Crowfall: Skills that Pay the Bills

Greetings, ladies and gentlemen!

If you have not yet heard, it turns out Crowfall will have a metric shit-ton of skills available at launch. ArtCraft Entertainment recently released the information about this portion of their game, and there is a lot to take in at once. You can also find an interview with J. Todd Coleman on that was released earlier in the week. Most of the information from the interview can be found in the Skills FAQ on the Crowfall site, but there was an image from MMORPG’s post that caught my eye. In today’s post, I will discuss what I have learned about the skills system, and how I believe it might affect the game in the long term.

Logo - Crowfall

Skill System Basics

Crowfall has a much more extensive and unique skill system than I have seen from recent fantasy MMORPGs. Unlike the developers of RIFT and Star Wars: The Old Republic, the developers at ArtCraft have strayed from the path of WoW-Clonery in order to create a progression system that is neither Talent Tree nor Talent Grid. Instead, they are bravely pursuing a new venture to change the way players improve their characters, and acquire new means of world interaction. Should this design be well received, the ArtCraft developers could be hailed as the new kings (and queens) of the MMORPG genre. Should they fail, they may very well Crowfall into infamy, and struggle to free themselves from the Dregs.

At the heart of the Crowfall skill system is the concept of passive advancement. Players are able to select a pair of skills (one universal, one archetype) from a vast number of skill trees that will improve in real time. This means the skills a player has set for advancement improve regardless of the player’s current activity in-game. Advancement continues even after the player has logged out of the game, but that is assuming the set skills can be advanced further. This passive skill advancement system eliminates the notion that players must grind out the necessary experience to improve their skills, which is a common staple of the MMORPG genre.

Crowfall - SkillsPage

A screenshot of the Skills panel as it is currently seen in Crowfall. Click image for source.

At the start of the post, I mentioned Crowfall will launch with a “metric shit-ton of skills”. The above image shows where all of the game’s 1,500 skills originate from. The massive skill library is divided into two core groups, universal and archetype. These two groups are divided up into categories that represent important aspects of gameplay. Then, within each category are the baseline skill trees players will be able to access for skill advancement.

From this image alone, one can begin to get an idea of the type of skills players will be able to acquire. ArtCraft already showed off the Armor skill tree found in the Combat category. In Crafting, I can presume players will be able to learn how to craft runes with Runecrafting, or build bodies through Necromancy. Exploration appears to offer Animal Husbandry (taming creatures to use as mounts — not marrying animals, you sicko), as well as proficiency in the player’s crow form. While these are mere assumptions based on the artwork used in the above image, I am certain that advancement in Crowfall will feel as if it has no end.

A Potentially Minor Concern

There is a possible issue that has emerged before me, and it stems from the core of Crowfall’s skill system; the time factor. While I understand the intention of the passive advancement feature is to ensure players are on relatively even footing in terms of progression, people who are late to join the game are likely to be at a disadvantage. As time moves forward, this disadvantage is only going to increase, and I feel it is exacerbated by the fixed advancement timers on skills. Five years down the line, how will a new player be able to compete with long-time veterans when many skills offer account-wide stat increases?

As the above heading suggests, this could be a minor concern, but I’m always keeping an eye out for games that have the potential for heavy power creep. World of Warcraft definitely possesses the creepiest of power creep, and I have watched as the pinnacle of power has shifted higher and higher with every major update and every expansion. However, there are methods available for newer players to catch up to some degree (free epics from the LFR, amirite?). I don’t believe the same can be said about Crowfall and its passive advancement system (at least, not yet). Though, with some impressive gear, a decked out vessel, and just enough skill in combat, it may not matter how many bonuses to weapon damage a veteran player has earned over five years.

What do you think of Crowfall’s passive advancement system? What skills trees are you most excited about? What archetype(s) are you looking forward to playing? What is a Necromancer’s favorite song? Join the discussion below.

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War Fist out.

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