World of Fantasy

8 – Blue or Red?

Quill shook his head. Two of the classes, both Alliance, were unfinished. That might mean the classes themselves were unfinished. Which sucked because paladin was the one he resonated with the most. The idea of protecting others really appealed to him more than dealing a lot of damage. But who would chance their life on what might be an unfinished class with no abilities and no guarantee you might be able to change classes later. 

He was no PvP expert by any means, but reading things like short-range teleport and immortality, it seemed obvious that the Legion had abilities that could be so good they were broken. Then again, was PvP going to matter here? Weren’t they simply trying to defeat the game, not each other? 

More people were wandering into the plaza as word likely spread of the faction decision here. And more and more were going to the Legion. 

“Ah! What to choose?” he grumbled around, rubbing his head with indecision. 

A tall young man in his mid twenties stood next to Quill, a dark beard and moustache around his mouth, looking at Quill with cold, blue eyes. “The choice is obvious.”

Quill looked up slightly at the other man. “Not to me. I get that red is appealing, but I like the feel of blue, too.” He lifted his hand. “Quill, by the way.”

The other man didn’t deign to take his hand, but did give his name. “Atem.” He arched an eyebrow. “Most of these classes are quite clearly mediocre or useless except for a few. Given the history of World of Fantasy, the top two DPS will be mage and rogue. The mage will have area damage but the rogue will no doubt do the most direct, one-target damage. This makes them the two most self sufficient and they will doubtlessly rule PVE and PvP, as well as provide the highest DPS for raids.”

Quill nodded. “Agreed. Still, there could be other things to think about besides DPS.”

Atem scoffed. “Like what? Waifu and husbando considerations? Which one looks pretty? Absurd. We’re trapped in this game. We can’t rely on anyone from the outside getting us out. We’ve been told that passing the game will free us. Therefore, the smartest thing to do is to maximize our chances of clearing it. No matter the design, offence in every game is far more important than defence. No matter how strong your defence or how high your HP, you can’t beat a boss with it, nor defeat anyone in PvP. Out-damaging is always the meta strategy.”

“We have no real idea what the game entails yet though, do we?” Quill countered. “There might be things that other classes can do that we need to make progress.”

“No. Are you stupid? Every game is designed so that any class can clear it. It would make zero sense to prevent anyone from finishing by limiting the skills needed. But, I agree, non-DPS abilities can be an important consideration. Take stealing. The rogue class is the only one listed here with the ability to steal. That could be a unique and important source of gold and items. As a rogue, I not only do premier damage, I also have the stealth to avoid enemies, and the ability to finance my progress myself. No other class offers as much personal power.”

“Perhaps,” Quill allowed. “But I doubt anyone can clear the game with solo play.”

“Teams will beg me to join their dungeons or raids because of how much damage I’ll be doing, and how much better my gear will be, and how much higher my level will be because I’ll be progressing faster.”

“I just think that a well balanced team is going to have more success, so we need people to take on all classes. Our best strategy for getting out of here alive is cooperation.”

“Ha! You expect players to work together? That’s retarded. You might as well herd cats.” He turned a sneer on the crowd around them. “Most of these people are idiots. They have no how to min/max stats, how to choose the best gear and class, how to use which moves and skills to maximize damage. They’ll muddle through like they do in other games, going nowhere and dying here, while proper hard-core players will get the best gear and get out of here alive.”

“You know, just because you clear the game and get out, doesn’t mean that any of the rest of us will.”

“So? Not my problem. You want out? Git gud.”

“Surely the best strategy is for all of us to work together, making all of us better. No matter how strong you are as an individual, you only get better as others help lift you up.”

“Look around you. These people are mostly losers. They are frail, weak, stupid, and lazy. They will never work together reliably. Especially a million people or however many are on this server. There’s no point in an alliance with anyone except the most dedicated, ruthless and capable. Only the strongest survive. Frankly, if the rest of you loser nice-guys die, the world will be a better place for it. Less weak.” With a haughty look down his nose, he turned his back on Quill and made for the red portal. 

Quill tried not to let the other man’s attitude get to him. The guy was a meta slave, holding to a narrow-minded ideal that the absolute best stats or character or gear was the only worthwhile way to play a game. And he could see the logic in that argument, depending on the goal. Maybe the goal was just to get out of here alive. Perhaps you had to be one of the first, if the CEOs had been serious about there being a limit. 

Still, following the meta was a very common strategy and the developers of this game would have known that. Would they have catered to it, or sought ways to throw a wrench into it? Given the surprise and dark turn of events, making this a death game, he was inclined to think that maybe the devs had left further surprises in store for them. Which meant that maybe there was more to consider in choosing a class than just DPS. 

Although, however you looked at it, everything was a gamble. Rolling on rogue did seem like a fairly safe bet. Rolling on anything in red seemed a better option. 

He pictured going to the red zone, following on the heels of so many others. Likely, more of the meta slaves and DPS fanatics would head there. The Bartle taxonomy classified players into four types: killers, achievers, socializers, and explorers. Most of us are a mix, but lean towards a type. Killers and achievers would probably head for the Legion. If you were a more individually-minded person, the Legion probably felt natural.

Quill, however, was a cooperative type. He loved exploration and had come to the game specifically for the social aspects of it. And he could see the more cooperative and social players perhaps sticking with the Alliance a bit more. So if he was interested in teaming up, especially on a larger scale, the Alliance might be the better bet. Legion folk would be more individually minded, and thus perhaps struggle to cooperate as much. Though this was a very generalized guess and he could easily be wrong.

He watched the plaza. People seemed to be going to the red side in large numbers. He heaved a big sigh. So what was his own strategy going to be? Follow the presumed meta and do everything he could to get out of here as fast as he could on his own? Fuck everyone else, the attitude that Atem guy had had? 

Imagine the survivor’s guilt that would lay into him if he did get out that way and left everyone else to die.

Or maybe he should try a different strategy, try to find a way to bring people together and collaborate on getting out of here. Maybe working together and helping others was the best way to clear the game. 

It would be nice to find a way for all of them to get out of here alive. 

He looked around the plaza again, studying the statues and each class. It wasn’t easy to come to a decision, but he felt himself leaning towards the Alliance. There were good classes there. He could take mage and still be a great DPS. And maybe something would happen with the paladin class. 

A quick look at the mage statue revealed a placard explaining class selection. It wasn’t available until players were level 5. So, for now, it was just a matter of picking one’s starting city. And you could spend the next four level increases agonizing over what to pick, as well as getting feedback from other players who had chosen their class first.

Nodding to himself, he strode back towards the plaza exit, and into the city streets once more, hoping that he wasn’t being a total fool. First step to not being a fool was putting some thought into the game. He came to a stop at a street corner and opened the player menu. Nothing in inventory, no clothes, no weapons, not even money. Dammit, not even water or food. He had nothing to kill monsters with and no way to earn money. Hell, even his stats were blank. 

Wait, his stats were blank? That was odd. 

Movement caught his eye and he looked up to see a beautiful young woman in nothing but a white apron going by. She was carrying a wooden box in her hands and seemed intent on her business. Brows raised, Quill realized that she must have found a quest and was on it now. That was great! It meant a way to earn money for food. And she must have found a way to get her attributes already. He ran after her. “Hey, wait up!”

The woman ignored his cries for some distance until he actually caught up with her. When he finally did, she put her back to the wall of the nearest house and looked at him with suspicion. 

He smiled at her, trying to be friendly. “Hey. How’d you unlock your attributes?”

She gave him a puzzled, and still highly suspicious, look. “Huh?”

“Your attributes.” He pointed to the box in her hands. “You’re on a quest, right?”

She didn’t answer.

He held up his hands. “I’m not trying to stop you or hurt you or whatever, I promise. I just saw you go by and you seemed to know what you were doing. I hoped you knew how to get attributes. And if you’re on a quest, maybe you can tell me where to get it because I can’t think of any other way to make money and not starve right now.”

Her defensive expression softened marginally. “I don’t know anything about attributes. You mean our stats?”

He nodded. “Yes. Look at our character page.” He swiped open his menu and brought the relevant page up. “Strength, dexterity and so forth. Mine are all blank.”

The woman was only a hand shorter than Quill and possessed a body that resembled a perfect game avatar more than an average person. She squatted and put the box down, but kept her distance, wary of him. She opened her own menu. “You’re right. Actually, I thought of this earlier and then forgot.”

Quill shrugged. “Guess we both need to figure it out then, huh?” He looked around. “You been to the faction plaza yet?”

She shook her head. “No. What’s that?”

“Have you played World of Fantasy before? There are two factions, Azure Alliance and Crimson Legion. We’re in the main blue city. There’s a portal to the Legion in the plaza. Each faction has very different classes. So I guess you pick the faction with the class you want and start playing there.”

“You’re here. So you picked blue?”

“Yeah.” He nodded. “But, to be honest, I’m not entirely sure it’s the right decision. Certainly, it’s a very personal decision. You should go and have a look. Your class is going to be super important, right?”

She glanced at the quest box, then reluctantly nodded. “Can you show me where it is? The plaza?”

“Of course!” He turned his body back in the direction they’d come from. “This way.”

They walked together, side by side. 

She glanced at him a couple of times. The second time, she glanced downwards, then sharply looked away. 

Quill could easily guess the cause of her reaction. His own flagpole was doing its best to raise his makeshift garment high. “I’m terribly sorry. It’s impossible to control it when…you know, you’re that beautiful and you’re only wearing an apron. After food, I think my next purchase is pants.”

She didn’t look at him as she replied. And was that a hint of blush on her cheeks? “Why don’t you just steal some pants from an NPC?”

“Couldn’t you have done the same? Why did you only take the apron?” he challenged her.

A ghost of a smile graced her lips. “Fair enough.”

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