Crowfall: Closed Beta Impressions
An in-depth breakdown of gameplay, mechanics, and the general experience.
I recently had the opportunity to take part in the Crowfall closed beta. The first impression I had of the game was that it was just another sandbox MMORPG similar to other titles such as Black Desert & Albion Online. The main pull of the game is its PvP combat and large scale guild wars, you grind out levels and farm gear until you reach level cap where you PvP for better loot and rewards. Upon first glance into the game, you won't see anything too different or unique but appearances can be very deceiving.
Crowfall features many of the traditional aspects associated with an MMORPG such as crafting/gathering professions, character classes & guilds systems. Crowfall has 12 unique races which include classics such as High Elves and Humans to more eccentric options like Centaurs and Guinecean. The player then selects one of their race's associated classes, while there are 11 different classes introduced into the game each race can only choose from a handful of classes.
Crowfall creates a very engaging PvP experience that feels like a true warfare game. Individual players can make or break guilds tasks from crafting, harvesting, combat, intel, siege management; all of these things are player-driven. The usage of strategy and tactics extends out to other groups with the alliance system that allows the creation of temporary pacts between guilds with like-minded pursuits. Inter-guild politics are impossibly important and devastatingly impactful, some players even go as far as creating "Mercenary Companies" to fill niche roles for the highest bidder.
Each character created has a talent tree linked to their selected class. The player is awarded talent points every two levels for a total of 15 at the level cap of 30, this allows players to customize their Crow's skills. Since there is an imposed restriction on skills, it makes every decision that much more important. Each pip selected helps push your character into your intended role, which is accentuated by the selection of the subclass toward the end of the talent tree. The player then must choose from 3 Domains tied to each subclass which operates like an elemental specialization to allow for additional skills to be learned.
Disciplines are equipable items that apply flat passive stat bonuses and grant either additional passive or castable active skills. Disciplines have prerequisites that must be met before they can be equipped such as the wielder having to match the corresponding race, class, or domain affinity. Disciplines are divided into 4 different categories (Major, Minor, Racial & Exploration), these are how a player gains extra skills and talents outside of their individual skill trees. Racial is a free legendary quality discipline that gives stats based on race, while Exploration disciplines are associated with crafting and gathering professions such as Skinner, Blacksmith, and even Necromancer that must either be crafted, purchased, or looted. Lastly, the Major and Minor disciplines are used to grant additional powers or add new and unique modifiers to existing abilities.
Crowfall has a unique mechanic that pertains to adventuring in the world, which is the "Hunger Mechanic". Hunger is shown under each character's hp bar as chicken drumsticks/ham hocks that slowly get reduced to empty icons, signifying depletion. A player's hunger bar requires the player to consume food/drink to keep their strength up. If a character goes hungry they won't die or lose hp but they will suffer a penalty to their passive resource regeneration.
The universe of Crowfall is constantly influx due to a powerful primordial force in the multiverse strong enough to fell gods called The Hunger. The Hunger destroys all things it comes into contact with, due to this reason, the realms players exist in are constantly being removed from the game. The worlds that the player explores are crafted using a randomizer in the system that generates each world and its resources. Upon logging in, the player has the choice of which world within the multiverse they would like to adventure in. Each world that is available also has a timer associated with it that signifies how much time is left for that particular world. This system is used to constantly try and "shake up" the atmosphere of the game creating new threats and opportunities.
Players aren't actually the body they create within the selection screen, they are actually "Crows" the immortal spirits of heroes that resurrect in new worlds across the multiverse to fight for all existence. Each crow must possess a Vessel to exist in the world, which is the rejuvenated corpse belonging to one of the twelve races. Vessels are an interesting mechanic within Crowfall that is used to boost the power of the player, allowing them to create the perfect body to match their needs.
A vessel is a crafted creation that uses the crafting profession Necromancy to assemble an inhabitable body. It's common to see entire vessels being crafted to match a certain role or profession. Vessels currently function very similar to Prestige from other games, where you will reset back to level 1. Players will create a new character to begin the leveling process anew while retaining better base stats, which they can further enhance using the reward points from leveling back to 30. The system will be undergoing a functionality change within the next big patch projected for February 2021. After reaching level 30 one can use a vessel to increase the level of their character by one, each rarity tier (Common, Uncommon, Rare, Epic & Legendary) of vessels will grant an additional level until the maximum of 35 is reached using a legendary vessel.
The leveling experience is fairly simple as most games go, the game guides you through the first 18 - 20 levels via the tutorial questline that is used to explain some light lore and gameplay mechanics. The player proceeds through the first generated world learning key tools such as cooking foods, crafting bandages, acquiring buffs from god statues, and navigating the open world. The tutorial feels like it abruptly ends shortly after giving the player their first major discipline. Crowfall doesn't give any sort of in-depth explanation for many of its core systems that work from an "end game" standpoint. At the beginning of each world that a player may enter, they do give another lite tutorial but not in the form of a quest but as text-based info dumps. I highly recommend reading all content that is giving to you to avoid being lost or confused.
Leveling from 20 - 30 is a bit more difficult but still fairly easy, Crowfall's main focus is the end game content such as guild warfare so the leveling process is expectedly simple. To get to that level faster is common for leveling parties to form and go out to grind monsters until you hit max level, this process is anywhere from one hour to about four worth of content. The players have multiple options of gameplay after the initial leveling experience in the starting world, there are two worlds devoted to PvP and even a private craftable sandbox world that is completely personalized.
The playable worlds are broken down into three choices after the tutorial world, the first of which is the Eternal Kingdoms (player worlds) where players can create an entire village to call home. Inside these personalized worlds, one can deploy vendors, install crafting tables, place additional aesthetic features, and even change the landscape by adding in parcels of land. you have the ability to invite friends or guildmates into your world or keep it private for personal usage. The Eternal Kingdoms have a variety of uses that are completely different from player to player, it's an excellent way to display everyone's individual flair using the game's style and resources.
The second world is called Infected, it's essentially the intro world for the player vs player experience. Once you enter the world, you get to choose one of the 3 factions (Sun, Moon, & Earth) to represent during your time in the world. The gameplay focuses on capturing outposts and stronghold for your faction to earn points, while also fighting against enemy players for bragging rights. There is no risk involved in fighting while within infected, no loot or exp is lost during skirmishes so it offers a safe risk-free experience for newer players just getting their feet wet.
The last playable world is the Campaign, which is the primary focus of a majority of Crowfall's content. The Campaign randomly generates a unique world for a limited amount of time, The various guilds fight against each other for supremacy as they conquer several key points in the world. Guilds are offered rewards based on their score by the end of the campaign which can range from anything as simple as gold to rare and valuable materials for your Eternal Kingdom. The points are calculated by completing various challenges that are offered every few days. Once the Campaigns come to a close, two events will take place; First, the world will be destroyed and everything within it will be lost. The player is granted a set amount of export tokens which allow them to claim 75 items and move them into their account storage. After the world fully closes all participates are awarded both individual and guild rewards based on their level of involvement and final point totals.
Crowfall presents something that isn't readily provided within current online gaming, A true player vs player warfare experience. The game excels at group content and thrives on a stable community, nothing can really be accomplished alone and that's perfectly fine. The biggest appeal for Crowfall is its ability to create content that feels meaningful and engaging for large groups of people, all interactions are impactful and come with their individual risks and rewards. The game is still in development and is subject to many changes before actually being released. I would highly recommend purchasing one of the backer packages if you are interested in a community-based warfare game, but if you are more of a soloist this wouldn't be the game for you.
For additional info on signing up for the beta or purchasing backer packages feel free to visit the official Crowfall website @ https://crowfall.com/en-US/.