It’s been about a month since the release of Crowfall, and the team at ArtCraft hasn’t let off the gas yet. This past week we saw the completion of the first post-launch campaign and an update called The Shadow. The Shadow brought with it a new campaign refocusing players attention on some traditional RvR style combat by pitting the three factions against one another.
I want to dig into what we’re are getting out of The Shadows and its timing, but before that, let’s talk again about the state of the game from a normal player’s ground-level view.
One month after release and population still feels good
Almost immediately after release, gamers were already predicting doom for Crowfall – primarily thanks to the reported total player numbers extracted by a popular Discord bot. Now, I noted even in my last piece that even if those numbers were true, what actually matters is how populated the world feels when you’re actually in game.
Well, we’re a month into release, and I still find the population in the game feels good. The main temple in the first worlds, Gods Reach, remains populated with players. Even in my final few leveling quests that led into PvP, I found that I was often completing the quests alongside other players. Admittedly, we’re not seeing absolute droves of players running around as in the first week, but it wasn’t a quiet, private experience either.
That is to be expected, though. After players have leveled up a character, they’ll leave the Gods Reach worlds, possibly to never return. After leveling up, you’ll go on to compete in the campaigns. That’s just the way the vessel and leveling system is designed: Even if you leveled up another vessel, you’d likely just sacrifice vendor trash to level up rather than repeating the tutorial quests.
This is still in stark contrast to how isolated leveling and playing often felt in the alpha and betas. Running around in an uncontested zone can be pretty quiet, but as long as you are in a zone with some forts and land to compete over, you’ll find plenty of bodies to fight with and against.
The tutorial actually completes the leveling experience well
Speaking of the tutorial, I know I can’t really do justice to the depths that Andrew recently did, but I would like to expand a little on some of my previous coverage of it. Earlier this year, I had an interview with Crowfall’s Creative Director J. Todd Coleman and several others at ArtCraft discussing their new tutorial and leveling experience. At that time, it didn’t appear that a set of quests to guide players through the conquest system was in the cards.
Even as recently as a couple of months before release, I thought that I had played through everything the tutorial was going to have to offer. Back then it did explain all the main points of territory conquest, but there weren’t actually any quests that showed players how to kill a tree (keep capturing mechanic) or how to use the siege equipment.
However, the current tutorial does all that and more. It really does meet the expectations I had for the final chapter of the tutorial. It also provides a few more quests that flesh out the game’s lore in more detail without expecting the player to go read a webpage. While they may seem like “filler” if you don’t care at all about the lore, it’s a nice inclusion and I’m happy to see it in the game. But most importantly it provides the details and lets you actually get hands-on play through some forms of the siege mechanics.
The Shadow campaign shifts player attention back to faction PvP
As for the most recent update, Crowfall enabled a new campaign that focuses on the faction war. This is one of the highlights of Crowfall for me. Even if you aren’t especially into the guild vs. guild mode known as The Dregs, there are often other servers you can join with different rulesets employed.
The Shadow campaign is more akin to your traditional RvR format. During the tutorial players are instructed to choose a faction. The factions themselves don’t really have a distinct personality of their own, but there is a little bit of lore that might guide you to choosing one over another. Of course, if you’re in a guild, then you’ll simply fly under the guild’s faction banner. While the choice is important, it isn’t permanent. So if you find that you don’t like the faction you chose at the onset, you will be able to change it later.
The campaign itself has essentially all the same activities that you experienced if you played through a Dregs campaign, but now you can stomp your foes with players outside your guild. It’s actually pretty similar to the Infected zones that were released back during the beta periods. However, it does feel more like a proper campaign than the Infected zones ever did. While the Infected pit your faction against the others, it didn’t really have the same impact. It was more of a zone for some decent gathering and pop-up PvP, but there wasn’t really a carrot at the end of that stick. The Shadows actually does offer a real campaign where you can compete with others for forts and land, but you don’t have to coordinate as tightly with a guild to be helpful to the overall team.
This is one thing about Crowfall’s unique campaign systems that I really love. You have different choices about what you want to do and when you want to do it. Most of the past month, I was extremely busy and didn’t have a lot of time to invest in the initial Dregs campaign that began after release. However, I had a bit more time these past couple weeks, and I was able to jump into the Shadow campaign without feeling as if I’d lost a lot of time or that I shouldn’t play since I was late to join. It’s something that not a lot of other MMOs have offered.
I’m also pretty curious as to whether any of you have been playing Crowfall. We’re a month into release, and the campaigns are still going strong. With a few other PvP focused games on the horizon (cough New World cough), does Crowfall hold your attention, or do you see yourself looking over the fence to see just how green the grass is over yonder?