Wow. What a game, Age of Wushu. I mean, I have played many, many open-world, free-for-all PvP sandboxes in my time before this one, but Age of Wushu places all of those cool systems in a world that the West generally doesn't play in and then adds in little systems so that there is always something to do. Always. In fact the most common complaint I hear about the MMO is that there is too much to do but not enough explanation to cover all of the activities.
I think the real frustration comes not from the lack of guides and pop-ups but from the fact that many of these "helpful" guides are localized for English-speaking audiences enough for them to make some sense, just not enough. I mean no offense here; this is just the truth: Broken English inside a game can make already complex gameplay much harder to understand. There are many small anomalies as well. For example, an NPC referred to me as a man although my character is a woman, and when a small icon indicated that I was hungry, I ate some food, but then an icon told me, "Hungry and Thirsty. HP and internal Energy Recovery speed increases slightly, but you will need some food." Huh? I just ate... I think?
Luckily, I found a great guild called Exalted that is always ready to hand out answers that I need. There is almost always someone on, and the members have helped me out so much that I can only reinforce Patrick's advice and say, "Join a guild!" Still, it's unfortunate that I continue to find confusing help files and systems that make little sense. I know that eventually they will come together and will seem like child's play to me, but I can't help thinking that the developers and publishers should sit down with a batch of gamers and watch them play. The issues would be obvious soon enough. A simple video tutorial system would help better than anything. I have a strong feeling that the number one issue that drives away new Age of Wushu players is the lack of proper explanation in the game, not the lack of fun gameplay.
Let's get to the polls from last week. First you had to vote on what I should concentrate on during the week. Despite being in the middle of a move and having my internet (gasp!) off and on over a period of a few days, I was able to get in to start collecting the flight skills that you ordered me to go after. The flight skills are one of the rare items in Age of Wushu that are easy enough to understand. They are the ability to move, jump, float, and fly that makes the game, and especially the combat, so unique and fluid. I can learn these skills in a number of ways, but friendly players gave me a few of the needed skill books for free. Some came from my guild, and others came from awesome livestream viewers. (You can see a player give me a pricey skill at the end of the stream in this column.)
Next you wanted me to join up with the Script Stealing event. It's an event that happens every day and teleports players onto a giant, beautiful map so they can attempt to nab valuable scripts from an opposing school. Each event will concentrate on two different schools -- in my case it was scholars or tangmen -- with the possibility of winding up with a really nice script that will teach a new skill. Being that it is a PvP event, I knew I would not do very well at all, but the combat is fun to watch and the event is intense. I will try it a few more times but will move on to the event that wins this round. I actually grabbed a script a few times but was quickly murdered for it. If you want to watch my attempt, check out the stream.
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Next you told me to buy the Windrider cash shop item. It's a handy potion that gives a speed and flight boost until I go into combat mode. It's great for travel, and I use it all the time. Since PvPers can stack movements abilities to get the drop on their enemies, the developers did not want to make the Windrider effect work in combat.
Then you voted on the different skill sets that I should attempt to learn. Demon Heart Chain Hand won, and I have to be honest... it's wicked and mean. I can head-butt someone, pull him off of a horse while he tries to ride away, and cast a cloud of green mist that hurts not only players around me but also myself. I asked Earthquake about this and he said it's an ability that's great for situations where someone is almost down and you just need to keep hurting him; you just turn on the cloud and run after the enemy. There's something eerie about many of the abilities in Age of Wushu. Many of them have a darker side and feel alien. I like that, though, because I've been playing with the same fireball spells for too many years as it is.
I closed out this week's play by running through a dungeon with my guild. We were fighting against a boss in the hopes of doing it in a very short amount of time. I tried my best, died only once, and had a great time.
Age of Wushu is going to turn off many people. In fact, I'd say it turns off more people than it retains. I think the environment of MMO gaming has changed. Heck, players my age who cut their teeth on more complex games don't have the time to spend on such complex gameplay, or they can find simpler, more casual games that are very high-quality and easier to understand yet provide a similar, fulfilling experience.
So what was Age of Wushu's saving grace for me this week? It's still a darned beautiful, immersive game. I am reminded of my time with Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. I was known in the community and even hosted a podcast about the game (my co-host went on to design for PlanetSide 2) but was never a fan of min-maxing or raiding. Players had the hardest time understanding how I could enjoy myself without reading guides or mountains of text.
I can't explain it, but I enjoy being lost. To me, to inhabit a fantasy world would mean being confused much of the time. If I were a newbie in a world of martial arts, you better believe I would be confused. At the same time, I don't want a game to be confusing as Age of Wushu can be. Luckily it's well-crafted, it's perfect for roleplay, and it has the complexity for those player like Patrick who enjoy unraveling the mystery.
This week's votes are engineered to continue the forward momentum that I've been enjoying. Hopefully I'll explain the choices better so you can make an informed decision. I want to stay with the guild I am in and want to become better as a fighter. What should I do? Cast your vote below! And many thanks to Community Manager Earthquake for his help in this week's polls!
%Poll-84615% For this round of Choose My Adventure, Beau Hindman is trying something different -- different for him, anyway. He's diving into the list of MMOs that have lost in previous Choose My Adventure polls! Come back every Wednesday to vote on what he does next; goodness knows he needs the help. Tweet feedback to him at @Beau_Hindman!