For a couple of months last year, my go-to MMO was Tera, which was – I believe – the first and probably last ever attempt to take a Korean MMO, file some of the grindy pain off and adapt it for western tastes before sticking it in a $60 box with a monthly fee besides. It was actually pretty fun until I hit level cap, at which point I realized that I was rather burned out and had no interest in the endgame.
Anyway, Tera is famous for two things: First, it ditches the rather dull combat system of your typical MMO. Second, well, it has character designs where you probably wouldn’t want the PC to be sitting at the character select screen if your mum came to visit. This is the bit that usually comes up in conversation.
I was therefore rather surprised to read a discussion online which could be summed up as “well, yes, but if you think Tera is bad you ought to see Scarlet Blade”, which of course lead me to immediately look up Scarlet Blade. I do not recommend you do the same if you are at work or if you are browsing the web with your mum sitting behind you knitting a scarf, because it is, in a word, utterly shameless. That’s two words, I suppose, but I think it’s worth it.
The gist of Scarlet Blade is that it is based in a post-apocalyptic world where the surviving humans scratch out a tenuous living in a landscape that has come to be dominated by hellish mutant creatures determined to eat all the remaining humans and, I dunno, do hellish mutant creature things. As a character in this world, you take on the role of one of Humanity’s Saviors – an artificial human called an Arkana, with superhuman strength and abilities and also massive breasts and a tendency to wear battle armor consisting of a pair of thong panties and a platemail bra.
Co-incidentally, I realized that I hadn’t written anything truly snarky about any games recently, so I figured that I’d download it, give it a couple of hours, take a few screenshots and write a couple of pages decrying the depths to which MMO creators – and, by extension, humanity – have fallen, is there any hope for the species, etc etc etc.
I try to keep this blog fairly family-friendly, but this is where I put the rest of this post below the MORE link.
After creating a character – more on the character models later – this was the first quest NPC I was greeted by:
It’s… not subtle. I started taking notes.
I did some introductory quests to get my first weapon, got out into the world proper, and started whacking the beetles that represented my first targets. From beetles, I progressed to wolves and some sort of squid things. Nothing all that unusual, just the sorts of thing any MMO throws at you these days to get you used to the world.
It was around level 7 – so, maybe half an hour into playing – when I started noticing people in zone chat complaining that they had logged off and lost hours of work because the server wasn’t properly saving. When you start a game with the express intent of writing a snarky article about it, this is more or less the clouds parting on a rainy day to let a single perfect beam of sunlight through, and I tested this by logging off and confirming that my character had been rolled back to level 1, which was a beautiful way to end the session.
I went back the next day because I hadn’t taken quite enough screenshots and because I figured that I needed some more ammunition.
The server I’d started on, unsurprisingly, was offline, and the game’s official forums were full of all the wonderful drama you could imagine, so I started a new character, a “whipper” (a sort of tanky DPS class), on a different server, hit the “randomize features” button a couple of times and started over, and this is where I get back to the character models, because this is what she looked like AFTER getting armor on:
…and, yes, the game has pretty much non-stop bounce animations.
About the point I hit level 12, however, I realized that, even though most of the quests I was asked to do were of the sort where, well, let’s let one of the game’s NPCs sum it up:
…yeah, it’s pretty much all that all the time. Oh, and the creatures in this specific quest, which you are specifically killing FOR THEIR ANTLERS, are “frost does” (not, say, “frost bucks”) so apparently nuclear holocausts have caused some pretty wacky mutations in the local deer.
…I was actually kind of starting to enjoy the post-apocalyptic setting and the occasional genuinely-funny bit of dialogue:
…and that’s when I decided that, instead of just writing a snarky look-at-this-isn’t-this-terrible review, I would start a THIRD newbie and actually treat it like a serious game, trying to ignore the fact that every character was walking around with two basketballs stapled to her chest.
I’ll come back to that in the next post.