Have you ever played an MMO where when you created another alt character that you want to go past the first few levels since this by now was old familiar and slightly boring stuff?
After a bit more in Jade Dynasty I think this is actually what the game designers had in mind when creating a few game elements. I did not realize this at first, but after looking at it more thoroughly it does make sense. But it is not immediately apparent when you create your first character – which also makes sense.
First of all is the skill Heavy Blow. This is the extra damage skill in the first skill tree (level 1-15) before a faction is chosen. Reading the description for the power, it does say that the skill does extra damage before level 30. What it does not say is that it does a sh*tload of extra damage before level 30 and from level 30 it is actually pretty meh, compared to other powers available then in many cases.
The fact is, that one can pretty much rely on Heavy Blow as the only power up to level 30, besides the auto-attack. But why would they make one skill so powerful for the first 29 levels? I think the reason here has to do with skill point allocation. The game itself does not take lightly on reallocating skill points. Resetting skill points can be expensive – the equivalent of USD 30 for a complete skill point reset and USD 8 for a reset of the current tier only (15 levels typically it seems), if it is bought from the game shop. Maybe there are in-game alternatives to get those, but such prices do not encourage experimentation and trial&error with skill points.
My guess here is that by making one power very powerful in the beginning, players would not need to spend skill points and thus perhaps allocate too much on less useful early skills, just to progress through the beginning levels. Of course, if you do not know or realize that at start, you will potentially screw up your skill point allocation anyway…
There is a minimum of 8 points that has to be allocated in the first skill tree as a prerequisite for later skill trees. So the best option here seems to be to have two points in Heavy Blow and the remaining 6 in Vigilance (increased resistance), at least for the two factions I have played around with so far (Modo and Lupin).
Some other elements to the low level fast track are some items that can be obtained almost right from the start:
- Celemiracle Dew
Provides 200k worth of hit point healing. Given that one of my Lupins at level 22 has about 800 max health, this is a serious amount of healing potion available.
- Tigeren Crystal
Increases attack power by 100 and then another 10%. Lasts for up to 8 hours
- Turtoil Crystal
Increases defense by 70 and then another 5%. Lasts for up to 8 hours
- Double XP
2 hours worth of double XP from combat
The last 3 are received by the quest God’s Gift, from the initial quest NPC Tanis Ka. Double XP timer starts when the quest is completed. The Crystal buffs also has 2 hours timers counting down for being activated when the quest completes. Once activated they last for up to 8 hours. If you die, they will have to be re-activated. But if the 2 hour countdown has passed, they are lost. The buffs these crystals give are significant – fighting level 30 mobs at level 15ish is no problem.
Those timers are real time – not online time. Timer will still count down if you go offline.
Now comes the final part in the puzzle here – the Espers and the Invigorate ability. This is as I mentioned in my previous post the “auto-pilot” in Jade Dynasty. What I had not realised then was really how it worked in more detail. Looking at the picture below, there is a “sword” shortcut bar in the lower right, plus another bar right below it. This is the Esper skill bar. Shortcuts 1 & 2 seems to be reserved for Esper skills, but 3-9 can be equipped with any skill available.
The HP, SP and EN slots are where “potions” can be placed for replenish health, spirit or energy. The settings windows can be opened from the “sword” and provide settings to set how often and with what priority different skills should be used. It also provides settings for looting and when to consume potions.
Another setting Window (the lower icon with sword and green thing behind it) provides settings on range and what to fight when running under auto-pilot.
Overall it does provide a quite comprehensive mechanism for leaving the character fighting, looting and gaining XP without the player needing to do anything. It is pretty “botting”, but in this case part of the game design. And combining Invigorate with the buffs above it is pretty much possible to just park the character in a group of mobs, turn on Invigorate and come back a few hours later to a character with a number of levels higher – at least with potions or buffs active.
In fact, I have been running a character in Invigorate mode as I have typed this (making screenshots etc as I go), which has pretty much gone from level 19 to level 23 in this time. Now I did not check exactly what time I started typing this though, but would probably be less than 1 hour. Most of this has been with the double XP buff running also.
I must admit I think the game has an element of attraction, even though it on first look much looks like a boring grindy MMO when looking at the combat. I think it would perhaps have been better if the grindy elements were not included in the game at all, instead of providing ways to bypass it.
But at least the game designers do seem to recognise that people might not enjoy boring grind play just to get to the “good stuff” and seem to have provided some means to alleviate that.
Remains to be seen if it works out well.