Hail, Immortals! Closed Beta Test 2 of Skyforge has been running as of late and I’m sure many are just dying to know what’s in store for them. In case you’re unfamiliar with it, Skyforge, brought to us by the Allods Team and Obsidian, is an action-oriented MMO that boasts a lot of flash, grit, and style, taking us to Aelion as immortals that protect mortals from various dangers in the wake of the disappearance of their god. With its stunning visuals and unique MMO sylistics, it boasts the potential to be a great, if not excellent, title. Again, keep in mind that the game is still in closed beta, at least the English-speaking version, so expect many more improvements and changes from those observed at this time.
Let’s get right down to the meat of the game – fighting! I’d have to say, combat in Skyforge is an interesting take on the standard that action MMO’s have gotten used to. It stays within the middle ground between tab-targeting and true skill-shot action, where players must aim their crosshairs at enemies, regardless if they are melee or ranged characters. Attacks won’t work and the dreaded iteration of “No target available” comes on screen if players simply mash away at their mouse and keyboards without taking care of their line of sight. Despite how it sounds, it urges a far smarter approach to the action rather than mashing completely, hoping to hit something, and this say, the approach to combating multiple foes becomes just as action-packed but needing to be surgically precise at the same time.
Players have access only to a small skill set akin to the Guild Wars franchise and the mouse-click combos of DC Universe online, making use of almost every skill at one’s disposal while at the same time, deep enough to plan out attacks with their strangely long cool downs. This combination of combat elements make for an interesting and fast paced game that rewards player skill far more than gear. Oh, and every class has their own little execute skill that is just too awesome.
Dodging is another aspect that most action-junkies are interested in. Tied completely to their dislike of tab targeting, fans of the action MMO genre clamor for fluid combat motion that rewards dexterity, presence of mind, and situational awareness. Skyforge, however, offers a different take on it. While dodging with rolls is integrated into its core combat system with double tapping directional keys or pressing shift along with them, the developers have made it so that many attacks still track players, making dodging a bit dodgy at best. They regard this issue with them “simply did not want to trivialize dodge or remove the benefits of damage mitigation stats and abilities by making dodge a “get out of jail free card,” further proving the mix of both tab targeting elements and pure action style.
There are a total of 13 available classes and Skyforge gives no limitation as to what one can play. In a system reminiscent to Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, players can change classes on the fly to suit their needs for any given situation. From a defensive paladin to a meticulous necromancer, the game is tailored to how you want to play. And unlike its very successful contemporary, levels are completely foregone in Skyforge, opting instead for the Ascension Atlas system that is quite similar to Final Fantasy X’s sphere grid progression. Players gain points through the many different activities in Skyforge and allot them to the atlas to further strengthen their character in the class of their choosing. The Atlas acts sort of like the antiquated skill trees of older MMOs, except that it grants far more freedom in customization due to the lack of limitation on what one could obtain. Unlocking the ultimate skill of a class grants access to the Upper Atlas that hosts an even more staggering amount of progression choices that include new classes.
Character creation is deeper than most titles as it hosts a plethora of options to customize the looks of your immortal. Options that range from idle stances, running animations, and butt perkiness (yes, I’m serious) are but the tip of the iceberg. While it isn’t as intricate as other AAA titles, the choices are deep enough to have a unique look, especially including the costuming choices, foregoing the traditional default appearances of equipped armors. Most likely, this isn’t all the customization Skyforge has to offer and more will be available as the game progresses out of closed beta.
Skyforge is a crazily beautiful game that is on par with many AAA titles on looks alone. It’s stunning visuals and effects, and the clash of colors and riveting action make for an increasingly compelling game. Its basic aesthete is reminiscent to the Final Fantasy series, especially due to its take on consolidating the aspects of technology and magic, but stands out on its own as a title. Character designs, however, are a bit of a hit and miss, and most of this is derived from the availability of current character costumes that can be either awesome or silly, and not the good kind of silly. No, it isn’t due to the small amount of choices, but the actual choices. I appreciate the availability of costumes that are less serious, like having the option to run around in one’s underwear while smiting sea creatures, but its another to offer complete casualwear to make one look like a tool. The game itself feels serious and interesting enough to merit an exploration of its lore, but player perception can change towards it quite quickly. Many of the character costumes feel bland, trite, and awkward for the setting. The game is undoubtedly still confused and is warily searching for its own platform to stand on, but these small and seemingly simple things can make or break a game.
From the looks of things, Skyforge is to be fully voice acted as every NPC on its story-breadcrumb quest is fully voiced, though some are still lacking and even needing further translation. In terms of voice acting quality and story immersion, none have beaten the magnitude in which Star Wars: The Old Republic has achieved for the MMO genre, but Skyforge is seemingly one to challenge that, most especially more plausible with the involvement of Obsidian. At this point in time, the script and voice acting is god-awful, but again, it is something the devs are looking into and hopefully change in the future. But the attempt and placeholders for better quality on that regard is appreciated nonetheless, because it indicates a willingness for Skyforge to be unexpectedly great, brimming with potential.
Despite the beautifully crafted world, Skyforge opts for instanced areas, similar to Guild Wars 1, where players can run around an open-world-ish area that hosts its own set of quests. Players can then “finish” these areas by completing all available quests that are automatically obtained by entering specific parts of the map. Unlike its predecessor, however, these instances are shared with the rest of the people in the game, so you’ll find many others finishing up their own quests. Dungeons operate on the same level as open-world instances, accessed from a central hub of the game’s capital. It is quite similar to other titles in this aspect other than the grandly beautiful map.
Skyforge also hosts an Orders system that is akin to creating your own league of immortal-worshipping peons to do your bidding. Adepts can be recruited to perform certain tasks within the game like gathering resources, doing other missions, and even recruiting more people to your cause and in the glory of your name. There are many other significant perks like the eventual building of your temple that can grant passive boosts to your characters as you run around Aelion protecting meek mortals from whatever it is that want to to harm them. These are somewhat the Skyforge counterpart to crafting and gathering, opting for a garrison of sorts to supplement your gameplay. As of this time, the system is deep enough to spark the interest of any player, but we can expect it to get better past the betas. How cool is it to make your own cult?
The closed beta of Skyforge has proven to be a rousing experience and is a must-try for people weary of the same old stuff. Certainly, there are more things planned to be included in the final game, so all impressions here are just all around the base of the game. Until it is officially launched and the cash shop revealed, we won’t really know what’s in store for Skyforge, but at the moment, it is an amazing game with plenty of potential. If it so happens that you are interested in trying the game and improving some of its aspects at the same time, founder’s packs are available in the Skyforge website that grants access to all betas including this current one that will continue up until April 8, 2015. If you aren’t ready to invest in the game just yet open beta has also just been announced.Related: Beta, Closed Beta, Preview, Skyforge