Phew… glad I had the foresight to take yesterday off. It ended up being a bit brutal on my poor, fragile psyche… Never would have managed to get this article done. In fact, I’m not sure I’ll get it done today. If this post goes live on Wednesday, you’ll know I didn’t make it. 😛
Well, setting myself aside, welcome to Astera, your home away from home! Except, now that you are stuck on this side of the ocean in the New World, I guess it’s the only home you have? Well, there are definitely worse places to live, and it’s scenic as you could ask, so let’s go sightseeing, shall we?
This is where you enter Astera for the first time. (After, y’know, falling off an elder dragon and chased by giant monsters through the ancient forest. A typical Tuesday, is what I’m saying. 😉 ) As you can see, the city built into the jungle out of the ships that brought the Research Commission to these shores. I’m not exactly sure how the First Fleet’s flagship ended up on top of that mountain, but it certainly looks awesome, which is probably why they left it there. Anyway, right inside the entrance is the Tradeyard, a bustling market area with a number of invaluable services for the beginning hunter, including:
As you might imagine, this is where you can buy items that will be helpful to you in the field, like potions, ammunition, and various other goods. Of special note is the Trap Tool; this is a necessary ingredient for crafting the traps necessary to capture large monsters, and Provisions is almost the only place you can find them.
These three professional-looking types are the Provisions Manager, the Tech Chief, and the Analytics Director, and together they run the Resource Center. They provide three useful functions: first, they allow you to take Bounties, which are passive side quests to collect a certain number of items, or hunt specific numbers and types of monsters. The reward for completing bounties is usually a small amount of Research Points (not a big deal) and one or two Armor Spheres (which is a huge deal). Since bounties can be pursued at any time during expeditions or quests, this is a very efficient way to gain extra Armor Spheres and improve your gear. Secondly, they manage Investigations, which are optional quests with random goals and limitations that are discovered while you are out in the field performing other tasks. These are an excellent way to get extra money, and pursue specific monsters for upgrading gear. Finally, the Resource Center also manages Deliveries, in which you bring certain items to gain a reward. The most important Deliveries involve setting up additional Camps out in the field, and are available after you discover the location for the Camp itself.
This is where you go to update your Monster Field Guide, once your practical knowledge of the monster exceeds a certain level. The Chief Ecologist, sitting on his pile of books, will gradually update the entries with physiological data, potential item drops, and finally item drop chances, as your investigation proceeds. Other than that, he’s mostly just an arrogant researcher. Don’t let him get to you. 😛
Once you save the Chief Botanist, you will have access to Botanical Research, which allows you to cultivate specific plants, mushrooms, or insects, without having to gather them out in the field. Good for anything you feel you need in large numbers, like Blue Mushrooms, or Bitterbugs. Doing certain quests will increase the variety of items you can cultivate, and unlock new fertilizer options.
Well, there isn’t really anything to do here, but this is where the Commander hangs out, and you’ll receive certain important mission briefings at this table. You might note that, of the five fleets, only four have flags displayed here, and the Third Fleet is missing. Don’t worry, you’ll find out what happened to the Third Fleet soon.
Right next to the meeting area is the entrance to the area that is aptly named, “Your Room.” Entering brings you to the Living Quarters, a shared bunk room where you can manage your Palico’s gear. If you speak to the Housekeeper, you can also move to the Training Ground, a place I recommend for beginning to learn a new weapon. The Housekeeper will also let you place a pet from the endemic life you may have captured out in the field, and eventually will allow you to move from the Living Quarters to a Private Room, most notable because it has much more room to set out pets. Your room is pretty much just for fun, though; no real gameplay elements are present. I’m pretty sure. Anyway, if you don’t want to bother, you certainly don’t have to. ^^;
Apparently the best way to move between levels in Astera is to grab a chain and hold on tight. Personally, I’d probably take the stairs.
Up on the second level lies the workshop, your one-stop-shop for weapons and armor. On the left is the Armory, where the less experienced hunter can buy basic arms and armor; on the right is the Smithy, where much more advanced gear can be forged and upgraded. You will be spending a lot of time in this building, browsing the goods on offer and deciding what you need for your next hunt.
A must-stop for any hunter about to depart Astera, the Canteen is the place where the Meowscular Chef prepares his wonderful creations for your immediate consumption. No matter what you eat, you will receive a stamina buff of +25; each “fresh” ingredient will raise your max health points by +10. Fresh ingredients also increase the chance of so-called “daily” skills activating, which represent various temporary buffs that can aid your character in the field. If you end up fainting, however, all effects from the meal will be lost, and you will have to eat again to recover them. Setting aside the food, the Canteen is also where your partner, the Handler, spends almost all of her time. Big eater, that one. 😉
The Gathering Hub:
This is the big ship in the sky you can see from the entrance. For you lucky suckers who can actually play online, this is a place where you can meet up with your friends and form squads. There is a provisions vender, a branch of the canteen to eat in (the food is apparently lifted up from down below), a hitching post for wyverns, a quest counter, and even a counter for special arena challenges that can’t be accessed from the usual quest boards. There is not, however, a branch for the smithy, meaning you will have to return to Astera proper to modify your gear. Since I don’t have a usable internet connection, I don’t have much reason to come up here, sadly. But there is an entrance up here to…
The Chamber of the Five:
The cabin of the admiral of the First Fleet has been converted into, well, basically a church. Technically, there is no actual reason to come here, but it is a pretty chamber with a lovely stained glass window. And if you were wondering about this “Legend of the Five” you’ve been hearing so much about, there is a book on the front pew that will tell you the story. I was slightly surprised, but it turns out to be a creation myth. Hmmm…
Well, that’s Astera in a nutshell. Not everything opens up at once, but the game will usually guide you to new features as you advance your rank and the story. Hmm… I was going to talk about item crafting next, but I might put that off… Talking about the Legend of the Five makes me want to analyze it in the context of the game itself… Well, I’ll consider it. No post tomorrow, next entry on Thursday. May the Sapphire Star guide your path! 😀