Playing The Crossing, I would have to be a simulacrum (as some of you guessed I would).
Not that it’s an easy decision, mind you. I’m writing a book about this world, so I have all sorts of personal attachments to various aspects of all three races. But I’ve classified this one as the one most inclined towards the whole sneaky sneak-thief thing, and that is what cements it for me, as a player of videogames.
So, my simulacrum.
What skills have I developed? Simulacra don’t do well in close-combat (without a significant bolstering of strength and defenses), so my main weapon is a sling. I sneak around, and pick off monsters from a distance, and if they make it to close range then I have to debilitate them quickly, or flee.
Simulacra, compared with the gate people, have less generally powerful but more specialised ghosts. My left arm is built from the corpse of a snake, and this allows me to develop abilities that help me paralyze and incapacitate enemies. My right arm is built from the corpse of a crow, and this enhances all sorts of things related to scavenging and lockpicking.
As I explore the numerous dungeons in the game, my main interests involve finding treasure chests, and mining raw gemstones which I can then facet and polish with my much-levelled Lapidary Skill (ie. gem-cutting [ie. hot shiny action]). Other crafting skills that I’m working to level up more gradually are grass-weaving (lightest armour type), and alchemy (potions and poisons – snake-arm gives me bonuses here as well).
I also have an NPC companion, Vetch. He specialises in support and defense, but he’s not very stealthy, so my tactic is to leave him a little ways behind me and retreat to his position if I stumble across an enemy that I can’t kill (or sneakily avoid) by myself.
Vetch accepts a portion of my loot as payment, and he spends it on upgrading his armour and weapons (if I don’t keep them up to snuff, myself).
If I play in a party with other people, my main role is to “debuff”. In other words, I debilitate enemies in a variety of ways (paralyze them, slow them, etc.), making them easier to defeat.
What might an average day look like for me, in-game?
Logging on, I would be in my house – a smallish shack in a river village, located somewhere in the big left-central swamp you see on the map. The village itself is full of fishermen and boatbuilders, travelling merchants, and a few lower-level trainers.
I could rent a camel-thing (I haven’t got a name for them yet, so bear with me while they’re still referred to as “camel-things”), and ride to a nearby city, but I’d rather hold off on that until I’ve found some treasure to sell.
So I rent a camel-thing anyway (I’m still saving up money to buy one of my own), and head east towards a large system of ruins throughout which there are many dungeons, most of which I have yet to explore in full. Vetch tags along, too, because he’s good-natured liked that.
The ruin I choose is smaller than the others – I don’t want to spend too long at this – and I hear it has some good mining opportunities. What sort of shinies do we want, today? Garnets? Let’s say it has some really nice garnets, all wine-dark and full of secrets, and I want them. I leave Vetch at the entrance and sneak in.
On the upper level, the monsters are weak enough that I can sneak around them, taking advantage of shadows cast by the light pooling down from cracks in the ceiling. A ways in, I see a rock face that I can mine, so I take out my little hammer and chisel to see what I can glean. Nice nubbly raw garnets? Don’t mind if I do.
Past the mining point, the paths narrow and press downward, leading me to what I recognise as a lower-level of this particular dungeon, meaning that the enemies are going to be harder. I weigh the chances of really excellent treasure against being killed by creatures unknown – maybe another day – and I retreat back outside to where my patient Vetch is waiting for me.
I don’t feel like walking all the way back to my house (camel-things don’t stick around and wait for you, unless they belong to you), so I opt to fast-travel to the closest large city a ways south of me, where I can cut my gems, see if there’s anything I want from the merchants, trainers, etc. Sell some stuff, upgrade my Sling Skill. Vetch had asked me to do a favour for him in this particular city, so I finish that little quest, winning a bit of extra loyalty, and opening up further quest opportunities.
And I might end it there for the day, since I probably have some kind of horrible, shrieking deadline that needs tending-to.
Another player might have a very different experience. They would take advantage of different in-game opportunities. Somebody who wanted to just hack at stuff should find ready gratification as well. And so on.
I’m aware that none of this is really anything new. Good games provide it on a smaller scope, and the larger scope I’m describing is beyond anyone’s realistic resources.
But I keep thinking back to my brief stint in FFXIV, where it seemed like every task that might have been otherwise fun could be performed only after crawling through multiple unyielding layers of thick, viscous slime. Then you had to do it 200 more times in order to level up. I’m wielding my dramatic licence pretty broadly, here, but after a month of playing it that’s really more or less how I felt. And there’s no need for that. Gruelling repetition shouldn’t be a stand-in for engaging, extensive (and ideally varied) content.
So this is it for The Crossing. Tomorrow, I’ll do a last, brief post talking about a couple of the games I’m particularly looking forward to this year. In the meantime, you guys who’ve been following this series have a good idea how this game works, so you should tell me what race/class/type/etc. you would play, yourselves. No holds barred.