Crowfall Review - IGN (2024)

Most modern MMOs have their own take on the usual questing, exploring, and dungeon crawling, with player-versus-player combat as an afterthought, but Crowfall skirts all of that entirely. Instead, it focuses on relatively short PvP campaigns that last for at least 30 days – seasons, basically – that are meant to culminate in full-on, guild-vs.-guild warfare by the end. If you stick with it that long you might even experience a siege or a fortress battle. And if you’re especially lucky, you might even get to build your own realm. However, much like the similarly PvP-centric EVE Online or older games like Dark Age of Camelot, it’s unlikely that the average person will ever get to do that without joining the most powerful guild on the server – or being willing to pay for the privilege of decking out your custom realm via Crowfall’s cash shop.

Crowfall’s single best feature is its character creator. Among the 12 fantasy races and 11 classes are some genuinely interesting picks, like the giant Stoneborn and the gerbil-esque Guineceans. All of them offer totally unique abilities and the class system is versatile, allowing you to switch your role on the fly by slotting Major and Minor Disciplines in and out at any time. This system is especially robust thanks to the highly detailed Crowpedia, which you can pull up directly from the talent tree menu and get an overview of each area of specializations your classes, races, and Disciplines can follow. There is a bewildering quantity of traits and abilities you can mix and match, and it’s always fun to play around with and experiment with different traits. It’s also cool that each class also features three different Promotion Classes, which are subclasses that allow you to push your customization that much further.

However, all that choice doesn’t always amount to a great experience in the end.

Crowfall Gameplay Screenshots

There's an introductory leveling arc from one to 30 that encompasses the tutorial, and it's pretty short in practice. But the thing MMO fans have to be aware of is that this tutorial is the only place in Crowfall in which you’ll find any quests at all – and even then, they only amount to basic “run here, do this” kind of stuff at best. While it’s important for you to learn your class before being trusted to lead a full-blown siege, this whole tutorial section feels like a meaningless buffer. For one, until close to the very end, it’s only teaching you how your class operates when fighting small groups of PvE enemies and no other players.

It’s great then that with subsequent alt characters, you can simply use the Sacrifice mechanic - where you can sacrifice items and gold to shrines in exchange for experience points - to simply exchange your way back up to level 30. But this is hindered by the fact that sacrificing too many items at once and reaching the next level stops you from receiving more experience points. That’s right: if you drop an entire pile of gold into the sacrifice altar, you only receive enough experience to level up one time. If you use too much at once, that’s too bad, because the rest of the stack disappears into the ether. You can work around this by deliberately splitting up your items and planning it all out, but the fact that you would need to do that 29 separate times to go from one to 30, is a testament to how clunky this interface is.

But even if you train your character all the way up to that level by doing the PvE tutorial content, once you get out into the PvP zones, it’s clear just how unprepared you actually are to fight other players without switching up your playstyle or even reworking your entire class specializations. Builds that promised to be interesting against the AI enemies you fought in the tutorial quickly melt down into min-max territory, since domination in PvP combat ultimately boils down to who can hit the hardest the fastest, and who has the numbers on their side.

Whether you have any fun is determined by how much you're willing to grind.

Since the tutorial skims over the important facets of guild-vs.-guild and faction-vs.-faction warfare, it’s easy to immediately feel lost if you weren’t taking notes. There’s really no bridge between Crowfall’s tutorial and Crowfall itself; you have to find one in the form of other players, and this is hit or miss. What I soon discovered is that whether you have any fun in Crowfall is determined by how much you're willing to grind, and the most interesting facets of Crowfall’s endgame – castle and keep conquests, and the Eternal Kingdom system where you can eventually design your own zone – are locked behind a herculean undertaking of many players grinding in organized repetition.

Or you can just join a faction and run around in the Skypoint zone and its neighbors, like The Solarium and The Arboretum, where you can casually gank other players. But this is boring, since Skypoint is a small zone without much room for any kind of tactical engagements, often leaving you running in circles while you capture the same points and kill the same group of players for loot and gold. Strongholds exist in Skypoint, but they’re not quite as captivating or rewarding to engage with as their endgame counterparts.

A step up from Skypoint is the faction-vs.-faction game mode called The Shadow, which is theoretically more player-friendly than the guild-vs.-guild-focused endgame, but ends up falling flat in that regard. On one hand, it’s impossible to coordinate with the rest of your faction in-game if nobody is responding to the specific “Faction” chat channel. If that’s the case, good luck organizing at all, since the maximum number of players you can invite to your party is six. Even if you do manage to coordinate enough support, you still need to wait hours or potentially days for the next keep to become available to siege.

On the other hand, despite The Shadow being a supposed “bridge” between the tutorial and The Dregs, it’s easy to spin your wheels here for hours with very little to show for it. This is especially aggravating given that the rewards you get for winning an entire 30+-day faction-vs.-faction campaign are equivalent to what you can earn from a few hours of farming low-effort targets in The Dregs. For this reason, most guilds worth their salt will still end up steering clear of The Shadow anyway, other than to troll new players – which completely defeats the purpose of having an “easily accessible” faction-vs.-faction mode in the first place.

As it stands, the real end game is supposed to begin in Crowfall’s guild-vs.-guild area, called The Dregs. Again, if you’re the kind of MMO player who likes to go solo most of the time, you need not apply. In fact, everything in Crowfall's guild-vs.-guild area is designed to be effectively inaccessible to solo players. But the shift into joining a guild – let alone finding one that’s both welcoming and active – is jarring when first ascending out of the unclear and monotonous tutorial section.

But okay, let’s assume you’ve gotten your group together: it still doesn’t seem like there’s much to do besides rove around the open world and gank smaller groups of players while capturing outposts and attempting to dominate parts of the various disconnected zones located across your server. That might be entertaining enough for a few hours, but it doesn’t hold up for long. The only two meaningful alternatives to this are sitting in a circle and harvesting ore and wood for hours to build your guild’s stockpile, or farming the same boring elite enemies and bosses for loot.

For a game so focused on PvP, battles lack rhythm and a deliberate pacing.

That’d be fine if any of those systems were fun to engage with, but they’re simply not. For a game that is so focused on PvP above all else, Crowfall’s battles lack a feeling of rhythm and deliberate pacing. You can simply hold the left mouse button near an enemy and it will eventually die. In Crowfall’s best moments, it’s slippery; at worst, it’s brain-numbing.

Despite all of the different skills and abilities I could dole out to my character through the Discipline system to liven up my humble Guinecean Duelist – or my later alt, my Stoneborn Champion – each and every battle boiled down to a frantic button mash where I held my left mouse button down while randomly tapping the assortment of DPS abilities on my hotbar, some of which at least used a secondary resource called Pips that would refresh intermittently as I attacked. However, this was still too lenient to afford any interesting interplay to my skills, especially since none of them needed to preempt one another in order, a la Final Fantasy 14. Some Major Disciplines - equippable skill sets that can augment your class - do offer up combo skills that need to fire off in sequence, but it still takes a lot of extra work to find the right match of Disciplines that keep your character effective and fun to play.

Granted, Duelist is a class that is supposed to be able to do a ton of melee or ranged damage in a short period of time, but playing as one gets old quickly; every fight in the open world boils down to a skirmish where you and your opponents basically slide around and whittle one another’s health bars to zero without much more strategy, nuance, or class interplay beyond the basic “Healers heal, tanks take a lot of damage, DPS stabs things.” This simplicity undermines all that aforementioned customization that makes the character creation so interesting.

The only clear caveats here are the Ranger class, which can see much further than the average character, and the Assassin’s (and the gerbil-like Guinecean’s) ability to move around undetected by enemy players. Both of these feats make it viable for some players to slip off to the side and go on scouting missions, which is interesting in theory, but doesn’t actually help much once the fighting starts if your side is grossly outnumbered, and especially if the opposite team has the funds to bring in siege weaponry.

Crowfall might’ve been onto something here with its player-versus-player metagame as well, but the unfortunate reality is that there’s a deep, empty divide between the repetitive tasks that make up the nuts and bolts of what you’re actually doing moment-to-moment compared to the theoretically much more interesting Eternal Kingdom system and siege events. Those are dotted across each map, beckoning you to join them, but they only happen at specific times of the week and are only really available to hardcore players: yes, it’s possible for a casual group to eventually work their way up to building an empire in Eternal Kingdom or fighting in castle sieges in the Dregs, but good luck with that. On paper you can earn it, but in practice it’d take weeks of organized effort, harvesting materials in the wilderness, and repeatedly grinding outposts and forts around the clock for a reasonably-sized guild of at least 30-40 players to even touch upon the interesting parts of the endgame, let alone win a campaign. Sure, you can always join the biggest guild on the server and coast on their success, but that’s hardly a great solution considering that the whole appeal of Crowfall in the first place is building up your own guild and guiding it to success.

At least these zones look great: Crowfall’s minimalist art style is colorful and clean, making it simple to parse in the heat of the action. But the animations are stiff if not downright cheesy, aggravating the earlier issues I mentioned I had with the combat system.

Crowfall’s interface is clean-looking as well, but it doesn’t function as well as it first appears. The map is difficult to make heads or tails of, and that makes coordinating with your allies tougher than it should be. It’s extremely minimalistic, forcing you to scroll over its various quadrants and call out coordinates to your teammates in order to figure out where they are if there are more than six of you playing together at once.

Your experience hinges upon who you play with.

On top of that, Crowfall’s in-game text chat system is not viable for communicating with your party or to your broader faction or guild when you’re trying to coordinate anything in the moment. This is because you need to tab all the way to your inventory screen in order to switch chat channels. And, instead of collating them together, there’s a unique channel for each type of communication, making it easy to completely ignore critical messages from your faction or guildmates if you simply leave the default General channel open. Worse, the built-in voice chat system rarely works at all. If you can, go with Discord or some other app to talk to your friends as you play.

And it goes without saying that your experience hinges upon who you play with. The right group of players (if you can find it) will make this process much more enjoyable. Crowfall can be the type of game where you turn off your brain, sit around with a group of friends, and joke around while grinding your way through The Dregs or Skypoint. The fact that it’s possible to lose all of your loot when you die – especially in The Dregs, where it can take a long time to cover ground – adds just enough tension to make things interesting for a group of engaged players, and I was lucky enough to find my way into a rather casual guild that did exactly that. But I stumbled around for almost a week and a half, skipping from one inactive guild to another, before I finally discovered this group that actually seemed to genuinely enjoy Crowfall despite all its faults.

Crowfall Review - IGN (2024)


How much is Crowfall? ›

Crowfall's freemium plan provides new players a 10-day free trial. After that, players purchase the game for the low price of $14.99 and play forever.

Why is Crowfall offline? ›

PvP MMO Crowfall to be taken offline for a redesign - but will it ever come back? We ask the company behind it. Earlier this week we heard the unusual news that player-versus-player MMO Crowfall, which launched in the summer of 2021, will be taken offline and taken back to the drawing board, where it will be rethought.

When did Crowfall shut down? ›

It was taken offline on November 22, 2022.

Are MMOs declining? ›

In an effort to attract ever-more players, their gameplay has gradually been diluted and their core audience has deserted them. Now that even their sources of new casual players are drying up, MMOs face a slow and steady decline.

Who created Crowfall? ›

What is the most subscribed MMO? ›

RankGameTotal Player Count
1Honkai Star Rail39.62M
2Baldur's Gate III113.23M
3FINAL FANTASY XIV: A Realm Reborn55.82M
4World of Warcraft143.00M
17 more rows

Are MMOS expensive to make? ›

Building an MMORPG game can be quite challenging, and considering its immensity and building requirements, it sure won't come cheap. So, it's expensive to build one. Cost to Develop an MMORPG game also relies on many aspects. That includes the number of hours, developers' cost, technical stack, and game complexity.

Did Amazon cancel MMO? ›

The MMO was announced in 2019 and canceled in 2021, with the explanation being that neither Amazon or Tencent were able to come to an agreement on Leyou's contract. If there were any chance for a happy medium with the LOTR game, Hartmann seemed skeptical that it could've happened.

What happen to mmorpg? ›

The games became more formulaic, relying on a tried-and-true formula of questing, grinding, and raiding to keep players engaged. And while these games were still enjoyable, they also became more challenging and time-consuming, requiring players to dedicate hours each day to advance.

Can you play Eternium without internet? ›

Eternium is unique among mobile Action RPGs with its effortless “tap to move” and innovative “swipe to cast” controls, and its player-friendly “no paywalls, never pay to win” philosophy. With the exception of a couple of online-only features, the game can also be played offline after the content download completes.

What is happening to Square Enix? ›

Square Enix has announced a significant company reboot amid tumbling profits. Reporting its financial performance for the financial year ending March 31, 2024, sales in the Digital Entertainment segment, which includes video games, rose by 2.6% but profit fell by 15.8%.

Is Sea of Thieves arena gone? ›

Rare has announced that it is shutting down its PvP Arena in Sea of Thieves. Revealed during the Sea of Thieves 2022 Preview Event, The Arena is officially coming to an end as it simply isn't a mode played by most players.


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