Maybe because my life has been pretty grim lately, I've been engrossed in this game called "Grim Dawn" for many hours now. And I'm totally loving it!
Grim Dawn is an ARPG. That means Action Role Playing Game for my non-gamer friends out there. In an ARPG, you can select your character/class and then go on different quests, following one main story plotline. The best part about ARPGs is that the gameplay is not linear - you can play multiple quests in different order and even opt out of some side quests, while building up your character and upgrading your power or skill as you level up along the way.
My all-time favorite ARPG is Diablo II. Back in college, we were so hooked to it that many of us would bunk classes playing it in our hostel rooms. There were not just a hell lot of quests but every time somebody played the game, the level design changed. And those were the days when internet connectivity was almost nonexistent, we didn't even have mobile phones back then, and so if we were stuck on a particular quest, one of us would go outside the hostel to an internet café and search for the walkthrough guide online (on one of those Geocities or Angelfire websites, dayyymm, anybody remembers those? Tripod, Bravenet, Freeservers etc? lolz). And once we found the solution, we would save the whole webpage from the Internet Café's Netscape browser to our floppy disk and rush back to our hostel. Such was our love and dedication for the game.
And then of course came the bloody mods. Somebody in hostel downloaded one such mod and it quickly spread like wildfire from one room to the other and soon everybody was playing a modded version. Suddenly, you could just stand still while fighting the final boss Diablo himself and nothing would happen to you because your health and regeneration rate were super high, and then with one punch you could take him out! Hehe.
Anyway, those were some really memorable times. When Diablo 3 came out, I couldn’t play it because my PC system didn't have the minimum requirement :( And by the time I had enough money to upgrade my system, I read so many negative reviews about the game that I decided to skip it. A lot of gamers advised that if we want to cherish our memories of D2, then we should stay away from D3.
Torchlight II is another favorite ARPG of mine. It is also currently my third "Most hours spent" on my Steam game collection, right after Team Fortress 2 and Age of Empires II. I have completed the game on normal difficulty mode using a "Berserker" class (level 90+) and restarted the game using an "Engineer" class on Veteran difficulty, but I don't exactly seem to recall why I stopped playing it…
Coming back to "Grim Dawn", the reason why I wanted to make a blog post about it is because of this one incident. A very silly incident indeed.
I'm already smiling as I type this :D
So, like I said, I started playing Grim Dawn a couple of days ago. I didn't want to read the discussion forum in case I stumbled upon spoilers. I just went in blind playing it as the game unfolded in front of me.
As I was already familiar with ARPG, I knew what I had to do - Explore the land, fulfill quests, kill the bad guys, pick up reward or item drops, equip yourself with better armour or weapons, sell off the ones not required, use that money to buy better stuff or upgrades etc etc, the usual ARPG gameplay.
And as I slowly leveled up, I received Attribute Points that I could use to upgrade my character, as in any other ARPG. In the case of Grim Dawn, I could use those Attribute Points to improve my "Physique" or "Cunning" or "Spirit". Improving any of them affected my health, damage, the type of weapons or armours I could carry etc.
But I still didn't understand why I needed my "Energy" bar. I wasn't using it at all, and here's where things got funnier.
It took me a hell lot of time to level up to Level 10, which was the first Steam Achievement badge. Man, I grinded a lot, the enemies were becoming tougher and tougher in spite of me upgrading my attributes. I ended up farming a lot in the earlier regions to buy better weapons as I wasn't getting good drops in the beginning.
Finally I came across this cave where I was given a warning: "A presence far more powerful than you exists in this place".
I was like, "Awesome!" because that meant a much tougher boss was going to be there, which meant better item drop if I could kill him.
I rushed in screaming, "Leeeeeeeeroyyyy" :P
It was this Super badass boss called "Salazar, Blade of Ch'thon". He killed me within the first 2 seconds, lolololololzzzzz.
Fortunately, I respawned right back in town and the only thing I lost were Experience Points. I farmed for some more time, bought better items and went to face him again. I created a portal right next to his location so I could easily get to him the next time he killed me. And killing me he did, many times! Man I think I died at least a 100 times! But I managed to hit him and reduce his health by a miniscule amount every time before he killed me. I was persistent. I wasn't going to give up. I kept rushing back right after respawning. Attack. Die. Repeat. Die. Repeat. Die.
FINALLY, I killed him and received a lot of awesome item drops, including the "Blood of Ch'thon". I also unlocked my second Grim Dawn achievement once I killed him.
After that I closed the game and went to view my global achievement stats on Steam.
THAT was when I knew something was freaking wrong!!!!
Can you spot what is wrong from my screenshot image of my global achievement stats below?
For those of you unfamiliar with Steam achievements, you will see the game's achievement badge on the left side, and if you see the same badge on the right side, that means you have unlocked that particular achievement. From the above image, you can see that I overtook a hell lot of achievements!
The harder the achievement is, the fewer people will unlock it. Usually people unlock most achievements in order from the top. In my case, I have achieved a feat less than 30% of the people playing Grim Dawn had achieved, without even achieving any of the earlier achievements. How were people able to unlock all those achievements before reaching Salazar? How were they able to progress so quickly? Weren't they finding this game difficult and grinding?
And so finally, I decided to look up on the guides online.
That was when I came across probably the most FACE-PALM moment of my entire gaming life!
Whenever I leveled up my character, apart from getting Attribute Points, I was also actually getting Skill Points!!!! I could use those Skill Points to determine which CLASS I wanted to be, and improve the various skills from the Skill Tree to make myself more powerful! I was completely unaware of that section!!!
There are apparently six classes to choose from, and I was playing class-less all that time!!! lolzzz
There is the "Soldier", who I assume is like the hack-n-slash "Barbarian" of D2 or "Berserker" of T2. Then there's the "Demolitionist", "Occultist", "Nightblade", "Arcanist" and "Shaman", all having their unique powers and skills. You can use those skills to upgrade your character and make him/her more powerful.
Mannnnn I had more than 50 unused Skill Points when I finally discovered my Skill section of the game! I laughed out so much.
(In my defense though, most of the ARPGs I've played let you select your class in the very beginning itself. In Grim Dawn, the class selection apparently unlocks only after you reach level 2, hence the reason why I had no idea there were classes to choose from.)
I read a few more guides and since people suggested a "Demolitionist" was a good class for first-timers, I selected that one and quickly upgraded my "Fire Strike" immediately, maxing it out and unlocking "Explosive Strike". I also invested in "Grenado" and "Canister Bomb" from the skill tree, which really made it easier killing off a pack of zombies, and of course the awesome "Mortar Trap" that saved me more than once from a certain death. Yeah things had been much more easy and smooth after I discovered the bloody skill tree. It made my gameplay experience even more fun.
I also finally realized using those special skills consume "Energy" (kinda like a "Mana" system) so now I know why my Energy was always full earlier in the game :D
Great game indeed, I've just completed the first main quest of killing Warden Krieg, and will be on this game for the next couple of weeks. But damn, I'll always remember this game as the game I played without selecting any class or activating my skill tree for at least the first 15 hours of gameplay! Howbow dah? lolz.