Choose My Adventure: Exploration week

Lineage 2 screenshot
From desert wastelands and salty shorelines to plateaus and ocean floors, I've been busy traveling in Aden, and I've seen but a glimpse of the entire continent. Last week, you voted for me to stray from the Path to Awakening and explore the world in Lineage II, and I've been having a blast doing just that.

I discovered a monster racetrack, ran into raid bosses in the middle of nowhere, discovered a vast undersea temple, and so much more. I've also added 47 more screenshots to the gallery, uploaded a walkabout video, and have another livestream this week. We still aren't done yet. There are more chances for you to decide my fate in this week's Choose My Adventure.%Gallery-141708%
Lineage 2 screenshot
My road less-traveled started on the southern end of the continent, near Wasteland. The dry, red desert with its plateaus and spires is part of the Path to Awakening, so I had teleported there from Gludio. After finishing up a quest-line that had me tracking and killing the monster I first encountered in the Labyrinth of Belis on Talking Island, I headed south to the shoreline. I followed the sparkling ocean and white sand to the Northeast, past Beehive and Hive fortress.

I ran across an intriguing structure next to Hive fortress. It looked like a race-track, and once I found the proper NPC waiting outside, I was told it was for betting on monster races. I thought it was a very cool thing to find so far away from the hustle and bustle of player activity to the west. This track was essentially out in nowhereland, yet it offered some fun-looking content. Alas, after talking to the NPC, I found that the race-track is not operational. I did notice a handful of players nearby dueling. It seems a somewhat popular place to spar because you can teleport in to the track and have a nice arena-like area to run around in.

After I finished exploring the race-track, I took a detour to the South and Devil's Isle, where I promptly got lost in a maze of catacombs. It was a blast! I felt like I was in The Goonies. The water and lighting effects made it an especially enjoyable trip. Back on track and heading northeast again, I passed Hive fortress and turned southward, where I ran into some high-level mobs and Garden of Eva.

Lineage 2 screenshot
This month is the first time I've played Lineage II, but I'm starting to feel a little sympathetic toward veterans of the game. It's a magnificent world, with so much to explore and do, yet in some ways, the current industry standard concentrates quite a bit on leveling and raids. I've read that many interesting quests and crafting-quests in this game were done away with entirely. Alternate content, like the monster race-track, were dumped, and the devs instead began concentrating simply on moving players through levels. No doubt this team knows what it's doing -- the massive increase in players is proof of that -- yet I can't help but feel sorry for old players who have to deal with shifting focuses and behavior in an MMO that only somewhat resembles the game they originally signed up for.

I didn't swim in mellowdrama long as I continued my journey past Hive fortress, turning to the south and diving into the ocean to discover Garden of Eva. A large underwater temple waited for me, and the mobs were just my size. I actually got mixed up and couldn't figure out how to progress through some doorways that seemed blocked with a wall of water. I moved up two levels before getting bored and using a teleport of escape. I looked online and found out that the doors open about every 10 minutes and stay open for two minutes at a time. I guess I was just really unlucky that they were closed every time I checked.

Along my journey, I discovered a couple of raid bosses. What are these? Why are they out in the middle of nowhere? Were they once part of low-level raid content? Are they still worth doing? I was insanely curious. I've managed to find out only that they drop, or used to drop, equipment. I'm sure it'd be a lot of fun to get some friends together and fight them for the heck of it, but I'm not sure the worth-it crowd would want to bother. I'm guessing all the new goodies handed out along the Path to Awakening out-power anything dropped from old raid bosses on the outskirts of Aden.

Besides spending the bulk of my time exploring only a fraction of the continent (and loving every second of it), I acquired a little wolf companion. By the way, the pet quest -- it's sadistic. I'm not saying the devs should change it. In fact, I think it makes Lineage II stand out in a good way, but that pet quest has to be the hardest trivia game I've ever had the pleasure of coming across in an MMO. You know the drill. You have to read the quest text so you know how to answer the questions. The thing is that after you talk to the requisite NPCs, the quiz-master asks a string of never-ending questions, many of which never seem to refer back to any previous information given to you. It took me three times and a little cheating to pass.

Lineage 2 screenshot
To sum up my current experience, I'm loving the sights and sounds around every corner. It's so awesome to find an underwater cave that leads to a massive labyrinth or underwater temple. Lineage II really captures the joy of exploration, which I've only been able to find in Vanguard: Sage of Heroes until now. I'm from the old-school crowd and really wish it had all the themepark-meets-sandbox gameplay features like a player-governed economy and in-depth craft system that plays heavily into the economy, but the game is still a joy to explore. Maybe eliminating a lot of previous content and facilitating a climb to high levels actually works in favor of an MMO so worthy of exploration? I've also come to the conclusion that two of the biggest-ticket sellers in the cash shop are the soulshots and the luxury cocktails. The cocktail gives you some major buffs, and the soulshot lets you dish out some mean damage. It's a perfect combination for fighting and leveling.

I've made it to level 45. I've slowed down to accommodate a week of pet-wrangling and exploration. I haven't really gotten to experience clan-life, either, which is something I hope to rectify this next week. Clans are for more than just grouping, so I'd like to experience or learn all about them. I've also hit two more milestones along the Path to Awakening, but I haven't claimed the level 40 and 45 rewards yet. They should prove quite useful in the upcoming week.

We're on to voting for the next week of what I will be doing in-game. Will I dabble in some PvP, continue leveling, or keep exploring the far reaches of Aden? Don't forget to check out the many new screenshots I added to the gallery, enjoy the slow-but-pretty sight-seeing video, and keep an eye on the MV Guide for my next Lineage II livestream!

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Jeremy Stratton needs more MMOs to play. Seriously. The imaginary doctor who lives in his head gave him a prescription. The problem is, he's too flighty. He never knows just what MMO to try or how long to stick with it in order to get the most of it. That's why he needs you to tell him what game to play and how to play it every Wednesday in Choose My Adventure!

This article was originally published on Massively.