Darkfall is an MMORPG set in the high-fantasy world of Agon. It is notable for several features that are unusual in the MMO genre, including action-oriented first-person combat and skill-based, rather than level-based, character progression.
Darkfall followed the traditional subscription MMORPG business model. However, no additional expansions sold, with major updates to the game being marketed as free expansions (of which there were 3 during the game's original incarnation).
Darkfall was shut down on 15th November 2012 to make way for its sequel, Darkfall Unholy Wars, which was released in April 2013 and shut down in May 2016.
In early 2016, Ub3r Games and Big Picture Games announced that development had commenced on their respective versions of Darkfall: New Dawn and Rise of Agon. Both companies have licensed the game from the original developers, Aventurine, and are developing it seperately from its 2012 state.
- Open PvP, with no concrete "safe zones". An alignment system holds players accountable to their racial alignment, which is enforced by NPC guard towers in racial NPC cities. New players are allowed several hours of invulnerability to PvP.
- Sandbox-focused gameplay with only minor quest content. Players are always open to the risks of PvP although the game aims to foster an ecosystem which includes less PvP-oriented players.
- A character progression system without the constraints of levels or classes The majority of player capabilities are determined by the possession of skills and their levels, which increase through use. There are also an increasing number of optional (and reversable) specializations which provide a choice of benefits, or benefits at the cost of the use of other abilities. Gold can be spent to 'meditate' core stats and certain skills while logged off.
- A fast-paced real-time combat system based on manual aiming and a mixture of first and third-person perspectives. Ranged weapons are always used in a first-person perspective, while melee combat is always third person perspective (with the camera locked behind). The player can select their prefered perspective when no weapon is drawn. There are no floating name tags nor selection rings on friends, foes or NPCs - names are displayed by aiming at a character. Damage done to and the overall health of players or NPCs are only indicated through visible damage on the player/NPC model (blood etc). Friendly fire is also always on, so missed attacks will hurt comrades if they are in the way, as will area of effect spells.
- Full looting. When a player dies, all of his equipped gear and inventory becomes available to be looted by anyone who finds the player's corpse in the world, except for a starter weapon or two with very limited capabilities. Equippable items, which also have limited durability and cannot be repaired, play a different role compared with typical MMOs. Sensible players will maintain a stock of gear of different qualities in their bank for different situations.
- Extensive Crafting. Most items in the world and all weapons, armor and vehicles/mounts can be manufactured by players from raw materials, if they have enough skill. The crafting process itself is typical of the genre although the developers have expressed their intention to enhance it.
- Extensive clan functionality, including options for KOS lists, diplomacy, war, empire building and detailed guild bank information.
- Cities and hamlets can be built, raided, sieged and destroyed (with limitations). Cities are of fixed unique designs built in predetermined locations, the owner can decide which buildings to erect and in what order. Siege weapons include warhulks (magical hovertank-like vehicles), player-weilded hammers, deployable cannons, battle spikes (hand grenades) and ships with cannons. Buildings can be disabled by attackers at any time, however major buildings can only be completely destroyed when a siege is declared, and only one per siege.
- Mounted combat. Players can fight while mounted and mounts can be captured and killed by other players. Mounts and vehicles are stored as figurines in the inventory, which are spawned or despawned into the world where they exist as an object independent of the player, ready to be mounted by the player, a friend or a foe.
- Naval combat. Players can create, board, capture and sink player controlled ships. Coastal combat is also possible.
- Extensive physics systems such as uncompromised collision, ability to walk around on moving objects (e.g. ships, warhulks), stream currents, projectile arcs, area of effect line of sight and manipulative magic spells.
- AI based PvE. Hostile NPCs behave more like FPS bots than regular MMORPG 'mobs'. They inhabit a restricted area ('spawn') where they can spot or hear players from some distance, attack in unpredictable ways and help eachother to some extent. Their loot drops tend to reflect the items they used while alive to a greater extent than is typical in the genre, particularly in terms of weapons.
- Player Housing. Ownership of houses in limited predetermined, clustered locations is available. Houses can be teleported to and can be furnished with various decorative and functional items, including NPC vendors for selling items to other players.
There are six playable races in Darkfall. The races have different fixed allegiences with oneanother which limits their interactions in some contexts (such as NPC cities and public chat channels), however the vast majority of clans that live in player cities/hamlets will accept all races. Although the game appears to have been designed with racial warfare in mind, this did not substantiate in practice likely due to groups of players not wishing to exclude races from their clans and alliances.
In terms of character development, differences between races are minor with slightly different starting stats and a handful of exclusive skills. The main practical differences are the melee reach and the size and appearance of the character's model, which many players argue plays a significant role in combat. Access to racial territories and alignment to neutral players (since some races are at war with more races than others) is also important to some playstyles.
- Homeland: Mercia
- Allies: Dwarves, Mirdain
- Enemies: Mahirim, Orks, Alfar
- Racial mount: Horse
- The Humans believe they are a divine race descended from the sun god, Auros, and as such are unmindful or disdainful of the other "lesser" races. Humans are intended to be the most versatile race with no major strengths or weaknesses.
- Homeland: Mirendil
- Allies: Dwarves, Humans
- Enemies: Mahirim, Orks, Alfar
- Racial mount: Eradan Cat
- The Mirdain are a race of skilled diplomats and traders. Although they prefer diplomacy to direct confrontation, the Mirdain are still brilliant tacticians and graceful fighters. They trust in their ancient laws and customs, and believe that the other younger races are unable to correctly govern themselves. Mirdains are intended to have a minor advantage when it comes to archery.
- Homeland: Dvergheim
- Allies: Humans, Mirdain
- Enemies: Mahirim, Orks, Alfar
- Racial mount: Garmir Ram
- The Dwarves are a grim-faced and indomitably courageous race, while at the same time introspective and taciturn. They follow the teachings of Ymir, the legendary mastersmith who founded their nation. Ymir spent his final years writing a book that set out a plan for the next 20,000 years of the Dwarven race's ambitions. These teachings told the dwarves what to strive to become, what to practice and what to create, and where, when and how to do each task. They are intended to be slightly hardier than other races and to be slightly better crafters.
- Homeland: Tribelands
- Allies: Orks
- Enemies: Humans, Mirdain, Dwarves, Alfar
- Racial mount: Bear
- The Mahirim are a newly founded civilization, just emerging from a tribal society still retaining the wolf-eyed wildness, the finely honed instincts and uncaring cruelty of their pack-hunting ancestors. They are a warlike race with a grudging respect for the bloodthirsty Orks. Mahirim can run (but not sprint) slightly faster than other races and can become slightly hardier.
- Homeland: Morak
- Allies: Mahirim
- Enemies: Humans, Mirdain, Dwarves, Alfar
- Racial mount: Death Pig
- The Orks march under the banner of the Fire Dragon, for whom they raze cities, conquer, take slaves and make humanoid sacrifices. They are a brutal, aggressive, death-defying race who care little for planning or fancy tactics. Every action they take is another step on the path to the Big Burning, where the world is scorched clean by the Orks for their Fire Dragon's reign. They respect the Mahirim for their bravery, cunning and skill in battle. Orks have a specialty with greataxes, and receive a bonus to hitpoints.
- Homeland: Nagast
- Allies: None
- Enemies: Everyone
- Racial mount: Shulgan Drake
- The Alfar are the cruel, hate-spawned cousins of the Mirdain who worship their insane God-king, Melek. The suffering of others brings pleasure to the Alfar, and only their dedication to Melek overrides their urges to torture and destroy. They hate all other forms of life, and it is difficult for them to maintain even short alliances with members of other races. Alfar are intended to be magic specialists and are slightly resistent to acid.
Darkfall features an alignment system based on character race and their actions for the good or bad thereof. Positive alignment (from 1 to 10) shows a player's name as blue (unless they are also a racial or clan war enemy) and negative alignment (-1 to -100) shows a player's name as red. Killing racial allies (blue) gives you negative alignment. The only way to regain alignment is to pray at 'chaos churches' located in remote, racially neutral cities. There are many repercussions for being evil, including being attacked by NPC guard towers and the inability to bind and respawn in racial NPC cities. There is a rogue system to allow for some mistakes, where if you strike another player once, you become rogue (players can kill you without losing alignment and NPC guard towers will attack) for 10 seconds, if you strike them again in this time, you are rogue for 2 minutes.
Darkfall's mechanics allow for more realistic stealth, instead of the "pseudo-magical" stealth typical of the genre. Players cannot rotate the camera to see behind them unless mounted or resting on the ground, allowing players to sneak up on both other players and monsters provided that they stay out of sight and produce minimal noise. Shadows are currently an optional graphical feature which most players disable for performance.
Darkfall was designed from the very beginning as a full-loot PVP-focused game, meaning that on death, players are able to fully loot other players of their gear and gold on their person. To allow for this mechanic, players are able to store items securely in their personal bank vault which is accessible from any accessible bank throughout the world. Items and gear play a different role in Darkfall as a result. Instead of improving and replacing a single outfit as is typical in the genre, Darkfall players maintain a supply of items of different qualities for different occasions, and the rule of thumb is to only carry what you can afford to lose.
A major aspect of Darkfall is the political intrigue of Clans and Alliances capturing cities, hamlets and other objectives such as the two sea fortresses which become available for capture at a regular interval granting a significant reward.
The community has created a map to show the political landscape:
Aventurine is developing an official political map to be viewable inside and outside the game.