Wednesday, 23 March 2016
Climbing Wizard's Altar : Black Desert
It's likely I wouldn't have been playing Black Desert tonight at all if Landmark's big pre-launch update had gone better but between the server coming up and my patching the game the server had come down again so that was that plan scuppered.
BDO had a patch too. We're having an Easter event it seems. I didn't pay much attention to that. With just an hour or so in hand I thought I'd go take a look at the Wizard's Altar since it happens to be very close to my new home on Goat Mountain. I can see it from my front door.
There were two quests in my book for the Altar, both level 18 and at least one came from the pesky Black Spirit, which means it's part of what appears to be the main quest line. That makes me nervous.
I was expecting a big fight. I was also expecting to have a tough time of it. At this point anyone who's planning on doing the quest themselves might want to look away because this is something of a spoiler...
Okay...warning over...last chance to leave...
There is no big fight but there is a jumping puzzle. Okay, not so much a jumping puzzle as a moderately difficult climb. The quest takes you to a tower and leaves you to work out for yourself where to go next.
I used to think I hated jumping puzzles but I've had to admit that I only really hate blatantly gimmicky jumping puzzles and jumping puzzles that I can't do. Anything that makes a fair stab at representing an actual environmental obstacle I'm willing to give a fair shake.
It helps that I am, after all the practice I've had in GW2, not entirely terrible at jumping puzzles any more. I wouldn't say I was good but I can generally scramble my way to the top with a little luck and a following wind.
This one was excellent. I really enjoyed it. In GW2 terms it's more of a Vista than a full-blown Jumping Puzzle. I really like vistas in GW2 but the way BDO handles climbing is even better. Your character doesn't just jump, she clambers over walls, grabs onto handholds and hoists herself up in a most convincing fashion. The actual jumping is very awkward, come to think of it.
Your character also has some inertia, meaning you often get a chance to pull away from a fall, although equally if you over-jump you can find yourself stumbling on for a yard or two and teetering on the brink. It makes for exhilarating gameplay and it's great to watch.
The Wizard's Altar turns out to be a weather-worn tower infested by imps. Getting to the top involved a few fights on flat roofs, some straightforward negotiation of an external wooden spiral staircase that fell into increasingly bad repair as it neared the top, a couple of awkward leaps and a ladder. You can climb ladders, which is nice, although I should point out you could climb ladders in EverQuest at least as far back as The Ruins of Kunark in 2000 so it's hardly an innovation.
In what you might call the belfry if there was a bell there was an ominous statue of a dragon. I guess that makes it a dragonry. A close examination of the statue sent the Black Spirit into a cut scene frenzy in which it revealed a little more of its uncertain status as my supposed ally. There is a plot and it is thickening.
The spirit also seems to have acquired a necklace or diadem of some kind and some lozenges. Not the kind you suck for a sore throat. More the heraldic type. I get the distinct feeling I am making it stronger and I very much doubt that that's a good idea.
Although I'd completed the quest I could see a ladder going still higher so of course I carried on climbing. Balancing on the parapet above the dragon I was doubly rewarded. There were several shattered statues of lions holding tablets, all of which informed me when examined that they were too damaged to read.
On the far side, hardest to reach, was the most intact lion. I worked my around towards it and saw...something oval and rainbow-striped.. In a staggeringly immersion-breaking and yet not unwelcome development, I'd happened upon one of the hidden collectables for the new holiday event, both a literal and metaphorical Easter Egg.
The final lion statue gave up its secret and a gobbet of Knowledge that I'm sure will come in handy in some future chit-chat. The light was beginning to fail. I retraced my steps only this time I noticed that the imprisoned guards hanging in iron cages (oh, didn't I mention them?) were now attackable. The cages, that is, not the guards.
It's possible they always were but I was so intent on my climb that I didn't spot it. Or perhaps something I did to the various statues caused a change. Either way, my duty was clear. I broke the bars and set the guards free. No idea who they were and they didn't stop to thank me or explain so I hope they were the good guys.
All in all it was a jolly impressive little set piece. I was really in the moment there for a while, at least until that Easter Egg came along. Someone's put a lot of work into this game and I am appreciating it more and more.
I only wish they'd taken the same care and attention over the translations. Then I might actually have some inkling of what's going on.