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: Finishing up in Neverwinter

I’m going to be honest, before playing Neverwinter I had a very different picture of this game in my head in some ways. Not because I didn’t expect the game’s core gameplay loop; I’d gotten that from demo events. And it’s not because I thought the game would feature a different set of mechanics or a different aesthetic. I did think that the animations wouldn’t be quite so dreadfully stiff for poor Ceilarene, but even that’s not enough to really throw me off of my game.

No, what I really pictured differently was the eponymous city of Neverwinter. I pictured, well, a city. What Neverwinter more closely resembles is a superheroic hometown after the most recent event storyline. There’s exactly one district that seems to actually be suitable for human habitation, and everything else is crawling with stuff that wants to kill you for various reasons. Also, every single part of the game is filled with people insisting that the city will soon belong to them.

In other words, it’s Paragon City without the superheroes.

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Choose My Adventure: My frustration with Neverwinter’s lockboxes

If you thought I was enjoying my time with Neverwinter as a whole, you would be right. I am enjoying my time with the game as a whole, and while there are bits and pieces which don’t totally sell me, my initial impressions have been positive. Heck, even my impressions from the last week or so of play have been mostly positive, with a lot of good experiences and a few which are…

Yeah, I could say “less good,” but I’m going to go with just plain “rage-inducing.”

Here’s the weird thing: At least one of the things which inspired a rage-spike from me was something I had been waiting for from the moment I started playing the game, and people who have read my work long enough probably know what that means. So join me as I find the item I dread more than any other in games by Cryptic, an item that appears in both of the other titles run by the studio that makes me start shuddering with rage every time I see it.

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Choose My Adventure: Exploring the purpose and plan of this community column

You are no doubt staring at the title image above and thinking to yourself that it really does not look like a Neverwinter screenshot. And you would be right; it doesn’t look like a Neverwinter screenshot because it isn’t a Neverwinter screenshot. My schedule has been hectic enough that rather than trying to cram in a rushed play session without much meat in it, I elected to have a brief delay and push the next Neverwinter installment back a week. Not to worry, though; it’s an extension, not a cancellation, and Neverwinter still will get its full four weeks in the spotlight.

Instead, I wanted to be a bit more meta and discuss a few things I see coming up in the comments from time to time as well as covering some ideas for the series moving forward. And yes, it contains polls for the compulsive voters in the audience, you charming folks.

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Choose My Adventure: Finding a hat in Neverwinter

When we last left off in Neverwinter, I was finding out whether or not people wanted me to purchase the game’s subscription-but-not-really. You voted a resounding no, although quite a few of you voted no on the basis of this making me angry faster or something like that. Guys, is this a thing? Do you just want me to be sad? I don’t think we can be friends if that’s the case, and I’m usually sad anyway. It’s not a long walk.

Also, Ceilarene was hot on the trail of the thieves who stole the crown of Neverwinter. Or somewhat warm on the trail, at least. The crown in question isn’t a magical artifact, though, it’s just a crown. I think it’s just a mark of office, anyhow; it might be magical after all. Either way, it does confer a certain degree of status and it looks really neat, so presumably I should actually chase after the jerks who stole it. That means heading to another district of the city, the Blacklake District. If that sounds like a bad part of town… well, yes.

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Choose My Adventure: Getting started in Neverwinter

There are games that simply do not hold up past the demo, and frankly I’ve played a lot of those in Boston. Usually those are non-MMOs that promise big but don’t wind up delivering; I was excited about Rock Band Blitz, but it didn’t really pan out as being as fun as a standalone game compared to a quick demo station. So I was aware that however much I liked Neverwinter from demo kiosks, it was entirely possible that sitting down to play the actual game would be something of a disappointment.

But it wasn’t. Made you look.

Far from being less than it had seemed when I tried out the demos, I quite enjoyed my first week of time spent in Neverwinter. Not that it’s going to tear me away from all other games forever, but it’s a fun experience with plenty of things to hook you into the gameplay quickly without forcing you to dive headfirst into lore in order to find your commitment to the story.

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The Stream Team: Artifact retrieval in Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series

Well that didn’t end well. At the end of the last Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series Choose My Adventure, the team didn’t get paid and Starlord (aka Massively OP’s MJ) lost possession of the artifact that suggested that his mom needed his help. So now he (she) has to retrieve it. The audience voted to bring Gamora along for the mission. Will it be successful? Join us live at 8:00 p.m. to not only watch the story unfold but decide in which direction it unfolds.

What: Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 8:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

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Choose My Adventure: Getting started in Neverwinter

Oh boy, Neverwinter! I am legitimately excited about this cycle’s Choose My Adventure pick, in no small part because the only reason I have not yet played Neverwinter in any serious capacity is because I am an idiot. Or cursed with more enthusiasm than with actual free time. It’s kind of a fifty-fifty split, here.

See, I still remember first seeing Neverwinter in person at PAX East one of these years. (All of the PAX Easts kind of blur together in a mess of overcrowded convention halls, Boston weather, and occasional hotel stays.) I have more or less no attachment to the original games in the franchise, and frankly it looked like it was going to be pretty great. I was really looking forward to playing it myself.

Instead, I think I just played a lot of other games and never actually even installed it. I’m sure I had my reasons. I’m not sure they were good reasons, though.

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The Stream Team: Continuing the Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series CMA

After a few hiccups with voting (not to mention walking!), Massively OP’s MJ figured things out and made it through the first part of the Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series story relatively unscathed. Relatively. Now it’s time to move on to the next adventure — hopefully with Rocket Raccoon still a part of the crew. Of course, how things develop has everything to do with what you, the viewers, decide! Tune in live at 9:00 p.m. to continue our single-player-turned-multiplayer Choose My Adventure experiment.

What: Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 9:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

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The Stream Team: A new CMA series in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series

Do you like Telltale games? Do you like Guardians of the Galaxy? Do you like telling Massively OP’s MJ what to do? If so, we have the perfect deal for you! In honor of the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 release in theaters today, we’re starting a special new Choose My Adventure type series with the also newly released Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series game. Now, we know this isn’t an MMO, nor is it even multiplayer — except we’re making it that way! All the viewers are being brought into the play experience by making all the decisions.  Join us live at 3:00 p.m. to fight your fellow viewers for the right to determine MJ’s path in this game.

What: Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 3:00 p.m. EDT on Friday, May 5th, 2017

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Choose My Adventure: Wrapping up Black Desert and selecting our next destination

Back when I mentioned that I was learning to like Black Desert a while back, I got this tweet from the game’s official account. That was awesome. I liked it immensely. And while I don’t think I ever actually learned to love you guys (sorry!), I definitely do have a degree of appreciation. It just never crossed over into actual love. (Not least because my heart is already sworn to another game. You all know it.)

I’ve kind of struggled to summarize my feelings about Black Desert in my mind. The trouble isn’t that they’re negative feelings; it’s just that, much like my feelings on The Elder Scrolls Online’s battlegrounds, it’s easy to take them as negative when that isn’t how they’re meant. I certainly didn’t dislike the game, and it’s definitely not bad; I kept feeling like I was brushing up against the same territory as I did with the aforementioned ESO. But where I walked away from that game thinking “this is a lot better than I remember, even if it’s still kind of tedious in places,” I’m walking away from Black Desert feeling as if the game keeps giving me tools to solve problems I don’t have.

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Choose My Adventure: Failure to trade in Black Desert

Despite my best efforts, I walked away from my trading attempts in Black Desert having been wholly unsuccessful. I consider this a good thing, and it left me with a very positive impression of the mechanics involved, with maybe one exception.

This may sound weird and almost nonsensical, but additional context sheds some light on that statement. One of my repeated points which I harp on over and over is that I want systems to have complexity equal to the amount of time you’re expected to devote to them. If you want me to work hard at establishing trade routes, I want that system to be as complex as clearing out high-level dungeons or engaging in siege warfare.

In other words, it shouldn’t be something I can master or even do much more than brush against while I’m on a high-speed tour of the game and what it has to offer. And while I was a bit disappointed with the game’s gathering mechanics, the trading system seems to offer exactly what I wanted to see.

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Choose My Adventure: Grinding away in Black Desert

Let me talk to you, my friends, about grinding. Specifically, about how it gets a bad reputation that it doesn’t altogether deserve.

How does this connect to this week’s adventures in Black Desert? Well, because I wound up doing a fair bit of grinding. It wasn’t intentional or anything, since my designated goal this week was to just trek about and see the sights for a bit. But if you give me a camp full of goblins just sitting in my path, and you have me, a player who’s more than willing to give these things a shot on the basis that the worst possible outcome is that I die… well, I’m going to fight those goblins. I’m going to fight them a bunch.

And, I think, this was ultimately a good thing. Because while the game still has all of the problems that I’ve seen to bother me up to this point, the grinding of goblins was a notable island of things feeling fresh, crisp, and responsive. It’s almost as if I enjoy the game more when I’m away from the things of man.

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Choose My Adventure: Learning to appreciate Black Desert

First and foremost, I’d like to thank the many people who informed me about how to hide the UI in Black Desert. I shouldn’t have needed to be told that, it seems, but I did, and I really do appreciate the insight; in this case, I’d rather be thought a fool and get the answer to my questions than deny it and continue on in ignorance. So now my only real problem is my usual inattentiveness about when I should take screenshots, not failing to understand how.

This coincides nicely with starting to appreciate the game a little bit more. The first week felt rather unclear, but now that I’ve spent a bit more time with the game I’m starting to grasp what it’s trying to do. I’m still not entirely sure if I like all of it, of course, but at least I feel that I’m able to determine that based on the actual game rather than my confusion over what the game wants from me.

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