Posted October 29, 2014 by Peter in News

Hands on: Skyforge (PC)

Skyforge logo
Skyforge logo

Skyforge, the upcoming MMORPG from the team behind Allods Online, doesn’t aim low – your character’s journey only starts by attaining godhood. Games Fiends got hands on with the early version of the game to find out more.

The mention of gods and magic make Skyforge sound like traditional MMORPG territory – something Allods Team know well. Allods Team brand director Oleg Khazinskiy, on hand to demonstrate the new game, summarises the success of Allods Online as “the Russian World of Warcraft” .

However, Skyforge‘s heavy sci-fi element is quickly emphasised, from the aesthetic in the finished parts of the interface, to being told of “starships, monorails and lasers” alongside the magic and monsters. On top of this alien gods are invading, with the pantheons of players forming a combined defence.
Skyforge screen
But how is it played? Certain for the demo, gameplay is instanced; after setting up groups in a communal area, players enter dungeons set up for anything from solo or trio groups right through to two-dozen strong raid areas. However, combat is more akin to an action game, with movement double taps causing a quick dash out of (or into) trouble, and basic attacks on the left and right mouse buttons able to be comboed into DPS sequences with finishers.

The demo dungeon – fighting against aquatically themed monsters – was broken into several steps; killing a certain number of mini-bosses completed the goals and let the players advance. But players also have to avoid loss conditions, here measured with a maximum number of severe wounds or party deaths.

Combat in the instance showed larger mini-bosses supported by waves of smaller enemies, with the skills intended to both clear quantities of mobs as well as more focused skills for maximum single effect. Target locking is possible we’re told, but with the pace of the game it is meant to be played with freelooking, skills working in context of the current target aimed at.

As for the party formation… well, classes are done a little differently here. On initial character creation you have three choices open to you – the tank-like Paladin, magical nuke Cryomancer, and a more supporting role with the Lightbender, and these classes can be switched between while out of combat. Gameplay is promised to unlock more classes – ten are due to be available on release, with others to be added later.
Skyforge screen
While some grind may be required to keep all the classes roughly comparable in terms of progression, this is more a matter of unlocking skills, as stats are common between all of them. Khazinskiy explains it to us. “When you invest resources in [a class] tree your stats grow, become bigger and better. And when you choose [another class] you stay with these stats, so there is no need to level up a new class.”

The principle is that if a team needs a tank, a player can switch to a Paladin to cover the role, and even with minimal investment in the class will still be able to keep up with the rest of the group.

In the demo this was demonstrated, switching from the Cryomancer’s AoE skills to the Gunner’s more focused ranged attack; both classes had very different feels to each other, covering different roles – though for the demo the characters were deliberately set up as powerful, so it was not possible to get a sense of either being more efficient or developed than the other.

But this is a basic character skill, whereas their ascension to divinity is something more significant. Khazingskiy compares the effect with a very different type of game. “It’s not just a title or a special costume, it changes the play completely. Do you remember in Titanfall the first time you got your Titan? [It's part of the emotion of the game], you will feel over-powered for some of the time.”

This wasn’t available to try in the demo unfortunately – although the buffed demo characters were already pretty powerful. Demo videos released online give a glimpse though, with temporary bursts of incredible power to heal allies or wreck foes.
Skyforge screen
It is probably the end goal of so many MMOs distilled into a glorious, destructive moment – when your character is so much more powerful than the mobs they confront, but presumably balanced by the same timers as some of the other skills. After all, bursts of power in any game are fun provided they don’t become too much of the norm.

Another thing mentioned but not seen was the crafting system, here handled by commanding followers to create items or construct buildings. This will apparently range from new weapons – presumably requiring gear for each of the possible classes – to temples in your honour. As a fan of crafting in games, I am hoping future updates will fill in more details here.

There will also be various elements of PvP – again, mentioned but not seen in the early version. Khazhinskiy promises that players wanting to advance just playing PvE won’t be forced into PvP, but equally that it is an important part of the game to include.

Allods Team obviously have the experience of developing MMOs, and are working with Obsidian Entertainment in ways of developing interest outside of their established base in Russia (“they visited Moscow for three days, we spent a lot of time discussing the future of the MMORPG”); and Skyforge does look to be taking a different approach to the standard game template.

Skyforge is still in development; closed beta is due to begin soon. For a chance to participate in the early testing you can sign up at the game’s official website.


Peter can be described as an old, hairy gamer, a survivor of the console wars of the 1990s, and a part-time MMO addict. He has an especial fondness for retro gaming and observing the progressions in long running gaming series. When scandalously not caught gaming, he can also be found reading comics and fantasy fiction, or practising terrible photography.