The past couple of weeks I’ve been having a fantastic time romping through Crowfall’s campaigns. When you have a good group of players by your side, fights are both exhilarating and quite fun.
But frequently on the game’s subreddit, people ask whether the game is worth playing yet. It seems one of the most common responses is that “it has enough mechanics to be entertaining but remember you are still just testing.”
Then it occurred to me: With all the tools in Crowfall’s quiver, a single, well-thought out update could really put something together that would be great to play right now, every day. That’s not to say you can’t have fun in the game yet, but with a few tweaks, I think there would be much less downtime and much more fun all around.
Change up the campaigns a bit more
The campaigns in Crowfall so far have been getting a lot of love. I think the average length of a campaign is a couple of weeks. The team over at Artcraft has been frequently trying out different scoring methods and offering rewards to the winning faction to keep it fresh.
I really love that the team is dedicated enough to make these changes while working on all the primary game improvements at the same time. It certainly keeps the dedicated players engaged and logged in. Yet, there is still a lot of downtime between the fun parts of the game.
Currently, most of the points gained towards winning the campaign come from the sieges. Capturing keeps and repelling invaders is a blast – when all teams are prepared and on common footing. Often a keep will flip so quickly that there isn’t even time to mount any sort of defense. This isn’t exactly a problem, but it happens enough that you find yourself just running from keep to keep for 30 minutes to an hour, and engaging in meaningful combat for only about 5 minutes. Again, this isn’t strictly terrible, but if the fun is in the combat, let’s get more of that time in combat!
Try out something different. Change the scoring format a bit to encourage outpost and camp flipping. Currently, they do add up to a good amount of points per turn, but let’s turn up the points on them to encourage frequent quick battles. If, rather than seeing teams of 20 or more turning up every couple of hours strictly for a keep fight, we scored it so that there were several teams of 2-5 players constantly engaging in fights over camps, that’d be great. There could be bonus points for capturing when you have a PvP fight than when you don’t, further pushing players to fight each other.
Since it is currently pretty unforgiving to low-level and lesser-geared players, it’d also be great if there were even a single map in the campaign that restricted who could fight on it. When rolling a new vessel, it is a straight up pain to not be able to quickly jump in and be helpful.
Offer up rewards for different experiences – housing anybody?
As it is now, we have some pretty cool rewards for the winning factions in the campaigns. However, ACE has also put together the backbone for a nice housing system with its Eternal Kingdoms. I think it should bolster the community that really loves designing and building those kingdoms by having some added rewards here as well.
The devs likely can’t automate winners of “best kingdom design” the way they can with combat campaigns, but ACE could certainly make a judgement call. It could even have bi-weekly or monthly contests on Twitter and let the community vote. Winners could simply have their designs show up as the keeps or towns in future campaigns, or even as designs that other players could use in their EKs.
And let’s put something together for the crafters
The crafting system in game is already pretty solid. Obviously it will continue to improve and grow as development progresses, but I don’t think it’s crazy to say that when you (or someone in your guild) craft a legendary item, it feels like an accomplishment.
Of course there are already good uses for these items currently, but it would be fun to encourage players to make and share them amongst each other further.
Currently the free cities are barren ghost towns. They have an almost spooky and haunting feeling to them. Such nice buildings, market stalls, statues – but where did all the people go? It appears these were designed to be player-run cities, and that could be the case today!
Add in some very high-level NPCs that will aggro any players who start a fight. Make it so that players can fight regardless of faction. Have the market stalls act as some kind of chest to encourage players to use the stalls as seller locations by granting them some sort of bonus for having higher-level goods. Perhaps some sort of crafting speed or gathering bonus. Or… this little town could make for a nice battle royale.
This is pre-alpha, so remove the leveling
You know, I said earlier that it’d be nice to section off a piece of the campaign for lowbies, but taking it a step further would be even better: Remove the levels all together!
ArtCraft has made some solid strides with God’s Reach, which I think is a move in the right direction. But it is still too slow and cumbersome to level at this stage in testing. I need at least a couple of other players with me to fight the NPC camps. If I’m alone, leveling will take even longer fighting small groups of trash mobs. I’d like to not need a guild just to level up in a pre-alpha. I just hate feeling like I’m grinding, but now I need to get a few other people to grind with me, so… no thanks.
I get it: There are a lot of good reasons for the game to include leveling. Testing the leveling systems themselves is important. Testing the whole leveling experience is important. But at this phase of the game’s development, do you really want us to test the leveling experience, or do you want to us test all the other systems?
As a player, with an unfinished leveling system, where there really isn’t a whole hell of a lot of ways to level; the last thing I want to do is grind through it again on a new vessel. What I want to do, and I would suspect you would want as well, is to see how different race and class combinations perform. How does the class perform on this skill tree vs. the others? How does the server handle the load of dozens of players fighting simultaneously?
To reiterate, I am having fun. But my thoughts were focused on keeping veterans (yeah a pre-alpha with veteran players) happy and active while also giving those on the outskirts who haven’t taken the leap of faith and plunged into the game yet the incentive to do so. I don’t think that any of these ideas are the only way the game should be made, but I do think that ACE has all the pieces in hand already to put these together and improve the current experience. Doing so encourages all of us to talk about the game, which might bring in a few new warm bodies for us to wreck.
So, bandits, bows drawn targeting me while I fell a tree – what do you think would make the game actually playable today? Would you play the game more often or buy in if it had these changes? Or are you perfectly satisfied with the current game and the team could do nothing to improve it outside of its current schedule?