Over the last week I’ve been digging deeper into the Norse-inspired world of Too Human, familiarizing myself with the gameplay and character classes. While the story is compelling and the action is incredibly addictive, for some reason I’ve been totally transfixed by the equipment menu. In fact, I think I’m spending as much time tweaking my character as I am carving through swarms of mechanical goblins, trolls, and elves. Almost every time a new piece of loot is dropped, I quickly access the equipment screen to see how it may benefit my character. This isn’t a first. I found myself doing the same thing in games like WoW and Mass Effect. But this obsession with character customization and maximizing efficiency goes back much further. Perhaps it was Dragon Warrior or Final Fantasy I (on the NES) where I got my first taste of this. Then Diablo came along and I was hooked for good.
Loot was a very precious commodity in the treacherous dungeons below the quaint (and somewhat creepy) village of Tristam, especially when playing on Battle.net. While working on the Diablo Battle.net guide (one of my earliest Prima projects) I was part of a 4-man team charged with conducting nightly raids. Having teammates was essential too, because if you died, you dropped all your equipment…very, very brutal. So we promised to pick-up the gear of our fallen comrades and return it to them once they were resurrected topside. But on one unfortunate night our warrior (Deth) decided to go solo, logging in before our scheduled start time. Without the support of Thudgun, Hogarth, and Xena (my awesome rogue), Deth was quickly overwhelmed by some hellish horde…the specifics of his tragic demise were never discussed and remain a mystery to this day. Suddenly Deth was staring down at his lifeless body. But even more alarming was the sight of his equipment (including several unique items) scattered across the dungeon floor with nobody around to retrieve it for him. This called for an urgent rescue mission, but the logistics weren’t easy. He couldn’t call us because his modem was using the phone line and if he disconnected everything would be lost; and in 1997 cell phones weren’t as ubiquitous as they are now. So he did the next best thing. He grabbed his car keys and drove to the nearest phone booth…in the rain! One by one he dialed our numbers, but alas, nobody was home. Accepting his fate, he eventually returned home and logged off, instantly deleting all of his hard-earned equipment from the game world. We eventually helped Deth build up his inventory again, donating warrior-specific items as we cleared each level. But every item we donated was one less item we could sell for our own profit, so this loss affected the whole team. Plus, he was never able to find some of the unique items again.
Playing Too Human has brought back a lot of fond Diablo memories. Fortunately, Too Human, and most modern games, have a much more forgiving death and loot systems, allowing fallen players to retain their gear. Given the amount of time I spend tweaking my character’s specs, I’m glad that’s the case.