Sunday, September 3, 2023

Edith, Edie And Me

I have so much to say about Dawnlands, I don't know where to start. I could easily post about the game every day - and don't think I haven't thought about it. 

I say "easily" but that's not really the word I'm looking for. I spent a fruitless half-hour yesterday trying to get this post going but I had so many things I wanted to talk about I couldn't settle on any one of them so eventually I gave up and did what I really wanted to in the first place: I played the game. 

I've been doing that a lot; playing the game. I'm sixty-six hours in, making it my sixth most-played title on Steam, right after My Time At Portia, which it will probably have passed by the time you read this. What I've been posting about Dawnlands until now runs far behind what I've actually been doing there.

The cute post I put about about the charming house I found gives the impression I've just been bimbling about like Fotherington-Thomas, picking apples and waving at clouds. In fact, I've been working fairly determinedly on progression. 

Like just about everything in the game, progression in Dawnlands is modelled closely on Valheim, only more streamlined and with better structure. The developers didn't just slavishly copy their model; in some ways they improved on it.

As in Valheim, each biome has a boss who has to be defeated to open the next tier of crafting. Killing them results in an immediate flurry of new recipes, the materials for many of which can only be acquired using tools made with items dropped by the bosses themselves. Both games allow free exploration of all the biomes in their open worlds but you won't be doing much in any of them, other than admiring the view, until you've successfully eliminated the boss in the one that came before it.

Sightseeing is a very real option. One significant difference between the two games is that Valheim's biomes become much more dangerous each time. The difficulty gradient in Dawnlands is much shallower. Everything does get stronger and hit harder as you move from Grasslands to Forest to Plains but it's still quite possible to travel, explore and even hunt with quite basic gear. You just can't expect to mine ore or chop trees while you're there.

Until yesterday, I was under the mistaken impression that there were exceptions to this rule. I'd been turned back a number of times at certain points on the map with a message telling me I'd have to come back later. I assumed that meant I'd need to kill a boss to clear the path but I've since discovered it means that's where the map ends. Only five of the proposed ten biomes are in the game as yet. 

As the chart shows, I've at least visited all of them. The reason I've done so little in the Snow Mountain biome is, once again, the same as it would be in Valheim: you suffer recurring cold damage the whole time you're there. 

In keeping with the general tone of the two games, though, the damage in Dawnlands is manageable for brief periods, even without the protective gear for which I don't yet even have the recipes. I was able to make a few exploratory forays into the snows, searching for a particular plant that grows only there.

The plant in question is a Snow Lotus and it's needed to make Strong Wheat Beer. I needed the beer for my plan to kill Edie, the Plains boss. Edie is "a powerful conglomeration of scattered rocks" with "a childish nature". There's a backstory in which it's made plain that Edie is just trying to play but as a massive golem made out of rock it doesn't quite get how breakable humans are.

My knees are literally knocking together from the cold here.

On my first try Edie didn't even need its massive fists or the giant ball of rock it swings about on a chain made of steel hawsers to break me into little pieces. The undodgeable, unblockable laser beam from the golem's single, glowing eye did the job just fine.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Before you can even attempt to "Seal" any of the bosses in Dawnlands, you have to collect a certain number of items to summon them. For the first boss, Kenda, it's just a couple of masks dropped by goblins in the Grasslands camps. For the Forest boss, Guya, it's three Crimson Eyes from Giants in the dungeons.

By the time you get to Edie, things have escalated. Not only do you need five summoning items, you have to make them yourself and it is not easy. Oh, boy, is it not. 

From the surprisingly charming Facebook page...
It is fun, though. Or I enjoyed it, anyway, once I'd done some research. This is absolutely one of those times when I'm glad other people are playing the game, not because I want to open my world and invite them in to help (Which is a thing you can do in Dawnlands.) but because there are plenty of YouTube guides and tutorials and at least a few of them are actually useful.

I did wonder why there were so many until I remembered there's been a competition running in the game since launch for "Creators" to make videos and put them on YouTube. There are in-game rewards. Since Dawnlands has video recording integrated into the UI, the barrier to entry is extremely low and plenty of people have taken up the challenge. I should probably do it myself before the event finishes.

Before I could take on Edie, I had to kill five "Edith Eyes". Edith Eyes are basically the laser in Edie's head, acting as a standalone security system in various, large ruins. There's a whole technological backstory going on here that I would love to see explained. 

I first encountered an Edith Eye as I was exploring along the coast a couple of weeks ago. It targeted me as I rode by and took about three-quarters of my health with a single blast. After that I gave the ruins a wide berth. Fortunately, you get a big, red warning before you come into range.

When the main quest sequence asked me to go into the ruins and investigate, I was a little disconcerted. Even more so when I found I'd need to kill at least five of the balsted things. I went online to look it up and found some interesting suggestions, one of which was to dig a hole in front of the ruin so the Eye couldn't get line of sight, then pop up each time after it fired and plug a few arrows into it.

I forgot to take any pictures of the Edith Eye but this is one of the ruins.
I did that and it worked, although it took me several tries to get the hole just right. As with Valheim, being able to alter the terrain opens up lots of interesting opportunities, so I was having fun digging my holes but after the first couple of kills it became obvious they were an unecessary complication.

The laser beam destroys most things it hits but it doesn't penetrate the rock the ruins are made from. All you need to do is move to a spot outside, where the Eye can see you but not quite get line of sight past the gateway. It fires at you and hits the pillar, after which it needs to recharge, giving you plenty of time for three or four targeted shots with the bow. Rinse and repeat until the Eye explodes then collect your Rockpattern Grudge.

I rode around the Plains until I'd found five ruins and killed five Eyes but that was just the beginning. Next you need to get hold of five Instability Crystals. You can't just go out and chip them off some node, either. No, you have to make them yourself by combining a Wind Slime Crystal with some resin at the workbench.

Wind Slime Crystals drop off Wind Slimes. Go figure, right? Luckily I'd been killing them the whole time I'd been riding around the Plains. They're aggressive little buggers. I had a nice stack of crystals and more resin in storage than I knew what to do with, so materials weren't a problem. 

The problem, if you want to call it one, was the cooldown on the recipe. You can only make one Wind Slime Crystal every two hours. This is the kind of thing some of the short-tempered ingrates on Steam like to call out as dodgy mobile practice, something that makes me wonder if any of them have ever played an actual game in this or any related genre before. Just about every MMORPG I've ever played, subscription or buy-to-play or F2P, has used these kinds of mechanics. Mobile games didn't invent time-gating, that's for sure.

I just got in the habit of making an Instability Crystal before I logged out then another when I logged in again, plus more whenever I happened to remember. I was done in a couple of days. So that meant I was ready to combine all my Crystals and Grudges and make the five Cores of Metamorphic Stone I needed to summon Edie, right?

There's got to be a Wind Slime around here somewhere...

Oh, no. That would be far too easy. First, I had to sanctify the Grudges. That's what I needed the Crystals for.

In the storyline, Dawnlands has been corrupted by some evil force, leaving much of the infrastructure in need of "sanctification". Hedi, the owl companion you meet right at the start, is able to sanctify most things but the Grudges dropped by powerful creatures and bosses have to be sanctified at "Sanctification Platform".

There's one in every Shelter so it's a simple enough process. The only problem is, whenever you attempt to sanctify a Grudge, it attracts monsters, who attack in waves and try to destroy the platform. If they succeed, the sanctification fails. 

The first time I tried it was quite a battle so I decided to make better preparations. The monsters all had to come in through the main entrance to the Shelter so I put a line of spiked wood barricades in front of it. That worked so well I just stood there waiting for the sanctification timer to complete, which didn't happen because a bunch of big goblins had apparently been damaging the platform through the fence while I was laughing at their pals by the gate. 

Kazeyo, a YouTuber who posts detailed video walkthroughs for Dawnlands, has some fairly baroque ideas about how the game should be played. He suggests a typically over-the-top solution to the "overrun by monsters" problem. You can see it in action, along with much of the process I've been describing, in the above video.

His idea is to use the hoe to construct a tall pillar then place a Sanctification Platform on top. I'd forgotten they were craftable, even though I'd had to make one during the storyline. For good measure, he builds his pillar next to a lake so he can add a moat around the base. Like many of the abstruse, complicated and arcane tricks and "shortcuts" I've watched when trying to figure out how to do something in the game, it's much more complicated than it needs to be but it looks hella fun to do.

After my failed attempt I just went all around the perimeter putting up more barricades and stood inside picking the attackers off with my bow. That worked perfectly. The failure consumed a Core so I needed a replacement but luckily I had enough spare components to make another. 

Pretty soon I had my five Cores. Time to visit Edie!

As I said before, that did not go well but since this post is already a couple of thousand words long, the rest of the story will just have to wait for another day, when why I needed that Strong Wheat Beer, along with many other things, will be revealed.

Can't promise it will be worth the wait but you have to build suspense somehow...


  1. Well I for one am looking forward to the continuation of this tale!

    1. It's a catalog of incompetence as you might imagine!

  2. What I find most interesting is that the negative comments in Steam compare it to Genshin Impact or Breath of the Wild, but you're comparing it to Valheim. There's a few people who do compare it (poorly) to Valheim, but I guess it's more about direction you're coming from (Mobile vs. PC, Survival RPG versus Action RPG versus Heavily Monetized) that has the greatest influence on whether you like it or not.

    1. It looks a lot like Genshin Impact but from my perspective at least it plays nothing like it at all. I only played GI for a relatively short while but I doubt it's changed that much. I've never played Breath of the Wild but I've read a bit about it and even I can see the similarities there. I think a lot of the open world stuff is along the same lines. Other people compare it to Craftopia and even Minecraft.

      The thing is, I'm pretty sure all crafting/building/exploring games are at least as much like each other as most diku-MUD MMORPGs, for example. It's a bit like listing a bunch of funk bands and saying they all play funk. The similarities to Valheim, though, are more than generic; it's the exact same progression, except for the biomes being in a different order. As I said in one of the First Impressions posts, Dawnlands is Valheim with an anime skin.

      The real question isn't whether it's a Valheim clone but whether it's a *good* Valheim clone. It is. It's a very good one indeed. I've read a lot of the negative reviews and they either completely miss the point of the type of game or they focus on a whole load of technical problems from network issues and disconnections to bugs, almost none of which I have experienced at all. I've seen this so many times. I don't know why it happens but I often seem to be able to play supposedly buggy, glitchy games without having any of the issues other people report.

      As for the supposed monetization issues I literally can't understand what people are talking about. I've played 66 hours now and there has been zero need to even fleetingly consider paying a cent. I can't imagine why you would ever need to give the developers any money at all. Everything is readily available in game and the cash shop is bare-bones. I did a feedback form they sent me and in the "Any suggestions" box I told them they needed to add a lot more stuff to the cash shop because as it stands I can't see how they expect to make any money at all.

      Anyway, too long for a comment. I might plagiarize some of this for a review of the game. I think I've played long enough to do one now.


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