I'm not even questioning why every adult guard in a fifty mile radius believes a small girl recovering from a traumatic injury is better suited to doing their jobs than they could ever be. No, all of that comes with the territory.
What's weird is the gear progression. Counter-intuitive doesn't even begin to cover it.
I suppose I'm old-fashioned. Okay, let's make that plain old. I grew up with a particular trope for gear progression in RPGs that I found really quite straightforward to follow. It went like this:
- You start out with a rusty sword.
- With your rusty sword you kill, let's say, a gnoll.
- The gnoll drops a sword that's not so rusty.
- You take the not-so-rusty sword from the dead gnoll and with it you kill a bigger gnoll, who drops a sword that's not rusty at all. Perhaps it's made of bronze.
- You swap again and with the bronze sword you kill an orc.
- He drops an iron sword.
Now you're getting the hang of how this goes. And it keeps on going like that, all the way
until you're standing over the smoldering corpse of the Holy Dragon Emperor, who just dropped the Flaming Scimitar of the Blazing Dragon and you won the game. Until the next expansion, when you return to Go and start all over again.
I may never have gotten within a hundred miles of that final, fiery sword, but I knew how to make my way in its general direction. Kill baddies, take their stuff. It was simple and I liked it.
Well, MMORPGs haven't really worked that way for a long time. Everything has sockets and gems and auras and augmentations. There are Relics and Epics and weapons and armor that Evolves. I know all that. Don't like it much but no-one's asking me.
Then we come to Blade and Soul. Firstly, there are a lot fewer equipment slots than I'm used to. It's pretty much your weapon, some jewellery and a hat. Secondly, and this is the really weird part, by level twenty you will have filled all the slots that matter with the only item you will ever need to equip there.
I had to google it. I would never have believed it if I hadn't read this guide. I am wondering even now if I've understood it correctly. This is what I think happens:
- Through questing you acquire a Hongmoon item for each slot.
- Each of these is the best you will ever get. Yes, you are playing a game where, from the beginning, your character gets BiS gear automatically.
- This gear evolves. By consuming other gear. You feed it, it grows.
- As you kill, you get drops.
- The drops are sealed.
- You can't equip sealed gear.
- You don't need to, even though you also get keys that do unseal it.
- If you do unseal it, you can equip it, but you would never want to equip it because it is always worse than what you already have.
- Except when your Hongmoon gear reaches a "Breakthrough" point.
- Then you must unseal a specific item that matches the Breakthrough because now that's all your Hongmoon piece has the appetite to eat.
There's another, even more demented, progression path for your Soul Shield but at this point I began to lose the will, and the ability, to take it all in.
I just came out of City of Steam a month or so ago. That game also had an insanely complicated series of nested progression paths for gear. EQ2, which I have been boiled in for so long that I've been soup for years, has gear ladders that appear to have been designed by Escher and Gaudi on a bet. Even those mare's nests still had gear that dropped that you used!
Maybe someone is going to explain in the comments how I've gotten this all wrong. I hope so. At the moment it appears that my future in Blade and Soul consists of looting items that I have to unseal to see what they are so I can look at them and realize they are useless to me and that I should have left them sealed and sacrificed them to the gear I already have.
I'm not saying that doesn't work. I'm already starting to get used to it. I managed to buff my Hongmoon staff so far last night that I need two more levels before I can take it any further. That was quite satisfying.
If so, frankly, it's not necessary. I had a quest last night that required me to open the Cash Shop and have a look at it. Most F2P games have a quest like this for obvious reasons. Usually it's click - click - done. Not this time.
I spent about a quarter of an hour browsing the virtual shelves. Unlike GW2's Gem Store, where there is almost never a single thing I'd use even if it came for free, I could imagine spending money in B&S's store all too easily. I probably won't because I'm mean like that but I could imagine it.
I mean, who wouldn't want to wear a pink fat suit and call themselves Pinky Bear? Nothing weird about that at all. And if that's not worth getting your credit card out for, what is?