The last couple of years have seen a huge increase in the number of free-to-play MMOs. Skyforge is just the latest in a long line to come to home consoles, but does it differentiate itself from the crowd? With so many titles in the market, any new game will have to make sure it stands out with distinctive gameplay or a unique hook.
In Skyforge, you play as a godlike being who has been given the job of protecting the world from a series of invaders. It turns out most of the great gods that looked after the people have disappeared, leaving just a few less-powerful deities in their place. Given this turn of events, your character finds himself resurrected as an immortal to help combat the dark forces that have taken advantage of the situation.
The main gameplay mechanic that Skyforge touts is the ability to switch between classes on the fly. While you still have to create your own character, which cannot be changed once it is set up, there isn’t a traditional class system. In total there are 15 different options available, although several of these will not be available until you’ve made quite a bit of progress through the main quest.
What this class switching ability gives you is the chance to modify your play style. You are not rigidly stuck to any one way of playing the game and as long as you are not in combat, you can simply choose another class with the press of a button. It is a very interesting idea that makes for plenty of tactical thinking. If you are about to tackle hordes of smaller enemies, a tank class might be useful. On the other hand, boss battles might require you to choose something more agile, giving you the ability to dodge powerful attacks or stay at a safe range during the fight.
Constant switching does have drawbacks as it means none of the choices will ever become as powerful as they could if you had stuck to one particular option. I enjoyed the class-switching despite this, as it really allowed me to explore all the different abilities. It also gets rid of that need to quit and restart with a new character because you are no longer enjoying playing with the class you decided upon right at the start.
Before you can jump into the action properly, Skyforge has a pretty deep tutorial that you have to run through. It attempts to teach you the basics so you are prepared for when the reigns are taken off. On the one hand this is incredibly useful because it gives you a good understanding of what Skyforge has to offer. Yet, it can also be somewhat frustrating as it means you don’t get to experience the full game for quite a long time. Those with little patience will probably give up a long time before they get to enjoy what this MMO can truly offer.
Combat is generally a pick-up-and-play affair. The face buttons on the controller control light and heavy attacks, as well as your ability to jump, and you can map other actions, such as spells, to them by holding down the left trigger, giving you quite a diverse selection of attacking options without having to dig through menus. MMO can quite often struggle with this aspect and Skyforge has managed to be intuitive for the most part.
Things can get confusing as you progress and more of the game opens up. All of a sudden you are faced with tabs that are focused on things that might not have been covered as comprehensively in the earlier sections. It can be overwhelming to have to pick your way through the research trees, not to mention the host of Divine Form upgrades and PvP invasions.
While Skyforge is certainly not the prettiest game to look at, you’ll find a lot of MMOs that put less effort into their visuals. Character models and animations can look a little clunky, although the environments are diverse, giving each area its own look and feel. The soundtrack is a different story as it is just not that memorable. Expect some performance issues when you are in a large group tackling a boss, and a bit of lag when traveling fast, as textures and items load in around you.
Skyforge may not be the greatest example of an MMO. Nevertheless, it is one of the better titles available on consoles. The ability to switch classes on the fly is a great addition but the game is a letdown in other areas. Progress can also seem very slow unless you want to buy the microtransactions that increase the amount of XP you gain to help you level-up faster. Players are in for a long grind without these purchases. You shouldn’t get too excited for the story either, although the fun gameplay might make up for that.