A few weeks ago, I wrote about why the trend of more casual-friendly MMOGs was something to be embraced, not avoided. While I still believe that wholeheartedly, let's look at the other side of the coin: Sometimes, people want to feel like they're in danger, and the presence of threats and challenges in a game makes for a more engaging experience.
Verteron Citadel is the second major questing area for Elyos players in Aion, and the first zone they'll go to after Ascending, choosing their class, and getting their wings. The sands surrounding the fortified town hold the standard assortment of quest objectives - kill animals, collect shiny things, investigate a bandit camp - as well as almost certain death.
That certain death comes in the form of Paksigue, a level 13 Elite crab. He is fearsome, he is huge, he wanders around the zone randomly, and he will attack anyone unlucky enough to get close to him. His massive claws do heavy damage to player characters and stun them, making it difficult to escape. In short, he is a deathtrap that preys on the unwary. Naturally, thanks to the Internet's collective fascination with Sir Chuck the Bearded One, Paksigue has been dubbed "Crab Norris" by the Aion community.
"Oh hey, guys. Watch out, it's Crab Norris." The voice over our Skype chat sounded cautious, and for good reason: As a level 13 Elite, Crab Norris was designed as an encounter meant for group of players who were that level or above. There were only four of us, and our characters were all levels 10 and 11 - attacking the beast was virtual suicide. We could have easily stood by and let the apex predator of Verteron pass us by, but instead we opted to try our luck.
Our Templar tank held the beast's attention, withstanding mighty blows. Our Chanter restored the tank's vitality, while the party's Sorceress and myself attacked from behind with all our might - one might even say we sought to strike its weak points for massive damage. In the end, the beast fell before our combined power, and we were rewarded with ... nothing. Absolutely nothing.
We had gained nothing from putting our virtual lives at such certain risk other than the excitement and adrenaline that comes with facing something you fear. Ironically, in the end Crab Norris hadn't even been that difficult for us to defeat: He might have been death incarnate for a lone player caught off guard, but for a well-balanced group of players including sturdy tank, capable healer, and lethal damage-dealers he was barely even a challenge.