Crowfall is a crowd-funded MMORPG currently being developed by Austin-based ArtCraft Entertainment, Inc.
The self-styled “Throne War Simulator” aims to break the mold established by more traditional theme-park style MMOs like World of Warcraft. To get there, Crowfall promises to deliver a host of novel game mechanics that will make it “a very different flavor of MMO.”
In December of 2015, we got our first look at one these innovative mechanics. Unlike nearly every other MMO out there, in Crowfall you won’t be picking a pre-determined race/class combination for your avatar. Instead, each player will have an immortal form represented by a phantom crow. Your crow will be bound to your account, and will be where all of your skill training happens. “Ok, so everyone plays some kind of ghost crow…Birdwatchers Online, I’ll pass”. If the mechanic stopped there, then I might be inclined to agree.
Where things get interesting, however, is when you add in vessels.
Vessels in Crowfall are basically good mortal bodies. While in crow form, players will be able to possess vessels, which then become their avatar. For instance, imagine flying your crow down to the local graveyard, finding a dead knight to inhabit, and boom, all of a sudden you’re playing as a knight. Players will be able to collect, trade, craft, and upgrade vessels. In some circumstances, you can even loot and inhabit other player’s vessels after they’ve died. There will also be variation between vessels; that knight you picked up from the graveyard might not be as strong as the knight created by a master craftsman.
Though the vessel system is a refreshing twist for MMOs set in a fantasy universe, it won’t make Crowfall truly unique in the MMO space. In Eve Online, Icelandic developer CCP’s sci-fi magnum opus, players exist first and foremost as “capsuleers” within the universe of New Eden. Your basic form of existence in Eve is as a clone inside a capsule, or pod. In Eve, skill training is tied to your pod in much the same way as it’s tied to your crow in Crowfall, and, just like your crow in Crowfall, your pod’s not where Eve’s magic happens; you use your pod to inhabit one of the many ships within the game. Both Eve’s ships and Crowfall’s vessels are craftable, tradeable, destroyable, and come in a slew of different variations.
Vessels, ships; the connection is pretty blatant, especially when you consider that on Crowfall’s Kickstarter the game is described as “Game of Thrones meets Eve Online.” The adaptation of Eve’s pod mechanic into a fantasy MMO like Crowfall is definitely innovative, and the depth that the mechanic adds to Eve makes me hopeful that ArtCraft Entertainment will be able to offer the same kind of experience with Crowfall. We won’t know for sure until we get to try it for ourselves. Crowfall’s Open Beta is slated to go live at the end of 2016.