There are some games at E3 that tend to jump up and surprise you. For me, one of these games was Farlan Entertainment's new, medieval-themed MMO Dark and Light¯. First, let's put you in my shoes as I was heading toward the Dark and Light booth. 15,000 square miles, or about half the size of Maine. This is how much land there is to explore in this game. Now you know as much as I did before I got to actually see the game firsthand. Armed with only this fact, I made my way to the booth thinking that I would see a game that was huge, but really had nothing else going for it. Well, I thought wrong. So before you make the same, incorrect assumptions that I did, read a little more about Dark and Light and you will see that this will definitely be a purchase to consider later this year.
My first real question about this game was; with as much land as there is, how can it have anything in terms of graphics? Well, this game is not only far from ugly, it is downright great looking. As far as straight-up graphics go, the game is just a little below Everquest II when maxed out; keep in mind that this is nothing to be ashamed of. However, while it may not redefine the way we look at MMO graphics, it was the sheer amount of detail in the game blew me away. For example, my Farlan guide took me to an area where the snow was about two feet deep, then accelerated time. To my amazement, the snow literally melted away as the seasons changed. This game offers a 365 day year with four seasons. And with the full night and day system, one day in Dark and Light is 84 minutes real-time. There are other details that, while seemingly small, also caught me off guard. While standing on a hill, the character's feet actually change position and point downward to keep from sliding. Speaking of hills, characters also can't climb 80 degree slopes as they can in other games. If you want up a mountain, you have to find a way up yourself. The world itself is awe inspiring. I say world¯ because the entire game is one instance with no individual zones to load. And with a horizon view of up to thirty miles, you can literally see whatever you want and go wherever you want.
Another thing that astounded me about this game was the level of freedom you have. Think of something you want to do and odds are that you probably can. I tested this myself on my guide. As our character was riding a dragon-mounted transport I asked If you see something down there you want, can you go get it?¯. Sure¯, he said. And with that he jumped right out of the transport and plummeted to the rocks below. But, just as our warrior was about to splatter like a load of guano, my guide, with a rather smug look I might add, hit a hotkey and out popped a parachute to slowly and the character on his feet. Amidst the applause in the background I suggested some BASE jumping. We then proceeded to spend 15 minutes jumping off of cliffs and bailing out of transports. After this, my guide summoned a mean looking dragon-mount of his own and began to show me more of the map. At one point I said Can you fly into the clouds?¯, and before I knew it we were floating thousands of feet in the air, slicing through cotton and looking down on the distant land below. This is also one of those methods you can use to climb the mountains I mentioned earlier. Freedom also extends far beyond just going wherever you want. Along with choosing your faction (Dark or Light), you also choose from twelve races and fourteen classes. You then proceed to evolve your character's persona however you please via combat experience and social experience. Your character can be anything from a feared warrior, to a powerful sorcerer, a renowned explorer, an influential politician, and even a famous artist. But while the combat and its experience is what everyone knows and loves, it is the social advancement that really interests me. The entire concept of working your way up to the point where you are literally running entire cities blows me away. But if acquiring the reigns to some random city isn't your style, you can just go out and found your very own.
Another big feature of this game is that there is only one server on which every Dark and Light character exists, and it is easy to see why. With over 15,000 square miles of land to explore, you need a fairly high number of people to play with. And it is here that I see the most hazardous area for Farlan and their ambitious MMO. To have a game this size, you literally need an army (or two) of players simply to make things interesting and to create a true feeling of community and a real working world. If Farlan can pull off a successful launch of the game and immediately create a relatively large social network, word will get around and we may very well have another top MMO on our hands.
I have barely scratched the surface of Dark and Light in this preview. There are tons more features to get into including race-specific traits, crafting and how it is affected by the moons and seasons, individual character houses, conquering kingdoms, and PVP, just to name a few. All this and so much more can be found on the official Dark and Light website at http://www.darkandlight.net.
This game is shaping up to be a real treat for all MMO fans, and come this November, gamers will finally be able to get their hands on The largest MMORPG you've ever seen¯.