Darkfall Unholy Wars vs. Darkfall Online

Warrior using Roar

The New Land of Agon

Aventurine, a small game development company in Greece, released the MMORPG Darkfall Online (DFO) in 2009. In April 2013, they released a brand new game, Darkfall Unholy Wars. The game is ranked number 7 on MMORPG.com's best MMOs of 2013.

DFUW takes place several generations after original Darkfall. There are several noticeable changes in the new game, but the overall game play experience is just like its predecessor. Players still have the ability to choose their own adventure, whether it be pirating on the open seas or spending hours crafting in the safe zones, with little to no guidance from the game itself. The sandbox aspect and the one big, open map are just a few of the things that sets this game apart from all the other MMOs out there today.

The new Agon of Darkfall Unholy Wars is slightly smaller than the old one. Aventurine removed some of the open sea space and tightened up the land areas. Now that the world is a little smaller and there are more subscribers than there were the last couple years of DFO, it is much easier to find a fight, whether you’re looking for one or not.

The new map is broken up into grids. When you first arrive in Agon all of the map, except for the tiny part immediately surrounding your location, is darkened. The darkened areas will not become visible until you explore them.

Aventurine also added map overlays. If you played Darkfall Online, Your Mom map was probably at the top of your web browser's favorites. Now, you no longer need the external map to find the nearest mob spawn or to view the political map.

Map of Agon

The black areas of the map are yet to be explored.
The black areas of the map are yet to be explored.

Character Creation and Classes

Dwarves have been replaced by their descendants, the Tovarr. They are the only race that looks dramatically different from their DFO counterparts. The other races in Darkfall Unholy Wars are still recognizable, with only a few slight changes to their appearances.

There still aren't many options for character customization. Hair color, style, eye patch, earrings and piercings are the only traits you have control over.

Aventurine added roles to DFUW. When you create your character, you will be prompted to choose a role: Warrior, Skirmisher, Elementalist or Primalist. These roles can be changed once in the game.

The new bag system

Looting on the fly and sorting through the bank are much easier with the new bag.
Looting on the fly and sorting through the bank are much easier with the new bag.

The User Interface

The user interface (GUI) is the most noticeable change. Now, instead of right-clicking to access GUI mode, you have to press the Esc key, which is far more convenient when in the heat of a battle. The right mouse button has a new use. You can cast spells, such as Heal Self and Mana to Stamina, by simply right-clicking without having to equip a staff.

Remember tabbing through the nine or ten toolbars in DFO to access your skills? Now, the skills are fewer and more readily available. The skills can be placed on a radial menu, accessed by pressing the Tab key. Each slot on the menu is assigned to a number key.

There are two separate radial menus. You can put your healing and conversion spells (Mana to Stamina, for example) on the right side and your class abilities on the left side. Use the Q and E buttons to switch between the two menus, then the number keys to select the ability you wish to use. This change has made combat so much easier because you can have your heal up one side and a favorite offensive skill on the other. To use the skill on the left, just left-click. To use the skill on the right, right-click. The best part is that you no longer have to switch from sword or bow to staff to toss yourself a quick heal.

The mouse scroll button cycles through weapons equipped to your Paperdoll. Simply click the scroll wheel to equip. You can also use the number pad or Page Up and Page Down to cycle through weapons.

Looting and banking are much easier with the new bag system. You still have to drag and drop items, but the backpack is now a thin rectangular box that spans the bottom of the screen. Items automatically line up side-by-side. You can still name bags and use them to sort your inventory.

The radial skill menu

Skills are more accessible in Darkfall Unholy Wars.
Skills are more accessible in Darkfall Unholy Wars.

Prowess and Feats

Remember the mindless grind for skills in DFO? Players often spent their offline time Afk swimming to gain a few points in Dexterity or running into a wall with a bag full of stones to level Packmule. While leveling your character is still a grind, it is much easier and faster in DFUW because of the prowess system.

Prowess points are used in place of gold to buy new skills. You can also upgrade your existing skills and attributes with prowess points. This new system makes it much easier to catch up to veteran players because you choose which skills to upgrade. Imagine having all your weapon skills maxed in the first few weeks of the game, without spending every waking hour online.

Whenever you harvest, craft or kill mobs you are rewarded with a little bit of prowess. You can gain larger amounts of prowess by completing feats.

You can see how much prowess another player has by mousing over their character. Their total earned prowess will appear in the bottom right of your screen. This tool makes it much easier to pick your battles, or to know when to hop and your mount and run away as fast as you can. In DFO, the only sort of gauge you had of a player’s ability was based on his gear and weapon, which wasn't always the most accurate meter.

There are absolutely no quests in DFUW. Instead, Aventurine added a feat system. When you first enter the world of Agon, after completing the short tutorial, you are prompted to complete a few feats. You will receive a mount for your troubles.

The feat system is the only sort of guidance you will find in DFUW. There are pvp, pve, harvesting, crafting and social feats, to name a few. Some of the feats are similar to the title quests in DFO. For example, one new feat involves killing 150 goblinoids, just like the old dexterity title quest.

DFUW: Prowess Point Character Progression

Mob tombstone

Mob tombstones glow when they contain loot.
Mob tombstones glow when they contain loot.

Gear

Aventurine added gear restrictions in Darkfall Unholy Wars. In Darkfall Online, players mixed and matched gear all the time and it wasn't odd to see a warrior wearing a combination of bone and full plate. Now, casters are restricted to cloth. Skirmishers are restricted to leather. Warriors can only wear heavy armor. It is really only inconvenient when you first start out in Agon. It can be tricky to find mob drop armor that you can actually wear until you have the means to craft your own.

Crafting

Crafting in Darkfall Unholy Wars, believe it or not, is actually more time-consuming than it was in DFO. Cotton, gathered from bushes, must be woven into cloth. Rawhide, collected from mobs, must be tanned into leather. Crafting is also more costly. It costs one gold to do any sort of refining (smelting, woodworking, etc.) or cooking.

Mount crafting is also different. The whistle and taming skill are no longer required. Now you must craft a saddle using leatherworking, skin mobs to gain essence, and then obtain the ever-elusive steedgrass to craft your mount at the Laboratory. Anyone can craft a mount without purchasing the skill. Horse mounts have been eliminated, but all the other Darkfall Unholy Wars mounts are the same as in DFO. Players can craft any of the four mounts now, rather than being restricted by race.

Potatoes, onions and carrots are still precious commodities in the new Agon. You can cook with vegetables and meat up until you reach cooking skill level 75, when you can then begin to cook fish.

Armor, weapons and staves can now be salvaged for crafting resources, such as iron ingots and timber. Each work station has a salvaging option. Staves are salvaged at the Laboratory, weapons and heavy armor at the Smithy, bows and light armor at the Worktable. It costs one gold to salvage each item. Even though in the beginning chances are slim that you’ll actually get something, it’s a good idea to salvage everything you can rather than selling it to a vendor for a measly one gold each.

Skill masteries are still required to pass level 100. Instead of costing 10,000 gold, they now cost 10,000 prowess points.

Mobs have a new look

This zombie warrior looks more ferocious than its DFO counterpart.
This zombie warrior looks more ferocious than its DFO counterpart.

Safe Zones

Safe zones are one of the most controversial additions among veteran Darkfall players. Some people love the freedom of harvesting outside a town without fear of ganking, while others think that this makes Darkfall Unholy Wars too easy. In DFO, when you first logged in as a new player, you had an hour of safety and that was it. Now, a player could choose to remain in the safe zone the entire time he played the game.

Safe zones surround and include the NPC towns. A few mob spawns are located in each safe zone. Imagine logging in for the first time and being able to kill zombies and goblins without worrying if someone was waiting around the corner to jump you. It is much easier for new players to stay alive now.

Good luck finding harvestable resource nodes in the safe zone. Full bushes and stone veins are usually easy to find, but you’ll probably feel like you hit the lottery if you happen upon an untapped iron vein.

Towers and Load Lag

There are no towers in DFUW. Now you can waltz right into a clan’s hamlet and try to use the bank, which I actually did, not realizing that I was somewhere I shouldn't be because I didn't have towers zapping me. I learned later that you can tell what type of bindstone it is by the color of the light blasting into the sky. Green bindstone lights are clan-owned towns. Red lights signal chaos bindstones. White lights signal the safety of an NPC town.

There is no such thing as alignment in DFUW. Being “red” means nothing. Even the most vicious players are allowed in towns and safe zones.

Load lag, that moment your computer froze and you heard a slight “bip” when another player entered your area, is also a thing of the past. However, the sounds in the new game seem more magnified than in DFO. You can hear footsteps crunching the ground from what seems like miles away.

DFUW is Better Than DFO

Overall, I think Darkfall Unholy Wars is a much better game than Darkfall Online. The UI took some getting used to, and at first I hated it. The new game is a lot easier than the old game in many ways. However, in my opinion, it’s still as hardcore as it always was. PvP in Darkfall Unholy Wars is just as intense and heart-pounding as it was in the original.

Darkfall Unholy Wars vs. Darkfall Online

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