Fight or Kite: Checking in with Crowfall after the acquisition


I’ve been playing all kinds of different games these days, many of them MMOs and many of them offline RPGs. I find myself kind of like an ethereal ghost: I’m wandering through all these games, but I just can’t seem to find a home or someplace that I really belong. So if I’m going to be searching like this, perhaps I should be looking in familiar places. I spent a lot of time going in and out of Crowfall. With the acquisition by Monumental, now might be as good a time as any to see how the game is faring, so let’s do that in this edition of Fight or Kite.

Campaigns are running and updates are coming through

Crowfall hasn’t given up the grudge yet. Just a few weeks ago we had a new Dregs campaign begin, anda new Valentine’s day event, Valkyntine’s Day, was launched last week. It might be game that you thought to write off, but Crowfall and its developers continue to put together solid patches. So far we haven’t seen anything huge since the sale, but the year is just beginning.

It may be that I’m simply late in joining the campaign. It always seemed to be that if you logged in and played right around the time the campaign began, say the first week or two, then you’d find plenty of action. It wasn’t usually limited to the newest campaign, either; even some of the other servers would have new bodies. So it could be that I’m outside the active window, but the map I joined was quite the ghost town.

I have to admit to being optimistic about the game’s population. When I jumped in after launch, I actually found the game’s worlds to be well populated. I know the reports said otherwise, but whenever you were actually logged into the game and running around, everything was alive and full of players like I hadn’t seen before. The total numbers may have been low, but the experience of actually playing felt fine.

Unfortunately, that isn’t so much the case anymore. Today, it feels rather similar to the way the game felt a few years ago when I first started playing in early testing. Looking through the available servers from the lobby, I found only one server for each game type. Granted, Crowfall did implement a new system where servers from all over would reside within a single campaign. So, it might be that the multi-server campaigns just ensure that you don’t really need the dozens of servers we had at launch. I’m sure that is at least part of it.

Still, my game time was lonely. It wasn’t until I’d been playing for a couple of hours that I realized I was no longer in my old guild. No harm done, honestly. I hadn’t been online in months, so I wouldn’t expect them to leave an inactive player taking up a guild spot. On the bright side, when I looked at the leaderboards, I did see a few of them at the top of the list for the server, so clearly they are still active in some part. In fact, hopping into the guild Discord, I found they are still very active in planning fort defenses and sieges. I suppose if you want to play the game actively, you just need to find a guild, and then you’ll be able to stay busy.

Still, as a lone wolf searching for a battle, I found there wasn’t a lot of interference. I ran from camp to camp, capturing them one after the other without any players coming in to fight. I waited around in the zone until one of the keeps had its capture timer begin, and I made my way to the keep. I was hoping someone else would be there to fight over it, but that was not the case. I did see a message pop up indicating that a keep in another zone was captured, but the one I went to did not. I broke through the wall hoping some players would show up to try and stop me, but they never did.

Despite the potential and designed lore, the world doesn’t feel whole

It’s tough to say why this game didn’t stick with me as a regular nightly game. Instead, it was more of a tourist attraction. I never really lived here; I just visited. I think it has something to do with the way the overall world just wasn’t whole enough. It isn’t for a lack of lore or design concepts. ArtCraft put quite a bit of background lore into the game itself. The issue is that most of it is just that: It’s lore that doesn’t have a bearing on the gameplay or the world.

I still really love the overarching concept of Crowfall. Campaign servers come up and go down. Guilds and players earn rewards for their achievements, and then a new campaign spins up. It is a really great concept. However, there is a glue that is missing for me – something to keep me invested in the world not only while I’m competing in a campaign but where I can just go out and explore.

I think that might be something many of these PvP-first-and-only games seem to miss out on. For MMO gamers, there are specific aspects of the games that we love to participate in. For me, and no doubt for others, it’s PvP. For many, it’s raiding, crafting, or just roleplaying and socializing with other gamers. But there needs to be a glue that binds the gamer to the world in which those events and activities reside.

When I’m thinking about Crowfall, I can’t find that glue. I understand for a lot of gamers, it’s their guild. They will get with their guild and do activities from gathering to roaming. But I just don’t like to directly socialize constantly in my gaming. Sometimes I want to go outside and see others running around and completing their own activities that have nothing to do with me. In real life, I can go for a run (I won’t, but I could!) and see other people leaving their homes, walking their pets, running errands. It makes me feel like I’m in a world with others. I don’t have to actively be involved in anything those people are doing to feel like I’m participating in this world.

I like to feel the same way in my MMOs. I want to go out to gather, craft, farm, or whatever activity I feel like doing and find that there are other players around living their MMO life. We don’t have to directly interact to be participants in this world. I think that might be a part of the glue that Crowfall was missing for me.

For now, I think I’ll keep up the haunt until something sticks again. For those of you who tried Crowfall, are you still playing? Full time? Occasionally? Once and never looked back? I’d be interested in hearing if you still login to the game and what your thoughts are.

Every other week, Massively OP’s Sam Kash delivers Fight or Kite, our trip through the state of PvP across the MMORPG industry. Whether he’s sitting in a queue or rolling with the zerg, Sam’s all about the adrenaline rush of a good battle. Because when you boil it down, the whole reason we PvP (other than to pwn noobs) is to have fun fighting a new and unpredictable enemy!
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