Choose My Adventure: Post-Christmas update

A turkey and ham coma, family soiree, and the biggest calendar holiday of the year have left my Lineage II escapades a wee bit smaller this week, but not without some fun happenings. Speaking of holidays, I hope everyone had a terrific one!

Random events, miraculously revived dead pets, more amazing scenery, and lots of killing are on deck in today's Choose My Adventure. It turns out that I am terrible at raising my pet wolf and even got into an accidental scuffle with another player that left her pet dead and me even deader. I returned to the Path to Awakening because that's what you voted for last week. I've also neared the end of the uber-fast leveling cycle via quests and am turning to grinding for the majority of my experience gain. The fun-level has yet to dip for me; there's higher level gameplay I'm really hoping to dip my dagger into, and I'm curious to see what level I can reach by the end of this trip. As always, check out the extensive gallery and livestreams, and tune in to MV Guide to see when my next livestream will be.%Gallery-141708%

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No more leisurely walks or standing around buying lottery tickets: I had to get back to some leveling along the Path to Awakening. I made it to level 45 as of last week. I finally went to the Lineage II website and claimed my level 40 and level 45 rewards and am very glad I did. I should never have waited; the rewards are packed with a new B-grade weapon and armor that boosted my power and defense significantly. The one thing I still can't figure out is whether I'm using the correct weapons. Thanks to a trip to different databases, I'm fairly certain my Abyss Walker should be using daggers. I am currently equipped with a one-handed weapon and a shield, but I keep getting a debuff telling me I'm using the wrong grade of weapon for my level. I don't quite understand this, as the weapon is a reward for my current level, but the debuffs are lowering my damage ouput a little. Still, even with the debuffs, I'm still better off than with what I previously had.

I decided to deal with the debuffs and head to Ivory Tower, the next stop on the Path to Awakening. Ivory Tower and the surrounding countryside are filled with gorgeous fir trees and gently bubbling brooks. Lineage II has yet to bore or disappoint me with its beautiful and diverse graphics. The tower itself is epically large and stands as a tall, elegant, white beacon that's easy to spot from anywhere in the vicinity. I'm sure I'll have more quests, but the Dark Elf Wizard NPC made it fairly clear that I'd be embarking on my own path from here on out.

I also want to add how much I think older game design can still be a powerful force amid today's standards. There are many things about older games that players don't like, and they've resulted in a lot of really fun new tools. Dungeon finders, instant teleport, and highly instanced areas allow for structuring and providing experiences that are overall positive and fun, but giant, open worlds that require more time spent away from non-stop killing provides their own brand of action and raise the value on other gaming experiences that I just wasn't always conscious of.

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I'm finding the giant size of the world and the exquisite graphics to be a major design element that pushes me to want to level and discover other features. Previously, wandering around, enjoying the graphics led me to discovering raid bosses, the monster race track, and some of the many fortresses that clans can fight for control over. I didn't need a manual or introductory quests or any glaring signs you'd see in more modern MMOs. I don't meant to admonish newer MMO design, but I think it shows that these types of older design philosophies were (and still are) really good at getting the job done. This old-school approach of providing gigantic, open, virtual worlds to just exist in is a way for artists to stretch their artistic wings and go nuts with the graphics. Show me a strikingly designed single sprig of lavender that sways in a virtual wind. That, to me, is as powerful a driving mechanism to level, fight, craft and trade as any dungeon finder or loot system.

As I hacked my way through floating eyeballs and stone golems in Ivory Tower Crater, I explored what my pet wolf could do. I found out that I could kill him quite quickly. I even bought him some armor, a weapon, and some soulshots. It's pretty cool that you can outfit a pet with so many options. They have a large inventory, and there are pet managers everywhere that sell a wide selection of weapons, food, and armor. A lot of players are running around with Kookaburras, but I think I'll stick with the free wolf pet for now. I learned that there used to be a stiff penalty of losing a pet forever. You only had a short window of time to revive them or poof. Good thing that's gone. After my pet was slain, I must have spent a couple of hours searching online and in-game for a pet resurrection scroll. Lucky for me, my pet pulled a Houdini and was suddenly reborn.

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While I was leveling, an interesting event window popped up on my screen. It was a request to show my respect and condolences at Dark Elf Village and Shilen Temple. This is yet another fun feature I've run across, but it requires the entire server to participate. I couldn't resist, so I set off for sights unknown. It was actually quite simple. I just had to see two NPCs in both the village and temple and then use an emote. A counter showed overall server progress, but it was late when I was on, and maybe only 25 percent of the sorrow and respect bars filled within the half-hour time limit. Information is really hard to find on many things in Lineage II. It is a big MMO with lots to do, but I'm hoping the recent revival will spur wikis to update and flesh out the details. From what I gathered, you need a certain amount of the server to participate to get the reward. The reward itself is less meaningful to me. I read some player chat saying you get some kind of valuable scroll that no doubt plays a role in other features of the game. While unrewarding, the event was fun to participate in.

Because it's Christmastime, there are things to celebrate in game. The easiest would be to simply find one of the Christmas trees (there's one featured prominently in Talking Island Village) and walk near it for an instant power buff. You could collect special drops by downing these and turning them in for various rewards. A peek online showed that some of the cooler rewards were a mount, A-grade and S-grade equipment, healing potions, and a few other temporary rewards. When it comes to holiday events, I prefer missions that I dislike as regular quests. It sounds contradictory, but I don't want a lot of long-distance delivery quests (a few are OK), and during the holidays I totally switch gears to that meaningless, high-spirited fun, like a cat with a crumpled up piece of trash. I just want to run around and play, so progressing takes a backseat for me.

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As for crafting, I've collected a slew of items while fighting. I made sure to save all my charcoal, string, and any other bit of material I found and stashed it in my warehouse. In Goddess of Destruction, Dwarves are still the best crafters, but any class can get involved now. This is not the answer you are going to be most happy with, but I've forgone crafting for two reasons: It is very involved, and all the information I dug up on it said that due to the new Path to Awakening, crafting really doesn't come into its own until after my last class change.

Apparently in the game's past, crafting was much more worthwhile in terms of time spent vs. reward gained, but due to getting some very nice freebies and being able to level much faster, it's not worth the effort it was before Path to Awakening's freebies were offered. Low-level material doesn't feature into the new R-grade equipment, which lowers their value and usefulness as compared to when they used to be used for just about any grade. Likewise, crafting the materials don't matter because those materials don't feature into the new equipment, which is earned through only the highest-level areas. I think soulshots would still be worthwhile, but my limited experience in Lineage II doesn't allow me to say that with any certainty. My conclusion is that crafting isn't pointless; it's just shifted to higher levels. That may sound like a downer for players who love crafting, but if there's less focus on how crafting affects the overall market (or at what levels within the market) and other features of the game, it may not be any better or worse than it was before. The focus is just on the new level cap.

That brings us to the end of another week. I was involved less content this time around, but what I did get into was a lot to learn about. Lineage II has many substantial features that have a learning curve and will take time to figure out. Through a little patience and possibly some higher-quality wikis springing up, players could make traveling in Aden less stressful.

As always, another round of voting is upon us. Things are getting longer and scarcer, so I'm doing my best to come up with choices. Please, feel free to chime in with future choices.%Poll-72337%%Poll-72333%%Poll-72330%
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.