Initially, I thoguht the original Darkfall was still going because someone on these forums offered Darkfall as a MMO to play. So I went to steam and discovered it has been dead for 2 years. I googled and further discovered there're now two companies which purchases the Darkfall source code. They're making two different versions of Darkfall.
So which one? Either Darkfall: New Dawn or Darkfall: Rise of Agon. I chose Rise of Agon (RoA) because it has a North American server and also because I read New Dawn is more like the original. My fear was New Dawn would either be on its death bed too (like the original) or its PvE would be worse. These were mere intuitions, not facts. Keep in mind I've always loved PvE in PvP MMO's and I feared the original DF would be more hostile to that.
I'm a longtime player of PvP MMO's. I started in 1999 on Rallos Zek in EQ. In 2001, I started playing on Sullon Zek in EQ (FFA PvP-no level limits). I also played UO and Shadowbane during that period of time. I favored the pre-Trammel versions of UO. I played various PvP MUDs and played Wurm Online on the Chaos server for several years (I probably will play it again someday). I've experienced every imaginable griefer subtype. I've long since made my peace with them. I always chuckle when someone complains about griefing, as if they expect to be treated with kid gloves and protected like a baby? Sorry carebears, I really am, but these MMO's are about giving us the freedom to do good and bad. If you can't stomach this, go elsewhere.
So anyway, what're my impressions so far after several hours of playtime? In the beginning, I had a tought time learning the interface and controls. It has a strange system--of which I'm unfamiliar--where I have to press a key to switch from combat to interface mode. I presume this is because the mouse buttons are primarily used for combat, not for entering mouselook mode--like in EQ. I hammered my way thorugh the confusion and here I am now just starting to get a real feel for it. It involves a lot of key presses. This can be good or bad, maybe it's a sacrifice for how this game is played in combat. Either way, I think I'm slowly getting familiar with it.
Quests are awkward. I just now discovered I can't find a toplevel listing of my active quests. Not even a polished journal like in the old rpg Morrowind. The closest thing to a journal is a chat tab showing all of the quest text. There IS a journal, but it's for tasks. Yes, this is confusing. Tasks and quests? They're similar, but unsimilar. For some, this might be unbearable, but I come from a long history of RPGs and MMO's, of many calibres and flavors, so this isn't something I can't tolerate.
Combat involves making sure you're wielding your weapon and then you click with your mouse to hit your target. There's no clicking to target in this game, like in EQ or EQ2. Instead, you have to aim at your enemy. Your aim doesn't have to be perfect, but you will miss if you're in the opposite direction. Generally, you're going to hotkey combat skills, instead of clicking them on a hotbar. Admittedly, this has been a pain for me, since I'm more familiar wiht using the mouse. My keyboard configuration is becoming a slow nightmare, as my one hand has to juggle 20+ hotkeys in a timely manner. My either hand is occupied by the mouse. A fluid gameplay is so far possible, but I can't imagine how it'll pass if several more hotkeys are needed. Thus far, there's a lot of healing in the combat and being swarmed. Because this game isn't class based, players are hybrids. So it's not a trouble for a fighter or archer to be healing or casting spells.
Graphics are maybe 7 to 10 years old. For me this is easily acceptable. I still play very old games from the gog website (good old games). Graphics have generally never bothered me, as how a game plays is more important. Furthermore, my i3-8100 is not accompanied by a discrete GPU, so I really wouldn't want anything more. My fps hovers around 15 to 40 and this is permitting a playable game.
For traveling and finding things, there're a couple points to make. It's an open world. There's a minimap labeling nearby NPCs and/or important places (but not monsters). The full map is capable of showing everything. It has a search field, so I can type "shaman" and it'll light up with monsters with this in their name. I can also type "dungeon" and it'll show all the dungeons in the game. For some people, this will be a very welcome feature. I'm not a fan of it, but it does mean less jumping over to 3rd party websites if you're the type of player who wants to google everything or likes to use walkthroughs. It also shows the teleporters on the map. These're different from the runes you can use with magic. The runes work like they do in UO. You can set a rune to a particular place and then recall there. The teleporters on the map are linked in pairs and there's a set number of them. To use them you must travel to them, so they're just an additioned way to fast travel. There're mounts and there's a spell to move faster/jump faster. You can also recall to your capital, house or bindpoint. In terms of travel, Rise of Agon is much more convenient than New Dawn.
Lastly, I'll post this video, which explores the differences between Rise of Agon and New Dawn:
* New Dawn has local banking and less convenient travel
* New Dawn has more role specialization
* Rise of Agon has more competitive/frequent PvP
* New Dawn is more like hte original Darkfall: Unholy Wars
They both look interesting to me. I might try New Dawn if I continue to play RoA. But no NA server bothers me. Both are being updated frequently. They're not dead, contrary to what some say. Thanks for reading.