「奈落の参道」 (Naraku no Sandou)
“The Abyssal Shaft”
Have you ever done major raids in an MMORPG? If not, you get to learn what it’s like. If you have, welcome back.
A Taste of Raiding
I’ve seen a lot of raiding in my (younger) day. 100+ people raids during the first six expansions of Everquest. Leading a raiding guild through every raid encounter in vanilla World of Warcraft. PvP raids in Dark Ages of Camelot and Warhammer Online. So with all my nerdy knowledge, let me say this: this episode was an accurate representation of how raiding works. The raid setup was typical but robust (which, by the way, I anticipated almost perfectly last week. I still got it!), with Party 1 stacked with tanks and healers to tank big big baddies, Party 2 taking down the trash mobs, and Party 3 and Party 4 playing main DPS (especially William’s Party 3, because he’s probably got the highest DPS of the bunch, that goofy no-lifer). But it’s when they get into the first raid boss that Touno Mamare’s impeccable MMO credentials crystallized. Which is not usually something I would have to stress/praise so much, were it not for a certain other show that didn’t conform to the experience quite so well.
The biggest thing: raid bosses are hard! I never understood how the characters in SAO expected to beat all those bosses without massive casualties unless they massively over-leveled for each encounter (smart) or the raid bosses were comparatively weak compared to other MMOs (which is also reasonable, since Kayaba Akihiko planned it as a death game). So it could be justified, but Log Horizon cleaves closer to my experience. Raid bosses are hard, and frequently surprise you with bullshit attacks that you have little way to defend against without previous knowledge. I can remember bosses that dumped aggro, split apart into multiple bosses, randomly insta-killed raid members on a random cooldown, had knockbacks, raid-wide stuns, constant debuffs or DoTs on the whole raid, bosses you had to dance in certain patterns at certain times or their attacks would swallow you whole … the inventiveness of video game designers is as endless as they are evil. That William’s group never wiped completely was in itself surprising—in most MMOs I’ve played, a retreat was a rarity; you either stuck to the plan and kept the main tank(s) alive, or you were all doing a corpse run (unless you could Feign Death, you lucky bastards). The fail, strategize, and repeat path to (eventual) victory is one I took many a time, so it’s a trip straight down nostalgia lane. Though the smallest raids I ever took part in were 40-man, and I thought those were too small. It takes a 72-man raid to really get my blood pumping.
But it wasn’t all straight fidelity to traditional raiding. Their supply problems were a new wrinkle. (Also, shooting the first boss in the eye. I was still thinking in pure MMO terms, so that was clever.) Usually the limiting factor is time—time before people have to go make dinner, get to bed, and rest before work or school in the morning. Since they’ve apparently been at this raid for weeks, that’s no longer a problem—it’s a hardcore raider’s wet dream. Slowly running low on repair supplies, not to mention food puts a different limit on their activities, a limit Shiroe apparently doesn’t think they can afford. They were lucky the raid dungeon is underground because that will keep Plant Hwyaden (and maybe someone else) from learning about it for a while, but it won’t last forever. From the sound of it they need to hurry up, beat the dungeon, and make with the flow of gold before someone else gets wind of their plan.
The other things I’m curious about is how exactly Shiroe was able to get twenty days worth of supplies. Log Horizon only has eight people, but I also didn’t see them doing a lot of supply collecting (though it could have happened between seasons). I feel like I missed something there, or perhaps that’s something that hasn’t been explained yet.
The designers of Elder Tales did not screw around. This is definitely an old school MMORPG—you don’t get your skills handed to you when you level, no siree! Having to get someone else to craft them (and for Hidden skills, out of expensive materials) is one thing, but requiring a special quest and participation in a raid to get their Rank 4 (Secret) skills? Harsh! If that’s for just their marquee skills, that would be rough enough, but if it’s for everything, that would be a slog.
Well, I say that, but those kinds of things are part of the fun. Though perhaps not for Akatsuki, who has never taken part in a raid. Learning of the Teachings (Edit: I’m going to go with the LN term of Overskill, because it sounds a lot cooler) is definitely foreshadowing, and hopefully what it’s foreshadowing is a stronger, more confident Akatsuki. I prefer her as a woman of action rather than angsty. Maybe evil-eyes-in-the-santa-cape will help bring that out of her.
Looking Ahead – Pivot to Akatsuki & Lenessia
I’m surprised that we’re doing a full pivot back to Akiba next week, though mostly because of Lenessia’s purported loss of faith in the adventurer-and-People-of-the-Land dialogue. That feels out of left field to me, but only next week’s episode will tell.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – It’s a trip down nostalgia lane with old school raiding by Silver Sword. But supply problems could grind them to a halt #loghorizon s2e3
- I laughed when they were talking about the devs reusing an old boss, but that proved to be dangerous—it made them think they knew what to expect, even though it was under no obligation to act as it did before. They didn’t wipe, so they didn’t fully pay for their presumption, but it may have held them back and made them take longer to beat the encounter.
- “Main tank down. Die in a good place!” (Oh gods, I’m having flashbacks.)
- Demi-Demi can’t accept the simple truth—he isn’t that important to Shiroe. Shiroe does what’s best at the time—he antagonized Demi-Demi to make him sloppy when they were enemies, and now he’s helping (even saving) him because they’re allies. Demi-Demi can’t accept that he isn’t important enough for Shiroe to hate. He’s just a Demi-Demi.
- How is she sticking to his back right now?
- Embarrassed Naotsugu is so moe!
Check out my blog about storytelling and the novel I’m writing at stiltsoutloud.com. The last four posts: Between novels, From me to you, The glorious unburdening of less, and Rape fiction. For book updates, please sign up for my mailing list.