We had a chance to sit down with Farlan Entertainment, publishers of Dark and Light, a brand-new MMORPG, for a demonstration of the title. We came away with these impressions.
First off, the theme behind Dark and Light seems to be one of scale: the cluster technology used by Dark and Light supposedly allows for up to 500,000 players playing concurrently on the same server; the gameworld is 40,000 square kilometers in size; and the view distance lets you see up to 30 miles away. We only managed to see a small portion of this during our demo, obviously because of its huge size, although it does appear that some of these zones are already well-populated, presumably with beta testers. There are 12 realms in total, with two of those being starter areas, and the other 10 being PvP oriented.
One aspect of Dark and Light that will no doubt appeal to pure role-players is the variety of play experiences that it promises to offer. You can head out into the wilderness and start chopping up monsters, of course, but we're told that the developers are being careful to focus on enabling players to proceed with alternate play styles. We're told, for example, that you will indeed be able to make crafting a true profession, and you can stay back in town whittling (or whatever you choose to do) for the entirety of your playing time without ever killing a monster. There's also going to be social experience, which rewards you for finding new lovers; explorer experience, which rewards you for being the first to discover a new part of the gameworld; and political abilities, which will let you become the mayor of a town, the lord of a realm, or even the king or queen of a kingdom. Before you get the idea of a tyranny in your head, though, be warned that a king that sets taxes too high and rules with an iron fist can indeed be overthrown.
Another interesting aspect of the gameworld is that the developers claim to have accurately modeled shifting seasons and even monster migratory patterns. We're told that if monsters become a favorite target for players, they'll eventually up and move in an attempt to increase their survivability (this will also happen if their food supplies run out). There's also going to be a weather system with snow, wind, and rain. In the winter, bodies of water may freeze, giving players access to parts of the world that would otherwise be unreachable.
Since the game pits Light players against Dark players (as a result of the game's split pantheon), it'll be worth the while of players to get chummy with their chosen god for a number of reasons. Astrology and worship can help make you a more successful crafter, for one, and your faith can also become handy on the battlefield. We're told that you'll be allowed to pray at any time you wish and that, depending on your relationship with your deity, will be able to affect some pretty drastic changes in battle. We were given the example of a pious level 10 player being able to defeat a level 60 player with a lucky pray, or even being able to just kill him outright if everything goes perfectly. If you think you're about to be ganked, though, you can also attempt to fake a prayer and just display the praying animation in an attempt to scare off your attackers.
Some other interesting features include the ability to tame flying pets, such as dragons. If you have a high beast training skill, you'll be able to tame animals and use them as companions. You will have to share experience with them, but in an interesting twist, you can select precisely how much experience you want to give them, with anything from 0 to 50 percent being valid options. Another neat feature is your ability to hire out your player to politicians who are eager to garrison their villages or towns to guard against enemy attacks. Your pay depends on your performance, obviously, so if you happen to be offline while an attack is occurring, you can allow the server to spawn an AI version of your character and use that in your stead.
Dark and Light is looking like it may be an interesting choice for MMO users interested in pursuing a more role-playing-oriented online experience. Stay tuned to GameSpot, as we'll have more details on the game as it approaches its November release.