After my day session of Lionhand, I was in the mood to play more of him. I think Ettarre has hit a wall for a while, and I'll have her sit around for a bit. It's not that I don't like playing her, I do, I just feel like I've missed a lot of the game play and just leveling for leveling sake was burning me out. So for Lionhand, I am leveling up my crafting skills and refining my armor. At least for the first sixty levels I get a new set of armor from Tanis Ka daily and try to refine the armor to as high a level as I can before they break. Each new high level piece I throw into my stash (read: warehouse) and start again the next day. It means that by the time I actually get to use the armor I should have it at least to level five. A side benefit I'm getting is that I'm using the drops to level my crafting skill, which means I can make more armor to try to get to level five refinement. I haven't seen anyone put down percentages on a chart, but my weapon seems to break the easiest of the set. I don't know what it is, but for some reason I'm having the most trouble raising the refinement level on my weapons.
Last time I wrote about ascension and said that I thought it was just more leveling, it is but it's much more than that. On September 10th Perfect World Entertainment announced what Ascension was. Apparently ascension is your character's chance to be immortal. Because of this change everything comes undone and the slate is wiped clean. You can change classes, redo your skills and tome points, new equipment, new events, new maps, new PvP battlegrounds, and new skills trees. PWE had this to say about the new Ascension expansion:
Over the course of time, man has accepted the yin and yang nature of life and death. All humans share an unshakeable belief that each individual's fate is a pre-ordained destiny decided upon by the Gods. Recent developments indicate that over the past several centuries, a group of humans has slowly uncovered the secrets of the Immortals, tapping into their ethereal energy source. This has given them untold power and knowledge. This has not gone unnoticed by the Immortals, and with an ever-increasing number of humans evolving beyond the limits of humanity, plans are afoot to send legions of Immortals to the mortal realm to eradicate humanity's grasp on this forbidden energy and restore balance to the universe. A crisis looms on the horizon. There is no turning back. But what chance does mankind stand against such supreme beings? The tides can be turned through only one path - harnessing the powers of the Immortals to level the playing field, giving mankind a fighting chance at their very survival. The time is now upon us all to stand up and embrace this energy and ascend to immortality. A crisis approaches. Which side will you be on?
Ascension also solves one of the big leveling questions. In Jade Dynasty, skills and using them well, are the key to leveling efficiently. However as you keep on leveling, skills that might have been very good at twenty no longer matter at forty and so on, which meant that you had to be careful and spend a good amount of skill points on the skills you needed now, while making sure you were laying down the road for the skills you would need later. A total skill change costs thirty dollars, while a tier change only costs eight. All of which meant either way it was going to cost you to try to revamp your skills. While in retrospect the thirty dollar charge isn't that great when you compare to World of Warcraft's faction change for example, it's nice to not have to make the decision.
One of the nice things about Jade Dynasty is that you have unique quests show up from time to time. Some of the quests are timed kill orders; others are fetch quests or even a series of quests. It's not much but it keeps you on your toes watching out for them because they often have nice rewards. Of course that means that when I forget to throw on invigorate when I'm fighting a boss and so get my ass handed to me, I also lose out on those same rewards (Damn you Cleaver). Still it adds a certain suspense to the game because when you fail some quests that's all she wrote for the rewards.
I'm leveling faster on Lionhand. Part of the reason is that I just know the system better, but the second time around I can see where I wasted time doing things in a haphazard way. This time I've got a system. When I hit forty-five on Lionhand I did the tier two quest. On Jadeon it's a timed kill order quest rather than the boss kill Ettarre had. Mostly irritating rather than hard it was nice to have to done when I was actually level forty-five. Once I finished that I got the level forty-five Chi. At forty-five gold, my bank took a huge hit, but since I had Ettarre I knew I'd make it back fairly easily.
Now time for my weekly rant:
Cash shops are tricky things. More and more in the future we are going to see them in both free 2 play MMOGs and paid subscriptions MMOGs. The fact of the matter is that development and upkeep for this genre is just going up while subscriptions remain the same, and there is no way that companies, by which I mean entities that need to make a profit, can choose to ignore the revenue stream that cash shops provide. While in the end they might call it something else the fact of the matter is that paying for items or features extra is here to stay. Now onto cash shops. There are two ends of the spectrum when dealing with cash shops, the kind that give you no real items, mostly they deal with costumes and fluff pieces that are for the more art and style inclined players. This isn't a derogatory, after all if your character is your Avatar in a virtual world why not make him or her chic.
On the other end of the spectrum are the kind of cash shops that sell experience items, weapons, armor, health and magic potions, even in-game money. Jade Dynasty tends to be far more complex than it seems at first glance. Kill and fetch quests, give way to travel quests and treasure chain quests. Simple pets that look kind of cutesy can be evolved twice over into large sidekicks that can increase your DPS twice fold. Jade Dynasty often lies in that dark grey area. It sometimes appears that certain things can only be bought in the cash shop, but then one finds that it's possible without a cash shop item. Because so much of the game is less obvious than players are sometimes used to, that can be frustrating. Example, a pet can be upgraded twenty levels. An upgraded pet basically means its stat points have been increased. All well and good, you say. However it appears, at least for now, that a pet can't b e upgraded past level eight without going to the cash shop. That's questionable, because the cash shop is supposed to make it easier to do something not make it possible. Meaning, it shouldn't be impossible to get to level twenty without using the cash shop. This has be labeled a detraction from Jade Dynasty, which is really a shame because up to now I haven't had any real complaints about Jade. Part of the problem derives from the fact that information is so hard to come by in a smaller game and as such not everyone is sure about how to do certain things. As times goes by and more wiki pages are developed perhaps some of the complaints that are so fervent on the forums will become old news.
By the end of the week I had leveled Lionhand up to level seventy by using Ettarres' gold and by frankly just be better at the games ins and outs. I look forward to fast tracking my sprint to Ascension.