Friday, August 5, 2022

Welcome To My Mansion: First Impressions Of Housing In Noah's Heart

After yesterday's massive wall of text I think I'd better try and keep this short but I'm telling you now, it's not going to be easy. I got my house in Noah's Heart and boy, is it something!

I'd guess I probably run Syp a close second in the way I count housing a priority in my mmorpgs. It's a little strange, when you think that I played for five years without ever having a house in any of them, but ever since I got my first inn room in the EverQuest II beta back in 2004 I've never felt entirely comfortable in games that don't give you a home of your own.

Housing or what passes for it in mmorpgs varies enormously. I still rate EQII's housing system best-in-show although I'm aware that most of its subtleties and nuances remain closely guarded secrets, known only to a small cadre of obsessives. At the other end of the scale come half-hearted, box-ticking excercises like Guild Wars 2's Home Instances, which resemble true housing the way crashing on friends' hotel room floors at comic conventions resembled getting a room for the night when I did it back in the eighties.


 

From what I've seen of it so far, housing in Noah's Heart lands somewhere close to the top of the curve. It's impressive. Anyone who's really into housing in mmos is probably going to want to take a look.

Luckily, that's not too hard to do. The game is free-to-play, available on both mobile and PC and all you have to do to get a house of your own there is make it to level 43 then wait a couple of days. The waiting is the hardest part.

The house you get, described in game, accurately for once, as "a mansion", is given to your character by the King as a reward for services rendered. Unfortunately, you can't move in right away because it has to be made ready for you first, a job that takes exactly forty-eight hours. Real time.


 

You can keep track of the progress in the housing window, where you can watch timers ticking down for each of the five required items in turn: a plant stand, a drying table, a dining chair, an aquarium for eels and finally the key to the door. When that's all done, you can click the Housing button on the main menu and teleport to your new home.

Well, the grounds, anyway. Housing in Noah's Heart comes as two separate instances; Indoors and Outdoors. You arrive outside the front door, where you're greeted by Marcella, an NPC who seems confused over her role, which appears to incorporate everything from architect to butler. 

Her official title is Architecture Envoy but however she styles herself, her advice is invaluable. Through her you'll learn how to find and place items of furniture and generally come to terms with your new responsibilities.


 

She'll also give you an introduction to Jessie, an outgoing redhead with bunches and a look straight out of the 1970s. Jessie is a craftsman, "Craftsman" being one of the game's three tradeskills. (The other two are Masterchef and Tailor, in case you were wondering.) The annoyingly-named trade makes furniture and also Enchantments, about which I know absolutely nothing.

Crafting in Noah's Heart is a whole other post and one I am in no way equipped to write as yet. All I know so far is the little Jessie's taught me and the even less I've been able to work out for myself. I will go so far as to say that crafting in Noah's Heart looks like it might be pretty well designed, though.

Furniture making definitely is. There are plenty of recipes for lots of things that look immediately appealing, if you're the sort of player who gets excited by occasional tables and leather sofas, which of course I am. 


 

For me, the aesthetic appeal of the items plus the creative satisfaction of decorating my imaginary home would be more than enough to send me out into the countryside, chopping down trees, breaking rocks and skinning deer for the wood, stone and hides I'd need but there's a more gameplay-oriented motivation, too. While you get full and immediate access to the very extensive and exceptionally scenic grounds of your country retreat, when you step through the door to assess the interior, you're in for something of a surprise, not to say shock.

One room. One room! That's all you get. Or, rather, that's all you get to start. The rest of the mansion you'll have to earn and the way you do that is by making the place look nice!

It's brilliant. You can see the floorplan of your home so you know it has seventeen rooms, almost all of them larger than the one you're standing in but you can't get to any of them - yet. You have to level up your house just like you level up your Phantoms, your mount and yourself. If you like leveling you're going to love Noah's Heart.

To level up the house you need to meet the required stats for each level as it comes. Your house has five stats: Decoration, Practical, Coziness, Tech and Cultural. Different furniture boosts different combinations. For example, that eel aquarium I mentioned adds 300 to Decoration and 600 to Practical.

At this point I ought to emphasize I don't really know any more about all of this than I've seen in game. If there are outside resources, I haven't consulted them. I can say with certainty that the house has those five stats and that the tool tip says furniture can modify them but I can also say that all the furniture I've looked at only adds to Decoration and Practical. (Confusingly referred to as "Uitility" on the furniture itself.)

Regardless, I think it looks like an excellent system. It's very similar to the one Chimeraland uses but as with just about every point of reference the two games share, Noah's Heart is NASA to Chimeraland's high school science project. 

For those that value housing for the perks it confers to other aspects of gameplay, don't fret. You're covered. 

The first room to unlock is the Alchemy Workshop, not that you'd know it if you hadn't been told; it's just an empty space. Unlocking it requires House Level 2, which also unlocks Study

That's a function, by the way, not the name of another room, although for all I know there may well be a Study somewhere in the mansion. This just means you can "study" each day to get bonuses. What bonuses I can't tell you because I haven't unlocked them yet, other than the first two, Basic Energy Recovery and Basic Fatigue Recovery - 100 points of each per day.

Owning a house also gives you access to the Dispatch system, something that will be familiar to players of World of Warcraft or either of the EverQuest titles, where similar functionality is provided by Garrisons or the Overseer feature. You can send your Phantoms on missions of varying length, for which you're rewarded with various currencies.

You can also assign Phantoms to specific rooms, which also brings benefits, although what they are is currently beyond my remit to explain. The Alchemy Workshop gets you crafting mats, that much I do know. When I unlock another room maybe I'll know more.

And since we seem to be reaching the outer limits of my not very extensive knowledge, I think it's probably about time we stopped. I did say I was going to try to keep it short. 

If nothing else, I can say that I'm very impressed with what I've seen of Noah's Heart's housing offer so far. It seems to have been thought through with unusual clarity and implemented cleanly and coherently. Aesthetically, it's gorgeous, practically it's useful and functionally it's intuitive and comfortable. 

I'd go so far as to say it has the potential to be one of the better mmorpg housing systems I've seen although I'd probably need to be a little further up the housing ladder than the second rung to say it with any authority. For personal taste, I still don't think you can really beat systems that allow fully free construction and placement like Chimeraland or EQII, but Noah's Heart looks to have both decoration and progression firmly nailed down and I suspect there may be a lot more depth than I've yet been able to discover.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go chop some wood. Those beds and bureaus won't make themselves.

4 comments:

  1. I'm also a big housing enthusiast in MMOs, and this looks like a really, really nice system! Thanks so much for detailing it all for us! I'd love to see how your place turns out once you've got it built and decorated!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome! I'm really looking forward to leveling up my house in NH. It definitely gives the game medium term interest for me.

      Delete
  2. I love your housing posts. You have true enthusiasm for creating and decorating your in game homes. It almost makes me want to play the game. The furniture looks unusually fine. Atheren

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! Yes, the furniture is well above par, especially for a game of this kind. And there's a lot of it, too. I'm looking forward to making some nice pieces.

      Delete

Wider Two Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide