Tuesday, February 1, 2011

To Review, or Not To Review, That is the Question.: Xsyon: The (P)review part II

In this installment I will turn my attention to describing what, exactly, is there to do in Xsyon. Ah, now, there’s the rub*. Given the fact that this is a small, independent company, and that the project is apparently 9 months behind schedule there isn’t a large player base at the moment. In-game conversations would leave me to believe many of the players are waiting for the final wipe and re-set of the servers on March 1st (not the greatest timing in the world with RIFT launching then as well). The game is set to begin with a Prelude for those of us who have pre-ordered. This will be a head-start of sorts with safe zones featured for only this portion of the game. Once it goes live there will be no safe zones so sharpen you axe, my friends, it could get ugly.

There are two main problems with that however. First of all this game is so niche that whoever wants to play has likely pre-ordered. There is absolutely no reason not to really- access to the beta, a start in a safe zone, and two months of subscription is included with the pre-order. I suppose if you were on the fence you may wait until someone (like me) reviews it but, as I said, a game this focused will likely attract a particular player willing to jump straight in. The second is that the combat system is, quite frankly, too simplistic to invite much pvp combat. Right click to attack with your right hand, left for left. Block with alt and click. No button mashing, that’s for sure. There is some talk of eventually implementing a Mount and Blade type of combat system but it’s not here yet so lets not inventory our poultry prior to emergence from the shell.

Frailty,  thy name is digression! Where was I? Leotard, incestuous uncle....poor, poor Ophelia, what shall become of you my love? Wait, that’s not right, who let that idiot take over my brain?

Xyson: what is there to do, that was it. At the moment, I have to say, not a lot. The game appears to be fairly craft-centric which is to be expected in a game where everything is player-created. Crafting is a nice break from questing, exploration, or in my case (as I hate those other things) pvp.  I have no problem with a crafting game, and in fact, I’m especially in the mood for that (was tempted by A Tale in The Desert). Sometimes I  want to melt faces, and other times I  want to sit back and bust out some items. If I could craft some melted faces maybe my search for the perfect game would be at an end.

I’m not saying that Xsyon is a crafting-only game but it does feature heavily. There are no NPC quests, and currently no other players to battle (and a combat system that isn’t really exciting to be honest) it’s the only thing on the menu at the moment.

“I’m sorry, Ma’am, but everything on the menu has fish in it.”
“What about the bread, does it have much fish in it?”
‘Well, I have some Tic-Tacs in my purse
“Excellent choice. And for the gentleman?”
“All you can eat! All you can eat!”

Good god I can’t stay on track. Maybe I’m taking this Dickens things too far: no ones paying me by the word after all. Focus damn you, focus!

You are allowed to choose two gathering skills, and one crafting focus. The genius of the system is that while you can become somewhat self-sufficient you will need to cooperate, or trade with others at some point. Remember there are no alts to trade with and no mailboxes to send anything along. It’s all face to face, although there is a way around that in the very beginning- I’ll get to that in the next installment.

With my first character I took fishing and scavenging as my gathering skills, and weapon making as my craft. I guess I’m still combat-focused after all! The garbage heaps (which are simply brown mounds on the screen) are your source for a great deal of materials and collection is a matter of running across them and scavenging every few feet. You get experience for this (as well as loot) so it is, in effect, the game’s grind. There is a handy ‘resources’ window which shows you when you can collect scrap metal, fur, and leather from these heaps, or grass, rock, sand, flint, branches, water, or plants from the rest of the world.

Resource gathering is a bit involved (or tedious depending on your point of view). Case study. One of the first things you will want to make are some storage containers. You have access to all the skills but by specializing in one you get more ‘recipes’. Although my first character didn’t specialize in basket-making I did have a recipe for grass containers. In order to make them you have to gather grass. You then have to process the grass. You then have to open the recipe and drag the ingredients to the ingredients box. You then drag your tools (a weaver in this case) to the tool box. Then you craft your container.

This is essentially how all crafting works. You need tools to do the crafts, however, and only start with the tools that are associated with your specialty. This is where the cooperation comes into it. I wanted to start a fire so I gathered 10 stones (as per the recipe), and firewood (left by another player nearby) and built a fire. I had previously gathered some flint. Now, I wanted to start the fire, but I had no blade to strike the flint (my axe apparently not sufficient for the task). As a weapon maker I had the recipe for a blade. I even had scavenged an old knife-blade from the heap, and some leather scraps to secure it. My problem then? No handle to stick the knife in. Need a handle? Better talk to a woodworker I guess, should I ever find one. For tonight, I guess, I stay cold and eat raw fish. Bugger. Oh well, I paid a fortune for that privilege at Yo Sushi so I guess I should count myself lucky.

*This installment of Xsyon: The (P)review brought to you by William Shakespeare's Hamlet. Why not put off today, when you can murder tomorrow? 

To die — to sleep.
To sleep — perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub!
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause.

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