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For the past couple of days, I’ve been granting a lot of my attention to Crowfall, the in-development “throne war MMO” by ArtCraft. It’s one of the two open sandbox PvP MMOs that have me actually anxious to play despite being an assumed gankbox hellscape, and most of that excitement is spawned from the way Crowfall approaches crafting.

crowfall-crafting-layout

Yes, I’m getting excited by a UI element. If that bores you, I can’t help that.

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with MMO crafting; on the one hand, it’s cool to be able to make your own stuff and maybe help players out, but on the other hand that doesn’t really matter when the best things in the game are offered by clearing dungeons or raids. The fact that Crowfall has said numerous times that crafting is the only way players can get the best items immediately speaks to the former while delightfully stabbing the latter.

By that simple piece of information alone I was already invested mentally, but Crowfall looks to have taken it a step further with the experimentation system they’ve got going on. From what I can gather, after you’ve made an item you can spend points or Pips on it in order to refine the attributes of the item in question. You can craft an ingot out of metals, but afterward, you can improve its durability, making it more useful. Somehow.

crowfall-crafting-experiments

Look, I’m working off of video footage of other players’ experiences, okay? Cut me a break.

So conceivably you could piece together an epic weapon piece by piece and refine it to have specific attributes to make it either stand out or make it to a player’s spec. And it’s not just as simple as smashing two iron ingots together and getting an entire weapon out of it either; you have to craft the weapon’s head or blade, its handle, its pommel, guard, cross hilt. You literally piece it together bit by bit.

That is time-consuming as all hell, but also probably the most refined crafting system I’ve ever personally witnessed.

There’s still a lot of unanswered questions here. For example, most footage I’ve seen seems to suggest that experimentation doesn’t really carry a great risk. I understand from an excellent interview by one lovely Anhrez that material grade affects how successful an experiment is, but I’m worried about what happens when you fail an experiment, meaning the entry wall for crafting neat stuff might be awfully steep.

crowfall-alloy-chart

All told, I might be getting in over my head here.

So we know that crafting is vital if players want to wail on each other in the game, and we know that putting together a stabby stick is more in-depth than mooshing base elements together. All of that is already awesome to me, but what took it over the top was Necromancy.

Necromancy in Crowfall isn’t just a pet class, it’s a crafting profession that lets players put together new avatars for players. You can Frankenstein stuff for people to inhabit. This changes the entire dynamic for me.

Again, I’m not terribly sure what Necromancy involves or how deep that rabbit hole goes, but on a conceptual level at least it is incredibly exciting. It further reinforces the first two reasons why I’m eager to try out Crowfall’s crafting while at the same time being its own unique thing.

crowfall-necromancy-table

Also, your crafting table has a dead minotaur’s head on it. Style points there.

Now I realize I’m whirling myself up over something I haven’t actually had my hands on yet, but ArtCraft is speaking my language on a variety of levels, particularly when it relates to sandbox PvP MMOs. Crafting sounds so vital and needed that I should rather easily be able to get well-protected from every terror I hold about gathering and crafting in a sandbox.

Regardless, there’s always the worry that it’s a bit too complex for me. It’s one thing to be interested in a system from the periphery but an entirely different one when you’ve gotten your hands in there. I could very easily be excited over a future disappointment, which is what has stayed my hand from buying in outright.

Still, even if crafting doesn’t work out, there is the Templar class coming soon, and she looks freaking amazing.

crowfall-templar-powers

Big swords and tanky buffs for others? Awe, YES. Take me now, girl.

I’m going to have to wait and see what other things ArtCraft does to crafting in Crowfall, but right now they are walking a path that I have wanted out of MMOs for a long while. It’s still early days, though, and I’m trying to temper my excitement with the cold hard fact that this game probably won’t release in full until 2019 or later.

Still, it’s hard not to be very interested in everything Crowfall crafting is doing. It looks carefully planned, crucially important and – most importantly – in-depth and enjoyable as hell.

I really hope I’m not wrong about this…

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