Religion would take on a whole new meaning if gods and goddesses were real, physical people that walked among us, don’t you think? The action-MMORPG Skyforge, for its part, believes that deities would spend less time on shepherding the faithful and much, much more time smiting evil. It’s not always holy lightning doing the job, either; some gods prefer calling upon their prophets Smith and Wesson to get the job done. This one’s heading to Xbox One after some time on PC and PS4 and I’ve had the chance to give this version of the game a shot; my initial time with Skyforge was a few days back around the game’s launch back in 2015, so as far as I can tell a lot has changed and it’s basically a new game altogether.
Unlike many MMORPGs, Skyforge takes a more action-focused approach to gameplay. After a short tutorial where you’re introduced to your character and their divinity, you’ll choose from an array of classes with different themes and roles, ranging from chainsaw-wielding Berserkers to land-ripping Kinetics to ninja-like Slayers, and get to work purging heretics from the land. There was clearly a lot of attention paid to making sure that your character feels suitably powerful; anything short of a mid-level enemy is literal fodder to you, fresh meat to be smashed to bits. Different classes differ somewhat in how satisfying they feel to play, and while this is naturally going to vary from player to player, I found myself enjoying the minigun-wielding Gunner – they’re very versatile thanks to their form-changing weapon and their attacks feel nice and shooty. In a nice touch, you aren’t stuck with a single class, and switching is quick and easy via a readily accessible menu option; you start with several class options and unlock more as you play.
Progression through the game revolves around completing missions on various maps. This isn’t a puzzle game, so don’t expect anything too brain-bending; typically it’s just a matter of killing this, smashing that, laying waste to X number of enemies and so on. Your tolerance for this is, again, probably going to rely on how much you enjoy your class, as there’s not a lot of challenge when you’re playing solo. There’s also numerous multiplayer instances; these are more difficult and rely on cooperation with other players, particularly when it comes to assembling a balanced party with healing, tanking and damage. These instances are the real highlights of Skyforge, emphasizing a sort of mobile combat based on avoiding telegraphed enemy attacks that plays out somewhat akin to Guild Wars 2 or TERA. It’s a great time.
Success in battle allows you to improve your character, though the system here’s a little more straightforward than most games. You can gear up to improve your stats and thus your Might score, akin to Destiny’s Light system; complete objectives in class temples to unlock new skills and improve your classes; develop a shrine and gather followers to earn rewards and so on. That last bit might just be another numerical form of stat progression…but, well, I admit to getting into the fantasy of being god just a tiny bit. Worship me, tiny mortals! Your deity demands blood!
So it’s a cool experience all in all, but that’s not to say everything’s sunshine and roses. Skyforge’s initial release on PC was notable for having numerous caps on the amount of progress your character could make; there’s arguments on both sides for this sort of arrangement, but for my part I found that I was forced to stop playing right as I was getting into the groove each day. For what it’s worth, these systems seem to have been changed or removed, but without reaching the point where I’m hitting potential caps regularly it’s hard to say precisely how things are different – some research suggests that weekly caps still exist but are less complicated and perhaps less restrictive as well. At the very least in my time with the contemporary version of Skyforge I’ve found progression to be much less painful.
On the technical side, Skyforge is perfectly passable and even gorgeous at times on the Xbox One X. There’s some framerate issues here and there, especially during more crowded moments and cutscenes, but overall it’s not out of the ordinary for a console release. More significantly, I had the game crash on me once or twice as it opened a loading screen and ended up stuck there, so hopefully there’ll be some work done o the stability side of things.
Finally, there’s the cash money grip side of things; Skyforge would very much like you to spend money on it, ideally a lot of money spent soon, and thus encourages you to do so whenever possible. As someone who played a ton of free-to-play MMORPGs back in the day I’m not really bothered by this, but it’s understandable that others might be touchy about how pushy the game can be. For what it’s worth, there are several founder packs to choose from that offer different bonuses; in particular, if you’re interested in the class unlocks offered by these packs and intend to play the game for awhile to get your money’s worth then they’re probably a decent deal.
By modern standards, though, I found my time with Skyforge to be pretty acceptable all around. It’s a very nice-looking game that offers a solid sense of power and progression, though this may or may not change as I get further into the game. Either way, I look forward to grabbing some friends and giving this one another look down the line.