While the ride to Rivendell was fun, it wasn’t yet the place for me. Tistann, my captain, has a few levels to go before he can start hanging out at the last homely house on a regular basis.
So it was back to the North Downs to clean up the area before Fornost, first of bears then of barghests.
Barghests are those hyena-dog things that I don’t really remember from the books, but which are part of English culture, and therefore seen as applicable in some way. Who knows. Likewise I do not recall the boar population being such an issue either, nor everybody’s seeming desire to have roast pork on a regular basis, so there is some reading between the lines going on. I will at least give them credit for a creature not seen in every other fantasy MMO.
But there I was, outside of Fornost and hunting bears and being reminded exactly how subtle the game AI can be. People complain that they want a better AI. I fear such a thing.
I went looking for bears and was faced with a veritable sea of barghests. It was as though there was some sort of barghest reunion or convention going, with all of them standing happily out in the open. Bears, on the other hand, had to be stalked. They were rare and obviously trying to hide in the foliage and behind terrain features.
And so I hunted my 16 bears.
At least it was only 16. If the quest giver had been one of the Nesingwary clan in WoW, it would have been 30. And by universal gaming convention, if the number of wild animals to be hunted explicitly exceeds 30, the game is declared a Redneck Rampage sequel and is required to have an authentic Psychobilly sound track.
After bagging my last bear, I shoved my way through the forest of barghests, who were packed together like they were on a Japanese subway at rush hour, to get to the quest giver. She was so happy about the whole bear thing, she asked me to go take out a dozen of the demon dogs infesting the fields before Fornost.
“Piece of cake!” I thought and turned around expecting to see the teeming masses of barghests….
I cannot say for sure if the in-game sound actually played the crickets effect, or if my mind just filled that in as I looked out over that first depression in the fields, formerly swarming with bargests and now occupied by a single such beast, along with three bears and five Oathbreaker spirits.
Three bears! Five minutes before I would have jumped for joy at seeing two bears at once, and now there were three.
Meanwhile that lone barghest seemed stunned, like he just realized that the command to “hide!” included him. He paid for his slow reaction time. And, as it turns out, even a wiley AI cannot hid that many wild animals that quickly and not be completely cheating, so I was able to hit my dozen in a reasonable amount of time.
After that, I was cleared to head east towards Gatson’s farm, familiar old Othrikar, and the ranger outpost and quest hub of Esteldin. The last is complete with craft hall, post office, class trainers, and banking access. The rangers have settled in to stay.
I passed through all three locations, picking up quests that, for the most part, directed me to continue on slaughtering the local wildlife. Bears, birds, wargs, spiders, and even a couple of the huge aurochs that roam the fields. That last was to finish off a tailoring quest.
In fact, the only one about who seemed to have any desire to have me actually slay the orcs that are wandering around the area was Gatson the farmer. And even Gatson had me pick up some grain from the orc camps to sell to the dwarves. No wonder the war seems to be going badly. Our side is wrapped up killing wildlife and profiteering.
Still, among all that I managed to hit level 28, at which point I began to fret a bit about my equipment. I really had not done much in the way minding my equipment since I strapped on the selection of armor that Gaff sent me when I hit level 21.
My worries seemed to be unfounded however. Over time I seemed to have replaced a good chunk of my armor with better pieces from quest rewards and drops. My halberd as well seems to be superior to anything I could find in my level range. I will have to double check on the jewelry front, but I seem to be in okay shape for level 28.
Now, however, I think it is time to head back to Ost Guruth and finish off a string of Lone Lands quests and bring myself closer to level 30.