By Jordan Hall (ApocaRUFF)
This past weekend was the Russian Open Beta Stress Test for Skyforge, and as there were no IP blocks in place, anyone from around the globe could participate. I was one of the (many) foreigners to take advantage of this stress test to try out the game before it is made available in English-speaking countries. Skyforge is known for allowing you to ascend to godhood, accumulating power and followers and perhaps eventually becoming the “top god.” Because of this fairly unique setting and feature, it has garnered a lot of interest. So, let me introduce you to the game and tell you about my time in the beta.
The character creation options in Skyforge are impressive. If you’re a fan of great looking characters with plenty of sliders, I can’t see how you wouldn’t enjoy making a character in Skyforge. Afterward, there’s also a lot of cosmetic options, plus the ability to change your appearance at almost any time. I got the impression during my short time in the game that costumes, and customization in general, play a pretty big role in the game. Also, boob physics.
Notice the boob slider.
Right off the bat I got the feeling that Skyforge would be the sort of game to put a lot of stock into the way characters look. Right now, in the Russian Beta, there may not be so many options available. But there are a LOT of signs of the framework for future customization options (mostly costume related) to be implemented. This kinda bodes well, as it seems like that may be the primary purpose of the cash shop. I can hope, at least… There’s an upgrade system in the game and we all know how upgrade systems in games with cash shops usually pan out.
My shirt is quite fitting for a powerful Immortal, right?
The graphics in Skyforge look fantastic. The art team did incredibly well, with everything Immortal or god related having a sort of “Shiny” filter over it. Meanwhile most enemy and evil locations have a dark and grimy feel. It helps set the mood by subconsciously supplanting the idea of a battle between gods and demonic foes without straight out throwing it in your face. Kudos for that.
A lot of themes in the game scream fantasy, but then you’re hit with stuff like a sci-fi shipping port.
The game design is something else, too. Sure, the sci-fi-meets-fantasy thing has been done before, but I can’t think of any games that have done it this well. The best way I can describe the way the game world is designed is the Roman Empire in the year 5,000. Everything is supremely high-tech, yet everything is designed with a romanticized Roman Empire-type setting in mind. All in all the theme works to further draw you in to believing the setting.
This particular area reminded me of something I would expect from a .Hack game.
The controls in the game were fantastic as well. Initially, coming into the game, I thought there was supposed to be a full action-based combat system. Instead, though, the game uses a hybrid of point-and-click and “action.” I’m fifty-fifty on how I feel about this. On the one hand, the combat was fantastic and I enjoyed it a great deal. On the other hand, though, I feel like the combat would have been a lot more fun if only it had used a true action system. So it’s good, but it could have been better.
For the most part, the game uses a control scheme typical to these types of games. WASD movement, mouse to control where you’re looking, not the usual 1 to = key setup. Sure, some of the number keys are used, but the developers know that fighting can get intense so they’ve tried to keep all the hotkeys centered around WASD. This is to keep everything easily within reach, rather than spreading them along a line at the top of the keyboard and requiring a lot of finger stretching. Consumables are, by default, activated by Ctrl + Number keys.
At least early on, you don’t have much reason to use these as enemies will pop out glowing “heals” on the ground that will restore some HP.
First off, I want to say that Skyforge reminds me of a lot of games. It’s like the developers took a lot of my favorite games, distilled them down to the essence of what made them great, and mixed them together to create Skyforge. It has a similar gameplay style as Path of Exile or Phantasy Star Online, yet the look and feel of the game reminds me a bit of Guild Wars 2 and even The Secret World at times. And at least the “Immortal” phase of the game, where you haven’t yet become a god, feels a lot like City of Heroes, Champions Online, or DC Universe Online in that you feel almost like a Super Hero.
The game is mission-based. Players meet up and prepare in a sort of “hub world” that is the planet’s capital city. From there, they can visit various “Sub-hubs” and take missions. This hub world looks astonishingly like Coroscant from Star Wars, by the way. The missions you partake in range in difficulty and style. Some of them will be meant for solo play, some for small groups, and others are larger in scale.
As you progress through the game, the amount of available missions increases by a lot.
In the first five or so hours of the game, every mission you come across can be done solo. Perhaps later on there will be more that require teamwork, but I didn’t really see any. Most of the missions you do will be fairly linear, with a lot of “trash” mobs to get through with a few bosses spread out. As you kill, loot will be dropped per usual. But it will usually just be credits, rarely actual equipment (unless it’s a boss, which guarantees an equipment drop). What’s interesting is the loot drops as a Pokeball-looking container.
They look like Pokeballs to me.
Other missions are larger in scale. For example, early on you’ll come across some floating ruins in the sky. This is one of the larger areas and resembles a zone in other MMOs. These larger maps are split up into smaller pieces, with each piece having its own set of missions that can be completed. What’s nice about these places is that other players are also present and can help you, and as long as you contribute to the fight in some way you’ll get credit. So there’s no mob-snatching or kill stealing.
This is one of the larger areas – the various “vortex” icons on the map are teleport points to help you get around.
Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to achieve godhood during my time in the beta weekend. I did get a small taste of the features that allow for you to gain followers and kick-start your own personal cult. If you’re more interested in those features, there’s a lot of great information on the Skyforge website. What I can tell you is that you don’t feel much like a god during the “Immortal” phase, you feel more like a Superhero (as I said). This gave me something to strive for and caused me to spend a bit more time playing the game than I probably should have in a single sitting.
Combat & Classes
Combat, as I mentioned under “controls,” is a mixture of point-and-click and action-style. The game is definitely action-packed, with lots of movement involved and a control scheme that feels very action-y. During my time in the beta, I spent a vast majority of my time playing as a Cryomancer. This is essentially the games ranged frost mage class.
This is the Cryomancer’s “execution” move – turning the enemy into a small ice mountain.
There are three “Starting” classes available from the beginning. The rest of the classes – such as the Berserker and Gunner – need to be unlocked via the Atlas (which I’ll get into later). One of the great things about Skyforge is that there are no restrictions on classes – you are only allowed one character but can switch between the classes whenever you feel like. It seemed like the classes were evenly divided between ranged and melee based. Later on you’ll probably end up “specializing” in one class, but earlier in your play time this feature provides a great way to try out every class quickly and without having to spam alt characters.
My favorite class out of the three available from the start was the Cryomancer.
Combat in the game is extremely flashy. Classes will often have combos to make use of, especially the melee classes. There’s also an energy system – much like you might expect. Most of the abilities you have will consume (or Impulse, as it was called) this energy, though your basic left-click attack wont. Each class also has a “Finisher” or “Execution” ability that can sometimes be activated when an enemy goes below a certain HP Threshold. Which brings me to bosses.
This is one of the more boring bosses. It’s also one of the first you’ll come against, unfortunately.
Most bosses get their difficulty simply by having “multiple” HP bars. For example, it’s not farfetched for bosses to have up to sixteen HP bars, which you’ll have to cut through one after another to eventually defeat them. Each mission has a handful of these bosses – usually three or so “minor” bosses with a single “big” boss that must be defeated to complete the mission. A decent portion of the bosses usually have some gimmick to them – for example, early on you’ll come across a boss that will try to burrow underground if you do so much damage and then send up trash mobs to keep you busy. However, you can destroy his escape route before he gets a chance to run.
The Ascension Atlas is the method by which you’ll gather power and “ascend” into godhood. This thing is huge, almost on par with Path of Exile’s massive talent tree. To top off that already large size of the Atlas (Referred to as the “Upper Level”), each class has its own “mini Atlas” (Referred to as the “Lower Level”) that is used to advance a specific class. There are a ton of nodes within the Atlas, granting you things like abilities, talents, stat boosts, and more. Needless to say, I wasn’t able to get very far into it in the short amount of time I had during the Weekend Beta.
The size of this thing is impressive.
Each node in the Atlas will take one of various different Resources. These Resources are gathered by completing missions, each having its own unique color. The colors are Orange, Green, and Blue. You can see what kind of resource a mission will give for completion before taking it, with the reward being “switched” every hour or so. So you may find that one particular mission is easy but gives a ton of resources, but not the resource you’re looking for. So you can wait until the switch happens and perhaps that easy mission will now give the resource you’re looking for.
Journey to Godhood
I did not advance very far into the beta, unfortunately. I’m actually thinking of buying into the Russian beta so that I can continue playing. Anyways, a lot of what I know concerning the “Journey to Godhood” is what I’ve read on the website. I did get to a point where I was introduced into the concept of followers and those thankful for your good deeds in the world. This is the feature that will set Skyforge apart from all the other games it will remind you of. Gaining followers, ascending to godhood, building up your own “Order” (AKA your own personal cult), creating temples in the various regions of the world… That is the charm of this game, and the reason that I cannot wait for it to come to North America.
Skyforge was spectacular! I loved the combat, though I thought there could be improvements, and the gameplay was fun. If you’re a fan of Path of Exile, Phantasy Star Online, or any of those mission-based “Action RPG” style games, you’ll more than likely be a perfect fit for this game. Especially if you like customization, as there is a decent amount here; mostly when it comes to the way your character looks. Definitely check this game out and keep a close eye on the up-coming English version of the game.