Lately the following questions show up on Twitter, Reddit and the offical Discord quite regular: Is it worth playing? Should I play Skyforge? Is it any good? Should I return?
And to be honest, I tried now a while to come up with a decent blog post about this topic. But I can’t. Everytime I think about in which angle I should tackle this topic I fall flat on my face.
I think the main issue is that Skyforge, at least for me, isn’t always a clear cut between good or bad. For example: It likes to take features from the MMO Genre and tries to do things differently. Which is great! It is indeed different and somewhat refreshing, but at the same moment… not really: RANT-Series
Skyforge with its features and mechanics is a bit like one of your friends telling you about a great idea, that may sound like the best idea since sliced bread, but as soon as you think about it,… well lets look at some cases:
The whole idea around how Prestige works instead of a simple leveling system sounds awesome at first. You get Prestige through a combination of better gear and the main stat MIGHT which is tied to different buildings you need to upgrade. I mean we play an MMO where we are on the way to be a god. Doing stuff like upgrading your cathedrale, bastions and more seem only reasonable.
But on the other side this system makes it incredibly difficult for people to catch up later on. The reason is it still has similar properties like a bock standard XP/Level-System. Which means you need a lot of Prestige later on to show some ingame effects.
“Who is visiting today?”
Skyforge has a feature called Invasions. There are 7 different factions and 6 of them try to invade Skyforges World called Aelion. So every two month another faction invades Aelion. That sounds at first like fun, because you get different kinds of enemy to fight, different activities and also different Avatars to fight (basically giant endbosses).
Also here is a big BUT(T).
There also comes a new Tier of gear with every Invasion. In Skyforge it is called Generations. It is an automated system and adds nothing of value to the gear. The gear gets more multipliers and pushes the highest possible Prestige Level higher. Basically imagine that every two month you need to grind 10 more levels on top of your existing while a lot of the interesting content like Distortions and Champion Avatar (the real Endboss) is Endgame Content.
On paper that sounds cool to get new content regularly, grind your way up, beat distortions and beat the champion avatar. But the problem is every new player needs also to grind this 10 extra levels. Of course there is a catch up system, but it is also extremly slow and stops way before the actual invasion. It’s like a bad patchwork.
Good looks aren’t everything
Skyforge is in my opinion a good looking game with good designed enemies and characters. But! it runs not that great. My speccs are the following:
- i7-4790 CPU (4x 3,60 GHz)
- 16GB DDR3 RAM
- RX580 8GB
- Windows 7
I know my CPU is quite old. But it’s performance is on par with some of the newer CPUs out there and I only game at 1080p, so constant 60 FPS should be easily doable. For the most part it is, but the game has some strange performance issues. Like if the game spawns in a dozen enemies of the same type (same graphic model) it cuts the FPS in half for a short moment, like the whole engine comes to an halt at certain points in the game or is locked at a certain FPS ratio.
Also the engine has serious issues with loading textures. For example you need to constantly load different set of levels, because it is an instance heavy game and sometimes the game drops you into the level and nothing is loaded and you looking into a black void or only partially loaded level. That’s not a major issue, if it is loaded it is okay. But the strange thing is that doesn’t count for the UI. It seems the UI uses a 3D backdrop which sometimes not load, that includes also other parts of the UI like 3D charactermodells for your cosmetics, icons, etc. And it also happens then that you can’t properly leave the UI via keyboard commands.
Other more funny things are often animation and physic glitches.
Wide as an ocean, but the depth of an puddle
The combat in Skyforge is fun. It is an action combat system where you can dodge and freely target but also offers you the choice to lock on to targets. The game offers currently 17 classes you can unlock. And they all feel pretty diverse. But here ends the praise already. The classes have 0 depth to it. Of course they often come with their own unique playstyle but you can’t customize them in terms of skills and playstyle at all.
There is literally no experimentation in classes. Something that normally keeps players into the game. On top of that the Developer seems not to understand their combat system anymore. I write anymore because at the start everything seems fine. You have a group of weaker enemies and one or two bigger enemies in the pool throwing telegraphed attacks you can dodge. And so you kill the small enemies with their weak quick attacks first while dodging some heavy attacks.
At some point that totally change and the game only throws heavy enemies at you and even their quick attacks that you can’t dodge hit like a truck. Like you would rely on a healer within your group. But there aren’t real healers in Skyforge. The game is more about damage reduction and avoid being hit and spawns only small healing orbs from dead enemies similar to an Action RPG like Diablo 3 or Path of Exile.
And at some point you have the feeling these two different playstyles mold together in one. Where it partially want you to rely on scarce healing abilities but deals damage like in an MMORPG where healing must be always available.
Luckily you can bypass a lot of the troublesome parts with your Divine Form which is a lot stronger, and probably the reason for such parts in the game. But the resource to trigger the Divine Form is for new players scarce.
Is Skyforge Pay2Win?
After the inital question people often ask: Is Skyforge Pay2Win?
I would say: No. It definetly has pay2progress and at some point you have the feeling you need to pay. But if you calculate through how much this actually would cost to bypass that part you will think: “That can’t be.”
But what do I mean by that?
I play the game now over 5 month. And I am now trapped in a Limbo-State with my progress. The first step in your progression is to complete the main story line represented by the golden path in the province map and to unlock your divine form at the end. After that, the game never tells you what to do next. It’s all about Directives (Daily Quests). At this point you need to do certain tasks to unlock perks that work outside the regular level system: Basic Guide
Then you need to kill the Training Avatar, an easier version of the endboss of an invasion, to unlock 4 out of 7 temples that grant you additional perks. And then the grind for Prestige starts. You need to get ready for the REAL endgame: Killing the Champion Avatar to unlock all the remaining two temples (the last one can unlocked by a different currency any time). If you unlock all the remaining temples you are an Elder God yourself and can evolve your Divine Form further with something called Cognition.
The problem is, I am stuck in the Prestige Grind. The reason is you need MIGHT. Might is gated behind three buildings that you need to upgrade. It is a huge timesink but doable. But they only hold 55% of the total might. The other 45% come from Trophies you can only buy with Victor’s Medal which is an incredible scarce resource/reward. To put this in perspective:
You need around 1,2 to 1,3 Million Might and the best gear currently available to kill the Champion Avatar of the active invasion. The current total amount of might is a bit more than 1,5 Milion. I am now at 664,732 Might. I have half of the needed Might.
Now you would think I need to buy Victor’s Medals to get there. Because I progress in a pace a snail would be insulted. But that would cost me over 1,200 €/$ just for the medals (and with all special offers included, normally it is around 3,500 €/$). Not including all the stuff I can buy with Victor’s Medal besides Might.
Who is willing to pay that? I mean we all know whales. Of course they would pay. But no regular player or even freeplayer can afford that.
Skyforge is stuck in a Limbo
And that is Skyforges major issue: You play it. It isn’t bad. But not excellent either. It clearly has its issues. But nothing anyone can deal with. You continue to play it. See it takes too long and too expensive to grind up. Most player give up on the way. Veterans and whales have on the higher end a really small player population. And on top of that it has a content drought. I think it is now over 2 years since new content was released. There was the Grovewalker Update with an event in April 2018 but literally no new content added besides a class.
And that’s the reason why it has so few players. It’s like the Developer doesn’t care at all. But I can’t even say that because they still update the game. We had a PvP Rework a few month ago which made the PvP actually playable again. And on top of that they introduced a Battle Royale Game Mode that gives you decent rewards for the main game and is fun to play. So they seem to care about their game to at least some extend.
But does this mean you should play Skyforge?
I can only answer this question for myself. I will continue to play Skyforge. Even if it has this major issues it still has some good things like the combat system, the progression (even if it is slow you feel later on the difference for grinding all the perks), the setting and it has another nice advantage. It isn’t very time demanding unlike any other MMO out there, because of all these artifical breaks in it (also Daily Quests stuck up to 7 days).