Choose My Adventure: Dark Age of Camelot, week four

DAoC
By participating in Choose My Adventure, I'm starting to realize that this column is perhaps one of the most meta projects that we do here on Massively. It's not just a popularity contest between games (although it begins that way) nor a mere hands-on play-through of a title. Instead, it's a bizarre combination of one person led by hundreds of puppet masters with the added layer of forging a path as a complete newbie so that others who follow in my wake may learn from my mistakes.

But with all of you as my puppet masters, I have the added pressure of not wanting to let any of you down. I know that last week some of you were disappointed with my progress (or lack thereof) and could identify dozens of things I was just doing flat-out wrong. That's another layer to this experience, I think: It gives experienced vets the chance to see the game through virgin eyes and to pass down sage advice that they themselves wish they had gotten right out of the gate.

So this past week was all about taking in your advice and attempting to execute it to the best of my ability. Some of it worked, and some did not, but the end result was a series of Dark Age of Camelot play sessions that were far less frustrating -- and even, dare I say, intriguing?

Gors
The vote: Go back to PvE and get your game legs!

I was relieved to see this as the mandate of over half of you voters last week. I'm not against participating in PvP (I wouldn't have put Dark Age of Camelot on this list otherwise), but when the vote went out to send me to PvP battlegrounds, I'd scarcely been in the game a few days and had little-to-no idea what was going on. Plus, as many of you pointed out, players tend to level right past the 1-10 battleground bracket, so its barren landscape came as no surprise.

I headed back to the relative safety of PvE lands, determined to figure out a lot of the little niggles of gameplay while putting some serious levels at my back. The game sent me to the town of Mularn, which was rife with quests and a few additional lessons from trainers. Many of the quests were forgettable (or extremely easy), but they helped me rack up XP and gear in record time. Before I knew it, I was level 20 and had a completely new set of armor hanging from my lithe Troll frame.

I've grown to appreciate the Skald as a class. While I would not have picked it as one of my top-tier choices in the game (nor a Troll, for that matter), it's certainly grown on me. The flexibility of its buffs (you can have two up at a time), the run-speed boost, heavy armor, and the combination of long-range casting and close-combat melee makes me feel tough and dangerous. Sure, the fights are slow, but at least there are combos to set up and cooldowns to watch.

While I wouldn't put DAoC in the same ballpark as Skyrim, I enjoyed the same Viking flair in Midgard as I did in Bethesda's recent RPG. The graphics really aren't as bad as you'd think for a 2001 game, and the night-time effects are particularly atmospheric.

But enough about routine PvE questing; let's get to some of the advice that y'all gave me last week.

Dancing bear
Advice: You need to create macros for and use /stick and /face more.

As an immigrant from modern MMOs, I find it a really foreign concept to have to use a slew of slash-commands to get the most out of my gameplay, but it's a fact of life in DAoC. I took this advice and created a macro for /stick that ended up transforming fights from clumsy affairs to smooth-as-silk battles.

The command /stick essentially turns your character into a homing missile for your target: It makes you face it at all times and run toward it until you're in melee range. With that macro, you don't have to worry about proper facing (which is essential for most skills) or picking your target out of a crowd. This was great advice, and the macro is occupying my "1" key for good.

Advice: Ditch the shield and go for a two-hander.

I don't know why the Skald starts out with a shield if it gets no benefit from it -- the game certainly never goes out of its way to inform me of this -- but now that I know that, a two-hander is a no-brainer. Or a brain-bludgeoner.

Advice: Guards give kill tasks if you type /task at them.

I'm not entirely sure whether the game ever tells you this (I certainly don't remember it doing so), but it is a nifty way to get an extra PvE quest when you need the XP. I went up to a townsperson, said /task to him, and was ordered to clear out a nearby cave. The cave ended up being a private instance that challenged me to best 19 critters, and once I had done so, I got a huge XP reward right away.

Hill cat smackdown
Advice: Find a guild.

Honestly, I tried, but nobody was in the market for wet-behind-the-ears noobs (and I think I outed myself to some Massively players by shouting across regional and advice chat). On the whole, I didn't see a lot of chatter at all in any of the channels save for the occasional trade or gold spam.

That's a shame, and not so much for me (after all, I'm not going to be playing this game for too much longer) but for any new player who might dive in and hope to find a guild right off the bat. Most of these older games tend to be hungry for recruits, so I just found that puzzling.

Advice: Get back into PvP battlegrounds when you hit 20.

This is my full intention and the reason I pushed to get to 20 this past week. I want to end my time in DAoC with the main selling point of the game and hopefully evaluate PvP combat from a slightly more seasoned perspective.

Because of this, the vote this week won't be whether or not to send me to go PvPing; that's what I'm going to do, period. To be honest, I'm having a really difficult time coming up with any sort of vote that has to do with battleground PvP because I already know that I'm going to look for a group and do whatever the group wants to do. There really isn't any other big option other than to solo (and die), so a poll might be counter-productive for this.

So let's break with CMA tradition and not have a poll, just this once. Shh, don't tell Shawn! Instead, what I'd love to see is as much DAoC PvP advice as you gave me PvE advice last week, and I will do my best to follow that in the bloody encounters to come. What say you, experts, seasoned vets, and general spectators? What would give me the best chance of not only surviving but thriving in the battlegrounds?

It's time to put the screws to Justin "Syp" Olivetti, as he enters the Choose My Adventure chamber and pits his wits against your will! Check back each Wednesday for a recap of the last week's play, then sound off in the polls and the comments to determine his course of action for the next week.
This article was originally published on Massively.