First impressions of Skyforge beta, part one

    
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Slowly but surely, Skyforge has climbed my interest ladder until I was genuinely eager to check it out in its beta state. It’s an interesting position to be in when you are excited about an MMO and yet are not so deeply invested that its potential failing would throw your world into disarray. If anything, I’d love for Skyforge to be a strong sleeper hit simply because we have so little in the way of full-fledge traditional MMOs coming out in 2015.

With a beta key in one hand and an optimistic spirit in the other, I logged onto the second Skyforge closed beta test to see how it looked, how it played, and how it felt. So what’s the verdict? No shortcuts — you’re going to have to come along for the ride!

One of my favorite parts of playing a new MMO is tinkering with the character creation options, but at least for the moment, that was to be denied to me. Instead, I was put into a fully armored (and masked) Templar on a sort of futuristic barge that was coming to dock with a city platform. An NPC acknowledged — with the best mediocre voice acting a budget can reluctantly buy — that I was an immortal. So I’ve got that going for me at least.

I took a few minutes to test-drive my character and get a feel for the controls. It’s a mess of good and bad news, as the graphics look terrific, but the running and jumping animations look and handle a little janky. Apparently Skyforge is also one of those mouselook-only games (similar to Neverwinter), a fact that instantly put me into a claustrophobic panic as I wanted to move my cursor around the screen. Plus, there’s no scroll-to-first-person-view feature, which felt like an additonal kick in the pants. There wasn’t any apparent way to disable mouselook or get a clean, character-free screenshot, so I made my peace with it and moved on.

Naturally, I did try to jump off the barge to my death thousands of feet below, but invisible walls and/or high-tech force fields kept me from doing that. Instead, I used a nifty feature of the game that allows you to target an objective (marked by a diamond) and then hit the spacebar to have my character automatically run there. Well, not directly there; pathing proved an issue. I got a laugh as my character ran back and forth for a bit, then juked down a ramp, then overshot the NPC before turning around to talk to her. A second attempt proved a lot smoother with this system, so maybe I was standing in a bad place the first time.

Dialogue isn’t terribly interactive, with only the occasional spacebar press to move things along. Oh, so apparently I have had past traumatic pain. Time for a tutorial flashback (with, I kid you not, one of those classic “under construction” icons from mid-1990s websites)!

A cutscene and a slow pan over a lovely looking town introduced me to Iannor. Despite its tranquil appearance, Iannor is a hotbed of bad guys whom my squad was tasked with eliminating. Futuristic though my armor was, it definitely had the look of a classic Roman soldier, if Roman soldiers wielded swords encrusted with circuitry.

Finally, a little combat! As I jogged through town, some of the Virds targeted me. My sole option was to left-click for sweeping sword slashes to dispatch my foe. After he dissolved, leaving only the pleasant scent of pine, a Pokémon ball appeared in the air and spat out a few credits. That’s really the only way I can describe it.

It’s as straightforward as you can ask for, culminating in a fight with a giant rat-soldier. This was actually a little tough, since his power attack took a massive chunk out of my health. I guess it’s a good time to learn to move before being hit, eh?

I want to say a quick word about the physics in Skyforge. For the most part, the physics system is quite welcome and well-deployed, especially in combat and cutscenes. However, the team got overzealous in applying the tech to breasts because they (the breasts, not the team) bounce and jiggle like bags of jello with springs inside. “Distracting” is putting it lightly.

So long tutorial short, I got killed, then was reborn as an immortal, and then used my newfound room-clearing powers to take revenge on the totally gnarly Reaper of Death. I promise you that’s his name. He’s as dorky and non-threatening as you might imagine.

With that flashback out of the way, we finally got down to making my character in a Mass Effect-looking virtual room. A hologram named Flavius guided me through picking a class. There are currently five available in the beta (two of which are limited by which founder’s pack you bought), and all of them can be swapped on the fly. I chose Gunner because that big cannon will compensate for my noobness.

After this came — oh joy! — customizing my looks. There’s actually a lot to consider here, from clothes to to makeup to voice to running animations. I suspect that there will be a subset of players who will get eternally trapped on this screen when they realize they can increase bust size to “Playboy” and have their character endlessly run toward them while the physics engine goes hogwild.

sprayThen the game turned me loose to test out my newfound class abilities on a whole bunch of different drones. I deeply appreciated this; I always want MMOs to let me have some breathing room toward the beginning to get my game legs. This was perfect, and the Gunner impressed me with the powerful animations and variety of attacks. Unleashing a missile swarm at a foe quickly became my favorite move.

With the tutorial and character creation (in that order) out of the way, it was time to head out into the larger world and seize my destiny. But for that, you’ll have to wait for part two of this impressions report!

Massively Overpowered skips scored reviews; they’re outdated in a genre whose games evolve daily. Instead, our veteran reporters immerse themselves in MMOs to present their experiences as hands-on articles, impressions pieces, and previews of games yet to come. First impressions matter, but MMOs change, so why shouldn’t our opinions?
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MichaelLynn
Guest
MichaelLynn

Unique character please…..Also the left and right arrows don’t work…I know most use the asdwx keys but I like to use the up,down,left,right keys sometimes 2. The character movement is really cray cray. I like the graphics (Very Impressive) but I am going back to playing Star Wars Old Republic. Like the movement feel on that one.

froggiestone
Guest
froggiestone

Maybe i’m biased coming from Black Desert, but the character creator was utterly disappointing. mostly only premade options with a few sliders, and no way to make a unique character at all.

Airglow
Guest
Airglow

melissamcdon The impression I got was not that large breasts are the problem, but that the physics in the game are absurd. The last time I heard a discussion on ridiculous jiggle physics in games among female players with large breasts, the consensus was “Ow” and “Watching somebody with a chest that size flop around with no support is giving me sympathy pains.”

Lots of women have large breasts. They might even be obvious under armor. But it’s not uncommon for games designers to completely forget that breast support is a thing and to preserve the jiggling to a point where even metal plate bounces all over the place as a character moves.

odinthor021
Guest
odinthor021

Sorenthaz Pashgan masterx25 ROFL yeah those Dead or Alive bewbs were totally out of control :D

odinthor021
Guest
odinthor021

karmamule ManastuUtakata Cyroselle Well I play female toons mostly but I don’t wanna have my brains beaten out by huge, bouncing balloons I am wondering if there is crafting in-game maybe a sport bra option?

odinthor021
Guest
odinthor021

Well waiting for a beta invite can’t wait to give this a try out.

Sorenthaz
Guest
Sorenthaz

karmamule  Never played Baldur’sGate but I did play some of Planescape Torment and Neverwinter Nights 2, lol. Will have to give it a look when I have the money for it.

Mochaccino
Guest
Mochaccino

So…this might be my new home after TERA?

ashfyn
Guest
ashfyn

I foresee that a lot of dudes will be making babe avatars and then amusing each other with running and jumping physics.  They will never leave the first quest hub.  Why should they?  The entertainment value of this is vast.

ashfyn
Guest
ashfyn

Cyroselle  Ya, I practically fell off my chair at that one.  Right up there with League of Angels for the Mr. Obvious award, “Guess who the target audience is?”