Hi there and welcome to the world of Das Tal and be prepared to slice your enemies with scythe, pierce them with your arrows, blow them away with your nukes or carry your team to victory as tank or support.
Das Tal is produced by an German indie studio Fairytale Distillery and is currently in Alpha development. Goal of the development team is to deliver a open world sandbox arena for true hardcore PvP players – yes, it means no safe zones and full loot everywhere. The main focus is on skill based battle and meaningful conflict. Every other element of game (pve, crafting, events, social aspects) are there to support pvp – and they do it well.
Lets start with character creation – there are no options right now aside from choosing your weapon and armor style. This determines what skills you can use as each weapon and armor has 8 skills (at start you get few, rest you have to learn through patterns). There are currently 4 weapon types – Scythe, Staff, Bow and Totem and 3 armor types – Robes, Leather, Splint mail. Weapons mostly offer direct dmg skills, armors focus rather more on their wearer or affect area around him. This leads to lot of choices and possible builds (currently 54 skills) that can be tweaked based on you play style. Currently the developers plan to have 8 weapon sets and 8 armor sets total (512 skillsJ). Each skill can be learned at dojo (you need patern) and also it can be upgraded to enhance the skill further. For upgrades pigments are used (acquired through pve). Im not sure about max lvl of skills, but it seems it will be around lvl 20 for each skill. The number of open skill slots and max lvl for skills is determined by character level. As it is now, you cant just max out all skills as there is a hard cap on amount of skill upgrades you can have in your build and this is again based on you character level. Im currently lvl 22 and can have up to 64 skill upgrades. As i have unlocked all skill slots I can upgrade all skills max to lvl 6 if I wanted to upgrade them all – but I rather chose to have some skills on lvl 14 (again on my current lvl max skill level I can have – not sure about the formula here though) and some just don’t upgrade at all. This leads again to further specializations among same weapon/armor styles and uniqueness in builds.
By entering the world I was positively surprised by the lobby music – was original and had medieval feeling in it. You start in one of the newbie spawn zones (currently 2) that have near them Dojo and Workshop. Dojo is used to learn new skills, change weapon/armor specialization or improve already learned skills. Workshop is used to craft new items. The level of building sets the the max skill/item level you can learn/craft. As I spawned by the newbie oasis I was instantly attacked by group of players and died really fast – remember the hardcore disclaimer at the beginning – yes, this is also part of it. The developers explained, that they don’t support griefing, but they will not restrict it or take any actions against such players (unless its against game rules, hacking, bug abusing etc). After few attempts I managed to escape (as I chose bow and leather as my starting build I had decent movement skill that helped me to outrun them). I started with lvl 3 already as Das Tal uses unique leveling system that is dynamic. The max lvl is determined by max character lvl that is on given server (also offline chars). Max lvl character gains experience normally, but lower level characters have they experience gain boosted (for example max lvl char gets 3 exp for kill, lower lvl char gets 50 exp for kill). This helps to even the battlefield and also support more casual gamers (one of the main focuses of developers was created a enjoyable game without grind for normal people who have work, kids etc and can play just 1- 2 hours daily and still let them stay on track with other more committed players. There are 2 ways how to get experience in Das Tal. One is called active exp – this is reward for any in-game activity from pve, crafting up to pvp. Other experience source are XP items dropped by NPCs. This are also used in crafting and settlement buildings/upgrades.
So what can you actually do in Das Tal? Well, you can pvp, then pvp and maybe do some pvp if you get bored.
Now seriously, there really isn't much to do currently besides farming NPC or collecting resources. This on itself would be boring, but as promised by developers, everything leads to meaningful pvp encounters. The NPCs are quite strong and when you don’t pay attention, they can kill you pretty fast. But the biggest threat are still other players and the fact, that you will tend to ragequit when you survive an 4v1 battle with NPCs and then half dead get ganged by some pro-ninja that was hiding the whole time in the bush (ok, vice-versa would it be even worse – keep some spare keyboards cause those buttons might fly :))
Collecting materials is one of the main activities you will do. They are used for crafting and claiming settlement or creating/upgrading buildings. A well build up settlement with walls offers a really good protection from outside world and might be considered safe zone (currently when you enter settlement you have to open gate but aren't able to close it – it closes automatically after some time (not sure how long, but its def more then 10 sec – that’s enough time for enemies to slip in).
Materials are gathered from “events” – there is few of them currently in game and even more are planned. These events range in the frequency how often they occur, how they are claimed and logically in rewards they bring. The smallest events are currently “meteor” (loots for wood, clay, obsidian) and “animal carcass” (hemp, leather, cloth). Once they appear on map a global message is broadcasted what events started and approximately where. If you are near of the event a tag will be visible on your map. The player that starts event gets the ownership of it and any other player can get the ownership by staying in preset radius around of the event (there are 15 claim points for the event, to get the ownership you firstly need to drop the current points to 0 and then raise them again to 15 to claim it). Once one of this small events is started 2 npc guards are summoned and attack you. Once the timer is over the event can be looted only by the last owner of the event (new timer starts, when the owner does not loot it, it will disappear). The bigger events that are currently in occur once a day. The frequency of the events depends on the daytime – more events occur during prime time and the daily events start mostly in the evening hours (6-8pm). Daily events are there to support mid-scale battles and are mostly used by clans for settlement claiming/building. Developers are planning to have from 15 minutes recurrence events up to weekly or unique events. One of main focuses of the game should be territory control and sieging.
Currently siege consists of several stages and is spread through several days. Important thing is, that anyone can interfere and even claim settlement without being the siege initiator. This opens space for politics, diplomacy, backstabbing and rivers of tears.
Das Tal takes rather unique approach to equipment and crafting. There is equip up to T9 (at least for us in alpha) that can be crafted (such high tier can be crafted only in player settlements with maxed out lvl of workshop). There are no standard stats as armor, damage etc – or better said that T1 and T10 equip has the same stats when crafted. So what is the difference? In Das Tal you can tweak your equip and change its “stats” like hp bonus, mana bonus, run speed bonus, resistances – but to be able to add somewhere some points, you have to remove them from other attribute – so in the end you have to end up with same amount “attribute” points spent. This way you can adjust crafted equip to your build/play style and even it doesn’t seem so, it can make quite a difference. Here is where the tiers come into play – the amount of attribute points changed against the “basic” craft is based on the level of tier – so T10 offers a lot of space to personalize your equip and create rather unique equip/skill setup. Magic of this system is, that it again promotes skill based gameplay rather then providing a stats advantage with “uber” gear.
Das Tal is very innovative game developed by gaming enthusiasts and is really fun to play. It's aimed against hardcore PvP audience and brings together moba gameplay with open world MMO. I supposedly didn’t used word sandbox as in current alfa stage there isn’t enough sand yet to be played with. But on the other hand all the currently implemented features are working really good, are unique and have depth in them. You can play around with your builds hours and still find new possible combinations and combos. What developers promised they also delivered so far – skillbased pvp that is fun and well thought through. My only concern remains, if it will be enough to get needed attraction and shine among other games of similar garner – this also depends on what else developers will add to the sand. But I can already say, that Das Tal has really got under my skin and I just love it :-).
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