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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Darkfall removes class and gear restrictions and embracing a free build system.

Old Class System
Darkfall Unholy Wars was launched on April 2013 with a character development system that followed traditional role based system. These role included melee heavy Warrior (Tank), high mobile and range based attacker know as Skirmisher, a spell damage dealer known as Elementalist and finally a healing class known as Primalist. Beside common skills, all other skills/spell were specialized and only usable by 1 class/school combination. (NOTE: Each of the 4 classes were further specialized using a system known as ‘schools’. The official manual covers it well)

There were also restrictions in place on which class can wear what type of armor or use what type of weapon effectively. Different skill and spells were bound to a particular weapon. For example, a warrior had to equip plate and a one hand/two hand melee weapon to execute most skills.

The class based system served its purpose because it defined a strict role for people, however, balancing it became increasingly difficult. Each offensive and defensive skill needed a counter move by 3 other opposing classes, and the impact of each spell/ability needed to have damage based on who is on the other end. Realistically, balancing so many spells/skills, 4 classes, 3 school customization, with 4 types of armor in 4 tiers with 8 types of weapon of 4 different tiers is not possible( to balance remove this)given the number of permutation and combination involved.
Player can customize stats distribution

The current class system also impacted PvE because certain classes had a big disadvantage. For example, those who chose (past tense) to be a prime had a difficult time killing mobs as a healer. Killing higher end mobs as a mage was also a challenge due to low resistance where damage/survivability didn’t scale compared (past tense) to a Skirm/Warrior.

Aventurine (AV) the maker of Darkfall have finally decided to remove all class and armor restrictions!
This was done because a large number of player didn't like the restriction that was in place. They wanted to embrace "a sandbox philosophy" where players can build their character the way they like, and fit their own play style. AV is also aware that if everyone can still use all spells and all gear, eventually it will end up seeing what we saw in games like UO. That is we will have 2 ~ 3 dominant builds and diversity will suffer. (Note- the current class/role system didn’t provide diversity because player Warriors had too many advantages, and most people were more or less forced to play Warrior to be competitive.)

AV unveiled following.

From AV’s vision post: Drawing from Darkfall’s heritage we are introducing custom roles. Players can mix and match skills, boosters, and perks, to fully customize their combat role, enhancing sandbox character development. Armor sits on top of the whole system, affecting different skills in different ways, but blocking none. The endless combinations promote player freedom and the open ended experience. The introduction of Custom roles is our highest priority; expect to see them in game very soon.

More details was released as following: Today, as promised, we would like to present to you our design for the custom roles mechanic that we are adding to Darkfall: Unholy Wars.

As we’re sure you’re all aware, this system represents a core change to the mechanics of Unholy Wars, and as such, is a system that, going forward, we will monitor very closely, and will make changes wherever and whenever required.

The details presented here, then, should be considered the first, and very important, step in creating the free and open system that fulfils our sand-box vision for Unholy Wars. This is not the end-point of the system, it is the beginning. And your feedback will be vital in the evolution and continued development of the system.

With the pre-amble out of the way, let’s move on to the details, of what we could call “v1.0”, of the system:

Skills and Skill Selection:

Choose any skill now!
Skill selection is now entirely player choice. Using the new “character build” window, players can select any 9 “school skills”, only one of which can be the “ultimate skill” from any school. All “common skills” are available to all players. Players will be able to activate a total of 16 skills, common and school combined, for any set build.

All skills in the game are being re-evaluated, on a skill-by-skill basis, to ensure that all skills are individually desirable. Changes to skill function will be made as necessary and new skills will be added to the game whenever we see a “gap” that can be filled (for example, counter-skills for identified over-powered skills).

Players will be able to change their build any-time they have been out of “combat-mode” for 15 minutes or more. As you may know, combat-mode ends when the player has not dealt or received any positive or negative effects for 1 minute.

To facilitate duels or times when players wish to try out several builds in rapid succession, we will add an NPC to starter cities that will reset build-change timers, and allow an immediate build change. We will also include this NPC in clan holdings, but its function will be disabled when there is an active siege for the holding.

Boosters and Attributes:

Boosters can now be split by players as they see fit. There remains the same 40 points to assign, in groups of 10, but a player can assign their 4 “+10” boosters to any attribute, in any combination.

Intelligence is being re-worked to make it more useful, and more distinct from Wisdom. It will be based around Mana regeneration (not Mana pool-size). Staff bolt is also being tweaked to make it more useful overall.

All vital stat pools are being normalised with significantly more weight being placed on the base attribute instead of the booster. This ensures that all character builds start from an “equal footing”.

All armour types have been given new “bonus properties”, as a counter-point to the increased protections that heavy-armour already received, and to make all armour types individually desirable to different builds and play-styles. All armour bonuses will stack based on the total number of pieces worn, and the ranks of those pieces.

Now you can even mix some Armor type

Types of armour and their bonuses are:

Heavy Armour (Ex-Warrior):

  •     Highest Protections Overall
  •     Resistance to Knock-Backs
Heavy Robes (Ex-Primalist):
  •     2nd Best Protections Overall
  •     Increased Mana and Stamina Regeneration
Light Armour (Ex-Skirmisher):
  •     Next-to Lowest Protections Overall
  •     Increased Attack, Draw and Cast Speed
Light Robes (Ex-Elementalist):
  •     Lowest Protections Overall
  •     Increased Magnitude of All Skills, Including Default Attacks
As you may have guessed from the above, armor mixing, between types, will be allowed. Initially this will only be available for head and shoulder pieces, due to technical restrictions.

Changing armor types will require the player to exit combat-mode (not receive or deal any negative or positive effects for 1 minute).

As far as attribute requirements for equipment go, we are initially opting for a system that allows for a greater amount of customization, but also requires the player to commit to certain choices. The system allows for the players to set their own stat requirements on armor and weapons. Each of the four attributes is assigned to 1 armour type and 1 weapon type of the player’s choice. Having that attribute boosted will give players access to higher ranks of that armour or weapon type only.

As a specific example, a player who wishes to play as a “Paladin-style” character could assign “Heavy Armour” and “Staff Weapons” to their Wisdom attribute. Then, by boosting Wisdom, they would gain access to Dragon Armour and the Highest-tier Staffs, and Primalist skills would still benefit from having maximum Wisdom. However, by choosing “Heavy Armour”, the player will be setting aside access to the highest-tiers of “Light Robes”, and the magnitude bonus they give, “Heavy Robes”, and the increased regeneration rates, along “Light Armour”, and the speed bonuses; the player will also not be able to make use of the highest-tier melee weapons.

Other Things:

When the system goes live, all players will be eligible for a Prowess re-spec, for all Prowess spent to level-up skills, attributes and so on. Details of how this will be made available will be given closer to the time.

For ease of use, in the skill selection window, players will be able to link any skill to a specific weapon by dragging it on the slot from their backpack. Executing the skill will also auto-equip the corresponding weapon.

Finally, we’re certain you’ll all be happy to hear, wobble will be removed.

Thank you for reading; we look forward to hearing your thoughts on this initial version of the system. As mentioned earlier, your feedback will be invaluable in shaping the future development and direction of the system

For 3 weeks there was a great debate in the public forum and MVP forums (a focused group AV created to take input from a diverse group of players/play style) on how the new system should work. There were over 700 posts in the MVP forum debating between lifting all restrictions, restricting based on armor or boasters, implementing a drawback system, or using encumbrance (wearing heavy armor would make your spell casting and archery (will be Remove) weak).

The debate eventually boiled down to 2 camps:

One camp (sandbox purist) wanted to remove ALL restrictions and make the system easy for all player to understand. All player can use all skills, all armor, all weapon. Zero restrictions. If player can afford it they can wear all best gear and weapon and no artificial restriction.


The second camp wanted maximum freedom but found the view of purist camp extreme. It would lead to a economic(al remove) war where players with most wealth will max out all armor and weapons, and skill will play a lesser role on a outcome of a fight. It would provide no incentive to have a market for lower tier gear. Even though it may be perceived as free system, in reality it would force everyone to grind the max gear to stay relevant.

The system AV eventually chose was pure genius!

  • Its gives massive freedom for players, since restrictions are dictated by players.
  • Keeps diversity of armor/weapon selection/use through player choice.
  • Stops players from wearing/using max-everything at the same time.

The only issue is that most of us who have been playing MMORPG's for a long time are conditioned into thinking “Strength = Heavy Armor + Melee Weapon”, “Dexterity = Leather Armor + Bows”, “Intelligent = Cloth Armor + Staff”, etc. The idea that allows you to finally choose that connection is revolutionary!

This is such a fundamental change, it can be considered a relaunch of the game. The interest for Darkfall increased many folds since this announcement. A lot of players who left the game are coming back including famous clans like Sinister, Absolution, Aesir, Immortals, etc. This is evident by looking at the number of posting in the official forum. The number of players in the cities, mob spawns, and sieges have have doubled and some cases tripped.

This will without a doubt be the most interesting patch in the history of Darkfall Unholy Wars!

Many of our bloggers in here are already theoryfalling (theory crafting) the best PvE builds for different types of mobs, best solo PvP builds, best solo group builds, and finally best Siege builds.

AV will implement the Custom Class patch on the first week of June. Any accounts that are active through May 31 will automatically get 2,000 free prowess points!

Here is a sneak peak at Custom Role class video released on May 29th and June 4th.

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