The adventures of Expendable Bo continue in this, the second half of my review in progress of Age of Wushu.
After my last review in progress, the lovely folks at Snail Games reached out and offered to walk (and talk) me through some game time; in order to clear up some of my confusion that I might, in turn, clear up some of yours. We got together on Monday and spent an entertaining hour (or more) discussing Age of Wushu, its particular perks and quirks, and the challenges of translating an import game for a new audience. Tyler, John and Steve could not have been more helpful, or more informative. To them, I doff my cap.
The first and most enlightening bit of information (for me at least) was their explanation of Jianghu, ultimately likening it to the Force. Once that comparison was made, I was able to better understand what it was all about. I don’t have it mastered by any means, but by giving me a more readily accessible point of context, I’m now on much more solid footing when it comes to making decisions about cultivation, etc.
Another thing I learned was that you gain experience from your actual experiences, the everyday variety, not just from battle or quests. Flipping around like a fruitcake you gain exp. Riding in a wagon you gain exp. We’re not talking huge numbers here, nothing so dramatic. I’d compare it to gaining insight from the ordinary, like people in real life do every day. While I already knew that PCs become NPCs when the player is offline, I also learned that other players can affect those PNPCs if they choose to. You can offer alms to a beggar (to buy them food) or even rescue them from their lowly state by buying out their bondage. It’s up to you, based on how generous you’re feeling with your in-game cash. You can also stop kidnappings in progress! (Something I wish I’d known during the beta.) Just click the endangered or afflicted PNPC, right-click the face icon that appears at the top of the screen and use the menu. Not only is this kind of intervention a nice thing to do for your fellow players, but rescuing others increases your reputation as a good guy, (if you’re into that sort of thing.)
Of course, nothing says you have to play a saint. AoW is wide open and you can easily be a sinner, if that’s how you choose to roll. Just be aware that there are consequences for evil acts, (being arrested and sent to prison) and while you won’t lose your character if s/he is executed for their crimes, you will suffer a pretty impressive death penalty, making it much harder to get others to group with you. And grouping in essential in Age of Wushu.
I do have issues with the cash shop and the impermanence of what you can buy there. The cosmetic outfits range from beautifully understated to completely ridiculous, (one of the female outfits I dubbed, “Santa’s Little Helper”) but they are expensive in real-world terms and are made even more so by the fact that none of them are permanent. One, three-piece outfit costs around 30 gold* (27 if you buy it as a set.) But that 30 gold runs $9.00, U.S. and only lasts for 30 days after you equip it. Mounts cost anywhere from 18 to 31 gold and, as with the cosmetic items, are only good for 30 days after first use.
The localization continues to progress, and the people behind the scenes (including the ones I had the chance to chat with) are working hard to keep improving game play. That said, I still take issue with the sheer amount of information that gets thrown at you, as well as the enormity of things to keep track of in-game. It’s not that any particular part is terribly difficult, it’s that there’s just so damn much of it. I did suggest to them that, along with all the lessons and tutorials, there should be a way to help players prioritize how they go about tackling all that Age of Wushu throws in their path. There should be something in the system to tell slightly obsessive control-freaks like me that it doesn’t all have to be done at once, or even soon. Also, give us a way to track what we’re pursuing and what we’re leaving for another day. I think those two things would go a long way to easing the info-dump anxiety that stymies so many.
I’m grateful to the Snail Games team for giving me their time, answering my questions and listening to my concerns and suggestions. And while I won’t pretend I’ve since fallen in love with AoW, I will admit that some of my opinions have altered just a bit. If nothing else, I can better understand why some of you are so devoted to it, even if I may never be.
Next week is my is the final (official, with numbers and everything) review. Stay tuned!
*Unlike many MMOs, in AoW, gold is the cash shop currency. In-game currency is a two tiered affair that I haven’t entirely sorted out yet.