Worlds War: Crowfall Trailer Explains MMORPG War

Wait, no, it's not what it looks like!

“This appears to be an MMORPG,” I said, slightly confused, as John got excited about a long new trailer explaining Crowfall [official site]. “I mean… I am watching it, but what’s the interesting bit?” Four minutes later, the video got to the point: it’s a fantasy MMORPG where you can lay out your own miniature kingdom and even have other players set up on your land as vassals. Also, you go to war. Across months-long campaigns, players will war across vast lands with destructible environments and buildings. Ah! That is interesting!

Yes, the video does get off to a slow start. It’s mostly typical MMORPG fare, though do note that, rather than levels, it uses EVE Online-y skills that improve even when you’re offline. Then, at the four-minute mark, it gets into Kingdoms and things get interesting.

Part of what helped Crowfall to $1,766,204 on Kickstarter in February was the idea of ‘EVE meets Game of Thrones’, with people setting up their own little kingdoms with complicated chains of power, then also going to war in the service of gods or guilds – or whatever the particular war you’ve chosen to enter is about. Campaigns will run from 1-6 months, each with different rules and goals, bringing war to worlds as big as typical MMORPG worlds. These worlds are destructible, so you can build and destroy things along the way. As campaigns roll on, worlds will go through the seasons and monsters will get tougher. It all sounds jolly interesting.

I may be messing this up a bit, so do go watch the vid – it’s an interesting one.

Developers ArtCraft Entertainment expect to launch Crowfall “at the end of 2016.”

54 Comments

  1. hennedo says:

    Wow, I’m actually excited about this. Borrows from a lot of my favorite games, too. Is it okay to be excited about this? Is it just going to hurt me in my MMORPG place?

  2. Xzi says:

    Well damn, color me interested. The video was actually a captivating explanation from start to finish, I thought. I never thought I’d be intrigued by another MMO. On the other hand, I do worry that the game seems to have an awful lot of moving parts and different mechanics all working together, which means a lot of places things could go wrong. IE bugs, exploits, and hacks. I also feel like the aesthetic is a somewhat bland mix of WoW and GW2. Would have preferred a bit more originality.

    All that said, this is one I’ll definitely follow development on, because if they do manage to make everything work, it will be very impressive and different from every MMO released before it.

    • DarkFenix says:

      I’m in the same boat, very much jaded by the legion of cloned MMOs this past decade but this actually sounds really good.

  3. Morcane says:

    MMORPGs….yea…I’m kind of surprised that ‘genre’ still exists. Best to move on already.

    • Xzi says:

      Genres don’t ever completely die, they just aren’t always the most popular one. MOBAs are just as much a fad as MMORPGs were, but I see no reason for either to die off as long as newcomers to the genre strive for innovation.

      • fenghuang says:

        Xzi, here’s a shocker in case you don’t already know: MOBAs and MMORPGs are genres in which their players hardly ever switch to other games in the same genre.
        For example, you will struggle to find a LoL player play Dota 2 and vice versa. They might try it out, but its a fleeting touch.
        If MMOs and MOBAs were fads, their playerbases would have died off long ago.
        What Im trying to say here is: MOBA/MMO are genres in the broad sense of the term “genre”. But the genre is really LoL, Dota 2 and World of Warcraft. The specific game is the genre, and players of those specific games hardly ever change to play others similar.

        • Xzi says:

          Overall, MMO numbers have diminished. A lot of people who used to play MMOs now play MOBAs. A lot play other genres of single/multiplayer games.

          It just takes the right game with better, more involved mechanics to move people. Even within the MMO/MOBA genres. I was a part of both of those communities for a time, so I know that there’s plenty of better game hunting going on within them. People are always fine with what they are playing currently, until they play what’s next.

          • Xzi says:

            TLDR: MMO and MOBA players are mostly apathetic about the games they play, they’re just playing them while waiting for a better game to come along. A lot of them also play single-player games, specifically stuff like TES games, Fallout, etc, which provide better stories and better persistent worlds.

          • Bastimoo says:

            Uuuh. No. That’s just plain wrong. No matter what MMO I played, as soon as I say “remember the barrens chat?” or “those raids on Orgrimmar” people started to spread stories for hours on.

            Same goes for Warhammer Online for any PvP interested MMO player who I met in Wildstar or Rift, or any sandbox player who I met, who could tell me hours about EVE.

            MMO players play different MMOs a lot and change quite often, in my experience. If you ever talk to a CS:GO player though, most would not touch COD or Battlefield and vice versa, in my experience. LOL and DOTA players are special flowers on the other hand, don’t ever tell either you like the opposite game…

        • Kala says:

          “But the genre is really LoL, Dota 2 and World of Warcraft.”

          Brr.

    • Cvnk says:

      I don’t understand this statement. Why would playing a game online with lots of people in a persistent world be considered obsolete? What’s the alternative if you enjoy that sort of thing? I think you’re trying to turn a personal preference into a universal truth.

      • Morcane says:

        Do you really enjoy the continuous stream of ‘fetch me 10 dead rat butts’ and ‘whack-a-raid-bosses’ with X other people? Or, first you have to race to level cap before you can even start ‘enjoying the endgame’.

        Furthermore, I’m not against online play, I’m against the complete lack of innovation in online play.

        • tiltaghe says:

          Yes, there is so much potential. MMO = a lot of players in a persistent world.

          EVE and Crowfall are very good experiments that plays with this notion and empowers players. We need more and more diverse. Like you said, it doesn’t need to have quests and level grinding.

          The key is player interactions. No amical NPCs! If I had to make an MMO, I’ll make a persistent jungle survival with permadeath and only 5 levels… I had this idea long time ago and I feel it’s not very edgy anymore -if it ever was- because of the current flow of survival games (though are they massive world and persistent…?)

          Another tidbit of idea: excalibur. Put a sword with a very low proc in the world, that kind of thing.
          I would like a world so vast, brutal, dangerous (not necessarily gritty… the colorful Ryzom could almost fit the bill!) that it is a viable career to play a swamp dweller knowing all the traps of the region and offering passage for money to fellow player travellers…

          //Ramblings off

          • Kala says:

            Mostly agree – other than to say they aren’t necessarily experimenting with the concept of MMOs; they’re utilizing one of the playstyles MMOs have always traditionally offered. (EQ was the more quest quest grind grind, UO the more sandbox player interaction oriented).

            Granted, post-WoW, one playstyle has been popularized far beyond the other, which is now niche. Again, due to it’s ground breaking success and multiple attempts to replicate that success, WoW and its play style is now what many people simply associate with the term ‘MMO’. (Which doesn’t mean they’re right, ofc).

            …I’m not knocking them (I love EVE, and am very curious about Crowfall) they’ve certainly innovated, but also built on something that was already part of the fabric of MMOdom, where a market has been proven to exist for that style of play. It’s just overlooked or forgotten fairly often.

          • Kala says:

            …I think your suggestions in the last paragraph are more genuinely experimental, and I completely agree :) I’d love to see more options to carve your own path out of a game, where the game encourages and supports this type of play.

            My go to example has is being a vendor; maybe making and selling adventuring equipment in a shop, or growing and selling food on a stall. I’d like a game that supports that; you literally becoming part of the fabric of the world, if you wish to, however humble.

            ( – Which is not quite the same as crafting and selling to players as normally presented in an MMO. I’m talking more along the lines of replacing the NPC vendors in a credible way).

            Did you ever check out A Tale In the Desert? It always seemed more experimental to me, given it was literally a social experiment to see what people would do in certain situations. (albeit limited, no thievery or murder etc). But you could effect the laws of the land, e.g the rules of the game world. I found it fascinating.

          • tiltaghe says:

            Ok. I’ve never heard of this game before, nope. I just google it and will dig it more because yes, it’s along the same veins of ideas… I’ll look into the mechanics and how it affects player behaviours!

            I think it is hard for potential MMO players to swallow the pill that they are not the Hero, more so now with the post-WoW MMOdom as you described.

            I am increasingly intrigued by what would come of a fantasy MMO world if we accept that not all player characters are equal. In the current MMO trend, this is done by skill and extensive grind, so that the higher levels, highest ranks appears heroic. But irremediably everbody attains such a status and thus the status itself is not recognized anymore. But I think this is a definite trait of heroic-fantasy world: there are bigger dangers, bigger powers. Sometimes I can reach it, but most of the time not.
            Fate, mark of birth, curses… are all common fantasy tropes. A player character could be imbued with a secret fate at birth, and through wanderlust or luck the player could discover it and work hard to accomplish his quest.
            I am fascinated by word-of-mouth. I think the MMO world should always be bigger than can be explored by a given player incarnation. Events should be reported by players to players, and give incentive to explore. Like the Excalibur example. This is so trivial, just a sword stuck in the ground and everyone has a tiny tiny chance of looting it. But by staging it, putting it in a dangerous place in the world, you create the desire for adventure. But someone will find it first… and then the knowledge of it existence will spread…

          • tiltaghe says:

            As you see, my ideas tend to revolve around the high-level mechanics that channel player behaviours. It is what I am most excited about. But there is another aspect and you said it eloquently I think: the minute-to-minute gameplay doesn’t have to be WoW-like. Mob bashing, cooldown-based abilities, the whole emphasis on combat, loot, XP gain… it shouldn’t be the MMO paradigm.

  4. Enkinan says:

    I like the concept, lets see how execution goes.

  5. jellydonut says:

    If they can execute on this vision, this game is going to be fantastic. It’s like they’ve watched EVE Online for a decade and taken lessons from all of the pain points it has.

    If you’re familiar with EVE, imagine an EVE where hisec is permanent but devoid of any useful resources, and where you need to embark on expeditions to lowsec faction warfare (God’s Reach) and nullsec (the Dregs) systems.. except you’re not conquering these systems, you’re fighting over the resources in them, for the short time they exist. Then they end, and new campaigns appear.

    It’s a truly elegant way to avoid both of the biggest Eve issues: most of the player base ending up stuck in hisec doing repetitive moneymaking tasks due to the perceived safety of hisec, and the other issue being the stagnation when we have static star systems that do not ever expire or ebb and flow with the size of the player base.

    Crowfall will always have new worlds, and just the right amount of them for the given player base at the time. It is truly gonna be great, if they don’t fuck it up.

    • Arglebargle says:

      Yeah, I’d have to agree (minus the knowing about Eve stuff part). It’s a competent crew: They do seem to have an idea about what the problems are with PvP play and have come up with systems to address them.

      I’m not even a PvP player at all, but this is going to be tempting. Which is more than most in the style have done. High hopes for them, especially as they are local, and a couple of the devs are acquaintances. (Heya Mr. Mike!)

      Fingers crossed for them….

  6. Hastur609 says:

    You had me at WEREWOLVES!

    More seriously… If they can make the combat for this MMO interesting and the game itself isn’t a slog to get to any of the fun mechanics and -good- loot, they may have themselves a customer.

    As a guy raised on shooters and fast twitch based games, the MMO playstyle and grind never really clicked with me. Even after time with Monster Hunter (which I looove) I still can’t get into any of these new MMO’s. Tera, Archeage, stayed clear of WoW because the combat always looked too drull.

    I desperately want a good open world fantasy game that gets updates and fun mechanics that I can play with friends after a stressful morning or evening. MMO’s are so far the only successful games to do this but I’ve yet to find one that’s clicked.

    This one however seems promising. Because I saw Tera based combat (but Tera was too grindy and unfun at low levels) and I saw beast races / lycanthropy. I have hopes!

  7. BloatedGuppy says:

    What did they raise? 1.7 million?

    That’s probably enough to make a really slick proof of concept trailer for an MMO. I hope they have about 50-100 million from outside investors to handle the rest.

    • Xzi says:

      That’s silly. They’re experienced developers, there’s no way they underestimated what they needed to make via Kickstarter by that much. Hell, GW2 did the buy once thing and was plenty successful with what the developers made just off of GW1. Which I guarantee was nowhere near 50 million.

      • Ur-Quan says:

        Umm according to an interview with the Guild Wars developers Guild Wars 1 did cost between 20 and 30 million to develop.
        Today development cost should have gone up rather than down so 40-50 million for Guild Wars 2 isn’t all that unbelievable.

        Also this MMo is A LOT more ambitious than Guild Wars ever was so I highly doubt the budget they have is anywhere near enough to produce anything but a very simple proof of concept.

        Unless they have some big investor at their back this is bound to fail big time.

        • Ur-Quan says:

          Sorry forgot my source on that number:

          link to old.seattletimes.com

          “It took five years to create “Guild Wars” at a cost of $20 million to $30 million — a typical budget for a large MMO, Strain said.”

    • Captain Joyless says:

      $1.7 million was just the kickstarter. They’ve raised another million or more after that, plus some money from outside investors.

      It’s a highly accomplished dev team. I’m guessing they have enough to get to release.

      • Ur-Quan says:

        There has been a long list of failed MMO’s backed by big publishers and with budgets ten times as big so the money raised on kickstarter is definitely nothing more than a way to attract actual investors.
        If they can make this game on anything below 20 million that would be impressive.

        • Xzi says:

          If I had to guess, they’re probably using a lot of procedural generation and instancing for everything outside the “main” world, which cuts down on costs significantly. Players also put together their own spaces, so the developer only needs to create the assets for those. Procedural generation isn’t something that would have worked in previous MMOs, but the tech is almost certainly where it needs to be now.

          I don’t think they expect to get WoW-level numbers at launch or ever, really. Since they seem to believe they have development costs covered, every post-launch sale is either profit or goes to server costs.

  8. Rizlar says:

    Dunno why everyone is raven about this. Feather or not the ideas are something to crow about it might yet turn out awfall.

    • Syra says:

      All The same you won’t find me squawking about an mmo. Even if you can murder other players freely.

  9. Cerzi says:

    I miss Shadowbane

    • Cronstintein says:

      That’s what this reminds me of! Was trying to remember the name. Could be cool, definitely pvp-centric. But not having to fill a world full of quests and stuff should make it a little easier on the art team.

      • jonahcutter says:

        Reminds? I’d say it’s closer to a straight copy of wide swaths of Shadowbane. Many of the mechanics, from character creation, to character advancement (even names of perks seem similar), to city-building, to resource gathering, to minotaur and centaur playable races, to the discipline runes, to even some of the hud elements and the seemingly slower-paced, cooperation and positional-based combat.

        Fortunately it looks like it’s not click-to-move based, and the graphics are far better (even if rather WoW-like). And hopefully it’s not the janky, gold-duping bug-fest that Shadowbane was.

        In spite of its many flaws, Shadowbane was a truly great game at times. But it was also ruthless in losing. Your city and all resources were literally destroyed if you lost a siege. It made recovery very tough. The burn-rate for player retention was brutal. It was also open pvp and inventory-looting on death (though not your equipped items). I’m curious as to whether they’ll try that, as it’s a pretty divisive, unforgiving mechanic.

        All that said, I had great times in Shadowbane. Both in being part of a city-building community, and later as part of a blue-dot crew. The game produced extreme highs and lows in emotion, and remains one of my most fond gaming memories. A graphically updated spiritual successor to Shadowbane might tempt me back into an MMO (if I could but find the time to devote to it).

  10. kud13 says:

    This sounds like another Eve: a game I’d be fascinated to read about, but wouldn’t ever play.

    Still, it certainly sounds ambitious, so I wish them luck.

  11. SlimShanks says:

    The combat doesn’t look amazing, but I would certainly be willing to overlook that if the game is actually the way it’s been described. I really like teamwork, especially on a large scale. The opportunity to command is also intriguing.

  12. Assirra says:

    No dedicated healers? Yea i am out. Have fun with your complete zergfest like guild wars 2.

    • Xzi says:

      Want to know a not-so-secret secret? The vast majority of people don’t like playing healers. Nor do we yet know if the game is fun or not, but neither of those outcomes is dependent on the inclusion of dedicated healers TBH.

      • TormDK says:

        The vast majority do not need to, given that you typically need one healer per 5 players.

        But yeah, no dedicated healers is a warning sign for me, Guild Wars 2 had promise but didn’t deliver.

      • Assirra says:

        You are looking at it from a “fun” standpoint. I look it from a balance standpoint. No healers means that either stuff is not going to hit hard (because you cannot outheal it) or you can dodge nearly everything. Neither make for fun gaming experience after while due to how limited your boss mechanics can be now.

        • BlackMageSK says:

          There’s plenty of ways to make combat fun without healers. It just means you have to actually do good enemy design beyond they have X life and do average Y damage a minute and then expect players to actually have reflexes. More action oriented not quite MMOs have been doing it for ages. It’s outside the comfort zone for the post WoW MMO world though since more difficult content would be gated off by a player skill bar instead of an arbitrary you got the X good loot items that let you in here bar.

          • Orageon says:

            Yes and no healers doesn’t mean no heals at all anyway. Plus, maybe with the correct customizations they have (those runes disciplines etc) might be able to “kinda” orient an archetype or 2 toward more healing.
            We need more details before delivering any solid judgement here. Personally I hope there is healing (some people enjoy being really supportive), but full healer classes also had their own issues with for example the levelling solo, etc, in previous games.
            Let’s see how it goes. I am more wondering if they will manage to pull off enough content to fill these great frameworks of ideas. That, and the experience as a solo player that doesn’t want to be part of a huge Corpo / Guild either : what’s in it for them ?

          • Holderist says:

            I watched my buddy play Crowfall, and there are healing skills to heal yourself – and possibly others, depending on your talents or whatnot. There’s also healing in GW2, but it’s a support role – not a dedicated one. Meaning if you’re support you can press more than two buttons to be useful in a party. As a once-upon-a-time healer in WoW, the loss of the trifecta is not something I’m mourning.

          • ballstothewall says:

            BlackMage is on point. Besides, this is a PVP game. AFAIK there will be no/little typical themepark bullshit. It’s one of the reasons they (supposedly) can make this game on the budget.

    • skyturnedred says:

      As much as the Holy Trinity gets shit on, it’s used because it works.

      • Xzi says:

        It works for certain games because they were designed around it to begin with. It’s never been the only design option or class dynamic, though.

  13. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    For me it comes down to how the combat feels. What combat was in this video didn’t look “right” for want of a better term, so I’m still cautious on this one. All that extra world and campaign stuff is nice, but moment-to-moment I’ll mostly be hitting stuff with a sword so that’s got to be fun.

    (Sadly it seems to be the area MMOs refuse to properly innovate away from hotkeys, and only tiptoe around it. Is it so hard to be allowed to mostly attack with a left click like, you know, every single player game ever?)

    • Orageon says:

      Maybe this has to do with the fact that it is not solo but massiveely pulti and therefore all this information has to transit through a server. So you have to have a system that do not flood your server too much.
      Some games tried different, like Age of conan for example. So it can be possible I’m sure, but I don’t know very well what it technically implies and the possible other restrictions you would need elsewhere to compensate the badwidth taken.

    • Sound says:

      I understand why you’d figure it would boil down to quality of combat. But consider Eve for a moment. It’s not the most shining example of immediately thrilling engagement. It’s rather obtuse, cold, and distant. Even in a 1-on-1 fight, comparative to other video game combats. It’s simply not one of the games strong suits, relative to common taste trends.

      But people play it anyways because of the implications of combat. It’s lead-in, and the results, not just the sword-swinging(or mass-driver firing, as it were). In particular, the organizational conflict is a critical factor.

      Crowfall is seeking to tap into that critical factor. So you might be overlooking the biggest feature in what could make it engaging. So I’d posit that you can’t know that it all boils down to the feel of combat, not yet.

  14. NephilimNexus says:

    I give it two years unless the fix some serious issues. They’re kidding themselves if they think that vassal system is ever going to get used even once or that anyone is going to see those campaigns as anything other than a system of infinite resources to be exploited.

    Everyone is just going to focus on maxing out their own little kingdom instance and whatever the developers wanted the rest of the game to be will get tossed out the window. People will just mathematically resolve how to leech the most resources out of the campaigns and ignore the actual “war” part of it entirely.

    • Xzi says:

      I don’t think it’s possible to avoid conflict with other players, PvP is mostly open-world.

    • Captain Joyless says:

      So why doesn’t EVE work like that? Why doesn’t everyone just go FFA into nullsec to leech resources?

      Maybe the developers of Crowfall have played EVE and know how to avoid the problem you’ve identified?

      • Sound says:

        Indeed, just like in Eve, it is possible to arrange things such that what’s most beneficial is to control or limit(to some extent) your conflicts, and to ride on the coat-tails of bigger/stronger organizations, if for no other reason than to avoid getting smashed, and retain some power. It’s exceptionally effective for preserving and growing your own organization in power and wealth, within a hostile environment. Just like in real history.

        The trick is to make sure the conflict and/or cooperation mechanical or meta-game incentives are sufficiently present and balanced. It’s tough to do, but Eve’s already cleared the path. It can be done.

  15. pepperfez says:

    In anything but an MMO, VoxelFarm worlds and centaur PCs would be an immediate buy for me. I hope this lives up to its promise of creating fun stories for non-players.

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    ErraticGamer says:

    That sounds awesome. Early yet, but watching with anticipation.