Choose My Adventure: Age of Wushu charms and confuses

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Choose My Adventure: Age of Wushu charms and confuses
Age of Wushu screenshot
So here we are in the second week of the Age of Wushu Choose My Adventure coverage. There's no way that even a dozen weeks would cover everything there is to know about this awesome MMO, but luckily the point of this column is to show what it's like to jump into game not only while I'm blind but also when a crowd is directing my every major decision. That means that I get to act like myself and enjoy getting lost in a game that is truly a living world. Age of Wushu is fantastic for certain newbies just as it seems it is for vets.

Of course, it's not all that rosy. In almost every article I have read about the game, and even in the chat room while I streamed the game live (it's embedded after the cut), I saw players who expressed their disappointment in how confusing the game is. Massively's own Patrick Mackey has been helping me along the way, and he said on the stream that the best thing to do to alleviate confusion is to "join a guild." I agree, so that's going to be one of the questions I put up for a vote. Having access to Patrick, the readers and players, and the developers themselves does put me at an advantage over typical newbies.

Click past the cut and lets get to what I thought about the choices that were made last time, and be sure to vote on this week's poll questions!

Age of Wushu screenshot
The first thing I had to do was roll on the server that won the poll. Although Black Tortoise won, it was soon after merged with White Tiger, the sever that came in second place. I rolled on the new combined server, bought 100 gold, and enjoyed a VIP membership that was given to me from the publisher. I promised to look at how cash payments affected the game, so what better way to do it then to buy some extras? I am also going to use some of my gold to upgrade my account even further. Look for that information in future columns.

Next up, man or woman? Woman. It's important to note that two of the school choices were gender-locked. It looked like the community wanted me to roll a female character, but you also wanted me to roll Shaolin, which is for male characters only. Luckily the vote turned around, and I was told to go with Wanderer's Valley. The character customization is nice, but I decided to go with a push of the "random" button. Don't let me stop you, though; there are quite a few hairstyles and looks to go with in case you want to do that.

The starting area had to be important, so when I saw Twilight Village start to take the lead, I knew something was up. It turns out that the Village is a unique, single-player starter area that allows the player to play alongside a digital Jet Li, the internationally known action star. The VIP zone doesn't do as nice a job of informing the player about what his abilities are; in fact, it is a rushed experience and pushes the player through content and information that would normally take the player hours in the normal starter zones. I loved how the VIP zone looked but became very frustrated when the game just seemed to stop me from moving forward. It turns out that I needed to try the beginning quest again (thanks for the tips, Community Manager Earthquake!), and sure enough I was eventually able to move on into the "real" world. Would I recommend playing in the Twilight Village starter zone instead of the others? Well, I would recommend rolling at least one character on a different server to see it; it's pretty darn cool.

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I was told by the readers to go with Wanderer's Valley, one of two "immoral" (according to an NPC) schools. I asked Patrick and Earthquake about this on the livestream, and they informed me that many people consider it evil because it's a school that allows its member to kill other players without a penalty from the school. In other words (as Patrick put it) is is populated by people who frequent the Something Awful forums. (Gulp!) While I wasn't in the mood for griefing people, the truth is that I would still find good players -- who played without causing grief just for fun -- in many parts of the game. I wasn't worried.

The Wanderer's Valley area is amazing. Heck, the entire game looks incredible, but the Valley that my master and school are located in is definitely darker and more evil-looking but continues with the game's tradition of looking damn nice. I met up with my master, who told me to take some poison before he seemed to even know my name. If I didn't, he would have me killed anyway! The school feels like it hosts a gang who runs against the grain of the rest of the world, but I like that. I often avoid "evil" factions or at least avoid playing "evil-ish," but this school is going to be good. I specialize in double swords and spinning attacks and later on would gain a never-ending combo, something that I was eager to discover. Combos happen when enough rage is built up by fighting or blocking, and the low-level combo I had was already a lot of fun. A never-ending version sounds awesome.

Because you can have only one production profession at a time, I put it up for a poll. Poison Maker won, so I asked my guests on the livestream about it. I had not yet found my way to the NPC who can teach me how to make poisons, but Patrick told me it's pretty straightforward. A Poison Maker creates poison to dip his weapons in and to sell to other players. It is also a gathering-friendly profession and can be very useful. I found out that I will eventually be told when to go learn the profession, so I will accomplish it after I write this column. I've been too busy in-game discovering just how much content there is because there is a lot.

The learning curve is something that many players and would-be players will complain about, as I mentioned earlier. Truly I am lucky to work at a job that gives me access to people who know how all of the systems work, but not everyone has the same access. Would it be a problem for someone who is truly new to the game? Probably. It's still a confusing game, and I have all the advice I can handle, so someone who is not used to such gameplay could easily become overwhelmed.

I talked to Earthquake about this problem, but with time the game will get smoothed out. There are tutorial pop-ups and help files always available, but I don't like to read pages of material before I play a game. I have been going through many of Patrick's columns, but again the dense material can be a bit much to endure. I will do what I do in my other titles: I'll ask when I am confused but will balance it with my innate sense of wonder. That wide-eyed sense is one of my greatest gifts and makes even confusing games fun to discover. Age of Wushu has almost too much to discover for someone like me who cannot spare the time to play several hours a night, but I wouldn't want the developers to adjust the game for me; they should stick to making a game for players who really dig this sort of play.

So let's get to this week's votes. If you have any ideas about what I should put up to vote next, let me know. My character's name is BeauHindman if you want to contact me in-game, and you can Tweet me as well! Be aware that the polls are closing a bit earlier this time around, so I have time to play with the choices more.
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!
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