In continuing with the theme from the last few weeks, I examined another "grinder" -- this time, Priston Tale 2. I have to admit to being a little overwhelmed with the grind at this point. I cannot fathom how a player can grind after gear, levels or whatever the item is, for months, if not years, of his life. Normally, the free-to-play games I am looking at or enjoying while "off the clock" are not such a grind. Yes, there is some element of that to almost every single game I have ever played, but my favorite games give me a choice or a way to avoid the grind.
It should be noted that even in the worst example of a grindy game there is the possibility of social interaction. Social interactions, in their many forms, are possible any time you have multiple players and a way to communicate. This is no small accomplishment, but it is often ignored as a very basic, important gaming possibility.
Still, we're here to talk about what Priston Tale 2 might offer that is different than any number of good-looking free-to-play grinders. So, let's get to it.
Let's start with the graphics. Priston Tale 2 is a beautiful game. It uses the Unreal engine but still runs smoothly on my older system (I like to test on my weaker rig). We should take a moment here to remember all those hard-working artists of all types who tirelessly work to bring us these amazing sights, only to be forgotten by wandering gamers. The artists who worked on this game need to win awards. Priston Tale 2 feels epic and spacious. The world looks incredibly large, and within minutes I was greeted with some very epic landscapes. The hometown of my character is a rough-looking land, pockmarked with pits and fire and filled with massive man-eating plants. The character models are some of the most original and powerful I have seen in a long time. From the very first steps into the world, you appear very powerful. Granted, you also look like you have some pretty major back pain, but still powerful.
"I found the secret to the fun: playing with other people. It might sound like a very basic idea, but grouping is often not one of my first priorities."
Perhaps the world is too big, at least at first. While you are loaned a handy mount, the 20 percent increase in speed is almost laughable as you wind your way out into the world. The grindy nature of the game means that you will gather quests, go out and kill things, and then come back to turn in those quests. All of this running around needs some kind of faster option, especially at first. Isn't it a mistake to make your new player say "oh god, not more running"? One of my favorite free-to-play titles of all time, The Chronicles of Spellborn, suffered from the same vast distances.
Last week, a reader suggested that I mention the lore of the worlds I visit just in case a player is interested in roleplay or background story. I understood the request, being that I come from a pretty intense and unique "hardcore" roleplay background, but it should be noted that the purpose of this column is not for information as much as for a retelling of my experience. Also, many of these games (of whatever payment model) have a horrible time letting me know anything outside of combat tactics. I had to go to the Priston Tale 2 site, but even then I had a hard time finding out exactly what the world was, who I was, and what exactly I was meant to be doing. Yes, the NPCs talk to you in bits and pieces about the lore of the world. However, I am not prepared to transcribe hundreds of tiny details only to patch together a possibly incorrect interpretation.
In other words, Priston Tale 2 does a horrible job with the lore.
But let's be honest, fair readers. Let's allow for some bare-naked facts: Many games of this style are not meant to do everything perfectly. Many of them are just meant to get you in and get you having a good time. They come in all shapes and sizes and payment models, but they are often going to be lacking in one or more areas. As far as I have experienced, the playerbase doesn't seem to bothered by lack of a background story.
One thing the game does right is combat. This is supposed to be more of an action-based, Diablo-style game. You go to your mob location, tilt that camera up, and start chopping. I kept wondering why the mobs fell so easily, then I realized that it was indeed like an open-world dungeon. Mobs drop loot; you keep the loot or sell it. Typical stuff, especially if you grew up playing games like Diablo.
Yes, after the 40th request to kill even more mobs using the same limited sets of abilities, a player might grow very tired of this game. As I grouped with random players, however, I found the secret to the fun: playing with other people. It might sound like a very basic idea, but grouping is often not one of my first priorities. I am usually so sucked into looking around the landscape or taking screenshots that I forget the players around me. Priston Tale 2 is a blast in a group, which fits with the pattern I found over the last month. It's like any other game from this school of thought: get a group, go kill mobs, collect loot, have a blast. All for free.
I was able to snag 6,000 units to spend in the cash shop, all thanks to a recent promotion. I bought a pet that will pick up all dropped loot for me, which came in handy. If you watch the embedded video, however, you will see that the sneezing (or starving) sounds he makes would drive any player to insanity. At one point, I asked the folks in chat if they could tell me what those sounds meant, and they informed me that he was just hungry. I looked in the cash shop for any food but found nothing. I even asked the recommended GM on Twitter, and he or she simply responded with "You don't need to feed those pets." After perusing the help section (which consists of a series of videos), I found nothing as well. I decided to call the pet out only when needed.
Overall, I enjoyed my last week in Priston Tale 2. It's a fantastic-looking game and worth the download just for exploration's sake. The grind is ever-present, but that's to be expected. I would like to see any other type of quest appear just once every so often, just to break up the grind. That would work wonders. If you want to play it, grab some friends and grind out your Friday night. Join a guild, go exploring, try crafting. Otherwise, don't expect anything very out of the ordinary.
After all these grinders, I need a break. My poor wrists need to be iced down, and I cannot go on killing so many monsters. I decided to take a long look back at Dark Age of Camelot. The last time I played this was before I worked here at Massively, so it will be neat to see how it's improved. Technically, it fits within the guidelines of Rise and Shiny: it's smaller, pretty much independent, and talked about as though it's dead. My name is Beauhindman in the Midgard Realms, Ywain 1 server.
Now, go log in! Each week, Rise and Shiny asks you to download and try a different free-to-play, indie or unusual game, chosen by me, Beau Hindman. We meet each Tuesday night at 9 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. PDT); the column will run on the following Sunday. I welcome any suggestions for games -- drop me a note in the comments or email, or follow me on Twitter or Raptr!