Assuming, of course, that I can find a group.
Monetization rears its head
Since agreeing to take on Allods Online as the subject of this CMA, I've been barraged by warnings from commenters that the game's free-to-play server has a nasty monetization scheme that demands players open their wallets in order to actually enjoy core gameplay fundamentals. And because we so famously were unable to use the subscription server for this adventure, the free server just happens to be where we are currently stuck.
Still, two players aren't enough to clear an Allods dungeon. Two DPS players, especially. But when it comes to Allods Online instancing, the players you round up are only half of the equation.
Mercs for hire
In the world of Allods Online, mercenaries are folks who are willing to join your dungeon party and fill specific roles -- for a price. If you're short a tank, for example, you can pay a mercenary tank to step into whatever dungeon you need to run and soak up some damage on your behalf. What's unique about mercenaries in Allods, however, is that they aren't actually human players. Instead, mercenaries, or "mercs" as they're known in-game, are savvy, tough AI companions good for one dungeon run a pop.
Control is relatively basic; you are able to tell the merc to attack and to retreat, but that's pretty much it. Mercs use their abilities as they see fit. It's an interesting mechanic that serves to make group content more accessible, but it does raise the question of how interesting and engaging a game's content can possibly be if a couple of bots can cruise through it with only two commands. In my dungeon run, the mercs serving my partner and I did the lion's share of the work, work that consisted mostly of hitting things until they died without any sort of strategic complication.
Still, without the mercs, we likely would have had no dungeon to run at all.
Originally, we were supposed to play Allods Online on a subscription server. However, after paying the $20 it costs to buy enough gPotatoes to actually buy game time using gPotato's convoluted proprietary concurrency, I ended up stuck in some sort of "pending" purgatory where I could not actually access my funds. No updates, no information, just a perpetual "pending" on the transaction, which was originally made on December 23rd.
"Never, ever pay anything for Allods or anything else that relies on gPotatoes."
There's one week of Allods Online left in this CMA, and I'll be summarizing final thoughts in the next post, but I'm confident putting this one on paper right now: Never, ever pay anything for Allods or anything else that relies on gPotatoes. The publisher behind both has proven that it doesn't know how to deal with transactions in a timely or transparent fashion, and there are plenty of other games on the market that can at least promise to, you know, let you use the money you spend.
Closing down shop
This edition of Choose My Adventure is cruising toward the finish line, so this week's poll is more about how you want things to end than you want them to continue. I'm scheduled for a final stream of Allods on Friday night at 6 p.m. EST. I want to know what it is you'd like to see in action for that final stream. Be aware that this puts the poll on a shorter timetable; this particular collection of votes ends at 12:01 a.m. EST on Friday.
I'm looking forward to my final week of Allods. It's been fun getting to know the game, and there have certainly been nice surprises, but the hurdles put in place by gPotato have made the entire process a frustrating endeavor. Let's send it off with a bang, either way.
Mike Foster is looking for a way to beat the winter chill, preferably by losing himself in a brand-new game world. Help him find his way to warmth in Choose My Adventure, and keep an eye out for him on the Massively Stream Team as he puts your votes into action.