This image of our shield heroine trapped in fluff pretty much sums up this entire series.
— Those hammers have some really tiny handles. And doesn’t it seem as though we fight a lot of hydras in this MMO?
— B-B-But this is how MMOs work! I kid, I kid… kinda. So rather than just repeating a dungeon, Kaede will try and beat the dungeon faster… which just feels like doing the same thing over and over… but faster. I dunno, that’s still pretty boring to me. Then again, I’m not into time trials or speed runs. I think they’re cool as an idea, but I never found myself interested enough to sit down and actually watch one (unless they’re one of those “beat Zelda in 2 mins thanks to this amazing glitch!!!!” runs).
— Plus, MMOs can only survive by making its hardcore players do the same thing over and over. If you’re the type of gamer who takes months to beat Persona 5, then MMOs are truly neverending for you. You’re a casual player and there’s nothing wrong with that. On the other hand, people who can beat Persona 5 in a week or even less are likely to quickly run out of content in MMOs. It’s just not possible to keep the hardcore fanbase playing for years and years and years without repeating content. There is no company on earth that can produce enough gameplay to keep players perpetually busy.
— Kaede and the hammer girls proceed to redo a dungeon ten times in a row. I think this is for leveling? Yeah, that always sucks. Luckily, she has friends who are willing to speedrun the dungeon with her. In Final Fantasy XIV, most people generally agree that faster = better. But there’s a small contingent of players that prefer to take things slowly. What happens when they get placed into the same group as the folks who want to speedrun? The ones who want to go slowly tend to win out, especially if one of them is the tank or healer. Important roles get to call the shots.
— Honestly, this insert song reminds me of something from Persona 4. I suppose I mention Persona and Final Fantasy a lot. I can’t help it; those are two of my favorite game series. In general, I like JRPGs, the Dark Souls series, and Metroidvanias. Some people lump Dark Souls into Metroidvanias, but I’m kinda iffy on that. I used to love Zelda, but I’m one of the few who did not love Breath of the Wild. What can I say? I love the old Zelda dungeons, and the newest game didn’t scratch that itch.
— By clearing these runs so quickly, the hammer sisters get a skill that doubles their strength. Gosh, what a coincidence. Two coincidences, actually. How lucky is it that clearing a dungeon quickly earns you a skill? And how even luckier is it that the skill plays directly into these two girls’ specialization?
— They also got a skill to use two-handed weapons with one hand. That’s neat, I guess.
— Since Kaede was with them, shouldn’t she have gotten the skills too?
— We later see Kuromu with the turtle. Kaede had lent it to him, and he thinks that makes her far too trusting. He’s not wrong. There are all sorts of guild drama in MMOs if you go looking for them. In a lot of newer games, valuable items like the turtle would “bind” to a user, so you can’t even lend them to other people.
— Meanwhile, Kanade is playing around with storing skills in the library. It’s not remotely exciting, but nothing in this anime is exciting. Oh, I guess I should mention that Kanade is technically male.
— I actually think it’s kinda amusing that this show is boring, because I do think watching someone play MMOs is equally boring. I do like watching people play games, especially horror games. Seeing people’s reactions can be fun. But god, MMO streams are the goddamn worst. On the flip side, MMOs in anime tend to be unrealistic because they’re full of silly drama. But that same silly drama is the story. It’s the only thing that keeps the show from being dreadfully dull. This anime, however, lacks any sort of drama. In some sense, that makes it more realistic than other MMO-related anime series, but god it’s so fucking boring.
— Anyways, Kaede played with sheep so much that she can summon forth a ball of fluff. Okay. Just exactly how many skills does this game have?
— Which reminds me of something: skill bloat can become a real issue. Now, most MMOs aren’t particularly popular, so this isn’t something that they have to worry about. But games like World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV have been around for a long time. The level cap gets raised with every new expansion, and that means new skills for people to play with. But you can’t keep doing this forever or you’ll bury the player under a mountain of skills. This can deter new gamers from trying your game. Few people would want to keep track of 20+ skills when playing a game. That’s not usually a recipe for fun. As a result, these two games will periodically do an audit and remove skills as they see fit.
Hardcore players don’t like this, because they see it as “dumbing” the game down. In a sense, it is. But hardcore players play for hours everyday. Everyday. As a result, their chosen class or job feels like second nature to them. Adding, say, five more skills won’t overwhelm them. Developers, however, have to keep in the mind the overall health of the game. As you can tell, I lean towards one side in this debate.
— We soon return our attention to Kuromu, who is beats a secret dungeon full of skeletons and stuff. As a result, he gets a new set of armor… C’mon, is this really it? Is this all we’re gonna get from this episode? Just these characters doing random shit and getting equipment? See, this is why I don’t watch MMO streams. This is boring as fuck.
— Kaede stumbles on a quest to help get medicine for a sick girl. Is this like… literally the second quest that we’ve seen in this entire series? I remember the girls healing some NPC in a haunted forest and that’s about it.
— Our heroine accepts the quest because she feels horrible if she didn’t help. That reminds me of how in older games you’ll get a quest to save prisoners from the enemy camp or something… but you would only need to save, say, three of them to fulfill the objectives. So you’ll waltz in, free three prisoners, and wave goodbye to the rest of the schmucks trapped in their cages. I’m sure Penny Arcade drew a comic for this exact situation. And man, I haven’t read Penny Arcade in probably a decade. Looks like they’re still alive. Good for them even if I’m no longer a fan. It’s like this blog, really. It’s been around for ten years, and as a result, readers have come and gone.
— Oh lord, it’s an escort quest. RIP. Luckily for Kaede, she can fly past all the hazards. In an actual MMO, you wouldn’t be able to get the NPC to ride your mount with you. I’ve never seen that happen.
— Speaking of which, does anyone actually enjoy escorting an NPC in any game? Well, Ashley was pretty decent in Resident Evil 4. She wasn’t completely braindead. You could also tell her to hide in dumpsters. There’s also Elizabeth in Bioshock Infinite, but she doesn’t really count. She can’t die, so you’re not really escorting her.
— Because Kaede can just fly the NPC past all the monsters, there’s no drama. And because there’s no drama, this quest is still boring. Sigh.
— Well, the show does do one thing that I like: the NPC’s lines stay the same. The NPC talks as if Kaede did escort her through all those monsters. This isn’t like other MMO-related anime series where the NPCs somehow have unique responses to every possible permutation.
— Kaede gets a follow-up quest where she needs to locate a ring. Time to go on an adventure to fetch said ring? Nah. It’s right here, dawg! She found it episodes ago! It’s like this show is doing everything it can to be as boring as possible.
— So in some MMOs, quest-related items won’t even drop until you have the quest flagged. This is especially true in FFXIV. On the other hand, I remember often just buying the item I needed from the Auction House in FFXI. Times have changed.
— The NPC goes crazy, so now we get yet another quest. Gosh, I wonder how Kaede will instantly resolve this one!
— At first, it seems as though we would get to see Kaede in action. But nope, by completing the first quest, you automatically beat the third one. Ridiculous.
— Time for a fourth quest… which leads to yet another item. No, our heroine didn’t have to fight through a horde of monsters to find it. She didn’t have to slay a super strong boss either. And it was just lying there on the ground too. She didn’t have to solve the puzzle.
— Kaede returns to the sick NPC with the item… and that’s it. Kaede uses it and the quest chain is over. Wow, so much excitement and fun. I hope someone turns New World Online into an actual game one day!
— Not to be outdone by Kuromu, Kaede has Iz make her a new set of gear. Apparently, she needs new armor to go along with her new skill. She basically turns into an angel, and in this form, she can use Cover on the entire party. Kuromu sums it up pretty succinctly.
— Right before the credits, we see the top PvPers talk about Maple and her guild. There’s nothing particularly interesting here. They’re just gonna keep an eye on her. That’s it. Also, they need to get better lighting.