3. Story walkthrough
Okay, so here we are. You've started the game. Hopefully you have selected "Hard" for your difficulty. If not, start over and do so. You will have to play through the entire main storyline on Hard to get one of the achievements, Destiny Dominated. There's no reason not to do so from the beginning of the game. You could play through the game in its entirety on an easier level, then take your now-overpowered character into a fresh playthrough on Hard and walk through the main story in a few hours, but it's unnecessary. The game just isn't difficult enough to justify it - there is no way that you will spend enough time struggling through on Hard the first time through to equal the amount of time it would take for a second playthrough, however abbreviated.
The first part of the game is a tutorial. It will acquaint you with your powers, movement, combat, and so on. At the end of it, you will get an achievement:
The game automatically creates a save for you at this point, by the way, labeled "Tutorial Complete" in the list of saved games you can load. That's great, because there's a specific achievement that's easiest to get pretty soon after that point. If you don't get it now, you can always come back to it. Might as well get it now. You should have a lockpick from the tutorial, by the way. Don't use it or get rid of it just yet.
Go ahead and walk into the town (Gorhart) as suggested by various NPCs you'll speak to when you leave the tower. Play normally: talk to people, pick up reagents, break crates and barrels, and so on. When you get to town you'll probably feel the need to talk to a couple of people. Go ahead. Once you have no pressing concerns, continue straight through the town and out the other side. Find some enemies in this forested area, and kill enough that you have your Reckoning meter full. Go back to town once that purple meter is all the way up (your character will briefly flash when it fills, if you need verification that it is full).
I'd save at this point. In town, attack a guard, then choose to go to jail as punishment. Once inside, save again using a different save file. Use your lockpick to open your door, reloading the save if you fail. When you're successful, you'll get this:
Now wait for the guards to walk away, then sneak over to the chest that holds all of your gear. Liberate it, then find a lever nearby. This lever opens the cell door around the corner; inside is a prisoner. He is several levels higher than you, but fortunately for you he's entirely unarmed and alone. You will have to activate "aggressive mode", as he's not normally an enemy: if you swing at him you'll see a prompt on your screen that is trying to tell you to push up on the d-pad if you really want to attack him. Push up on the d-pad and activate Reckoning. Once you've killed him, the achievement for beating an enemy at least 4 levels above you will pop:
The reason for all of this is because it can be a real pain to find an enemy four levels above you later in the game. I went searching at level 14 or 15 and couldn't find one anywhere on the starting continent. Notice that this is the achievement labeled as missable on TA. Technically, it is: if your character reaches a high enough level, there won't be a way for you to find an enemy four levels above you. But it's so little harm, considering the automatic save the game creates for you, that missing this is almost harmless. The other two, though, those could be a problem.
From here, you can do one of three things, depending on your temperament:
- Push through on the main storyline exclusively in order to finish it and be able to lower the difficulty. I wouldn't recommend this, since you will likely have trouble with some of the battles as you won't be sufficiently leveled for them. Plus (and I may have mentioned this) "Hard" is a bit of a misnomer. The game isn't difficult on any setting.
- Work on the faction quests. Each faction has its own series of quests that culminate in an achievement (and a "Twist of Fate", which is a nice little set of combat bonuses for your character). Some of them have analogs in most RPGs: there is a fighters' guild, a mages' guild, and a thieves' guild, more or less. There are two other factions that are unique to this game.
- Just start wandering in completist RPG fashion. Pick up all quests that you see (marked with exclamation marks on your map), talk to all the NPCs, open all the chests and break all the crates, explore every building, etc. If you like playing RPGs in this style, you'll probably hit every major achievement simply by playing through the game - and it will be trivial to clean up the handful you miss.
I adopted what is probably a fairly typical mix of approaches 2 and 3: I walked into a new town, talked to anybody obvious, collected any quest I saw, and did whatever interested me the most. On the occasions where I found I had a Faction quest to start, I focused on those. I did not push through on my main story quests until I had finished four of the five factions (it turns out that the fifth faction can't be started until a certain part of the main story anyway).
Regardless of how you play the rest of your game, there are things you should take into account while playing. The rest of this page has five sections: first, those important things you'll need to focus on during your playthough. Second, a brief idea of how best to allocate Skill points (although it's entirely up to you, and for the most part it won't hurt you to do it any way you see fit). Third, a list of the achievements you'll get through normal play, and, fourth, a list of some achievements you can get with a little work during that playthrough. Finally, there's a brief how-to on starting the five different factions quests. That section is as close as I will come to an actual "walkthrough" in terms of "go here, then do that"; this is an open-world game, and you are welcome to progress through the story by doing any quests you find in any order you want. The only ones that are mandatory for 1000GS are the main story quests, which you will always have available to you, and the faction quests.
THINGS TO REMEMBER WHILE PLAYING
There is no real "penalty", in terms of achievements, for finishing the main storyline. As far as I know, finishing the last quest in the main story does not, in itself, make any achivement unobtainable without a restart. From that perspective, the only real "missable" achievement is finishing the game on Hard. However, you can make it impossible to get your persuasion attempts by failing too many of them, so I'd call that missable, as it would then require a new playthrough. And several achievements will be a real chore if you don't work on them during normal game play. To that end:
Pass as many persuade attempts as possible. If you see a dialog choice in green, you should select it. If you fail, you should consider reloading your last save and trying again. If you're really paranoid, you might consider saving before most dialogs. There's an achievement for passing 50 persuasion checks, and there aren't more than 70 in the game, if there are that many. You'll probably not find 50 attempts in the game without serious effort, much less pass them.
So you will almost certainly not get this achievement on your first playthrough unless you focus on it, and if you have to do it on a second playthrough, you're in for six hours or more of just advancing the story and seeking out persuasion attempts. You don't want that. Alternatively, if you are close, you can purchase the DLC. There are some more attempts there, and it could put you over the edge. There is no counter in-game that tells you how many times you have succeeded at Persuasion, by the way. I did all the side-quests I felt like (about 50 or so), all the faction quests, finished the story, and still lacked a dozen or more successful Persuasion attempts before I unlocked:
Again, you don't have to worry about unlocking this before you finish the main story. Your big concern is that you don't fail too many persuasion attempts, before or after the main story, until you've unlocked it.
Pick reagents wherever you see them, and track which ones you have. In your reagent bag in your inventory, there's a list of all twenty reagents. You have to successfully harvest 10 of each type except Essence of Fate in order to pop an achievement. It doesn't count if you buy them, find them in chests, or loot them off bodies. You have to pick them off of plants you find while wandering around. I would manually track how many you harvested have of each, up to ten, until you get:
Do not change your difficulty down from Hard. The game will periodically ask you if you want to do so if you die a few times in a few minutes, and it defaults to "Yes, decrease the difficulty to Normal." I changed my sprint option away from pushing A because I was afraid I would accidentally decrease my difficulty without noticing. Once you've finished the main storyline, assuming you've played on Hard the whole time, you'll pop this one:
You'll also want to break every crate and barrel you come across until you unlock the achievement for breaking 1,000 objects. This is best done at the beginning of the game, since there's a time there at the beginning when the money you'll get from doing so might actually matter. Later on, it won't, and by the time you finally pop this achievement you'll be glad you're done:
Also, activate every Lorestone you see:
You probably won't get Loremaster through normal play, although if you're religious about activating the ones you see, and if you explore quite a bit, you won't have that much to do when the game finishes up. There are 175 Lorestones in the original game. As a side note, the achievement actually pops after 175 Lorestones, regardless of whether they are those 175 Lorestones - if you get the DLC, you can miss a few of the originals and make up for it by finding some in the DLC. The Lorestones are bundled into 'sets' of 5 or 10, and you can see how many you've gotten from each set in Stats -> Lorestones. You'll also notice that completing a set gives you a small combat bonus. They add up when you get them all.
Finally, read books whenever you get the chance. You need to read 50. If you don't have them all by the end, there are a couple of places with a number of books, but make it easy on yourself. At any bookshelf, you can pick up a book and read it (hit X again when it's on the screen) without it being considered "stolen". 50 books later...
So, that's what you should keep in mind as you play. Many of the achievements I just mentioned you may not get during your normal playthrough; we'll go back for cleanup after you finish the story. That process is detailed on the next page.
ALLOCATING YOUR SKILL POINTS
As you level, you'll be able to put points into "Skills", which are non-combat activities like lockpicking and persuasion, and "Abilities", which are combat-related things like sword mastery and lightning attacks. Each level gets you one skill point and three ability points. Put your first few skill points into Persuasion to raise your success rate to something meaningful, otherwise you'll be reloading your saves far too often. After that, consider putting up to five points into Alchemy (but not 10! more on that in a moment), which will up your success rate harvesting reagents and will unlock the ability to create a Fate potion. It takes four units of Essence of Fate to make one, but the Fate potion immediately refills your Fate meter - having one around is a great relief sometimes, plus making your first one will unlock an achievement:
Do not put 10 points into Alchemy until you've gotten the achievement "It Didn't Explode," unlocked by successfully experimenting to make a potion. A character with maxed-out alchemy cannot experiment, as all the recipes are revealed on maxing out the skill. Reportedly, this prevents you from getting the achievement even if you re-spec at a Fateweaver. [Credit to TA user Kheops Fenix for pointing this out.]
I would think you could just reload an old save, but by the time you have gotten 10 points to put into Alchemy you will have had the opportunity to get "It Didn't Explode" several times over. The description is a little further below, but really all you need to do is mix 2 Black Cohosh and 1 Embereyes at an alchemy station using the "Experiment" option once you open the table. You'll have found those ingredients several times over if you are harvesting as you walk along.
After five points of Alchemy, the Skill you should be most interested in is probably Detect Hidden. Once it gets high enough, you'll be able to see hidden caches of treasure on your map. That's nice for looting, but more important for this:
Likewise, some points into Dispelling and Lockpick will make your life easier for these two:
You'll probably get the lockpicking achievement in normal playthrough, but the dispelling achievement may take some extra work if you don't concentrate on it. The good news is that there's a way to boost it once you get far enough into the game. (See the mop-up page for more information.)
You might want three points in Stealth if you're playing a Stealth-based character, or possibly more. If you carry some daggers or Faeblades, you'll almost certainly use enough backstabbing to get an achievement very early in the game:
Note that the difference between Faeblades and daggers for backstabs is that daggers allow you to stay in Stealth mode, backstabbing multiple enemies as long as you aren't in their sightline. Faeblades will only get you the one backstab before everyone attacks, but they're far better for normal combat.
Finally, I'd recommend points into Sagecrafting. Your mileage may vary. My experience was that I could routinely find gem shards that I could turn into fairly powerful gems and then socket into armor I had found, but that was only possible with high enough Sagecrafting. Other people claim they used Blacksmithing to create much more powerful weaponry and armor than you can find, but I rarely found high-quality pieces to craft with. I found that being able to create a gem that automatically regenerates your health when socketed was nearly game-breaking. Also, once you have three points into Sagecrafting, you'll be able to "strengthen" a shard by combining two together to make one better. With that ability and some shards of the same type, you can go to a sagecrafting table and strengthen 2 lambent shards into 1 pristine shard (alternatively, 4 cloudy shards into 2 lambent shards and then 1 pristine shard), which will pop this achievement:
Later on, you'll be able to put 8 skill points into sagecraft, at which point you can combine shards at a sagecrafting table to create an Epic Gem and unlock:
Keep in mind that if you don't want to put your points into Sagecraft during your initial playthrough, it doesn't actually matter. Experiment with different buildouts. The great thing is that you can pay a Fateweaver to re-spec your character at any time. It costs a bit of money - it goes up based on level - but it's not much, especially later in the game. In fact, to mop up the achievements that you don't get while playing, you'll re-spec to create a character geared directly toward those achievements - for instance, you could go to a Fateweaver and re-spec, putting 8 points into Sagecraft, then go pop both of these achievements in less than five minutes.
Likewise, there is an achievement that will require at least seven points in Blacksmithing. If you find that Blacksmithing suits your goals during play, great, you'll get it. Otherwise, after the game is over, you can get it by just moving your points into Blacksmithing, then going to a forge and creating an item that uses five different components:
All of this is re-addressed in the next page, I'm just letting you know: don't worry about these achievements if you don't want to. They're trivial once the game is over, and you'll almost certainly be carrying all of the components and shards you could possibly need, unless you've been selling them all.
As far as your Abilities go, just select those that go with your playing style. There are three trees (Might, Finesse, and Sorcery) that are geared toward playing as a fighter, thief, or mage. You can mix from separate trees at the same time - in fact, there are achievements that demand that you do so - but you'll probably find that the most powerful character is one concentrating in one tree.
Okay, venture forth. Start gathering quests and completing them. I recommend always picking up new quests as you find them. They are marked on your map with an exclamation point, while the next goal/waypoint in a quest is a circle. The next waypoint for every quest you have is automatically marked on your map in white, while the active quest's waypoint is in gold. You can always take a short detour to knock out some tasks for another quest when it's nearby, which will help cut down on travel - but you have to have picked up the quests in order to do that.
At the very least, do the faction quests. Take note that the House of Sorrows faction is not available immediately, so don't despair if you go looking for the factions and can't find that one.
ACHIEVEMENTS YOU JUST CAN'T AVOID
As you play, you'll almost certainly get a handful of achievements:
100 attack chains is nothing. You'll quickly come to realize that a number of your battles involve mashing the X button. That's an attack chain. Unless you're killing all of your enemies by magic abilities - and even a mage probably won't, especially at the beginning - this will probably be the first achievement you pop after the tutorial (aside from Jailbreak and Out of Your League, if you started with those).
There's almost no chance that you will go through the game without this one. If you do, it won't take long to get: fill your meter, find a group of five enemies, and kill them. Honestly, I think you'd have to really make an effort to avoid this.
Your equipment breaks. Fairly often. It's rather irritating. By the end of the game, you'll find that all you need to keep going is a steady supply of repair kits and the occasional lockpick. To repair your equipment, you just go to your inventory, select a repair kit, and then select what you want to repair. Points in Blacksmithing make your repair kits have more effect, by the way.
50 bandits? If this were "kill 50 bandits at once", that might be difficult, but only because you'd have to find someplace with fifty bandits. If you complete all of your faction quests, you will have killed four times this many bandits at least.
Same here. Niskaru are much tougher than bandits, but killing 25 of them is not something you'll need to concentrate on, assuming you're doing the faction quests and main storyline. You'll have to kill at least twice that many, at a very conservative estimate.
Sounds like a lot, doesn't it? It is, actually. Even later in the game, 200,000 on one item would be pretty expensive. But this is collectively spending 200,000, which is nearly unavoidable. Specifically, in Rathir there is a shop on the circle "Pride of Pryderi" that sells expensive weapons and armor. The Faeblades I bought there cost over 200,000 by themselves and lasted me until the very end of the game. There are similar options for most weapon types and armor. If, for some reason, you just can't spend 200,000 over the course of the game, you can do it here in one purchase.
It will take a while, but assuming you loot most chests most places you go, you'll eventually find 10 unique weapons (they have purple titles).
Of course, you'll also eventually unlock all of the progression achievements when you choose to move forward on the main story quests:
At which point, assuming you started on the "Hard" difficulty level and kept it there, you'll also get:
For some reason, TA's achievement list currently shows neither Destiny Defiant nor Hero of Mel Senshir as progression achievements, but I can't imagine by what definition they wouldn't be. Hero of Mel Senshir, for instance, is unlocked on completion of a quest listed in the "Main Story" quest section, it's a major plot point, and (most importantly) you can't advance the main story or finish the game without doing it. Seems like a progression achievement to me.
ACHIEVEMENTS THAT MIGHT TAKE SOME WORK (very little work, that is)
Well, you might not try to make a potion all on your own. So you wouldn't get this. But once you've been around even a little bit, you'll find you have at least 2 Black Cohosh and 1 Embereyes in your ingredients bag. The next time you see an alchemy table, use it and "experiment" by trying those ingredients. It will make you a minor healing potion, and you'll have the achievement. For the first dozen levels or so, you might even want to keep turning those reagents into healing potions whenever you get a chance.
The first blacksmithing opportunity you will have is in The Corner Shop in Gorhart. Next to the forge is a chest with some components that you can take without stealing. Take them, activate the forge, and make something. Hey, that was easy.
You'll probably steal something, somewhere, at some point. It will show up in your inventory with a red hand on its picture, and no reputable merchant will buy it from you. Once you've found Star Camp, you'll be able to sell any stolen items to a merchant there, and you'll get this achievement.
This will probably come naturally. Most weapons types have a "launch enemy into the air" attack. If you have a longbow equipped as your secondary weapon, just shoot them repeatedly while they're in the air and it should pop. This gets even easier with higher-level characters; for instance, a mage (Sorcery-based character) can use the dodge-attack with Chakrams and get it very quickly. A high-level rogue (Finesse-based) can throw out bombs that launch people sufficiently high into the air to empty an entire quiver if they're quick about it. But any class should be able to do this if they back an enemy into a wall and then use their launching attack followed by a series of standard attacks.
100 is quite a few, but if you make any effort to "discover" locations as you go, you'll get this before you finish the game. When you see a new location on your minimap, you just need to get close enough to it that it gets marked on your world map, and it counts. There's a counter for this in your statistics. You might get this just going to required locations if you do most of the side quests, I would think.
This won't come through normal gameplay, unless your "normal" is different from mine. But it could hardly be easier. Just go to your equipment screen and remove all your armor and weapons, then start a conversation. Pop!
This one is trivial for Finesse-based characters. Others may need to mop it up later, or alternatively you could carry around some daggers or Faeblades at the beginning of the game and use them until you've got it. I'd go with daggers in that case - you can get multiple backstabs without alerting nearby enemies.
These are trivial for Sorcery-based characters, and not terribly difficult for Might characters. Finesse-based characters, on the other hand, lack sufficiently powered active powers to get 500 kills with powers through normal gameplay. The good news is that this is fairly easy to grind out at the end. Just use your powers when you can.
This one nearly requires Finesse abilities. I say "nearly", because if you get the DLC there's reportedly another way. I haven't tested it. Again, like the others, it doesn't take much to grind out after the game ends, so no worries.
Parrying involves pulling the left trigger just as you're attacked. All classes can get the achievement for parrying - you just have to have a shield equipped - but I don't believe there is a "special attack" out of parry anywhere on the Sorcery tree, so that's another one you'll have to grind out after the game if you don't have the right kind of character. Finesse-based and Might-based characters can both unlock their parry attacks at 50 points (Precise Weaponry IV, Brutal Weaponry IV). Once it's unlocked, you just attack right after a successful parry.
THE FACTION QUESTS
Minor spoilers follow. You can skip to the next page if you don't want to know where and how to pick up the first quest in each faction. For all factions, once you've picked up the first quest, you shouldn't have any trouble knowing where to go to continue. Each quest has clearly marked waypoints, and leads directly into a new faction quest, straight through to the end of the set. Note that your faction quests appear in a separate part of your quest log from your main story and from your side quests and tasks, which is nice. Another note: the Dead Kel DLC adds a handful of entries to your faction quests that you can't get rid of. They aren't really faction quests, and more properly would go under Tasks, but the developer didn't ask me, so there they sit. You'll have an easier time keeping the faction quests straight if you do the actual faction quests before you do Dead Kel.
You do not need to be a mage to do the mage quests, a thief to do the thieves' quests, or a fighter to enter the fighters' guild. In the order I did them - which seemed to be easiest to hardest:
You will almost certainly find the House of Ballads quest on your own. When you arrive in Gorhart, the first town, you'll see a ruckus. Or possibly a hullabaloo. Anyway, if you talk to the person in charge, you'll be asked to go to the House of Ballads. When you get there, the very first person you meet will satisfy your requirements for that quest. If you are sufficiently inexperienced in RPGs to simply leave and never come back, then you won't find the House of Ballads quest. Otherwise, you'll walk further in and find someone there you can talk to that will give you your first House of Ballads faction quest. Off you go.
Another one you're likely to find by yourself. In the inn at Gorhart, there is a Warsworn hanging out with an exclamation point over his head. He'll give you a quest to prove you're tough enough to join the Warsworn, which will start you off on this series of quests.
Your first possible exposure to the thieves' guild is in Star Camp, which lies on the northeast corner of Haxhi. See those woods lying on the north side of the passage between Haxhi and The Sidhe? Head there. Inside, you'll find a man named Grim Onwig, who will start you off on these quests.
You'll need to enter Rathir, and from there go to the Upper City. Follow the path around toward the south and enter the Scholia Arcana building; once inside, the elf behind the desk will give you your first quest.
You can get (and finish) all four of the first four faction quests without progressing the main story, although if you're not sufficiently leveled up you may find many of the final quests in each story to be rather difficult. The last faction is not available until the main story has moved far enough along to allow you access to the city of Mel Senshir. While following the main story, you'll eventually find yourself in this city, the first one accessible in the continent on the southeastern corner of your map. Walking east, you'll come to the path separating Cursewood from The Midden; on this path, you will meet Bisarane, who will start you on this final set of faction quests:
Funny note: TA currently shows this achievement as a progression achievement, although you could easily complete the game without advancing toward this achievement at all.
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