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I don't know how to describe it, you'd have to download and try the game.
You start out with all your stats at basic levels, and as you progress, you increase the levels of your stats and abilities. RATHER than leveling up, you put your points in the ability (for example 2h weapons, or agility, ETC).
Your armor and weapon matters, but not NEARLY as much as the person behind the controls.
Everything has purpose, all items, all loot, all harvested resources.
When I first started gaming, many years ago 10+, I played runescape, it was the only game I had been introduced to. I never really liked the combat of the game or the graphics, but I really enjoyed the freedom to do whatever you want any time you want and to change direction at any given time.
Strip the levels off that game so you're always level 1 no matter your stats, make it 3d, improve the graphics past GW2 levels, add open world pvp, add player owned villages and cities (that can be conquered) and you'll be doing darkfall injustice with the comparison.
Anyhow, I find people who haven't tried this game have such strong opinions about it, the reason I was reluctant to try it was the pvp loot system. After playing the game for some time, the loot system is in perspective. Taking a gank only sets you back about as badly as a soul sickness on WoW.
The economy of this game is THRIVING. Items have durability which can not be repaired. Monsters drop the same items that can be crafted (although unreliably). Every item dropped by a monster can be broken down into materials (random break down system), and used to craft a different item.
This means, although you're wearing a 15k set of armor and a 6k weapon, you are already invested in 3 more sets in your bank for the time when yours breaks or you get killed and looted. When your best of the best armor and weapon is close to breaking, that's normally when you go PvP in it. Or people who have less interest in pvp can just take it to the workbench and break it down into mats.
The music is wonderful, the scenery is wonderful, download it and give a try. You might uninstall tomorrow, you might find a new love. This isn't another half ass MMO with an item mall.