AoW – Storyline and Cultivation

I played a bit more of Age of Wushu, basically splitting my time between cultivation and the storyline.

Cultivation

This appears to be the skill training method. When you click on the little icon, a box pops up with three choices:

  • Internal Cultivation
  • Practice Martial Arts
  • Team Practice

Internal Cultivation is the one I mentioned before, where I can pick which skill my character is training in the background, and offline (if I were VIP). I tried the Practice Martial Arts choice, and that boiled down to eat some foods, which I had received as login gifts and perhaps through finishing quests (I wasn’t playing that close attention), which gave a small amount of cultivation points.

I tried the third option, Team Practice, after taking a quest to visit a wise man on a quiet mountain overlook… or maybe not so quiet as it was jammed with other players. Fortunately in Age of Wushu, F9 makes all non-NPC’s vanish! That’s a handy feature. (They reappear with another press of F9).

Anyway, Team Practice is a way to earn cultivation points by essentially playing a Simon-says mini game. Others can join in, and the group as a whole benefits if everybody hits all the patterns, but I was just by myself this time around.

Doing a Team Practice changes the screen up a bit, and disallows the Alt-Z hide-UI option. Which probably makes sense if hiding the UI also hides the Team Practice directions… After a countdown from 3, a sequence of keys to press in order is displayed, with a timer.

Team Practice Instructions
Team Practice Instructions

If you hit the sequence, you get a congrats animation that goes on for 10+ seconds, and then you settle in for the next one.

Success!
Success!

There are four different Team Practice options available, which boil down to a similar mechanic. The reward is cultivation points.

After doing this for a while I decided to follow the storyline for a bit.

Storyline

The storyline took me back to my starting city, where I solved a few problems for various citizens. One person’s daughter was kidnapped into prostitution, and after beating down the guards and winning freedom for the girl, the madam asked that I fix things up with her loan shark.

Chengdu
Chengdu

The NPC groveling at my feet is the one whose daughter was kidnapped, and the brothel is on the left. Nice looking place at least. 😉

After smacking these criminals and seedy people down, the next quest took me to a nearby castle, where I decided to stop. Looking back at my origin choice (where I was caught between the law and criminals and chose to flee), I see how that is worked into the storyline I’ve seen so far.

Other Stuff

I’ve come across all sorts of stuff just clicking on the UI to see what each icon does. There are several game mechanics I’m unsure of – crafting professions; trade/market; school/faction/Jianghu missions that involve spying, kidnapping, escort/guard duty, arrays(?) and grouping, etc.

The tooltips for my weapon skills refer to chi: foul chi, sword chi; consuming anger points, energy… OK I can figure out that energy is the blue bar for my character, haha, but I’m not sure what the others are – how to build them up. The skill book has 5 tabs for internal skills, techniques, flying skills, arrays, and meridians. And I’m still fuzzy on what exactly the Wudang School does for me – the school tab is jammed with all kinds of diagrams that look like reward levels.

There is a guide on the website, which has some information.

Continuing

There is certainly plenty to do in game, and lots to figure out. The catch is this being a PvP-centric MMO – skill cultivation matters, because that is how to raise skills, and only VIPs can cultivate offline.

So, while the game is enjoyable so far (granted only 4-5 hours isn’t a lot of time to evaluate) I’m hesitant to plunge in for a VIP membership for the enhanced cultivation (skill training). Plus, there are some other MMOs I want to look at, or look at again, with the goal of whittling my play list down to a few I can rotate between, have fun and make some progress.

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AoW – Martial Arts MMO

I decided to check out the newly launched Age of Wushu. A few days ago, I made an account and downloaded/installed the game, and patiently awaited the launch day. So with a free evening to spend however I wanted, I put a few hours into it.

I had no problems launching the game, or logging in and getting oriented, so I think that’s a pretty big accomplishment for the developers. The typical launch day is a disaster, but as far as I could tell this one had no issues at all.

After logging in, I faced four choices concerning my character background. They were:

  • Nameless Sword
    Nameless Sword
    Nameless Sword – an assassin destroys your family
  • Phoenix Pledge
    Phoenix Pledge
    Phoenix Pledge – you and your sister are orphaned, she was then kidnapped
  • Scholar's Legend
    Scholar’s Legend
    Scholar’s Legend – you got between criminals and the law and had to flee
  • Tianshan Swords
    Tianshan Swords
    Tianshan Swords – you were ambushed but survived

Since the Scholar’s Legend background didn’t involve a tragedy, I went with that one. 🙂

The character creation screen didn’t take long – there weren’t really many appearance options. I went through various looks and settled on one quickly:

Aurora Tian
Aurora Tian

After that came a basic skills tutorial – talk to the NPC, receive a skill book to read, gain the skill, then use that skill against another NPC. It’s a straightforward system with no surprises. Naturally, this being a martial arts MMO, the skills have fancy names: Embrace the Moon, White Cloud Covers the Top, Step Backwards Over Seven Stars, Sit and Breathe.

The “Step Backwards” skill required a certain amount of “rage” to enable, so I blocked, defended, used my other skills until I accumulated enough rage and noticed the icon glowing differently, then unleashed the skill. What happened then was a slow-mo (sort of bullet-time-esque) super combo that honestly looked pretty cool.

My instructor then sent me to buy some wine at the store. I headed off, figuring this was the part of the tutorial where you get introduced to the cash shop, but when I got near to the store, a cutscene took over. Three thugs were threatening a young girl, so I thought “Aha – a fight!”… but in the cutscene I was knocked unconscious and dropped down a well!

Well Bottom
Well Bottom

That wasn’t expected. But as it happens, at the bottom of the well was a skill book – Skyward Feint Step, essentially a double jump – and that skill let me jump up some rocks to grab a rope and climb to my escape. This entire episode was the “Flying Skill Introduction” tutorial.

Rope Escape
Rope Escape

The next quest taught a simple weapon skill, using iron darts to kill wolves. At first I had to get close to the wolf, then afterwards I was taught a thrown dart skill. Completion merely required killing two wolves, so soon I finished and returned to the martial arts scholar for a brief introduction to cultivation.

Skill Cultivation
Skill Cultivation

Skill cultivation appears to be some sort of offline/background training. The tutorial had me select the “Self Recollection” skill to cultivate, and after doing that I had a progress bar that filled over 5 minutes. When that time elapsed, I received notification that Self Recollection was cultivated to level 2, and I had the option of continuing, which I did. Level 3 would be reached in 10 more minutes, and undoubtedly, each higher level grants a higher stat bonuses and takes longer to reach.

I received my final school story (tutorial) quest, which was to visit another NPC and select between the eight major schools. Shaolin was out, because they only take male students (balanced by the Emei which only take female students), and I also discarded the Royal Guards and Wanderer’s Valley as both are evil (maybe I’d consider that for another character, but not right now). The NPC mentioned that the Tangmen and the Scholar’s are neutral, while the good schools are Shaolin, Emei, Wudang, and Beggar’s Sect. Since I didn’t want to be a beggar, I joined the Wudang, and was instantly transported to Wudang School.

Once there I spoke to the Wudang leader, Immortal Ziyang, and officially joined the Wudang. I decided this was also a good time for a break and dinner.

Later I was able to play a tad more. I took another quest to learn some sword fighting skills: Turbulent Rapids, Pure Awakening, Blow Away in the Clear Wind, Clear Sound and Gentle Rhythm. As an aside, it’ll be funny to see players looking to form groups later on, spewing out cryptic abbreviations. Can you imagine? “Looking for DPS, needs TR, PA, CSaGR” and so on. There are so many skills people will need a codebook to figure out what is going on. Haha!

When you get a scroll to learn a new skill, there are two buttons: Replay, Study. When you open the scroll, a shadow figure animates the skill, complete with jumps and whirls. Replay causes that animation to repeat, while Study is what you do to learn the skill. After learning the skill, when you check your skillbook, each skill displays a mini avatar of your character, and when you click the skill on the left half of the book, the figure animates. It’s cool, maybe just eye-candy, but then I think this game is all about cool looking martial arts moves, and this is how you can check them out without actually fighting an enemy. I kinda like it actually.

Skill book
Skill book

I also notice a “cultivate” button on each skill… so this is one way to bump up each ability, by training (in the background) constantly. I see that VIP members can also train while offline. All the skills I’ve received have been for free from quest givers (except the jump skill) and I’m getting the impression the skill training system, cultivation, will rely on being able to do it offline for the best results, which means payment. Well, it is F2P so you gotta figure there will be various advantages to subscribing, or in this case, topping off your account each month.

AoW also has an integrated way to record videos – no doubt to show off awesome looking fights – but hilariously, the videos don’t play on my Windows box (then again, I have a very barebones Windows 8 install, with just about nothing at all besides the base OS). To see the video, I had to go to my MacMini.

Before I take more screenshots next time, I need to figure out how to disable/hide the UI. I know it makes all the pics I took very busy but I looked over the settings menus and didn’t see a way to do it. EDIT: ARGH I see it now, Alt-Z. Dang it, I can’t believe I missed that when I looked before.

Here’s a screenshot in a Wudang courtyard with the UI hidden.

Courtyard
Courtyard

Much nicer!

Well, that about wraps my first day in Age of Wushu. It looks interesting and I would like to play more, but also try to see how viable it is as a free player for a while. The graphics look good as do the skill animations. I’ve budgeted for one subscription game, and since I dropped my EVE subscription, I’m willing to spend that equivalent somewhere…