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Choose My Adventure: Mainland in black

Eliot Lefebvre

One of the comments from last week's Choose My Adventure suggested that I must not be enjoying Ryzom all that much. That isn't entirely accurate, but it would be accurate to say that the charm of the starter island has worn out its welcome and then some, which wouldn't surprise anyone, given that last week's poll wound up in a decisive victory for leaving the island and heading out to the mainland. And while there may have been some business left unfinished there, I'm not one to ignore the rule of the polls.

And so it was that Corlede obeyed the will of the people and headed off for the Zorai city. Once there, I set about the important business of getting Corlede outfitted, taking some advice, and assembling a team to plant an idea inside the head of a talking lion meant to represent a well-known religious figure. Or something like that.

Not pictured, the omnipresent darkness.  Seriously, I had to color-adjust this so it didn't look like gray-brown against a field of gray-green.My first impression on winding up in the jungle was... well, it wasn't exactly negative, but I did get a definite sense that this was more of the same. The main city of the Zorai feels kind of cluttered, with a lot of NPCs marching around and not much in the way of clearly defined areas. It also suffers from the persistent problem of many cities in video games: There's no way that everyone wandering the city could possibly live there, which is kind of jarring when you consider the emphasis that the game puts on verisimilitude.

But all of that is nitpicking, especially because my first order of business had been settled pretty much as soon as I read last week's comments. After all, I'd been told by those in the know that I probably didn't have enough time to actually craft things for myself at this point. So I had resolved to head out, sell off the various fragments of pelvis and eyeball that I had stocked up, and start buying myself some equipment from vendors. I'm sure you can give me a few dozen reasons that there might have been better options, but the fact of the matter is that I was looking for functionality, not the best of the best.

The garbage I'd collected from quartering wound up coming out to a surprisingly large amount of money; I might have been premature in declaring quartering pointless from earlier. It's certainly not helping you craft, but reselling it seems to be at least moderately lucrative -- enough, certainly, to kit Corlede out in a full set of wicker gear that mixed Heavy and Medium armor. The result was that she took a bit of a hit in her casting abilities, but she definitely lost a lot of her fragility in the tradeoff.

Armor is handled pretty nicely if I haven't said it already. Weaker armor is less taxing to use but also offers lesser protection, which means that you can do more in lighter armor including die faster. It manages to balance a system of "anyone can equip anything" fairly well with the "mage in heavy plate" problem you see in certain games.

One of the nice little alcoves I explored.  Not pictured - the mektoub who kept sticking his trunk into the frame.The quests, unfortunately, take a big dive once you get off the starter island. Instead of being given a few quest lines to pursue, you're essentially handed a huge list of different quests, none with more preamble than "go do such." They also suffer from vague directions, or I suffer from a real inability to read said directions. (I find the in-game map to be all but useless, which is a big problem with the game's very open structure.) My attempts to find five Kitin to slay most amounted to my wandering around the designated zone wondering where the hell there were some Kitin to kill, which may have been a result of poor directions or might have just been Corlede walking into a wall and getting lost.

But that was all right. I had put together my own quest, which consisted of "harvest a bunch of mektoub leavings and explore the area." This quest was soon revised to cover a smaller area, as I discovered the game is an ardent subscriber of the old-school method of walling off high-level zones. I took two steps too far in a higher-zone and was ripped in half within a few moments. Kind of discouraging, but there was still a lot to see.

Even in the safe region, there were a lot of things on display. The landscape was nothing short of beautiful, and while that might not sound like real praise, the way that things were sculpted really kept me wandering and looking for the next landmarks. Fields of flowers lit up at night, and mektoub herds congregated around the light while sniffing at Corlede out of curiosity. Birds swooped to and fro overhead, diving to catch something and then ascending once again. The world around me was certainly vibrant, and it reacted when I did something. Start smacking a mektoub and the others would bolt, leaving the slower one to his fate.

It was certainly an interesting walk -- perhaps a bit shy on firm results, but I was enjoying myself, and that alone is worth something.

We're coming up on the end of my time in Atys, so it's time to start in on the swan song. That means I need to do a bit more sojourning before I bring Corlede's story to a denouement. So vote away in the polls, and join me next week for the almost final installment in this adventure!
After five months out of the spin, Eliot Lefebvre is back for another round of Choose My Adventure, the game where you decide what the writer is going to do! Check back each Wednesday for a recap of the last week's play, then sound off in the polls and the comments to determine the course of action for the next week!

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