Around the world in eight days: A journey in Wurm Online, part two

My journey around the world of Wurm Online continues on today through the second half of the trip. In yesterday's story, we explored the eastern and southern shores of the map's mainland, and now we get to see the western and northern shores in all their glory.

Although that southwestern-most tip of land is heavily populated, you're back to desolation when you make your way up into the cliff faces of the western shore. I spent one night in the side of a rocky mountain, only slightly protected from the elements as I chiseled my way into the rock just enough for a fire and shelter for the night. I decided to roleplay a bit during the trip, setting up proper shelter before I logged out of the game for the day. What's funny about this particular shelter is the fact that I discovered a very rare diamond only three squares into the cave. I've dug entire mazes of underground mines and never found a diamond before, so this was a sure sign that the rest of the trip was going to be bountiful. And it was! Follow along below for more.%Gallery-120997% The next day, I set sail north to find some unexplored flat lands beyond the steep shoreline near Tanelorn. Once I found a spot that looked inviting enough, I anchored the boat and scratched that explorer's itch eastward into the forest in search of food. It wasn't long before I found a lone abandoned settlement, complete with oven, forge and a few storage bins. I love this about Wurm Online: Not only is everything you see player-created, but when players stop playing, their items decay. So if you stop paying your sub fee, the decay process starts on items within your settlement. After a few months, homes fall down and storage boxes become piles of stuff that anyone can loot. Stumbling upon these ruins makes me feel like Indiana Jones, as I try to envision what the settlement looked like in its prime from the clues provided.

This particular set of ruins seemed to have been looted already, but I was able to grab some clay pots and some low-quality tools for the remainder of my adventure. At this point my food and nutrition level was almost completely depleted, so you can imagine how I felt when I saw a lone white horse off in the distance. Normally, I would only keep horses for riding or to pull carts, but I considered myself in a survival situation.

The horse put up quite a fight, but I was finally able to take it down. I ate well that day, but my injuries were fairly severe. In this game, your character can't just run around killing packs of wild bears alone. Even the smallest deer or young pig puts up a mean fight, causing injuries that can sometimes become life-threatening. I bandaged my wounds from some cotton rags and healing covers I'd packed for the trip, but it wasn't enough for every injury. What I found particularly interesting was the fact that a head injury prevented me from sailing my ship. When I tried to board the boat as the commander, it gave me a rather surprising message about how my intellect wasn't high enough to command this vessel. Well! The nerve!

It turns out, as I found through some research on the Wurm wiki, that head injuries can actually lower your Mind stats. In this particular case, it lowered mine just enough so that I couldn't figure out the advanced navigation system of my cog. So I went back to scrounging in the vicinity for nuts and berries while I waited for my senses to recover.

Once I had my wits back, I jumped back on the ship and continued north. As with the other three corners of the world map, the northwest corner housed two small islands. One of these islands claimed to be the first home deed on the Freedom server. I found this particularly interesting, considering the fact that I was fast approaching the original starting area that was in place when the Freedom server was first created. Samling -- now a historic district -- was retired as the starting city when The Howl took over last year. I imagine this was done to spread out the settlements a bit, as Samling was becoming completely crowded.

But this island, claiming to mark the server's first deed, now sits almost completely empty. I left the boat to explore this landmark only to find that there was no settlement token or deed proclaiming the structures as secure. As you can imagine, what appeared to be years of construction was all rotting away little by little. I explored the vicinity of the towering stone walls to find one that had fallen, allowing me access to the inner sanctum. The lower-security wooden gates were long-rotted, so I was able to enter the main building inside the courtyard. I couldn't believe what I saw, as piles and piles of high-quality items lay before me in rotted or rotting storage bins.

I felt a twinge of guilt as I greedily plundered everything I could hold in a large wooden cart (also plundered!), but I knew that those were simply the rules of the game as established by the devs. I just happened to be the first one to find that hole in the crumbling stone wall.

So I loaded my ship up with as much as I could hold and as much as I felt practical (I didn't take everything!), and then I set back on my way. The experience with those ruins really stuck with me for a long time. Along with the fact that I was sailing around a completely player-created world, plundering forgotten relics is something else that makes this game so amazing.

It wasn't long before I discovered the mouth of the Samlingfjord, so I docked my boat at the New Samling shoreline and got out to explore. Walking along the abandoned market stalls and quiet streets of what is now labeled a historic district was much more haunting than I imagined.

I could easily picture the way things were years ago, with new players buying their necessities from the player-run shops. But now, all but two or three were empty. I even had the intention of buying something from one of these shops, to help support those players who stick it out with their last remaining shopkeepers, but most of their stocks were completely depleted anyway.

I moved on to explore more of the Samlingfjord shore, down through Reborn and the land of 4chan at Brotenheimr. From there, I had a fairly uneventful time exploring town after town of emptiness and seeming-abandonment. Even though most of these settlements seemed to still be deeded (i.e., maintained with a sub), I found only five or six players throughout the entire bay.

Back up to the north shore and out of Samlingfjord, I continued the journey across the empty lands near Ultimarus Docks and Cliff Side Port. It wasn't until I reached Tower Point that I found more players and some truly gorgeous architecture. I planned to dip down into Colossus Lake but ran into that same problem with my ship being too large for the canal, so I aimed back northward to visit the islands of the Massively readers. I said hello to some fellow villagers at Hindmania and circled around both large islands before hitting the homestretch.

In all, it took eight days of playing a few hours here and there to circle the Wurm Online globe. It was an experience that I will never forget, one that I hope will be possible in more games to come. As you might guess, so much more went on during my trip, but I've merely touched on the highlights here. I plan to do this much more often, even packing up my current village and searching for new land to settle.

And to me, that's what this game is all about. There are no daily quests or dungeons to clear; it's simply about finding your spot of land and creating whatever the heck you want. You explore for the sake of exploring, not for achievements. You face challenges that are applicable to real life, and you can't kill a wolf with your bare hands. Sure, the game has its problems. It's dated, the characters look horrible, and there's no customization aside from a limited dye system, but it fills an important niche for me.

I always enjoy my time in Wurm, and so far, this trip was probably my best experience yet. If you'd like to find out more info on the game, check out its wiki or the official site. It's free to try out, and you only have to start paying a sub fee if you want to increase your skills past 20 or start a settlement.

Check out the gallery before the cut for more images from my trip, and if you decide to play, give me a shout! I can be found on either Shaughn or Adelbern.

This article was originally published on Massively.