This is gonna be long, so buckle up.
I've been playing Crowfall now for a little over 2 weeks. I've spent an inordinate amount of time soaking in the systems, information [what little there was available] and pretty much every facet of content I could get my hands on.
I do want to preface this review/impression with a statement however. Yes I am new. No, I do not expect I got everything right and this may contain mistakes. No, I do not care if my opinions are seen as "wrong" because you're a "veteran" who "knows better". This is my perspective as a new player, who has had very little exposure to Crowfall or it's development history. I've not invested anything further than a base package into the game, along with my time; nor do I have any emotional investment. This is going to be my point blank, blunt force trauma opinion, deal with it.
First, what a great game so far. Seriously, as someone who's not too big on PvP games, I was honestly impressed with Crowfall. There's a 'motherlode' of potential here. So, good job, so far.
The thing I feel the game does well.
Depth of Crafting: I've been ragging and harping on games and their frankly garbage professions systems for years now. I have a saying I keep returning to that goes a bit like this. "I'm tired of these Devs putting in basic BS crafting that does nothing for the game just to mark a tic box saying 'We have crafting'. If you're going to have crafting and professions, it better be actual content, that I can spend my entire day doing." And Crowfall does this. If I want, I can go farm and craft all day, to varied success given a downfall I'll highlight just a bit later. But it's there. The system is deep, integrated into character building. Offers many diverse paths and opportunities to specialize and hone your crafts.
Disciplines: Yes for the love of christ I love this system. Being able to pick a class and race, level up and unlock the ability to learn spells temporarily or long term that completely change how I play my class? I love it. Because these aren't simple stat passive "talent" trees. They're functional, active things you can use to change not just your 'rotation' but potentially your role entirely. Is the selection great? Mmmm maybe not, but it's alpha and I'm sure as time goes by, more will be added, and I very much think it should.
Races: Races actually feel dynamically different. A Fae Knight with it's bullet jump style dash, makes me want to play entirely different than a human Knight with there short snappy rolls. And then to layer on top of it Active Slots, Passive Slots, even extra Equipment slots along with Attributes? It makes the choice of which Race to make your vessel matter, and I like that.
Artistic Style: What can I say, I like it so far. The perfect middle ground between something like Tera and what Ever Quest Next was going to be. [If you don't know just think Lord of the Rings meets Overwatch graphics].
In general, the game over-all is headed in what I feel is a good direction. So, let's get into the nitty gritty of things that I either disliked, or outright raged over.
Tracks: This one is a mixed bag which is why I bring it up first. Passively training while you sleep is a good move. The part I really dislike about tracks however is there nothing you can do to increase the speed at which you gain experience in them. There is no difference in actively playing, verse going offline and playing a different game entirely; and I'm of the mindset you should NEVER give the player a legitimate excuse to stop playing while retaining the same rate of growth. How do I propose this be changed or improved? Not sure. It partially depends on how you address / if you address a separate issue with tracks that I'll get to later.
Customization: Kinda run of the mill. Granted the races look great, and the models and textures are perfectly fine....except the faces. Why on Earth do half the faces have bloodshot, baggy dirty eyelids and brows. Some of them straight up look like they're high as a kite, and others look like they got bludgeoned with a sack of crap. This is predominantly something I noticed on the female faces. Most of the male faces looked rather clean and normal.
[On a separate issue: The Minotaur and Elken "horns byebye with helmet" issue has entirely prevented me from playing either of these races. And the forced hair changes with helmet entirely defeats the purpose of having hair options. I'll assume both of these are temporary issues slated to be fixed eventually. But it is jarring]
God's Reach & Ninja Looting: God's Reach from my understanding was designed to be the new player experience area. Initially designed to help new players get to grips with controls, mechanics and the world before being thrust into PvP. Now while I praise the ability to farm some materials in God's Reach, while still needing campaign for others.... I've had a run in with a few types of players I've not had to deal with in a very long time. Ninja Looters. Under normal circumstances in a PvP game, I wouldn't even bat an eye at these guys. I would just kill them and take my property back, or if they were on my faction, log into an alt, and go kill them on that, and of course rat them out for being a garbage person. However, there is no PvP in God's Reach. Not only that, but it's supposed to be the new player experience. Having new players band together to kill a King or Chief and split the loot is one thing, as you're making the assumption they've organized to kill it, why wouldn't they organize to split the loot. But when it comes to Trash mobs, Elites and Captains? That's another story. Most people can solo these mobs once they get a bit of muscle memory and a feel for the mechanics. And all seems good, until you get "that guy". You know the one. They stand there, don't bother hitting the mob at all, possibly staying a few meters away until just before it's dead. They swoop in, spam that loot key, and will ransack half your loot before running off, not saying a thing. One hell of a new player experience. Frankly? Loot should be instanced in GR, and free for all where PvP is enabled. If you're going to have a PvE system, please use the very standard of PvE loot rules.
VIP, Atleast what I've heard about it: So, before I bothered to look at how the game plans to be monetized, I wanted to get a feel for the quality and scope of the game. It'd be pointless to argue how a game should or shouldn't be monetized without knowing at least the basics of the game, and getting a feel for it's replayability and potential longevity. Early in the day today [it's late as of the writing of this post] it was pointed out to me that VIP is currently why I have 2 tracks passively training, instead of 1 [default]. Now previously I had done some investigation on multiboxing, it's rules, as well as policy towards account sharing and or owning multiple accounts. Standard fare with most of those things. But what caught me off guard, was that simple little thing, VIP giving you a second track.
That's effectively DOUBLE the point gains. Now, I'd half expected at worst, VIP would be a bit pay-to-win'ish by increasing the speed that you gain track experience, or even only increasing your gains while online, but I'd expected or would have imagined, something around 50% more gains while actively logged in AT MOST. But ... double? Both online, and offline? Now I've already dropped 50$'s which is fair by my standards for a buy to play title, but you assume a buy to play approach with an optional VIP service would be a bit, "ok" at best when looked at objectively. I will say this much though. If your VIP service is planned to give the secondary track training? I won't be paying for it. Ever. In fact, I'd almost certainly NEVER recommend it, and what I would recommend is buying a second account. Or a third one. or more even. Why? Long term investment and unlimited returns.
Here's a hypothetical for you. Let's say your VIP service is a modest 10$ a month. Let's say standard package account is 50$'s. I spend 10$'s I get a second track for 1 month, effectively doubling my gains. repeat that for another 4 additional months, and I've accrued 5 months of additional gains over having no VIP service. Go an additional 5 months, I've spent 100$ [on VIP] and gained 10 months of additional gains.
I spend 50$'s [additionally], and in 10 months still get 10 months worth of gains, for half the price.
I'm probably not the first to point this flaw out, but I'd like to impress upon you that even a novice, with only 2 weeks under their belt can easily see how to game your system, and get the same rewards for fractions of the price you're hoping to make off it, regardless of how high or low you try to market VIP.
The sad part is, so long as you're trying to charge for any form of passively trained progression, people will circumvent it one way or another. And you can't exactly "encourage" people to pay it by locking down certain materials or items, because the entirety of your professions system relies on the ability to trade materials and goods to function. If you locked them down, you'd end up pigeon holing your customers into paying just to spend that extra track to train the proficiency needed to get the materials they used to simply trade for. Fundamentally destroying the entire designed economy and crafting system as a whole. So unless you want to completely redesign your entire professions system [which I honestly prefer you didn't cause it's great as is in most regards] then I'd implore you to find other routes to monetize a VIP service.
Here's a few ideas to get you guys kicking the ball around.
Any-where armor dyes: Assuming you implement dyes for armor, VIP could enable you to dye your armor from anywhere in the world.
Extra Vault Space / Material Vault: Works for ESO. Have a special Material Vault that is accessed the same way a standard vault is, but it hold crafting materials with a large volume of storage space.
Reduced Hunger Cost in Earth Temple / Capitol Temples. Honestly, the only cost to AFKing in those zones is your food bar. Half the time I'm waiting to do something, and I'm sitting at temple, I log out to conserve food. VIP could disable or greatly reduce food loss while in a non-contested capitol or free-city.
Faster Crow Flight Speed: With the respawn timers in place, getting to the respawn faster doesn't provide any statistical advantage. Why not offer faster flight speed when waiting for respawn? Could enable players to zoom around and look at the scenery a bit while they wait. So long as it doesn't affect gameplay or progression, should be a niche little bonus perk.
I'm sure I could think of more after spending more time in-game but that's sufficient to prove VIP doesn't need to offer tracks or "paid progression", or pay to win. It can be fair, and worth while.
Rapid Fire Misc things: I don't like needing a second person to get minerals and gemstones, please implement less efficient solo method. Several Weapon types lack drop sources and or crafting capability, Intermediate 1 Hand Maces as example. EK's are boring at the current state, and should have low chance to spawn mid tier resources or something to do. Do not like there is no reward for capturing POI's in Campaign, especially when you know your faction will lose, this is really really frustrating I must stress. Where are the cloaks? Having player shops in Earth Temple removes incentive for players to check the free city. Very few ever go there to shop, I find myself doing this as well. Please remove Temple Shops.
On to some more fun stuff because I hate ending these things on a bad note. Suggestions for the future!
Obviously Armor Dyes. Having a high Elf Tank Confessor, and High Elf Knight both looking pretty much the exact samey same sucks. But more importantly, I don't want to be purple and gold all the time! I have a High Elf confessor [trying not to give off High Elf biases here] With jet black skin and hair. The eyes come off as orange'ish. This flows so good with a Confessor and all of it's innate fiery spells. Looks truly sinister.... until you spot the lavender clothes. It goes from Elf from Hell, to ....just why, very quickly.
More Weapon Models: Can't get enough diversity in aesthetics. Would love a few additional models.
More Race & Class Combos! Fae Ranger seems like a natural fit. Human Champions would be sweet. Half Elf Myrm would be neato. High Elf Duelist would be awesome. How are Guinecians not Assassins already? Half giant Knights should definitely be a thing.
Crafting Material Vault Filter: Please..... please do this.
Purchase Vault: I sincerely regret claiming the EK pieces.... they take up so much of my vault space and I just don't have the time to go slap down all those parts in the EK to open it up. But I also don't want to go deleting them because I might want to mess around with them late should EK's improve.
Test Server Specifically: Faster Training speeds on the tracks. Please. I want to test out how crafts work, and what they yield at various levels of training, and since I started the Test server almost a week and a half after live, it's further behind in training than my main account is. So I find myself not spending points on tracks, or even spending them somewhere else, until I can test it on the Test Realm, which ultimately is such a waste.
I think that's enough for now.
Over-all..... I like it. It's got me hooked and I plan to keep playing it for long as it keeps my interest. It does a lot of things right, and while I may have skimmed over a couple chunks, I believe that by simply saying "tis good" it should highlight that by no means are the problems highlighted above catastrophic. Some are very serious, others are just a nuisance. I overlooked just about all bugs as alpha is going to have those, that's the nature of the beast.
I may do a secondary update to this later, in maybe 2-4 weeks, but I felt this was necessary while my first few weeks were fresh in my mind. Cheers,