Hellgate London

The gates of hell are open, and you must slog through randomly generated levels packed with the infernal legions of the damned toward a showdown with ultimate evil. Sound familiar?

That Hellgate London borrows heavily from the Diablo model of dispatching nether beings with mystical energies and the healthy smack of enchanted steel is neither surprising nor disappointing. If anything the millions of fans of Blizzard's franchise have been aching for an adequate heir for years, and while games like Sacred and Titan Quest have made journeyman efforts to fill that void, they have always fallen ultimately just a little short. So, when Bill Roper – one of the masterminds behind the demonic franchise – broke away from Blizzard and announced his project, which sounded suspiciously-exactly like Diablo with fancy new 3D visuals, great enthusiasm followed.

IMAGE(http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/files/images/hg-logo.jpg)

Hellgate London is the culmination of that effort and it can perhaps best be described as the promise of an excellent game in a currently flawed state. Offering the basic frenetic gameplay of Diablo 2 in a 3D futuristic environment lends a lot of basic potential to Hellgate London, and the hand of Bill Roper is evident at many if not every turn, but serious bugs, an unwieldy UI, horrendous account (mis)management, repetitious environments and a constantly evident lack of polish leave the game short of its lofty goals at launch.

Hellgate London is something more than an action-RPG and something just short of an MMO, a hybridized blend that can be played entirely offline, though it makes very little sense to do so. I know it's perhaps anathema to inject personal anecdotes into critical analysis, but I've never been much for ceremony, so here goes. When I was a teenager I was a C student on my best days, and every single teacher I disappointed would send home critical evaluations with the words "shows strong potential" highlighted by what I can only describe as frustrated red underlines. Were I sending home a mid-quarter progress report on Hellgate London, that's exactly what I'd write under my otherwise discouraged evaluation, and like my parents and teachers I spend as much time imagining what this game will be once it finally applies itself as slapping my head at the boneheaded blunders it currently makes at every turn.

Even the most discouraging critics of the game generally admit that the game is very likely to be different in six months than it is now, and independent developer Flagship studios may be given some latitude with the understanding that traditionally games of this nature rarely launch in a completely finished state. Were the issues entirely content related, it might be easier to look past some of Hellgate London's less egregious shortcomings, but with regular server downtime, a non-functioning account creation system that has now blossomed into an all out SNAFU, and a variety of crashes to endure, the game clearly would have been very well served with a little more time in development. So far, a patch a day has not been uncommon, and it has become clear that little touches and fixes are slowly bringing the game together.

Perhaps this next statement breaks either some unspoken bond of trust I have contracted with you as a reader, or bursts a little too boldly through the fourth wall, but what are these perspectives for if not to be uncommonly honest with you, so here goes: I find myself wanting to make excuses for Hellgate London. In fact, I dare suggest I'm not the only one, because despite what are mind-numbingly apparent flaws in its current state I want this title to be good. I want to encourage more developers to strike off on their own and try to bring their visions for great games to fruition, and I want to be positive about what should be a fantastic game, but let's be honest. This game is what happens when great designers run at full speed into the brick wall of a financially mandated hard deadline, the inevitable trainwreck of simply running out of time and money. As a gamer it's discouraging as hell because whatever inspires Diablo 2 fanatics to return time and again to the infinite and unyielding obliteration of Mephisto is present here. This perspective ultimately breaks down to a pretty simple question: can you look past occasionally show-stopping bugs and rough edges like you'd find on an industrial sander to the game beneath?

But, when I say bugs, let me be clear. We're talking evil creeping carrion eater kind of bugs that will halt your demon-stomping in its path with a total system freeze. Even with 2 gigs of RAM and a Core 2 Duo processor, I still get what appear to be memory leak crashes to desktop every other time I play. Even the randomly generated maps, which they have presumably been working on for years, occasionally offer no passable path between you and your destination. In multiplayer, I have suddenly had my partner vanish, though he was still clearly in the same gamespace as evidenced by demons falling to invisible blades. There is a cavalcade of little things that will need to be fixed, put in place and polished in the months to come, and this is just a sampling.

Hellgate offers online players two options, a subscription based model or a free model with fewer features, less access to content updates, and fewer character slots and items. Unlike typical MMOs, Hellgate London's price-tag provides a complete experience without ever requiring you to enter a credit card number, and it's hard to criticize giving players a free option regardless of comments made earlier in the development cycle. This is a game where it makes sense to offer a subscription model, and being able to play while you wait for Hellgate London to have the content in place to make a subscription worth your while is actually a fair option.

From a gameplay perspective, Hellgate London stays faithful to a Diablo mindset of fighting waves of monsters. The in-game dialogue moves a perfunctory story along well enough and is occasionally quite funny in a clever and quirky way. While there are a number of moments of unusual and creative quests, particularly along the track of the main storyline, taking advantage of the potential of a fairly flexible 3D engine, too many side quests devolve into hunt and gather tedium. Some will find this mitigated by the real draw of the game, which is endless dungeon crawling and item collection. It's easy enough to imagine an eventual market for highly prized items and sets, a traditional development for games of this type that manage any longevity, but again we approach the idea that the value of Hellgate London is, as yet, untapped. While the story, items and missions are all there, it's easy to imagine the game being significantly better once the user interface is improved and the economy is thriving.

If it feels like I'm entirely on the fence about this game, it's because I am. It's the kind of game I'd rather revisit in six months to see if it eventually matches its potential, because in its release state it is simply incomplete. The fundamentals are there, but the bug fixes, interface improvements and general polish are being patched in day by day. On the upside Hellgate London starts from a reasonably solid foundation and improves each day, but on the downside you might feel like you've just dropped $50 to play what is essentially an advanced beta. How you square on the issue of companies needing to launch so they have the assets to finish their game will be a lot of the deciding factor for anyone interested in the game. Enough friends with whom to play and a healthy patience will make the price of admission easier to swallow, but if you're looking for a polished experience in this kind of gameplay, you might want to break out the old Diablo 2 cd and play that for six months while Hellgate London finishes cooking.

IMAGE(http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/files/images/HG1.thumbnail.jpg) IMAGE(http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/files/images/hg3.thumbnail.jpg)IMAGE(http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/files/images/hg2.thumbnail.jpg)

Comments

I also want this game to be really good. I've been looking forward to it for quite sometime, since I played an alpha version at 2005 E3. In my case, the smart thing to do would be finishing the pile of games that I have (and will have) for the season and take a look at HGL in a few months. Hopefully they can get their things together by then and I will be avoiding some frustration now.

By the way, great write up, Elysium.

Man, I love this game, but yes, the technical problems are certainly frustrating, and honestly shouldn't be as pervasive as they currently are. And the subscription charges issue is honestly inexcusable.

I'm still playing and loving every minute of it, which is a testament to the game's design, but yeah, the execution is fairly lacking right now.

Yeah, I too am hooked to the game despite the annoying bugs.

I have subscribed too trying to show whatever support I can to help the devs to polish up and improve the game further.

I really really like FPS-RPG combat system, and I love the item and skill system too.

Here's hoping that they learn from their initial mistakes.

Edit: just want to mention that I am so glad that I can read GWJ reviews again! That's all

Elysium wrote:

but if you're looking for a polished experience in this kind of gameplay, you might want to break out the old Diablo 2 cd and play that for six months while Hellgate London finishes cooking.

Sorry Farscry, but this sounds like a fine idea. We've still got half of Hell mode left to finish anyway

I'm enjoying leveling my little sniper type, but I'm a little confused as to what I may be missing out on by not subbing. Can anyone out there give me a more detailed explanation of what you get for subscribing? I'm not quite as keen on dev events as I am on being able to equip any rifle I find, craft any mod, and so on. And, so far, I've only encountered one recipe for sale that I couldn't purchase due to lack of a subscription (grenades, evidently).

Fyedaddy wrote:
Elysium wrote:

but if you're looking for a polished experience in this kind of gameplay, you might want to break out the old Diablo 2 cd and play that for six months while Hellgate London finishes cooking.

Sorry Farscry, but this sounds like a fine idea. We've still got half of Hell mode left to finish anyway :)

Well, I know we weren't looking at you grabbing HGL until around January most likely, and I wouldn't object to actually conquering Hell mode in Diablo 2. I'm still loving HGL and will continue to play despite the issues, but like we've discussed, if you aren't as rabid for it as me then delaying a purchase is probably a good idea.

As for me, it's good to get it played now even if I just play through the campaign, since I have other titles rolling up next year to play through as well.

*shudders under the weight of Vanguardesque memories*

I hope they haven't shot themselves in the foot by rushing this out and limiting adoption, because it could really turn great if they conquer the bugs and issues plaguing the game. For what it's worth, i'm travelling right now and this is the game i'm missing the most, wishing i had it on my laptop for nightly fixes.

Don't judge it by the single player beta. They need to get a multiplayer demo/trial out there to promote this ASAP, but i imagine their hands are full.

The_Archon wrote:

I'm enjoying leveling my little sniper type, but I'm a little confused as to what I may be missing out on by not subbing. Can anyone out there give me a more detailed explanation of what you get for subscribing? I'm not quite as keen on dev events as I am on being able to equip any rifle I find, craft any mod, and so on. And, so far, I've only encountered one recipe for sale that I couldn't purchase due to lack of a subscription (grenades, evidently).

It's my understanding that if you don't subscribe, subscription-only items don't drop for you. For instance, I've been getting a ton of subscriber-only consumables, like Guy Fawkes recipes, ingredients for those recipes, and zombie pies that give me a temporary damage boost.

Right now, there's not a whole hell of a lot you get for subscribing. Down the line there will supposedly be new items, areas, classes, features, etc.

Farscry wrote:

Man, I love this game, but yes, the technical problems are certainly frustrating, and honestly shouldn't be as pervasive as they currently are. And the subscription charges issue is honestly inexcusable.

I'm still playing and loving every minute of it, which is a testament to the game's design, but yeah, the execution is fairly lacking right now.

I'm with you for the most part, certainly enjoying it despite the bugs/crashes. It scratches the Diablo itch very well!

Is anyone really surprised about the credit card billing problems? Honestly? They clearly have poor quality control and I doubt they did much more then some quick perfunctory testing of the billing system. For me right now, I wouldn't trust them with my personal information & credit card number, I seriously doubt they have data security even remotely under control.

Something that's overlooked I think is performance. The game doesn't even look as good as say Half-Life 2 and yet the frame rates are horrible in comparison. 150-300fps vs. 35-70 on my system and with very high textures it will chug in high action situations. Hopefully after they manage to get the game stable, they'll spend some time optimizing.

Having the final quest bugged is really frying my bacon at the moment. I've retried it 5 times now and it gets stuck at the same point (being vague here to avoid spoilers) every time. Ugh.

I agree with this review, and want to add that the review itself is excellent.

Just wanted to give my feedback. I've been following this game since Flagship Studios was first created. HG:L definitely was created in the spirit of Diablo, but it's not their true Diablo clone (that would be Mythos, a free-to-play game created by Flagship Seattle). Anyways, I've been playing this game since Beta and it has come a long way. Granted, there are still some issues to deal with. Personally, I don't have the memory leaks and game crashes that people are having. Could be some configurations (whether machine or game settings) still need tweaking. But, all in all, I'm loving this game. My bro and I play together and have been since beta. Even though you can solo the game if you want, we find that playing as a duo is a lot more rewarding.

I'm holding faith that Flagship will get everything sorted out in due time. They did create their engine in-house from scratch so they have full access to every piece of code. They are trying new things, some work out and some don't. Most of the players don't understand how game development works, so all they do is complain. The lack of dev feedback post-launch does concern me a bit but they are fixing issues. The engineer construct bot just got fixed (albeit AGAIN) fairly quickly after the bug was found where it didn't save it's gear and attributes when zoning. That was big game-breaker and was resolved quickly. There are other big issues, such as memory leaks (which are tough to find) and crashes. With my setup, the only issue I have is with the burning zones (Guy Fawke events) lagging me really bad. I know it has to do with the flames so hopefully FSS can fix them a bit. Party members disappearing is an issue but it's not too game-breaking, we just have the one that can't see the other take the point position.

Anyways, I could ramble on but I'll stop now. Just try the game, it's either to your liking or not. Yes, it has issues, but I don't know of any game that didn't have issues right after launch. Just be patient with FSS and let them get stuff resolved.

On a side note, to answer the person who asked about subscriptions. Here's what you would currently see in-game:

- Larger stash size (the extra space is about half the size of your current space)
- 24 character slots available
- Access to the special events (All Hallow's event was during the launch week, Guy Fawke Celebration is this week)
- Subscriber only items (currently only permanent gear from the special events are available such as All Hallow's Visage, Zombot pet, Fawke's Flameguards, and Fawke's Force Five)

Now, they already have stuff on the horizon. They are aiming for December for Patch 1. Here's a link to it (it's really lengthy but an interesting read, especially about Stonehenge):

http://www.shacknews.com/featuredarticle.x?id=649

P.S. Yes, I'm a bit passionate about Flagship and their current titles.

I'd buy the review for $24.95!

I give it, a nineteen.

I was in Best Buy yesterday and picked up the CE. I have it sitting in my office as I debate whether to go ahead and open it, and simply plan to play it sometime next year when hopefully they've finished baking this.

A lot of games like these (GW, WoW, LOTRO) are substantially more polished after a few months to a year in the market. Part of that is development budget, but part of it is also the need to build up a player community.

Maybe in writing this post I've convinced myself to do it. I certainly was underwhelmed by the demo, but the word on GWJ seems to be don't judge HGL by its current demo.

Hmm.

Branloch wrote:

New guy here. *waves*
tl;dr

Put that away ! Your VM is showing.

100% spot on review. Having played in the last few weeks of beta, I had fun, when the game worked. Particularly playing with a friend. But it wasn't done. The beta felt about right for maybe 6 months before release. Not 2 weeks. This is a title I fully intend to pick up in the spring sometime, but not yet. There are too many other A-list, complete games out right now for me to spend some of my gaming budget on Hellgate.

I've been playing the retail version for a week now. I can't say I've seen any bugs, except one crash to desktop the very first time I opened my inventory. Oh, and a couple of instances when I've had to talk to people several times before a supposedly completed quest actually finishes. I'm more bothered about the awful framerate, the clipping issues, the wonky physics, getting stuck to the scenery, and the sameyness of the environments. The enemy behaviors need variety desperately.

Yet despite all this, I really, really like it. (I didn't put down 50€ either, I got a review copy.) It's the first PC game since Company of Heroes I've bothered with. All the better if they polish it over time, but I'm content with what they already have.

I don't get why I would want to play online though. It just feels like a singleplayer game to me. Well maybe to show off my character...

It's hard not to criticize Flagship for their subscription model because I still don't clearly understand what content I would be paying for.

Review is spot on, I love this game. I hope it gets fixed soon.

I hate to add to the chorus but this review pretty well encapsulates my feelings on HGL. Good stuff in the game if you can get past the not so good. One thing I'd add is that the tilesets are already repetitive and I'm only halfway through act three...

ShynDarkly wrote:

*shudders under the weight of Vanguardesque memories*

Not even remotely that bad.

souldaddy wrote:

It's hard not to criticize Flagship for their subscription model because I still don't clearly understand what content I would be paying for.

Right now, not much. In a few weeks, a whole new "act", basically. A new quest hub with a bunch of new quests, new items and new monsters.

Great review, though I don't think the game is all that broken, nor do I think that it'll take six months to whip into shape. It does lack polish, but it's functional, and more importantly fun--if you're into the whole fast-paced action combat dungeon crawling for loot thing. I'm one of the lucky ones who hasn't had a single crash, out of memory issue, server disconnect, or account problem. As such, I'm pretty satisfied with Hellgate right now.

The biggest things bothering me with the game right now are performance and polish. The performance issues I've seen are weird. The game will do just fine in most places, but then the frame rate will inexplicably drop through the floor. It's rare, but jarring. I think the UI is in pretty good shape, apart from the god awful chat interface--which is a pretty big problem for a game in which you interact with others. I mostly play solo or hop on voice with a friend, so again, it hasn't really affected me too much.

For a similarly botched launch, I direct your attention back to the World of Warcraft launch, where some servers were down more than they were up for WEEKS, at least one class had numerous problems making it hard to play, and some dungeons needed major difficulty tweaks. WoW never gets called on all that, though, because it's got a slick interface, outstanding art direction, the quests tell memorable tales, and the gameplay mechanics are simple and fun.

It does suck that Hellgate had to be pushed out the door with the problems that some people are having. I guess time will tell just how badly Flagship stumbled with this release.

This is very thorough insight into the current state of HGL. And mind you, there are also accurate impressions in the responses to this article.

The one thing that would be interesting to discuss that is not touched upon is the overzealous negativity towards the game and FSS. Is it the subscription decision? Is it HGL's predecessor's abillity to attract all kinds of gamers? It can't be the bugs because most of the naysayers are spewing inaccurate information and haven't even played or only played the demo.

I find it very hard to relate to this review, because

A) I've experience absolutely 0 technical difficulties (not one memory leak);
B) Zero performance problems (On a dated rig, no less), and
C) Zero server downtime;
D) I'm not a subscriber, and never will be.

That being said, the hard facts show that others have, and I'm likely the exception that proves the rule, which makes the game hard to recommend. I'm just lucky like that - I rarely run into these kind of bugs. It might be my regular offerings of sacrificial iMac's to the PC gaming gods, it might not.

As for the interface - I agree, it's awkward, particularly the chat interface / guild interface. I SHOULD be able see what zone my guildmates are in - it could learn a lot from WoW in this regard. The ALT-functionality has a lot to do with the awkwardness too, but i feel like it was a compromise that had to be made in order to combine WoW/diablo skill and interface usage with FPS gameplay. I've tried to think of a better way to do it, but have had a hard time. I'm sure some modder will at some point - one of my favorite things about PC gaming.

So what do I actually like about this game? Basically, it's WoW-lite, in a different setting. It has the itemization, skill-based combat and multiplayer action as WoW, without the monthly fees (for non-subscribers like me - i still think the value isn't there for subscribers) and without the raiding grind, which I unfortunately see as an essential part of the MMO experience.
Had I experienced the multitude of extraneous problems that others have had, I might feel differently, but I haven't. And I'm having fun. While patiently waiting for UI fixes and mods.

I agree with Fang that there is an inordinate amount of negativity towards this game. I think a lot of it has to do with the demo, which I will be the first to admit, was absolutely terrible. But there isn't the kind of "meh, not my thing, let it slide" kind of attitude among non-players - there is a palpable venimosity towards the game that I don't really get either.

The best thing Flagship could do right now is release a free multiplayer trial.

I'll echo Dysplastic and others on this. Last night as I played I didn't feel like I was in anything like an MMO. The chat interface is craptastic and frankly Flagship should know better. Case in point, /gchat is the guildchat command. Who knew? Where is this documented? Why isn't it just /g like almost every other game out there?

I need not repeat this entire writeup, because its pretty damn close to what I'd say except that I found some additional disappointment.

First, I suppose its noteworthy that even though I preordered it so they have my dollars regardless, I refuse to play it right now because of the bugs, crashes and other issues. I've got other games I'd rather play that don't frustrate me as much.

Second, I was disappointed by the game itself. Maybe I just haven't given it enough time, but yeah. Sure I still have my Diablo 2 CD's. I haven't played it in ages though(never did get entirely through the 1.10 Hell Mode, never will I'd guess), and the reason is because I'd played it for years and for me, it sort of lived out its very long life and died a natural, very honorable death. The money I spent on Diablo 2 and LOD just may be the finest gaming investment I have ever made. It was chock full of value. So, naturally, I was hoping to be able to embrace Hellgate as well. But I've found myself less than impressed.

Again, maybe it just needs some more time. Maybe I'm jaded by the poor launch, because I don't know about you, but I'm getting sick of the 'ship it, collect their money, and we'll finish the game later' attitude... I mean, would you find it acceptable to sit down at your favorite pizza parlor and order your favorite pie, only have them bring you out a crust to start eating? Later they bring out some heated sauce and pour it on; later they bring out a bag of mozzarella and pour it on; later they use a hair dryer to melt the cheese; etc. Or maybe I'm a little too skeptical of the whole subscription thing, thinking that at some point all of the great changes that kept me playing Diablo for ages are only going to be available to subscribers. Or maybe it's just that when I fire it up, I feel like I'm playing Diablo again with better graphics; even disappointingly back-pedaling in some areas, like the fact that 'dungeons' aren't randomly generated, so if you repeat an area, it might have a hellgate in a different area or one of those treasure door things or a different flavor of enemy... For me, the places were already drying up pretty quickly.

I already have the game, so I'll probably keep giving it the old college try as it gets polished up, but at the same time it's reminiscent of eating broccoli, not liking it, and then being offered broccoli with cheese. 'It's tastes better!', they say, but, even with an open mind, I still have a bad taste in my mouth.

Haus wrote:

like the fact that 'dungeons' aren't randomly generated, so if you repeat an area, it might have a hellgate in a different area or one of those treasure door things or a different flavor of enemy...

...say what? Are you playing the same game as me? Because I am seeing the randomization you're claiming here isn't happening.

I've played 3 characters up through the small station where there are just a couple of guards, a tech guy, and a quest giver, and I've seen virtually no variation in the maps. There have been some exceptions. I've seen a couple of maps with 'sections' juxtaposed(ie, Upper Kingsway having 4 winding stairs, a different floor sometimes being the one that leads you to lower kingsway, but its otherwise identical), and, as I mentioned, objects are always in different places, to occasionally include the start point.

Perhaps it's unfair to say 'not randomly generated', since the fact is that those elements, at least, do exist, but I've found it to be completely lacking the 'surprise' of visiting the Durance of Hate wondering if it's going to take 5 minutes or 15 minutes. Mostly, my experience has been nearly identical dungeons. If what they've got suits you, that's great, but my opinion is that if I have to look really hard to see the variations that they aren't going to be enough to make me feel like I'm playing a different level every time I go through. I suppose it's largely a perception thing, but what isn't as far as discussing how you feel about any given entertainment?

This is a great fun game, so despite the naysayers I am gonna stick by my suggestion to get it and play it if you are at all a fan of Diablo 2 and shooters and gear questing in general. There are a lot of exciting additions coming and the game will only get better as they nail down how they want to expand it

I am not going into detail here, but I go into the game much more than this and many reviews over on my blog, so I will my blog coverage speak for itself. Bill Roper talked about on the 1UP Yours podcast of 10/26 for almost one hour how things are different per map and the coding that went into it. The info about the game is out there and you can find it if you dig hard enough

http://wifeagro.blogspot.com/

Anyway good website here keep up the good work but this game has a lot of emotion around it and I think you missed the idea of what it represents

pvthudson01 wrote:

Blatant advertisement for my website by a coffee grinder

Classy...

I am playing this game. Its mindless shoot em up fun. Its unpolished, and I would not dare spend the money to suscribe to the game at this moment. But if you want to go post-apocalyptic, shoot endless mobs and tinker with endless gear I say go for it.

If you are expecting "Diablo 2.5 with the polish of WoW" dont bother with it.

fangblackbone wrote:

This is very thorough insight into the current state of HGL. And mind you, there are also accurate impressions in the responses to this article.

The one thing that would be interesting to discuss that is not touched upon is the overzealous negativity towards the game and FSS. Is it the subscription decision? Is it HGL's predecessor's abillity to attract all kinds of gamers? It can't be the bugs because most of the naysayers are spewing inaccurate information and haven't even played or only played the demo.

While the subcription idea is irksome it's not the reason for my obvious negativity of the game. I like many others was a fanatic Diablo2 addict. There's something about that type of game that just sucks me in and i just can't stop. Some of it has to do with the talent tree system they had and of course the loot. At the end of the day you were after the best loot you could get. So when i heard about Bill Roper starting up FSS i couldn't wait. When they announced the LHG story line i was stoked. All the art assets they kept showing off just kept me getting excited. I knew this was going to be THE game for me. Then i get into beta. I see lackluster performance on an updated computer rig. I then had the memory leak bug. So to extend my game play beyond 10-15 minutes i'm told to lower my graphics settings. So the game looks dated compared to the new games that are out there.

My strong negativity is backed up by facts that i experienced and not innacurate musings. The feelings are strong because of the strong expectations i had for the game. Between this and Vanguard i have never seen such a poor execution on a game release. The amount of bugs and the type of bugs they have is uncalled for this day in age. I know all games ship with flaws we're gamers and are used to that. Imbalance issues, graphic issues, localisation problems are the norm for released games. Still to have something you were expecting to be a polished gem because of the people that were working on it to come out as a rough as it has is just a huge let down.

Even with all of these problems it does at its core have that element that had me coming back for more in Diablo2. So i'll eventually buy it, but i will wait awhile first.

Thanks for the info on subscription benefits folks, I believe I'll be waiting a while before I sub. I haven't had devastating problems, but there's been a bug or two... worse is the feeling I keep getting that I'm not playing an MMO. Everyone I meet is pretty much soloing on multiplayer.

I'm also trying to figure out a few quirky things, like... what's that little trio of icons in the lower right corner? A sprocket, beast fangs, a wrench... do they change? What do the numbers mean? What are they even for? Nothing in the manual.

And why, sometimes, when I hit "F" to loot something, do I get a special fanfare and more loot popped around me? I can think of no rhyme or reason for it, but it happens. Also not intutive.