Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Way is Shut

You know how when you're traveling through an ancient dungeon of unspeakable evil, and you and your stalwart companions wish to purloin the great treasures in the Chamber of Yog-Sothoth, but you can't open the way because you first must gather the three scattered gems of Avonleigh to unlock the great seals that bind the Dragons of the Old World behind the Gates of Khalim-yah?

Yeah, that's great stuff. That's when you show your icy stare that was hoary when the earth was young, and head off into a world-spanning pirate adventure. That's how a good DM gets you to do the boat trip adventure he has planned.

So how does the game Neverwinter Nights 2, 2007 game of the year, handle forcing fetch quests on its mid-level PCs? What if all you want to do is just get to another part of town where a dude you need to talk to lived?

Oh Noes! The City Watch have sealed the gates behind yellow caution tape! Would you, as a group of roguish and stalwart adventurers, be willing to run all sorts of errands for the City Watch in order to get into their good graces so they'd let you in? Of course not, and neither would 7th-level Ranger Quinn Apblanc, or his fiercesome sidekick 'Nibbles' the Dire Hampster!

So Quinn, along with his trusty high-level NPC companions, decided to find another way into the northwest quadrant of the city. I mean...the people in there have to eat, right? There's gotta be a wall we can climb or tunnel we can take or food supply wagon we can jump on or, if nothing else, we can overpower the guards and waltz on in (our dwarf has a flaming morningstar, after all).

Look at the height of that wall. I could climb a goddamn tree and get in there. Or I could, if the game recognized the "/climb" function (and there are a surprising lack of the 3rd-level fly spells in this game). But nope, you get railroaded into working for the City Watch for who knows how long. And the quests aren't even that good! Instead of 'Recover the golden scepter of the carnivorous ape tribe in the Lost Valley of the Velocigorgons,' you get 'clean up the docks and check in at all the guardhouses during your patrols.' Oh well written Atari, true masters of dungeons and dragons!

And as another kick in the pants, wherever I go now I'm attacked by assholes because I'm part of the City Watch. Here's a quick screenshot I grabbed of yet another ambush right after I left the tavern to start my patrol.

Thanks for the cheapshot required reload assholes! I'm now up to being a 9th-level Ranger after all these fetch quests and they still aren't letting me into the goddamn northwest region of the city. If you're going to force me to wade through a thousand sidequests before I continue the main quest (which I'm only barely interested in anyway), spice it up a little! I mean, where's my motivation?

Oh yeah, and Nibbles is getting pissed.