Part 3: .hack Infection - //Update 03 - Level Grinding (Several Fields)//Update 03
Today's update is the first time in the game we're given any sort of freedom. Recall that the previous two times Kite logged in, he was dragged off somewhere by someone who wouldn't shut up. There's still a cutscene upon logging in, but there's no railroading. The game can actually start now!
Video: Mysterious Cat Character
Since we have all this freedom, let's use it by checking out this mysterious cat character everyone's talking about. The game pretty blatantly told (and showed!) us where to find it, so it must be important! Also, one of the characters talking there is rather important to the story, though we won't find out why for a very, very long time.
Video: Meeting the Cat
: Hey. I found a great area that's full of Aromatic Grass. Wanna go?
This, folks, is Mia. She's rather important to the game, and ties pretty extensively to the overall story. I don't like her, or her partner Elk.
: OK. Let's get ready then.
: Ah, Mia?
: Excuse me. You. Yes, you!
: That's a unique bracelet!
That's Elk skidding to a stop in the background. The image was too funny to not leave out.
: Can I take a look?
: Can you see it?
: Yes, of course! Do you mean to say you can't see this nice bracelet? Even if you can't see it, as long as you know it's there, it's the same thing as seeing it right?
: Bracelet? Hey, what are you talking about? I can't see any bracelet, Mia.
: Well, thanks a lot for letting me look at your bracelet. I have a feeling that we're going to meet again. Somehow... Well, see you around.
: Wait, Mia! What about the Aromatic Grass?
Right, then. I get the feeling that Elk doesn't like us very much. Anyhow, once these cutscenes end, the game proper finally opens up. Going out into fields by yourself is tantamount to suicide, so let's give BlackRose a call and see what sort of trouble we can get into. It's time to gain some levels!
When grinding levels in either .hack series, I always use the random button to come up with somewhere to kill stuff. Δ Beautiful Solitary March is no exception to that, either. This will remain a constant throughout the LP.
This here Piney Apple is the first Grunty Food item we find in the game. The field area is also the second type of field you can find in the game, it is laid out more like a dungeon than a proper field, and is only used for forested areas. This type of field is not nearly as common as the type we saw in the first update.
This was also a poor area to use for level grinding for another reason. That crab monster on the right side of the image nearly destroyed both Kite and BlackRose. The crab's defense was extremely high, and it dealt a lot of damage with each attack. These were two very bad combinations that sent me looking for somewhere else to kill things.
Not much to say about this field. The combat was still a pain, but not nearly as bad as the previous field. Only two things of note really happened here.
The first is me using Data Drain to kill something that was annoying me. Virus Cores will be explained in great detail in a few updates. The second thing that happened was me being an idiot and opening a risky treasure box. I got hit with a lot of damage and received a single Fortune Wire for my troubles.
Video: Health Alarm - Ever wondered what it sounded like when your or a party member's health got low? Play this short clip to infinity and you, too, can savor the sound.
Protect Break is the sign that you can use Data Drain on a monster. When fighting bosses, this means the hard part of the fight is over. I'm not entirely sure on when Protect Break occurs, however. The gut feeling I've gotten while playing the games is that you have to take away at least half of the monster's life - it seems that way on bosses, at least. For regular monsters, I think it happens every so many hits you land.
Video: Spring of Myst - This is the only thing that happened in this field.
Sadly, I wasn't able to capture screenshots of that particular spring, so let's go to an alternate universe to see exactly what the process looks like.
: What?! Neither one? Hmm... Let's see... then is it this? Till next time. Goodbye...
Thanks to savestates, that entire encounter effectively never happened! Also, apologies for the larger-than-normal face portrait for monsieur. That is the only time it'll ever be used.
Just for posterity's sake, this is how Kite and BlackRose stand after the, admittedly, pitiful attempts at level grinding. The game's difficulty tends to go down the higher in level you climb.
Now, onto more fun stuff. Like Goblin Tag!
Defeat the golden goblin running in the field.
"But don't get cocky. I'm only an apprentice of the Four Gob Kings."
Yeah, Goblin Tag really isn't that hard to start off. Just apply a speed charm and proceed to beat the hell out of a goblin. The Goblin Cap is a largely useless item. The bonuses it grants isn't worth the loss of Kite's Repth spell. However, it is a rare item, so we'll chuck it into the bank for safekeeping. Anyway, that's about all the damage we can do at the moment. Time to log out and see if anything's happening on the forums.
RE: GAME OVER!!
Depending on the area, the level of the enemy varies, so you have to find the area that's best suited for you. Area I recommend for beginners: &Delta Discovered Primitive Touchstone.
Monsters don't vary that much in level, so you won't die too quickly and see that dreadful GAME OVER screen. But there's 5 floors to this dungeon, and the ones on the lower level are pretty strong, so just don't go all the way down.
You should probably raise your level to at least level 5 in the upper levels before you go down there.
Alright! That does it for today. Next time: Grinding levels, meeting friends, and buggy areas.