Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Open Beta, Hidden Players: Revelation Online

These are strange days for the MMO scene. The whole genre seems to be in a malaise, with no new Western Triple-A MMORPGs scheduled for this year, while most of those that launched in the last half decade seem either to be treading water or sinking. On the other hand, there seems to be no shortage of flashy imports, plucky indies and optimistic new developers entering the market.

Which, among the slew of possibles, gains traction with the public or the media seems almost random. For a while, a year or so ago, Black Desert Online seemed to be just about all anyone could talk about while Blade and Soul scarcely got a mention. The announcement that imaginary MMO EQNext was never going to happen spurred some positively bizarre outpourings of emotion while the arrival of a global giant like Amazon onto the field was met with not much more than a collective "meh".

Meanwhile, almost every day brings news squibs almost too odd to process - WildStar still running giving away free, fully equipped max level characters just for logging in, Project Gorgon, not even in Early Access or Open Beta yet and being developed by a grand total of two people, asking for help testing a "HUGE level 70 group dungeon", The Secret World "relaunching"...

Revelation Online splash-landed in this fascinating, ever-changing sea of contradictions this week with scarcely a ripple. I think in this corner of the blogosphere, other than me, only Kaozz is playing and writing about it. Perhaps there has been something of the little boy crying wolf about the whole thing - all those buy-in "Closed" Betas leading to Early Access and now Open Beta - who can even tell when these things start any more?

Muroc? You sure you spelled that right?
Well, someone must have been paying attention because when I logged in last night four of the six available servers were either "Busy" or "Packed" and by the time I woke up this morning MY.com had added two more, one in Europe and one in North America, to cope with the demand.

It would seem not much has changed since the final Closed Beta. It took no more than the tiniest of patches to update my CB client, although even that managed to crash my router somehow. Once I got that sorted I was able to pick a region (North America) and a Server (Snowpine). I always play NA from cultural preference and even though Snowpine was "Busy" I wasn't about to play on a server called "Muroc" just because it had more room. Of course it had more room!

Adventuring is srs bsns
I spent half an hour or so in Character Creation trying to reeplicate my closed beta character. It didn't help that I couldn't remember what she looked like but comparing screenshots I seem to have come pretty close. Once in, it was a flurry of Press F, Press Space, Autorun as I tried to get back to where I'd left off.

The first session took me to the low teens and this morning I upped that to just shy of level twenty. I would have carried on but the game crashed when I entered the first solo dungeon and I took the hint. By then I'd been playing for nearly four hours in total, an hour last night and three this morning. The time was positively flying by.

Had I stuck purely to questing and leveling I'd most likely have dinged twenty-five or so but once again I decided I wanted to learn how to craft. Instead of just bumbling around in game, talking to NPCs and learning nothing, I was sensible: I asked Dulfy.

At this point I could say that, as usual, Dulfy didn't let me down and that would, in a way, be quite true. She certainly has the most comprehensive guide to crafting in Revelation Online you could hope to find. That's the problem. I read it - well, most of it - and by the end I felt less prepared to start crafting than I was before.

It's not just that crafting in RO appears to be ferociously complicated, although it does. It's that nowhere in Dulfy's guide, or in this fairly approachable overview, or in this YouTube video, does anyone explain clearly how you get started!

Now you tell me!
How do you choose a starting craft or gathering skill? Do you need to speak to an NPC (I can tell you the ones that call themselves "Crafting Trainers" do not train you to craft). Do you need to buy tools (I can tell you you can't equip any of the ones you can buy without raising the skills you're trying to buy them to raise). Is there some book you need to read, some quest you have to do, some skill you have to raise just to get your foot on the first rung of the ladder?

No. Yes. Maybe. I spoke to every NPC who looked like they might know anything. I stared at the Chinese characters in the taunting in-game "Help" window. I opened every tab of every category in my extensive Crafting window and moused over every description. Nothing.

I'll take everything you've got, please.
In the end I resorted to the age old response of the utterly frustrated and started clicking buttons at random. Guess what? That's all you have to do. Click the very first, inert, flat, unhighlighted entry in the tab of your choice and it frickin' lights up and a little window pops out asking if you want to spend twenty of your one hundred available experience points on learning that skill.

Well, duh! Yes I do!

So I did, for all the good it did me. In fact I spent eighty of my hundred points opening Utilty (that's storage to you and me) plus what I took to be three Gathering skills, Botany, Mineralogist and Arborist (and why Botany not Botanist?). Then I asked myself "what next"?

Raptor? Deer are raptors now?
It occurred to me the last quest I'd taken was the one that sends you to the woods outside the city to kill a deer. I vaguely remembered those deer dropping meat and forests have trees, indeed they're famous for it...so off I autoran.

It only took one deer to update the quest but I stayed to slaughter a whole herd just to see if they'd give meat for cooking or hides for tailoring. Venison dropped aplenty and the mouseover tool tip confirmed it as a crafting ingredient. Progress

I didn't get any hides from my cull but I did get something even more useful from a deer - a finished leather tunic that would have been a huge upgrade had it been a) for my class and b) my level. Still, gear drops from wildlife confirmed. Always a positive.

You don't know just how true that is.
Things didn't go so well when it came to chopping down trees although the expedition wasn't a total
bust in that regard. I did manage to find a couple of choppable trees, which stand out from the very many unchoppable ones by dint of a an orange nimbus around the trunk.

As I ran up to it an Action button popped but when I clicked it another window opened to let me know I didn't have what it takes to chop wood. Not an axe, which indeed I did not have and which would have made sense, but "Forebearance" and "Erudition", both of which I would have said I'd more than demonstrated by that point. Oh well, I'll get there in the end. At least I know more now than I did before...

As I was choosing my next victim I noticed something odd. Small clusters of deer seemed to be viciously attacking thin air before keeling over, dead. It was puzzling at first until I remembered that while in town I'd pressed F10 to hide the visual clutter of player-run market stalls.


Revelation Online has a handy feature that effectively turns an MMO into a single player game. Tobold would love it. With a click of F10 you can choose whether to see everyone else, just your party or guild or no-one but your own, sweet self.

Nice kitty..nice kitty...

It's undeniably useful and as someone who favors the use of toggles for everything I can hardly speak against it. The effect it has on combat is decidedly odd, though, and if I'd already been using it when I came to the big city from the starting village I'd have missed a real once-in-a-game-lifetime moment.

I knew Revelation Online had some odd ideas. There's that giant turtle house for a start. Nothing I'd read, however, prepared me for the twenty foot tall housecat someone had chosen to ride down to the docks and park just where it would be the very first thing you saw, getting off the boat. I did, literally, do a double take.

These bushes look very pretty now but wait til level 40.

There's something about Revelation Online that I like and I can't put my finger on exactly what it is. Black Desert has a metric tonne more atmosphere and ambience and Blade and Soul is tighter, sharper, more focused, but RO has a goofy, cheerful playfulness about it that just makes it fun to mess around in.

You should try putting them in a pic-a-nic basket.

Non-consensual PvP from level 40 onward, as a Reddit thread explains, makes it "impossible to separate PvP from PvE. Everyone must learn to deal with PKers, either by being a good PvPer, or being an excellent runner". The PvE gear grind end game is supposedly "heavily RNG gated, but...can be circumvented via the cash shop". Revelation Online is not an MMO where I'd ever plan on settling down.

It does, however, make for a very intriguing place to visit. And the holiday snaps are stunning.


  1. It's almost as if one of your diminutive characters wrote your captions for you! I'm all for whimsy in moderation, but here I am tut-tutting myself about not wanting to re-install WildStar for a free level 50 character. It seems you'd have to take...well, basically the entire game not-seriously (systems, gating, instanced content) in order to really enjoy things. There are limits to my levity.

    Kitty cat is a bit too nightmare fuel-ish to fit into that scene properly. Probably a level 50 Srs Bsns Feline.

    1. I tried to get my free 50 in WildStar even though there's very little chance I'd ever play it because free is free, after all. Sadly the game refuses point blank to patch and I really don't care enough to spend any more time trying to cajole it into behaving.

      I patched up LotRO instead, which took literally hours but did at least work. Also more chance of LotRO being around for a while I think so probably a better investment of my time.


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