The mine secured, it was time to make our second choice. One ringleader had rewired the security turrets – did we want to get them back under our control? An Aurin scientist had been busy hacking bots and gathering supplies – did we want to take her out? And some guards had been taken hostage in the yard – was it time to liberate them? Explaining the choices, Tobiasson provided a little background.
“What you can see here is that there’s three different leaders to the prison riot as a whole. Doing these missions, we’re undermining different plans that they have in motion, and that’s going to determine which bosses we fight and when, and what the circumstances are going to be.”
It was a narrow vote, but our choice was to head out into the hard and secure those turrets. It was a quick job to lock them down from prying prisoners, only for the Warden to contact us about another problem. Jarak, a dangerous Granok, was causing trouble in Sigma Block and Rhadman wanted us to take care of it quickly. “One of three different bosses can appear here. It’s the character with the strongest plan.
As a bossfight it started off easily enough, with the burly Granok taking a pounding. But as his health started to dip, prisoners started coming to his aid in ones and twos. It wasn’t significant, but it was constant, and could have quickly overwhelmed us. Some of those prisoners were also carrying Resonators, using their medic-style healing to thwart our efforts.
With Jarak defeated, our final choice was revealed. We could either protect the landing pad from attack and stop any prisoners from escaping the asteroid, or we could get the meteor shield back online and stop Astrovoid from being pummeled to pieces. Deciding that we can’t let anyone escape, we opted to head for the landing pad. It was a bit of a boneheaded move, as going outside had just become incredibly dangerous, with meteors smashing left and right. Handling the prisoner onslaught was a cinch by comparison – with our backs to the gate we just mowed them down.
At that point I thought we were done, but there was one final boss to defeat. The nutty Professor Goldbough had been cooking up an escape plan on the support decks, and was now ready to spring it into action. The asteroid suddenly lost all momentum, which meant that gravity was about to claim this errant rock for itself. With the prison plummeting towards Nexus, the professor’s plan was to use Loftite-powered cryopods to escape as soon as soon as we broke atmosphere.
Not wanting to get a front-row seat at planetary carnage, we charged forward to take down her reprogramemd robots, before cutting loose any jury-rigged escape pods. With that done, our final task was to turn the Aurin scientist into fertilizer and claim our rewards.
On the subject of rewards, would players pick certain options in order to get a smooth ride through the Adventure? Tobiasson doesn’t seem to think so. “The way that we’re combatting it is that you’re going to have different rewards, based on the choices that you make and the challenges that you face. You can find that going through on some of them, it’s fast, but it’s also not going to be as rewarding as trying out all the different options.”
Adventures start at level 15, and intersperse with the more traditional dungeons to give us a new experience every five levels. It’s even possible to pull in higher-level characters, as they’ll get mentored down to the appropriate level. From my own experience of playing the Stormtalon’s Lair dungeon at Arkship EU (there are some great videos from Yogscast on it here and here), it’s also a more haphazard and chaotic experience than the linearity of a dungeon. While there are bosses, there wasn’t the ornate and extravagant set-piece experience, although that might just be the particular Adventure we were on.
Instead, the focus is on the random – being placed into a situation and reacting to it as it changes. Besides, bosses can be simpler if they’re not being faced as often due to the random nature of choice selection – why have a three phase fight loaded with special abilities if it’s only going to be seen once in every five runs or rarer?
The difficulty was also there; our ragtag group of press armed with unfamiliar classes wiped hard and wiped often (especially with me healing), so I would not expect to zerg through this blindfolded. An organized group will do well, but it shouldn’t be a cakewalk. I’m still expecting full-fledged dungeons to be more challenging, but it’s all there to prepare us for Elder Game. There are veteran modes to explore and raids to prepare for, and they will be punishing.
And those Adventure rewards? Well, let’s just say that the Caretaker will be grading your performance, and he watches very closely.
Gareth Harmer / Gareth Harmer has been blasting and fireballing his way through MMOs for over ten years. When he's not exploring an online world, he can usually be found enthusiastically dissecting and debating them. Follow him on Twitter at @Gazimoff.