An Addiction of Ravens

It’s been a long long time since I’ve felt anything close to an obsession about a game. The sort where it consumes your every thought and you catch yourself thinking about it even when you’re not playing it. The sort where you voraciously consume all the third-party sites, planning your builds or strategies, plotting your next move for when you actually have time to sit down and game. The sort where another game has a patch drop with new content and you don’t even want to take the time to play it because you’d rather play this one and keep going.

It seems like it’s been years since I’ve felt that way. A long season of drought and boredom even with a smorgasbord of games on tap; of a habitual cycle of logging in to grind without thought or passion. Of failing to care.

Obviously, taking an obsession to extremes equals life-impacting addiction or some manner of disorder, if one can no longer prioritize other equally or more important things like the obligations of work (aka earning sufficient money for a comfortable living or basic survival, depending on your values), self-care, basic hygiene, RL social needs/relationship-community-building (e.g. spouse or significant other, family, friends, etc.) and so on.

But I’d argue that going in the other direction, that of apathy or lack of caring, is equally disordered if taken to an extreme as well.

So it’s with a certain amount of relief and joy that I’m riding the thrill rollercoaster of the past couple of days since Path of Exile’s Bestiary league launched a week ago on March 2.

I haven’t been this deep into a league, or indeed a game, for quite a while.

No particular reason I can really put my finger on, but -something- has clicked.

It’s in part the idea that I’m repeating the basic build that has worked before, which assuages my insecurity that “this won’t work” and provides the last resort safety of “worse case scenario: I’ll respec the nodes that are different with respec points and go back to the old build… earning enough currency to respec would at least be a goal…”

…but then due to differences in the gear that drops for SSF players and my general inability to leave things well enough alone and start tinkering and experimenting to “improve” on matters has produced something novel and somewhat different from the last league. Enough so that it tickles my curiosity enough to keep wanting to push forward and compare and contrast.

It’s in part the idea of the Bestiary which gives me encouragement to collect all the things, “complete” the tome and fill all the beasties in. I’ve been staring at mob names a lot more, instead of treating them as moving targets for blowing up with one skill or another. I’ve been indulging in more complete, thorough and slow clears (gotta make sure I didn’t miss new beasts!) across all the maps, instead of feeling like I’m doing something wrong by not aiming towards speedclear meta – a style of play I’m more at home with, even if it puts my character at a ludicruous 5 or 6 levels higher than the map, instead of my usual underachieving 2-3 levels over.

Nor is the character ‘complete’ by any stretch of the imagination. She’s geared in basically stopgap gear – good enough to not explode if a boss mob looks at her funny or sneezes on her, but not even reaching the ‘acceptable build’ potential that I’m imagining, let alone optimal or ideal dream gear.

This leads to a LOT of obsessing over what would be good stuff to keep an eye out for, that can be tinkered with or somehow adapted to be an improvement over her present gear.

And this is fun. The anticipation, the pursuit, the hunt, the hope for the payoff at the end.

Level 72 and just beginning mapping. The sky’s the limit.