Buying a Premium account (which all from this preview program were) allows you to move faster along the character’s skill tree and amass credits and other resources more quickly, but it does not change character power or gameplay at any particular level.

Controls are standard WASD for forward/back/strafe movement, and you’ll use the mouse to look at and space bar to interact with just about everything in the environment. Restricted keybinds control your abilities.

Skyforge

Above: My berserker annihilates all rats in the vicinity. Pretty and lethal, though that cluttered UI could use some help.

Image Credit: Heather Newman

Taking your skills on the road

You’re led through a tutorial and then send on a questline that will lead you through a variety of locations and group adventures. You choose your destinations using a globe in the divine observatory, which leads to a geographically based mission interface that provides a pretty simple system for determining where you should go and how hard it will be.

Quests at the moment, as with most early MMOs, are extremely grindy. Kill this, go look at or interact with that, all in linear areas that look pretty but don’t offer much playstyle variety.

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Skyforge

Above: The divine observatory gives you access to this geographically-based mission and combat area selection globe.

Image Credit: Heather Newman

Adventures, what the game calls group dungeons, offer a few extra dynamics, and I liked the challenge of evolving tactics with groups that weren’t always strict tank-healer-damage arrangements. Some offered additional challenges for extra reward: go without heals, for example, or kill a certain number of enemies.

You get gear through drops and upgrade it with stones you find and combine during missions. What you can choose depends on your class. Berserkers can wield main and off-hand weapons, four amulets, four rings, and two trophies, for example. The Founders Preview offered upgraded weapons and rings to start.

Skyforge

Above: Skyforge has no in-game trade, which may cut down on gold sellers. You buy and sell items on the market.

Image Credit: Heather Newman

A strong beginning for a new MMO — but much work remains

For a beta, Skyforge has well-polished combat, with only a few clipping bugs and some pretty impressive animations. Lag and stuttering were not an issue even at maximum graphic settings on my mid-range gaming rig.

The classes offered a good variety of gameplay — Kinetics in particular are a lot of fun to play, harnessing gravity and natural elements to take down their enemies up close and from afar — that I wish was reflected in what they’ve been given to do in-game.

I didn’t reach godhood, so I can’t tell you what the endgame plays like. But at this point, the leveling game restricts itself to kill-this-go-there than any MMO I’ve seen in the past five years. I’m hoping more content and story enter this sci-fi adventure … fast.

The basic storyline thus far feels uninspiring. It looks terrific, though, with voice acting and cut scenes that include your character (as you designed them). That’s true in some boss-combat lead-ins as well, which adds to immersion.

Skyforge

Above: It’s fun to see the character you designed seamlessly taking part in smoothly animated, fully voice-acted quest scenes.

Image Credit: Heather Newman

Skyforge obviously has ways to go before it’s ready to challenge the MMO leaders. The character models and animations are terrific, and the smooth combat offers a promising start. Now we just need to get some gifted writers/storyline designers up in here, and we might have a game worth playing long-term.

Obsidian provided a Founders preorder code for this preview, which opened up the beta but also additional items and classes early.

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