If you’ve been hanging around here on the blog since August, you know just how excited I’ve been for the tiny multiplayer online RPG Book of Travels. It finally came into Early Access on October 11, and, as I’m sure you can imagine, I was just as excited the day it launched onto Steam.
We’ve had Book of Travels for almost two weeks now, and I thought this would be a good time to record my thoughts on the game thus far, namely whether or not this game has lived up to the expectations I’ve had for it in my head in the months leading up to launch.
I held off on writing this for a very specific reason. The first time you log into a new game is honestly one of the more exciting moments in a game’s life. You’re in a brand new virtual environment with shiny graphics and high hopes for the game itself. It’s really easy to look at a new game with rose-colored glasses on that first day and just revel in the newness of it while ignoring any flaws the game may have.
So as much as I wanted to gush about Book of Travels and my thoughts about it on launch day, I held off. I let myself play it for a bit longer before I sat down to write about it. I’m glad I did, but my opinion honestly hasn’t changed since launch.
I am in love with Book of Travels, and that includes any little bugs that I’ve experienced along the way.
To be fair, with the game still in early access on Steam, you have to go into playing it with the knowledge that sometimes, bugs are just going to happen. Luckily enough for me, I have yet to encounter any particularly game-breaking bugs. In fact, I’ve only experienced a grand total of one bug so far where the game just refused to move me to a neighboring zone and my character was stuck where they were. The only way I personally found around it was to shut the entire game down and load it up again. I have been unable to replicate the issue, however, so I still don’t know if it was just a random thing or if it may happen again.
Despite that, though, Book of Travels plays like a dream, feeding the desire I have in every game to explore and see what’s in some random corner that other people may not have found.
Character creation remains a favorite part of the game itself for me, allowing me to basically create a story for my character before I go further into the game itself. The developers have even told us that they’re planning on expanding character creation to give us more customization options just because players requested it. Eventually, this will allow players to adjust their character’s height, hair color and style, and even some more things.
As a roleplayer, I already really appreciated the character creation process in Book of Travels. It’s involved. It’s detailed. It lets me consider aspects of my character to make them feel as though they’re part of the world they exist in right from the start. It lets me consider whether or not an action I’m taking is something the character I’m playing as would do as opposed to myself.
These are choices that, a lot of the time, we don’t tend to have in other games, and Book of Travels makes sure that whatever a player chooses to do is their choice. There’s no icon over the heads of NPCs to tell us who may have a quest for us. There’s no marker on the maps, either, save for whatever ones we put there. Everything is left up to us to record and decide whether or not our characters would investigate this rumor they overheard in town or explore to find someone who can teach them how to brew the various teas (similar to food/potion buffs in other games) or tie knots (aka casting magic).
As an example, one of the very first things my character managed to learn from talking to NPCs at the location they were dropped off in to start was a nearby town that had a teahouse and the owner tended to take pity on newcomers to the Braided Shore. Since I knew my character had just come here from a strange land, I realized it would make sense for my journey to begin trying to find the town, so I carefully wrote out the directions I had been given and made my way there. Once there, I encountered a somewhat sketchy individual in town who bestowed a knot message upon my character and told them to deliver it to another NPC in another location. I had no direction this time, just the name of the tavern where the person I needed to hand it to would be.
It’s since become my mission to find the tavern, but I have yet to be fortunate enough to find it. I have found an assortment of other journeys to go on, though! Every quest comes from talking to people, but I love that it’s up to me to find things. Everything I have stumbled upon has been the direct result of the actions I’ve been taking and how well I’ve written notes down.
I’ve delivered messages, and sought out people to start teaching my character magic!
I’ve stumbled upon ruins. I’ve been mugged at a couple of those ruins, which I was not expecting.
I’ve crossed great bridges and marveled at the night sky.
One thing I really haven’t done is explore with other players. In fact, I can count the number of times I’ve run into another player on one hand. Admittedly, with only seven players to a server and given the vast size of the Braided Shore itself, the chances of you being in the same zone with another player are going to be few. That said, every time I run into another player feels incredibly special even if all we do is say hello to each other. Our paths may cross briefly and our journeys may be taking us in two separate directions, but you still know you aren’t alone, and it’s this incredible feeling just to be able to emote a greeting to someone else and see if maybe they need help with something.
(Yes, we can only communicate with each other via emotes. It hinders precisely nothing.)
I am having the time of my life with Book of Travels, and to be quite honest with you all, I don’t know that I want it to end. I’m really looking forward to seeing what else is in store for us in this game and what other places we may be able to explore and seek out in the future.