THE XP-HNTR – The Start of a New Journey… The Experience Hunter Kick-off Article!

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I catch a glimpse of it in between two hills: a green, glowing crystal, hovering a few metres in the air. It once brought confusion and humiliation, but I would allow it no longer. This time, I knew better. I knew what I was up against.

It was the toughest enemy I had so far encountered in the short time since I started playing Dragon Age: Inquisition. ‘Tis the first Dragon Age game I’ve ever played, but that’s a story for a different time and place. In the story I’m currently recounting, I’m preparing to tear Mr. Fire Wraith Thing a new bodily orifice.

I approach the crystal and my nemesis spawns. I switch to Tactical Camera, freezing time and allowing me a look at Mr. Fire Wraith’s stats. “Resists fire” – no matter, I only put on that fire spell for its Fear effect. “Vulnerable to cold” – Perfect, I just found a strong ice scepter in a nearby cave (in the hands of a rouge mage I killed). I come closer to engage.

In Tactical Mode again, I organize my party. I’d play as my mage to optimize his crowd control and support abilities. My front line consisted of  sword-&-shielder, built to be an impassable wall, and a double-hander, built as a dueler. Between the front line and me was my rogue-archer, built for dps.

Once in optimal range of the beast, I froze him in place and my whole party started slashing and shooting away. I had no fear that he would break free. In fact, I had a fear-inducing spell in my back pocket just for the occasion, in order to give my freeze spell time to cool down. So when the time came to set Mr. Fire Wraith ablaze, I didn’t flinch.

Unfortunately, neither did he. I switched to Tac-Cam (That’s what I’m now calling the Tactical Camera). “Invulnerable to fear” it said, along with a whole host of invulnerabilities that weren’t initially projected. No matter, I thought, He’ll be stopped at the front line. But he wasn’t. He walked right past them and headed straight to me, my mage, the one with the ice sceptre doing most of the damage. Also, my squishiest character.

I panicked. I used a near-teleportation spell to get away, but it didn’t give me much distance. I had a shield spell, I knew that. I’d just have to pop the shield then knock down his health before he knocked me out. Super simple. Except it wasn’t. On his way to destroy my mage, he set my other party members on fire. Having forgotten to order them to attack or defend in Tac-cam, they stood exactly where I initially told them to: a few dozen yards to my left as I faced off against Mr. Fire Wraith, who was now, understandably, very angry and aggro’ed on me.

Me and my party had knocked his health down to a tiny sliver and for a moment, I thought I might have a chance of making it out alive. That is, until he poppped a shield of some sort that gave him an extra 30-40% of his max health, according to his health bar.

With my frontline having died slowly of fire and my dps rogue-archer hot on their heals (Ha. Pun semi-intended.), I wondered if I had enough DPS to take him down once and for all. Another few rounds of freezing might’ve done the trick, if my near-teleportation spell was done cooling down by the time the freeze wore off. But I wasn’t afforded that luxury. Somewhere in the corner of my eye, I saw that the rest of my party had been KO’ed, shortly before I myself was a dead mage lying in the burning grass.

So much for tearing the guy a new bodily orifice.

Anyway, my party respawned where we had been exploring 10 minutes or so prior to that disastrous encounter. We appeared in a mountain pass, sheer cliffsides on both sides but plenty of vegetation in between. Even had a creek running through it, if I recall correctly (I probably don’t). A short ways through the pass and we came across a wide meadow with some sort of wooden gate or tower built next to a path running through it, and past that, on one of the cliff-faces, was a cave with a glowing, ice-blue barrier protecting its mouth. I remembered this place; this was where I found that ice scepter that I was so proud of, so glad to have. And I still would’ve liked to have it again.

Speaking of ice, around this time in my journey, I started to notice the slight chill in my basement air. ‘Twas about -15C outside, so I should’ve expected it. The air stood still outside so the cold wasn’t so noticeable there, as long as one was reasonably bundled up. But in a t-shirt and jeans, even the +12C that it must’ve been in my basement was a little too much to handle. So I retired to the main floor, toasted some bread, and put a tablespoon of butter in the microwave (forgetting my prized water bottle and having to go back for it).

This experience brought a few things up in my mind. First, it suggested to me that it may be wise to invest in a personal tv with my recent paycheque. After all, I’m taking my writing seriously now. What better way to increase my productivity in gaming than to make it easier and more comfortable for me to play games? But for the price of a television, I could buy 3 new games, or countless older games. I will have to consult with my mental faculties about this.

Second, it taught me that Dragon Age is a challenging game that requires mastery and creativity. Both are open-ended, so this game could really become something I learn to love. Glad I gave it a shot, then. It wasn’t immediately appealing to me but I’m taking things seriously now so I wasn’t about to give up on it without giving it my all (or, at least, more than I’ve ever given before).

It seems to me like a League of Legends type of game, except you control 4 characters at once. To perform the combos and strategies that I imagine, I’ll have to become more proficient with the control system Dragon Age employs, particularly with the game’s Tactical Camera Mode. I have never experienced such a system. Call me a noob, but it actually excites me how clueless I am about it. Because now, every discovery I make in the pursuit of optimally handling this system is a discovery I can be proud of making on my own. I mean, whatever I find probably won’t be new, but it’ll be new to me. And that’s what counts in any experience, isn’t it?

I aspire to support myself with my writing and to be able to use whatever resources I may acquire to explore the world around me. I may at first have been afraid to start by writing about video games. After all, anyone can play them; there’s no barrier of entry; anyone can go and drink the game dry of all the things it has to offer. But that doesn’t faze me because I’m optimistic that as long as I’m writing to a human audience, an individual will at least have the chance to rediscover the joy, awe, and wonder of experiencing something new for the first time.

If you’re interested, come follow me. I’m making it my business to find lots of “first times”.

New Evolution… Start-o! Codename: XP Hunter [Experience Hunter] Transformation, commence!

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