Leveling an architect, test round one
Since I been thinking about selecting one character to be my main mission architect once Issue 14 goes live, I decided to have a test run and see how it worked out in practice. After all, it has been said that it would be possible to level a character from 1 to 50 with just Mission Architect missions.
The idea is to create a new character, play him from start and as much as possible only play player-created story arcs. This character would also be the one to unlock all new content and the main one to pick up any mission architect-related badges.
By also starting a new character I will also have the opportunity to try out my own missions from a low level character perspective, instead of using a number of my higher level characters only.
So I decided to have a test run on the EU test server with a new character first to see how it worked out. I picked an Arachnos Widow male (yes, a male widow, Rogue Isles are all for equal opportunity…).
My “widow” has it easier than many new characters though; the veteran rewards for the permanent Sands of Mu and Nemesis Staff were equipped also, which means he had two additional fighting powers right from the start – not a luxury for everyone. This turned out to be much needed in some cases.
Starting an arachnos widow means that no tutorial is played and there is a special line of missions for the epic villain archetypes. I decided to still do that part and after the first mission I was at level 2, pretty much the same as when someone has just completed the tutorial.
The Architect Entertainment building is at the other end of Mercy island, so there was a bit of running to get there. There had not been any pop-up indicating that the architect contact was available, but this was not a problem – just talk to the guy and he gave the introduction mission.
The first hurdles came now when picking a mission. There are a numbers of search criteria that can be used, but none that are used to find missions that may be appropriate for my level 2 character. So start browsing through a few thousand story arcs…
I first picked one arc which the first mission was appropriate for pretty much any level, smashing some arachnos troopers. This worked fine. However, the next mission in the arc raised the minimum level to 40 and thus I was changed to the power of a level 40 without enhancements and with almost no fighting powers. This proved more challenging and on top of that the mission was a bit crowded, which meant that I had to deal with 2-3 lieutenants at the same time. After a rather slow progress I gave up on that mission and decided not to try any missions where my effective level is raised significantly.
Next attempt was a mission with a custom enemy group. Missions with custom enemy groups have the whole level range (1-54) available to them, so this might work out better. That also proved to be somewhat tough and I would probably not have made it without my veteran reward fighting powers.
Custom enemy groups can be made quite challenging, in particular for squishy characters and/or low level character that may not yet have the countermeasures of a high level character. Thus in my fights in this mission I found myself dealing with mastermind minions calling up their pet, dominators throwing holds and other mez effects, corruptors healing their comrades if they started to get a bit low in health, stalkers sneaking up cutting big holes in my health. After a few deaths I managed to complete the mission. Again the veteran reward powers provide useful here.
So next step here was to ignore the the custom enemy group missions, unless there was some indication that they were aimed at lower levels in their descriptions. Unfortunately there is nothing in the search filters that aids in this, so I took at subset of the available missions and started to read all the arc descriptions. This provided me with a couple of different story arcs, which worked out better to play and some of them were quite good.
Normally when I start a new character I tend to not buy any enhancements until I reach level 7, which means I can equip some level 10 enhancements which I buy at the quartermaster. There is usually enough money and other enhancements and salvage to sell that provide enough to buy the enhancements.
With mission architect missions there are no enhancement or salvage drops, but instead architect tickets. So the interesting question here was how many tickets would I have at level 7 and how far would that get me in terms of buying enhancements?
After the mission where I dinged level 7 I had a look at my ticket pile – 778 tickets in total. A check with the ticket vendor indicated that this was more than enough to by level 10 training origin enhancements – each one cost 15 tickets. Thus I filled all necessary slots with enhancements, which cost me less than 200 tickets in total. Thus the flow of tickets is far from a problem at this level.
I played some more missions and reached level 8, at which point I wanted to buy an additional enhancement. At this point I discovered something that was new to me – the enhancements available at the vendor scaled alo for each level, so I now suddently had a number of level 11 enhancements to pick from. This is much better than the old scheme when buying from quartermasters, since those are only available in intervals of five (i.e. level 5, 10, 15, 20 etc). With the tickets it seems I can alway buy the highest one that I can use, which is a quite nice thing.
After reaching level 8 I moved to the AE complex in Port Oakes and started working on my new story arc instead, which is aiming towards lower levels also.
Overall I think the test was a success, but with the caveat that the search tools are not particularly helpful at this point to easy find story arcs that works for low level characters. It may be a fair amount of trial&error, or detailed browsing on a number of missions.