Everyone’s apparently playing a game called Outside. It’s kind of a brutal MMO Survival game, but mostly satisfying. I want to talk about moving to a new zone, using my previous zone, Japan, as an example.
Reasons To Explore
The first thing one should consider is why change zones. Unlike most games, Outside’s levels are 100% time based, and can actually increase the chance of perma-death, so even if one could somehow grind levels, it wouldn’t be a good idea. The game’s largely about non-combat activities, and if spells exist, they are incredibly rare. Maybe the head of your trade guild just gkicked you and several others, or the housing plots in your area are too expensive.
For myself, I wanted to change zones because I could earn more gold easily in Japan while grinding my Cultural Understanding skill, even if only for a limited time. The economy here was better until the region’s faction leader messed with the economics. It might be a good move for people whose starter zone is Japan and started training the Japanese language skill immediately, but for me, whose starting zone was America, the change made it so earning gold was no longer quite as easy.
That’s ok, because I also moved here for trade. Since Outside only has local banking and trade (except for currency), getting certain items in different regions can be a bit of a pain. I really love Nintendo mini-games, so being in Japan has made it easier for me to find and play their games and accessories, including the legendary “Amiibo,” a product that’s in high demand in zones that use English, but relatively easy to acquire here. However, there’s a bit of a trade off. While I can get some cool mini-games, higher access to healthy consumables such as sushi and high-quality green tea, certain goods from my starter zone aren’t available here.
That’s where we get to the next stages. You’re going to need a way to earn gold in your new zone, and you should probably bring some key items from home. Remember, Outside may allow PvP, but the punishments are high, often resulting in bans, if not permadeath (unless you’re a celebrity, in which case, you can just pay some gold to shorten your ban time or even avoid it). Even PvE can result in gold loss if it’s not done correctly. No, instead, you should probably focus on a non-combat trade skill. In Japan, the English skill is quite valuable, even if its practical uses are limited. While many Japanese have invested a lot in the English Reading and English Listening skills, their English Speaking skills are generally pretty low. Having a native to practice with is seen as valuable, so I decided to join a trade guild that would help me with player housing and match me with a good local faction to work for.
Now, some people do this differently. Some people have friends or families they can rely on in the zone, or use short-term player apartments and then search for a job. You can do either one, but don’t forget that if you haven’t completed the local Visa quest and received your item, you may be booted from the zone, sometimes even banned! No matter which path you take, make sure to finish that Visa quest!
You also need to be careful about what items you bring. Since all items in the game world take up real space and are persistent, space is a premium. You’re allowed to bring a certain number of stacks of items based on weight, and anything more than that will cost you. My old sub-zone only had snow in the mountains, so I needed warmer clothes. And shoes. See, while races can be almost any size or shape, there are certain tendencies randomized at player creation. In Japan, they’re a bit smaller, and since clothes are restricted by size, I had to bring my own supplies or get them sent to me.
There were other items I brought as well. Stick deodorant was a big one, as Japanese seem to have a resistance to the Dirt element and as such, don’t provide strong consumables for avoiding it. I also brought some gifts to make faction grinding easier, as I’d learned this was very important.
While you’re preparing for your journey, you should research the local factions, quests, and general grouping customs. For example, in general, looting bodies, even of enemies, is severely frowned upon and will attract unwanted attention from the official regional Lawful-aligned factions. However, in Japan, found items should almost always be taken to the proper authorities. Keeping found items, while sometimes OK in the states, is severely frowned upon in Japan.
While it will be impossible for you to avoid every potential mistake, it is best to minimize this, as some regional players are more tolerant of newbies in their zone than others. Japan is pretty newbie friendly, though, especially if you come from an English language zone. Part of it may be because they’re big on grouping and are more Lawful aligned. It’s not that America is a Chaotic zone but certainly feels more Chaotic (I’d like to think of it as Neutral-Good). This means grinding reputation through grouping is more important than solo grinding your skills. For people specifically interested in Japan, I recommend Zooming Japan and Tofugu. They have really good guides and very few trolls.
The Reputation Grind
Even if you have friends or family in the new zone, you’ll want to work on your faction reputation almost immediately, especially if your language speaking skill is still low. A really easy thing is to learn what the locals want that you have cheap, plentiful access to. For me, chocolate from See’s Candy worked. Raspberry is a rarer flavor here, and often quite expensive. Boysenberry jam was also quite good, but I also brought a Japanese translation of what the berry is, as the locals always thought I said “poison-berry,” something that surely would have gotten me banned from the zone!
Gifts aren’t the only thing, though. Helping out more at work is good if you can manage it. My co-workers are quite busy, but once I learned how they want students to grind out their English skills versus what was acceptable, I was able to earn massive reputation points with them, so much so that I’d get small gifts or invited to advanced rep grinding parties with new groups. I was actually able to use some of my reputation grinding to beat a particularly difficult boss at work that threatened to cause an important quest to fail!
However,don’t just focus on guild factions! Though it’s quite big, think about the zone faction. It may not immediately pay off, but you represent your zone! People in other zones may rarely meet visitors, and you will be seen as a representative of that zone. Learn how you can be a better ambassador, and you’ll also get small gifts from locals, additional quests, and invitations to, you guessed it, more rep grinding parties! However, the grinding isn’t useless- the benefits (and sometimes required quests to maintain them) are fairly tangible, from everything to small gifts and new titles to big houses and fancy mounts (note: a “Thunderbird” is a kind of vehicle here, not a lightning bird; dragons are also not available).
If it’s not obvious yet, reputation grinding is very, very important. Even though you were maybe a big fish in your old zone, you often become a newbie when you change zones. You are going to need to rely on other people a little. Don’t abuse this relationship, as the mentoring skills in Outside don’t always immediately pay off. Much like in Asheron’s Call 1&2, your relationship with your mentor/patron will probably begin with them giving you some advice or goods, but it’s completely possible to run off without helping them with their own grinds. Don’t do this! Outside is, from what most people can a tell, a single server, non-instanced game. Even though the world is huge, a negative reputation can be hard to escape. factions are quite organized. While you can maybe be a little rude to total strangers once in awhile, it really can come back to bite you in the butt.
Don’t expect to just do what you did at home! I thought I could meet other people through other MMOs, but it didn’t really work out that way. I had to try different genres, and usually in locally made games. Face time and distance was very important! Don’t get discouraged, and don’t miss opportunities to rep grind socially. For example, I hate karaoke. My singing skill, in all languages, is 0. Most pets’ singing skill is higher ranked than mine! However, I still did it. My reward? Rep grinding with some cute girls, bonus reputation among the younger guild members, and even some help when some guild members kicked me and student-sidekicks out of our English Club grinding spot! Reputation grinding is important, but don’t forget that a single player may be able to grant you access to the bonuses and quests you’re really after.
That being said, socializing can be hard. Like most old MMOs, there’s no group finder or fast travel. Make any interests and hobbies known (unless they’re restricted to people level 18 or over- usually talking about any of these interests aside from drinking is a bit distasteful). As you’re grinding, people will talk, and there’s a good chance you’ll find or be put in contact with someone you can relate to, at least a little. This is especially useful if you’re into the popular western culture that is available in your new zone or if you have a specific interest unique to that zone.
Grinding Language Skills
While some people will tell you that this isn’t important, they are wrong! You need to at least have a higher enough Listening Skill to know when you’re hearing the local language and can use a dictionary to search for the meaning; Outside doesn’t have an auto-translate feature! While just talking to locals can help, you need to be proactive about Language Skill grinding. Often, the best way is to have a hobby that involves using the language. Again, I used games. Some of the same phrases I unlocked at work actually also worked in games, and the same will mostly be true of your hobby as well.
If you can combine this with socializing, that’s even better. For example, I ended up traveling with a new guildy to a different zone. What was really interesting was that we met many people in the new zone that also had the Japanese Language skill sets! This made my guildy happy, but also let me use my skill with someone closer to my skill level.
This is something that’s key. As much as I wanted to grind with the pros, the fact of the matter is that their skill level is really high, while their Language Teaching Skill often is quite low. My personal secret? Talk to local lowbies! Outside has family units, so abuse that! As a beginner, guildies with lowbies between levels 3-8 have been best. Obviously talking to random lowbies of this level will attract strange looks, so don’t do it. Only talk to ones that know you. At those levels, the little lowbies usually have skills levels closer to your own, but still more advanced. Some even have their own books for grinding their skills and might ask that you read them. It’s a great opportunity, but if it doesn’t happen, find a book vendor and have a loot on your own. If anyone asks, just say you’re thinking of getting it for a friend’s lowbie!
Outside may be free to play, but it’s currency heavy. Although you can technically take anything you want, again, there are a lot of Lawful-aligned factions that prevent this. Instead, you need to be earning gold in order to keep playing. While there may be places that you could technically go for simple combat and survival, permadeath and a vast amount of laws make this rather risky and hardcore.
However, in-game transactions are well placed. You will rarely wake up and become bombarded with ads unless you’re watching TV or listening to the radio. There may be ads everywhere, but they’re for various items that,very rarely, result in increased power. They can make Outside more fun, like having a bigger house or nicer mount, but mostly, all you need is housing, food, water, clothing, and gold to maintain these. I suggest investing in insurance, since, like with EVE Online, if your ship blows up and it’s not insured, you’re gonna be very, very upset.
Actual purchasing can be done via vendors in designated shopping and business locations, or even through in-game computer terminals or phones. Each region uses its own type of gold though, so there may be some fees you need to pay. That being said, along with localized trading and tangible rewards from various faction grindings that often can result in earning more gold, players shouldn’t be too worried about occasionally spending some money, even if the game’s overall economy is down. Remember, you can always try changing zones to see if another zone can offer you a better Outside experience!Related: Article, MMO, MMO Outside