system. If you're not aware, Crowfall has a low level cap that's intended to be reached quickly and serves as sort of a "learning/tutorial" phase. The problem here is that you need to level to progress through your class tree which currently has a pretty strong influence on how you play.
This wouldn't be as much of an issue if the only way you could level is through PvPing, but they "thoughtfully" added a really shitty PvE area in the safe zone, so, logically, the "best" way to start working through toward the cap is to murder cheesy mindless mobs and grind it out for however long (I believe you can hit cap on them currently).
This creates a mindboggingly stupid loop where a new player will come in hearing this is a PvP MMORPG, but be forced to play Minecraft in a safe zone for an hour only to finally learn he has to grind practically zero-threat monsters in PvE to be "ready" for PvP.
Even now most people want capped characters for their PvP roaming groups, and it makes sense, since you want someone who isn't gimped, which kind of forces the need to grind.
All in all, the current gameplay loop is a incredibly disheartening and pretty sad for a PvP game and doesn't make for much of a survival game either. Thankfully most of this can be fixed pretty easily, and the gods know the devs have already changed about 80% of the original game promise, so who knows.
However, as it stands, Crowfall in my humble opinion isn't a very fun game to anyone but the diehard and very bored pvp crowd who are also probably quite a few $$$ deep in already anyway.
While Camelot Unchained is hardly faring better or being developed any faster, it's currently shaping up to be the better PvP game imo, but we'll see.
I've my eye on the crowd-funded MMORPG scene overall, with a focus on Crowfall and CU, as they're really the only things that aren't asian throwaway MMORPGs on the horizon, and none of them look to be doing really well despite what some of the hard fans insist. Out of all like six or seven of them, based on design philophy and current direction of implementation of it, I'd say only Star Citizen has the best chance of surviving for any respectable length, if it ever actually releases as a fully playable game, and why is kind of bluntly obvious.
tl;dr If you were thinking of buying into Crowfall because of the campaigns starting, don't.
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