choose my adventure

Choose My Adventure tours a new MMO every month — with you, the reader, as the co-pilot, voting for how the writer plays from week to week. Our current captain is Eliot Lefebvre. [Follow this column’s RSS feed]

Choose My Adventure: The most depressing road trip in Lord of the Rings Online

You know, if my first exposure to Elves had been in Lord of the Rings Online, I would probably think that they were the most depressing species in existence because they’re basically prepping for the most depressing road trip ever. Maybe for all of the right reasons, but still.

For those of you who are even less aware of Middle-Earth as a setting than I, the gist of things is that the time of the Elves is nearly done, and they are soon to journey to the West. This is kind of a natural side-effect of the whole to-do about the eponymous Rings, where the Elves can’t stick around without them; I’m not entirely clear on the details, there, but the short version is that this is the close of a cycle for the entirety of the race.

So most of your early stuff is based around the fact that the Elves are not, in fact, going out to party and enjoy themselves while Sauron is on the march. Instead, it’s all about preparing for the most depressing road trip of all time.

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Choose My Adventure: Starting my journey in Lord of the Rings Online

If I had to guess which tabletop roleplaying game I was going to associate with Lord of the Rings Online, I really wouldn’t have guessed Call of Cthulhu. There have been actual tabletop games associated with this setting, after all. But no, it’s that classic that’s been in the back of my mind the whole time, which is something of a compliment.

To my surprise, the CE code that I had for the game from back forever ago did, in fact, work just fine, which meant that I started out with a fresh VIP subscription, a mess of coins, and all of the benefits that I otherwise would have unlock directly. Like the class which got selected for me, for example. After a bit of clicking through options, I created my newest incarnation of Ceilarene because why not her and got thrown into the game’s opening sequence.

Which all happens a very, very long time ago, but the game doesn’t communicate that terribly well. But that’s not entirely its fault.

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Choose My Adventure: Preparing to re-enter Lord of the Rings Online

The votes are in, and the next four weeks will be spent in Lord of the Rings Online! This one quite genuinely surprised me, not because I think the game lacks fans (I know it’s got a lot of those) but because I really didn’t think it would get such a groundswell of support. But it did, and so we’re heading to Middle-Earth for a few weeks.

Middle-Earth and I have a rather different relationship than the one I have with Tamriel, even though it kind of averages out to about the same thing. I also, ironically, have a LOTRO collector’s edition in my house, despite having never played the game for more than a couple of days. They were giving them out at PAX East the first year; it’s still not redeemed. I don’t actually know if it’s still any good, for that matter.

Unlike the previous game I’ve covered in this column, LOTRO has not recently had an enormous update that renovates the entire way the game works. It does, however, have a devoted fanbase that is understandably a bit worried about the game’s long-term health at the moment, since we just recently learned that everything about the game’s management is changing. That’s a big deal.

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Choose My Adventure: The Elder Scrolls Online in review

Back when I played through The Elder Scrolls Online’s beta, I said that it was another generic fantasy MMO in a field already choked with them. The latter part has not changed. The question, then, is whether the former part has changed, whether the game has truly risen from its somewhat inauspicious beginnings to really carve out its own identity as a game, independent of simply relying upon the franchise name.

The answer… is complex. It has, but it also hasn’t, but it also doesn’t need to, but it also does need to. So let’s start going through this point by point.

I certainly have warmer feelings toward the game now than I did when I played through the beta. The game’s combat has undoubtedly been improved, and it cannot be overstated how much One Tamriel helps the game as a whole. Without feeling like I have to stick to a very narrow range of things to be done if I want to level, I always felt as if I really could head off in a direction and find what interested me, which is a good thing. The problem, of course, is that “interest” often requires investment in a setting, and that is… troublesome.

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Choose My Adventure: Wrapping up The Elder Scrolls Online in Orsinium

All good things must come to an end, and in this case, my adventures in The Elder Scrolls Online are ending in Orsinium. I’ve done some stealing, I’ve done some murdering, and now it’s time for me to do some dealing with the dark and sinister work involved in building a nation out of nothing. Or close to nothing, anyhow. Hammering separate tribes together is never easy work.

It only gets harder when it turns out that the person responsible for hammering those tribes together may, in fact, be an ego-tripping maniac who shouldn’t be given authority over anyone.

Of course, there’s more to see in Orsinium than I could get to in a week, even if I wasn’t in the middle of the holiday time crunch and so forth. But I did manage to at least get a high-level tour of what the region is all about, and I do agree with people who said that this was definitely the sort of thing that should be seen before leaving the game.

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Choose My Adventure: On the wrong side of the law in The Elder Scrolls Online

The Thieves’ Guild might have a somewhat generic name for what it’s doing, but I find it makes far more sense in any world than a guild of assassins. It’s the organized crime syndicate, and while it plays nicer than most organized crime, at the end of the day it’s the sort of group that makes logical sense. They keep tabs on one another, they work together, they try to avoid kicking up too much of a fuss to the point where law enforcement has to get involved.

Last week’s vote for my destination in The Elder Scrolls Online very narrowly favored the Thieves’ Guild over the murderhappy Dark Brotherhood, so I happily said farewell to the Dark Brotherhood while thanking them for the knife and went on my merry way to a long, long route toward my next destination. Seriously, I had to traverse quite a bit of land to meet up with Quen and get in on the theft of the MacGuffin. This time, it was a skull.

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Choose My Adventure: Assassinating randoms in The Elder Scrolls Online

It’s weird how attitudes towards death vary depending on the video game and the structure set up. In Saints Row the Third, a friend and I played a madcap duo named Morgan and Ryoko, and I have never once given a second thought to Ryoko’s habit of flinging grenades into the other lane of traffic for no reason outside of the fact that she could. The consequences of her actions would fall under the header of war crimes in any sensible world. Yet it wasn’t really the sort of world where that mattered.

What I’m getting at is that The Elder Scrolls Online made me kind of uncomfortable when it told me that the quest to get into the Dark Brotherhood would start when I killed someone. Just… someone. It didn’t really matter whom, so long as the person I killed was an innocent, arbitrary victim. That seemed wrong somehow.

Still, this was how the vote went, and thus I was off to the Gold Coast. Unfortunately, I didn’t get nearly as much time to play this week as I would have liked, but I made the best use of the time I did have to get in and start doing stuff for the Dark Brotherhood.

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Choose My Adventure: My first week in the Elder Scrolls Online

Despite the fact that for this round of Choose My Adventure, I am jumping into The Elder Scrolls Online in an era of doing whatever I want at any level I choose, it still makes sense to just go through the starting experience in a rather straightforward fashion. Obviously, the starter experience points you in a pretty obvious direction right away, but once you’re past the starter experience it still makes a certain amount of sense to keep rolling along with the storyline. You’re surrounded by quests and stuff to harvest right away; it’s pretty straightforward.

A lot of things, however, haven’t changed since I played the game in the beta forever ago. The story is, in many ways, in the same space it was back then. I wasn’t terribly enamored of the experience then, and so I will admit right off of the bat that I didn’t have high hopes this time. I mean, it was the same story, same overall experience — so how different could it really be once I started moving beyond the earliest parts of the story and into adventuring within the frozen lands of the Pact?

The answer, it turns out, is pretty darn different — for a variety of reasons.

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Choose My Adventure: Getting ready for The Elder Scrolls Online

The votes have been tallied and the verdict is in; the next month of the column will be all about The Elder Scrolls Online. Technically, yes, the votes were tallied a few days ago, but let’s just roll with it. The important point is that our destination is Tamriel, more specifically One Tamriel, and even more specifically…

Er, well, that’s kind of the point of the polls, isn’t it? So I guess that’s as specific as I can get.

Of course, where I start doesn’t actually matter as much as it used to due to the aforementioned “One Tamriel” update. For those of you unfamiliar with the premise, let’s go over what the game has to offer as well as my own history with it before we get to the voting and get on with the adventure.  If you’re already intimately familiar with all of it… well, let’s hope you’re still entertained by sparkling prose, or as sparkling as prose can be when the writer still giggles at words like “fart.”

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Choose My Adventure: Don’t call it a comeback

Hello, dear readers. Would you like to tell me what to do for a while?

Choose My Adventure has been absent from the site for a little while due to a combination of factors, but it’s time to get this ball rolling again, and that means I’m in the hot seat once again. Which is pretty familiar, really, since I’ve been doing the feature on and off since the days of That-Site-We-Only-Reference-Obliquely (or “the before times,” if you prefer). It’s a chance to break out of ruts, try new things, and provide a snapshot of a running game in four weeks of playtime. And it’s all on you.

Well, it’s partly on you. Here, come along with me, I’ll explain the premise and then we’ll start in on our first round of making decisions to shape everything moving forward. That’ll be fun, won’t it? I sincerely hope so.

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Choose My Adventure: Amnesia and exploration in Project Gorgon

Hello, friends, and welcome back to Choose My Adventure. If you’re just tuning in, you need to know that this round of columns is focusing on indie sandbox Project Gorgon. Last week, I asked y’all to vote on my character’s race and gender, and it was a close race, with the innuendo-loving Elves and the feral feline Rakshasa vying for supremacy while the ever-milquetoast Humans watched from the sidelines. I thought for sure that the Elves had it in the bag, but in the end, the Rakshasa cinched the victory. The contest to choose my character’s gender was a good sight closer, as it always is, but in the end, the decision went for male by a slim margin of 10 votes. The result of your votes is Koshekh the Rakshasa, pictured above in all his fabulous feline glory.

Although Koshekh and I have only just begun to dip our toes into the fathomless deeps of Project Gorgon, we’ve already had a few delightfully bizarre escapades. Koshekh’s adventure, like all others in Project Gorgon, begins at character creation. Following a brief introductory scene where poor Koshekh was incapacitated by a trio of grotesque, levitating crones who lamented that they were unable to break his will and ultimately decided to just wipe his mind and call it a day, he awoke on the shore of a desolate island.

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Choose My Adventure: Priming up for Project Gorgon

Hi there, friends! Welcome back to Choose My Adventure, where this week I’ll be unveiling the results of last week’s poll, fine readers like you (perhaps including you) voted to select the game I’ll be diving into for the next however-many weeks, where I’ll be obeying your every command so that you can play vicariously through me.

The Division and Tree of Savior were basically out of the running from the get-go, barring a feat of divine intervention. Alas, the divines were apparently too preoccupied to bother, and the pitiful pair came out with a paltry 7% and 19% of the overall vote, respectively. The race between the two real contenders, Project Gorgon and The Elder Scrolls Online was a good bit closer, and although Project Gorgon got off to an early lead, ESO was never far behind. But, to my admittedly pleasant surprise, Project Gorgon – an underdog for sure, I’d thought – kept its lead until the very end, crossing the finish line with 42% of the total vote to ESO’s 32%.

And so, as Caesar said, the die is cast. I’m not sure that Caesar’s was a d20, but I’m going to assume it was. So without further ado, please join me as I prepare to cross the Rubicon into the world of Project Gorgon.

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Choose My Adventure: Revenge of the CMA

Hello, friends, and welcome to the long-overdue return of Choose My Adventure. I don’t have a lot to say in the way of preamble, for once in my life. You guys know how this works: You choose a game for me to play, tell me how to play it, and I come back each week to report the consequent joys and/or psychic trauma that I experience.

This week, I present to you four games that will be contending for your votes, all in the hopes of being the primary object of my gaming attention for the next few weeks. Will I walk the ruined streets of The Division’s New York City, explore the many possibilities of Project: Gorgon’s sandbox, kick it old-school in the isometric-2D Tree of Savior – which has been hailed as the spiritual successor to Ragnarok Online – or will I wander the expanses of The Elder Scrolls Online’s Tamriel? The choice is yours, of course! So without further ado, let’s take a closer look at each of our contenders.

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