- Fluid & Fun Combat
- Expansive Character Progression
- Beautiful Realms
- Bugs... So many Bugs...
- Cap System
- Repetitive Play
Skyforge Review Introduction
A number of weeks ago, a friend approached me about a new and upcoming MMOG called Skyforge that was about to enter Open Beta. I researched the game and thought it looked interesting and different enough to play.
With the volume of MMOGs available to play, launching a new one is a costly and risky venture, even for experienced teams. The folks at Allods Online and Obsidian Entertainment (Neverwinter Night 2, Fallout: New Vegas, Dungeon Siege 2, Wasteland 2) have joined to make this very interesting game that attempts to disconnect from the traditional MMOG model. In development since 2010, the first closed beta (for the US) was in March, 2015. Open Beta began July 16th, 2015.
The Skyforge Open Beta is really a soft launch. Characters will not be wiped, and players can spend real money to acquire argents. So while the developers call this a beta, it really is the official release of the game in the United States.
In Skyforge, you are an immortal overseeing the world of Aelion, striving to be a recognized god. This game is different from other traditional MMOGs as there is only one character, there are no character levels, adventure focuses on fragmented regions, and players navigate an extensive matrix of skills in order to refine their character. Classes are unlocked through navigating the Ascension Atlas, and players can build religious orders complete with provinces, followers and missions. Players can also join Pantheons (guilds) and help build structures which give access to special areas and bonuses to members. The UI of the game is unique, and Skyforge doesn’t feel like any other MMO. It focuses on responsive and interactive combat, and supports both solo and collaborative play. The prestige system is used to define the overall strength of a character and is enhanced through items, skill selections and overall progress.
It’s important to note new players must be willing to change their perspective (and expectations) from the standard MMO experience when entering the world of Skyforge. The game does not follow the traditional model of leveling and zone progression, and it is a locked-mouse game (which means when you’re not in the secondary UI, the mouse is locked for gameplay). The core design of the game focuses on instance runs based on a specific goal (usually the acquisition of specific rewards, which are often progress sparks or temple enhancements). Classes must be unlocked, and there is a weekly cap on the number of progress sparks one can obtain (which focuses the player on building their temples and followers). It takes time to understand these mechanics. Be patient; the game has a lot to offer, but many players are put off by some of the systems long before they even get close to approaching “middle-game”. This review will also provide information that will help new players understand not only what the game provides, but how best to play it.
It is also important to note that Skyforge was already released in Russia roughly two months before the US version, and the Russian version is quite a few steps ahead of the US release, not only with new content and balance changes, but with bug fixes as well. It’s unfortunate the developers have not managed their source code more efficiently because many (if not most) of the bugs currently existing in the US version were fixed long ago in the Russian version. While localization between two languages (and cultures) does require translation and refinement, the core code and mechanics should not. Players (including myself) are perplexed as to why the US version has so many problems the Russian version fixed months ago.
As an Immortal, the Story & Lore revolves around pursuing corrupt immortals, becoming more powerful, building your deity status and obtaining followers through feats of strength. This includes dealing with other immortals and their numerous politics. As you walk the normal world, non-immortals revere your presence and help, asking for you to do things they are unable to accomplish.
Character Customization is fairly standard, allowing the player to craft the look and feel of their avatar (complete with cheek bone variances, body types and eye color). But if you want to change the appearance of your character after creating it, do not worry. The in-game stylist allows a complete recreation of your character’s appearance, including gender change. Visual customization also includes clothing, earrings, headware, masks/glasses and tattoos, which can be changed at any time through the Style Room. Additional costumes can be purchased and earned as the player progresses. A complete “core” re-styling can only be done every 14 days and the player also has the option of changing their character name as well. This feature is necessary as the game only allows a single character.
The World of Skyforge is a beautiful mixture of steampunk, future-tech, modern and fantasy genres. Immortals embrace a combination of magic and technology in order to execute their devastating attacks, and the overall theme of the game is fairly diverse depending on the region you are exploring. This includes dark forests at night, bright tropical islands, robotic factories, and floating sky pillars with unique creatures. The world is broken into multiple zones. The operational hub (the divine observatory) oversees all of the “people below” and allows immortals to port to numerous regions, which include open zones, squad & group instances, and PvP instances. The nice thing about the open world is there are many other immortals who are running around completing the sames quests you are, which makes the game very collaborative. If you happen upon a tough boss that you can’t solo yourself, just wait around a minute or so and you’ll probably have a number of others joining you for the battle. Once you tag a target in Skyforge, you will get loot regardless of the amount of damage you inflicted, or whoever tagged it first. Instances are a key part of Skyforge and required in order to progress in all areas of the game. Squad instances (1-3 people, and soloable) are the most common and are quite easy to find groups to run with. Group instances (5-man) on the other hand are a problem; I’ve waited in queues for 5-man groups for 20m+ and just abandoned the queue. This is a big issue since the game often assigns key improvement drops (such as Okki tablet, for your Order) to 5-man instances, thus forcing you to participate in them in order to obtain the item. While the modifiers will shift every 40 minutes on the global map, some items require the 5-man vs. the 3-man instances. I do think the 5-man instances are far too difficult. I’ve been in a number of pick-up groups for a 5-man that was defined as “easy” to “normal” and the group couldn’t even get past the first or second trash room (prior to the first boss).
New content is planned for the August 11th, 2015 “Crucible of the Gods” patch which will include numerous bug fixes, Distortions (10-main raids), Invasions (open world raids), and Anomalies (multi-group 5-man raids).
There are a total of 13 classes broken into 3 categories: support, defense and attack. This approach does follow the traditional model, but there is no direct healing class in Skyforge; instead support plays a role to augment party members and impact battle. This is nice as players can focus on fighting and buffing/debuffing instead of throwing heals left and right. The game starts with access to three beginner classes: Paladin, Cryomancer and Lightbender. Cryomancer is actually quite powerful, especially with expanded support skills and talents. Next we have the intermediate classes: Kinetic, Slayer, Archer and Necromancer. Finally, we have the advanced classes: Gunner, Berserker, Witch/Warlock, Alchemist, Monk and Knight. Each class has its own play style, often very different from the others, and some classes are quite complex to play properly (such as Witch and Necromancer). The starting classes are fairly basic, but each provides a different function of play style to new players. The player can change classes anywhere and any time as long as they are not in combat. One very cool feature of this game is you get to try out and test all classes in the Training Hall; this allows you to get a feel for the classes you want to pursue and play. You will also encounter quests that entice and allow you to play as another class (that you may not have unlocked yet) to receive additional bonuses.
The game has numerous costumes available which allow for a wide variety of visual configurations. Cryromancers are running around in bathing suits, Berserkers are dressed like pirates, and some of the female necromancers appear to have embraced the backside-open robed thong underwear style. The diversity in characters is entertaining, and provides a wide variety of variable attire that can suit most player’s personal preferences.
There are two skill systems within the game that represent the core progress for your immortal. The first is the Class Atlas, an extensive tree that can be built out for each class that provides the additional abilities and talents you need to grow in strength (abilities are executable actions, and talents are supportive). Prior to selecting the “path” node (which switches from sparks to class-specific points), the player will need to put sparks (which I will cover below) into each node in order to unlock them. Once the path is chosen, traditional sparks are no longer required (which is good, since you’ll want to use them in the Ascension Atlas, discussed below), and rewards will provide class-specific sparks (such as sparks of accuracy) that can only be spent within a specific class atlas.
The Ascension Atlas is the “master” matrix that is used for core progression and is also used to unlock other classes. Planning is quite important when dealing with the Ascension Atlas because of the cost it can take to get from one point of the matrix to another (in order to unlock another class). The game has provided a pathing option to help with this process, so if a new player wants to unlock a certain class (e.g. the Kinetic), they can right-click on the Kinetic node and select “Find Path” and a blue pathway appears that provides the quickest route to the Kinetic. Note this pathing option takes into consideration the total cost to get from point A to point B. Sometimes, it may appear the provided path is not the fastest way to another class, but this can be misleading as some nodes may require 600 red sparks to activate (e.g. a red node that provides +50 might) whereas another route may only require 125 red sparks. The game automatically choses the path that requires the least amount of sparks. In addition to attribute nodes, numerous Talents are available through the Ascension Atlas such as Ruthlessness and Summon Oculat. Talents unlocked in the Ascension Atlas are usable by any class. Players can also unlock Ether Slots, which allow the “socketing” of cores. There are three types of cores: Het, Coph and Sun. Each Ether Slot can be upgraded with cores that raise the base attributes such as Might, Strength and Spirit, but each update costs Argents (which are covered below).
The game provides nonstop flow of Quests that cover 4 categories: Storyline, Support, Open World and Instance. The core storyline is an exploratory and progressive dive into the world of the immortals, taking the player through the politics and deceptions of your fellow striving gods. It sends the player throughout the world, requiring the completion of instances as exploration of open world regions. Support quests are provided as a player increases in prestige, allowing the unlocking of talent slots and progression of a player’s order (covered below). When a player enters an open world region, the map explodes with numerous quests the player can pursue. Those quests will reward sparks for the first-time completion, and once all of the quests in an open world have been completed, a large reward is provided; but after the first “runthrough” of a world zone, only order and market supportive rewards are provided (which is just fine because orders are very important). Each instance you join has a set of quests that are part of the completion of the instance, and the game will often throw in random support quests you can pursue while you’re completing the instance (e.g. kill 20 enemies in front of scanners). When you complete an instance you receive a rating based on what percentage of the quests you completed; the higher the rating, the better the reward.
The diversity of Enemies is quite good; from giant spiders to mechanical robots that strategically work to surround you, the team has done an excellent job at bringing the world to life by creating unique creatures you won’t see in any other game. The instance bosses, along with their behavior, are very well done, and many of them have unique abilities that must be learned in order to survive. Most enemies come in groups whereas bosses are usually solo (but can summon others to aid them). All enemies fall into one of four categories: Weak, Tough (Defensive), Damage and Support. Players can determine what kind of category an enemy falls within based on the icon over its head. This plays an important role as one stumbles upon groups of targets; six or eight weak enemies can quickly be dispatched by a single player, but four tough/damage/support targets can often be impossible for a single player to handle by themselves. Enemies do “spawn out of thin air” in the game, but are usually predicated by a sound FX with a few seconds warning before they go hostile.
Your character’s Order represents the overall “godhood” you have achieved with the mortals of the world. They also play one of the most important roles in the game as they provide extremely important bonuses. As you progress, you unlock provinces, which are the lands you can have your temples and chapels built. Temples define your orders overall greatness while chapels provide bonuses to your character (such as Critical Chance, Endurance and Accuracy). Adepts are your followers and are key for running missions, which provide rewards that are order-specific (covered in more detail under economy). Adepts can also be assigned to oversee a province, providing even more bonuses based on the level (and rank) of your adept. Temples, chapels and adepts can all be upgraded in quality (grey, green, blue and purple) by applying unique items that you must find by running instances. Missions take place in real-time, even when you are not playing the game, so you can assign two adepts (an Engineer and Sorcerer, for example) to complete an 8-hour mission. When it is complete, and if it is successful, you will reap the rewards (which range from additional followers to order-specific currency). Order planning and execution can be very strategic, and acquiring the highest quality adepts can take time. It’s important to mention that key items required to raise the quality of your temple (and build chapels) are available only every two days. These items are Okki Tablets (raise from white to green), Founder Rings (green to blue) and Silver Pommels (blue to purple). You can tell if they are available by examining the icons in the world map, or the Adventure List.
There is no trading in Skyforge. A player’s account has bag space which can be expanded by purchasing additional slots with Credits.
Character items are referred to as equipment, and fall into one of 5 categories: Main Weapon, Additional Weapon, Trophies, Amulets and Rings. The Main and Additional weapon are specific to a class, so if you equip weapons for a Berserker and switch to a Cryomancer, the weapons you equipped stay with each class. Equipment can be one of five levels: white, green, blue, purple and orange. Equipment can have modifiers on it that can make a large difference; for example, most DPS classes want Accuracy and Critical Chance, so when you find that blue ring that requires high prestige (but is usable), it can be a beautiful thing; but they are very rare.
Players can salvage items for enhancement stones in order to raise the rank of their equipment categories. Each piece of equipment requires a specific level of proficiency, which is defined under a character’s stats tab. This value is determined by the green and orange nodes in both the Ascension Atlas and your class atlas. Trophy fragments start dropping around 9,000 prestige, and can be merged together in order to create the trophies, which provide damage bonuses to specific types of creatures.
There are numerous types of Currency in Skyforge, broken into four categories. The first category is Money: Credits, Argents, Celestial Threads and Myrrh Drops. The second are Order-specific currencies: Ammo, Supplies, Gifts, Acolyte Medallion, Fighter’s Amulet, and Messenger Necklace. The third are Rarities: Ancient Relic, Tuuta Leaf, Smoky Pearl, Rare Crystallite, Branibore Mushrooms, Ancient Rune, Mediphyll Leaf. Finally, we have Particles of Mastery, which are also used in order to upgrade the ranks of equipment. Different currencies are used to purchase different types of items in the Market, which is an online trading center where prices are controlled by the game (and not players). Here, players can purchase Enhancement Stones, Resources, Consumables, Costumes, Rare Items and Pantheon items for both credits and argents (which are acquires with real currency). Players can also sell the same items for currency. If you want to purchase a standard costume, you’ll need Celestial Threads, but if you want to purchase a rare costume, you will need rare currency. Argents can be purchased for as little as $2.99 (2,500) or as much as $99.99 (80,000). The purchase of argents does allow players to gain an advantage over others as those argents can be used to upgrade gear ranks and purchase credits (which can then be used to improve an Order). This means Skyforge does have a “pay to win” aspect to it, but those who do not wish to spend money can accomplish the same goals, it will just take much longer than others who are willing to spend the money.
Other than salvaging items, there is no crafting in Skyforge. The player can merge trophy fragments together in order to create a trophy, but I don’t consider it real crafting.
There are no companions or pets, but there are mounts, which are covered below.
There are six core stats in the game: Might, Stamina, Strength, Valor, Luck and Spirit. Might increases base damage, Stamina increases maximum health, Strength increases minimum base damage, Valor increases bonus damage, Luck increases Critical Damage, and Spirit increases Impulse Damage (damage from attacks that use impulse charges). Impulse charges are essentially guaranteed double damage hits; when the charge indicator (the lightning bolt above dash) is full, and you use a skill that states “activates impulse charge”, you will do impulse damage. Support stats such as Base Damage, Bonus Damage, Critical Damage and Impulse Damage can also be directly impacted by gear, talents and symbols (covered below). There are also additional important stats such as Accuracy, Critical Chance, Temper, Vigor and Block. These stats are also augmented by gear, talents and symbols and play a very important role in character power.
Prestige is Skyforge’s equivalent of character level, but it’s much more expansive than the traditional model. It is a derived number that represents a character’s overall progress and power. The value is calculated from points in the Class Atlas (of your currently active class), Ascension Atlas, equipment, and enhancements provided through the order system. Might also impacts the prestige values more than any other stat. All zones (instances, open world, etc.) also have prestige requirements. The prestige system is often confusing to new players as they are not sure exactly how “strong” their character is, or how difficult a specific instance may be even if the instance presents a “normal” or “hard” value based on prestige.
Abilities are the executable actions made available for each class. They are unlocked through the Class Atlas and are then selected in the main ability interface (and automatically assigned to predefined hotkeys). Many classes also have Stances, which can present a new set of abilities (for complex classes such as Warlocks), and can be strategically used to change the tide of battle (either through survival, support or DPS).
Talents are support skills that are unlocked through both the class and ascension atlas. Up to 10 talents can be active at any given time, and talent slots are opened by completing quests which are presented as the character advances in prestige. Talents are quite important as they allow the player to customize the overall “style” of their particular class.
Symbols are also support skills that function in a similar fashion to Talents, but are only unlocked through the Ascension Atlas (or through completing a classes entire atlas). They are quite different from Talents in the sense they have a much broader impact on gameplay; for example, Painful Spasms causes all impulse damage to land a DOT on the target that does an amount of damage equivalent to the character’s spirit. Such enhancements can greatly change the power of a character. There are currently 49 symbols available in the game a player can unlock, but only 3 are available at the beginning of the game. 2 additional slots are provided each time a player completely fills a class atlas, so a total of 29 symbols can be unlocked for a player that has taken every class to its maximum potential. You are also awarded a symbol when you max a class; for example, if you fill an Archer’s atlas, you gain access to the Cold Calculation symbol which causes 15% more damage to any target with more than 50% health.
Sparks of Insight are the bread and butter of progression for the Class and Ascension Atlases. They come in six different core flavors: Balance (Blue), Creation (Green), Destruction (Red) and Evolution (Yellow). Sparks of Evolution can be applied to any color (e.g. if you pursue a node that requires 250 red sparks, but you only have 237, it will take the other 13 from your sparks of transformation. The game also has Spark Replicators, which increase the amount of sparks you receive when completing objectives (by 50%) and stack with the Premium mode’s 50% bonus effect, which results in a 100% spark bonus (effectively doubling the amount). Evolution Sparks are very important because they can be used in place of any sparks (including class). It is recommended a player maxes the class atlas of their first class; once this happens, all sparks that drop are evolution sparks and can be used to build out any class. This means a maxed cryomancer can farm evolution sparks as a cryomancer, then jump to gunner and spend all of the sparks within the gunner atlas. Sparks of Transformation are also necessary to unlock new classes, and reset talents.
The player also receives a Reliquary item they can use multiple times as they progress in prestige, the reward often being a collection of sparks (which do not count towards the cap). Class Sparks are acquired when you have unlocked the path of the current class you are playing, and are used to improve the Class Atlas.
Now is a good time to talk about the Weekly Cap System of the game (found under Limits in the currency tab). This system has a lot of controversy, and there is good reason as to why. Players are only able to obtain a limited number of Credits, Sparks of Insight, Class Sparks and Particles of Mastery between server resets every week. So once you’ve obtained your 3,450 Sparks of Insight (for example) you cannot earn any more until the next weekly reset. This system accomplishes two goals: 1) it ensures hardcore gamers cannot get so far ahead of others they have nobody to play with, and 2) focuses players on order-based rewards for building their temples, etc. However, this system frustrates players as they feel stuck and unable to grow because the only way to progress once you’ve hit your cap is to build your order (or gather other currencies), and even though the order is very important for character enhancements, many players just don’t care to focus on it. While I can understand why the system exists, the design is poor. You never want to stop players from progressing their character. I think this mechanic alone will be responsible for the majority of players who quit the game. I have already seen pantheon (guild) members logging off a few days after reset and saying “see you next reset!” This means players are off playing other games while they wait for the reset, which creates a disconnect for players to the game.
Below is a list of things you can focus on when you’ve reached cap:
- Farm for Adept’s Emblems
- Farm for Holy Texts
- Story Missions
- Send Adepts on Missions and Upgrade Temples/Chapels
- Collect Costumes by farming Resources in Regions or Celestial Threads in dungeons
- Farming Supplies/Ammo for Missions in Dungeons
- Farming Spark Replicators in Region Maps
All damage types fall within one of five categories: Cold, Electricity, Poison, Radiation and Hypnosis. There are also resistances for each of these damage types, but there is no indication of what sort of resistances enemies have.
Regeneration is critical in Skyforge, and is primarily executed by picking up golden health orbs during combat. Non-boss monsters will randomly drop these, and boss monsters will drop these every time a layer of their health is removed, allowing for strategic planning during fights. There are a number of Consumables in the game, with the two most common being: (1) Regeneration Substrates, which regenerate 35% of health and can be used (like a potion) every 2 minutes, and (2) Temporal Compensators, which allow players to resurrect a fellow team-member (with a 5-minute cooldown) – but once it has been used, everyone else in a party shares the same cooldown, so multiple resurrections within the 5-minute window are not an option. Additional consumables include items such as a Field Generator (which protects all party members for 15 seconds) and a Jar of Acid (which inflicts DOT damage on a target).
Travel is executed through waypoint (allowing travel to any other open waypoint or world region) or shuttle (within the capital). Mounts are also available, which allow players to move very quickly. One interesting feature is that of the mount licenses,. They can be acquired through quests and the market, and grant mount usage for a temporary amount of time (an hour), and once a player has used a license 10 times, the mount is awarded permanently.
You’re an immortal, so Death is just an inconvenience. If you are playing solo, you simply respawn at the last checkpoint (or last used waypoint). If you are running in a group, you will remain dead until somebody resurrects you or until the entire party dies. If that happens, everyone respawns at the last checkpoint. There are no other negative influences from death.
The Combat of Skyforge is the most redeeming feature. It is very well done and engaging; this is enhanced by the diverse play styles of each class, and how they are able to work together in complex fights. While there are occasional bugs tied to “powering up” and targeting, fighting is very fun and interactive. Movement is a must in this game, which makes the channeling of abilities (which require you to stay still) a strategic decision; on the other hand, most attacks can be executed by movement, so the player is constantly weaving around during battle to avoid damage. Two critical components in combat are Dashing (which allows your character to quickly dodge in one of four directions) and executing a “finisher”, which each class has, and can be executed against targets that are near death. The visual of the finisher is different for each class, and my favorite is that of the Necromancer, where two hands come out of the sky and rip the target into little pieces.
The Rewards are variable; sometimes they are good, and other times it’s quite a let down (e.g. when you drop a hard boss and a useless green item is the reward). Because the game mainly focuses on sparks for advancement and currencies to support orders, item drops are fairly rare, and when you finally get the items you are looking for, upgrades are not very common. Two types of reward containers drop: Circular (which contain currency/sparks/cores) and Square (which contain items). Lootable containers can have glows to them, defining the quality of “material” within the reward: no glow (white), Green, Blue and Purple. My guess is orange glows exist as well (for legenday), but I’ve never seen one.
Due to the unique nature of the game, the Learning Curve for Skyforge is actually quite steep. Players must learn the custom UI, the prestige system, the Order system and the weekly cap system. It is very confusing the first few days. The game can also be quite difficult (as mentioned above, most players currently avoid the 5-man instances as they often prove to be too difficult and a waste of time). Core character progression can also be very slow once you hit cap (since you have to focus on support progression).
I don’t think anyone knows what End Game for Skyforge is going to look like because it is so far off. And with the cap system, even the most hardcore players are a long way away from any “complete build”.
Replayability in Skyforge is different from other MMOGs as the game focuses on the constant growth and build of a single character. This means all gameplay is progressive in nature and all of the zones (except for open world zones) increase in difficulty as the character grows in prestige. While there is a ton of content, it’s hard to say what the true replayability at end-game will be like a few months down the line for active players (the highest open world zone currently requires 62,470 prestige).
Community & Support
Groups are automatically formed when you enter an instance using the Group Finder. You can also add party members by putting your cursor over a player and pressing G and then F1 (for invite), and by going to the Community interface (Y) and then searching for players. You can also invite Pantheon members by opening the Clans tab, clicking on their name and selecting Invite. Parties can be up to 3 characters in size for squad instances, 5 characters for the group instances, and 10 characters for operation instances. Beyond the prestige level mismatching issue, playing with friends can be a problem as your daily quests are unique to your character, thus preventing players from teaming up to complete shared daily tasks.
Contacts (friends) can be added using the same techniques as Parties defined above, and are then managed through the Community interface (Y). Sadly, the contacts list shows only the player’s name and whether they’re online. There’s no additional information about their prestige or class, which means you can’t even tell if you can group with them. The contacts lists in Skyforge feels like an afterthought and has no redeeming or helpful features.
Pantheons are the player guilds and provide numerous bonuses all members must work together to build (through missions). Any player can start their own Pantheon, but they must recruit two members within seven days, or the Pantheon is disbanded. The creator of the Pantheon is the Founder, and members can be ranked as Commanders which oversee Clans of other members. The founder and commanders are able to start construction of a variety of structures, such as the Pantheon Chambers, Power Sources, and the Academy; but the structures are virtual as there is currently no “Pantheon Instance” in the game for members to visit. Pantheon Chambers define how many members the Pantheon can hold, and must be expanded on a regular basis. Many of the structures are designed to open new features, such as invasions and Pantheon vs. Pantheon PvP.
A detailed overview of Pantheons can be found here. Unfortunately, the Pantheon UI clan list is terrible as it creates multiple pages with only a few characters on each page, and doesn’t show what class the clan member is playing. You can only tell if a member is online based on whether or not their location is blank.
The Aelinet is an in-game web browsing system that allows players to access online information. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work well at all (half of the time, the screen doesn’t even come up), and continually requires the player to log into their account… while they’re logged in. It’s really a useless interface and a failed attempt to integrate web content within the game.
Most of the in-game chat takes place in the region channel, and it’s always busy with activity (based on the zone you are in). Vicinity chat is also used to talk with people around you (when you’re in an instance or trying to talk to people around you in an open world zone).The player can quickly change between chat channels by pressing ENTER and then using the up and down arrows to select the channel.
There isn’t much Help available for the game as the US wiki is still being built by the players because the game is rather new, but the good news is players in the region chat are often very helpful if new players have questions. This is another side effect of the cap; more experienced players will often sit in the divine laboratory talking to and helping other players while they wait for the weekly reset to take place, especially if they’re burned out on running instances for non-progressive rewards.
The Population of the game seems solid; there are immortals everywhere, the world zones are constantly busy, and getting into 3-man instances often takes less than 10 seconds. I don’t know how many people are playing the open beta, but there appear to be a lot of them.
The Forums are fairly busy, but it’s not a good sign when you google “skyforge forums” and they don’t show up as the first few entries (currently MMORPG is in the lead). While there’s activity, it’s not enough to represent hundreds of thousands (or millions) of players. There are so many bugs, most of the forum posts are complaints about many game issues I have covered herein.
The overall Quality of the community is mixed, but I believe it leans more on the side of being positive. I’ve found many players to be very helpful and friendly in-game; granted it is free to play and the game has plenty of riff-raff (as so many FTP games do), but the nature of the game seems to attract more serious gamers.
Because there is no trading in Skyforge, there really is no spam.
The Graphics are impressive. I play on full settings with a GTX970 and never get any stutter. The diversity in textures, lighting, shadows and particles presents a very immersive and well-designed visual world. Many regions are visually stunning, and the fluidity of combat animations and environmental foliage is top notch. The impressive graphics becomes more apparent as you progress and unlock new areas to explore.
The Sound FX are well-done, providing excellent audio representations during combat, and enhancement to the environment. Unfortunately, the music is mediocre. It’s not bad, but it’s not good; it’s simply not memorable or defining in any way.
The Interface is fairly unique, and therefore difficult to learn. It’s not very intuitive at first, but after you’ve played the game for a few days you begin to get the hang of it. The most confusing factor is the mouse lock system, which most MMOGers are not accustomed to.
There isn’t much of a Tutorial, but the game does introduce you to its features and how to expand your immortal through a number of quests, which do a fairly good job given the complexity of the interface and game mechanics.
Since the game has soft launched under the guise of “Open Beta” there have been a number of problems with Connectivity. This has resulted in a fair amount of Downtime (for patches and fixes), but since the last big patch, the game has been running smoothly with only a few hiccups in latency (ranging from 35ms-80ms for me on Fiber in the San Diego region).
There is no additional Security beyond user account and password at this time (i.e. authenticators). Since the game doesn’t allow trading, I don’t see a need for it.
To say Skyforge has a lot of Bugs is an understatement. Some of the most common are: getting stuck in the world, chat failing, animations sticking, dash not working, abilities locking up, and even the inability to target and kill attacking mobs. How this game is “live” in Russia yet in such a sad state as they prepare to “officially” launch here in the United States is unknown to me. I’ve had the game crash so many times, I’ve lost count.
Skyforge is a different type of MMOG. Despite the complaints of players (including myself) regarding certain mechanics and designs (and the numerous bugs which are a real pain), I must give credit to the development team for creating a MMOG that doesn’t quite feel like anything else; they’ve created a unique and enjoyable world for gamers to explore. While it does lack polish in a number of areas (community, etc), the graphics are beautiful, combat is fun and engaging, character customization is well-done, and the progression system of the ascension and class atlases provide more than enough content and building for most gamers to enjoy. While there are still numerous bugs to be worked out and some of the systems need to be revamped (many of which have already been fixed in the Russian version, which is roughly two months ahead of the US) I believe the game has potential. While Skyforge is not a true “next generation” MMOG, some of its features are a step in the right direction.