AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 11:01 PM ----- BODY: The Second Time Around

I just finished playing Arx all the way through for the second time! It was pretty fun because this time I did a lot of things differently, and I completed most of the side quests and special actions. Here are some things off the top of my head that I learned this time out.

Escaping From The Crypt

This time in the crypt, after getting Poxellis's helm, I found that I was not able to escape unless the three pressure plates were free from obstructions. The first time I played the game, I had actually placed some bones on two of the plates and then walked over the third when it was time to leave. It worked then, so I figured that's what you needed to do. This time however, I wasn't able to escape (the gate wouldn't go up) until I removed the bones from the plates. Oh well.

Starting Oliver's Treasure Hunt

The flier announcing Oliver's treasure hunt is posted in the tavern on Level 1, but the hunt doesn't begin anywhere near there. The chest where the hunt begins is actually in a locked room on Level 4. You can get in there by smashing the door with a sword or other weapon. (Or picking the lock if you know how.) One of the chests in the room is the one you have to "put an emerald into". But the chest doesn't open! To start the hunt, select an emerald from your inventory and "use" it on the chest.

Completing Oliver's Treasure Hunt

There's a little cove on Level 3 where you're supposed to use a shovel to uncover the final clue. Only there are no hotspots for you to use your shovel on! Well, you'll notice there's a rickety ladder hanging above the opening to this little area. Stand underneath the ladder, double-click the shovel in your inventory, and press F to use it. You'll hear a digging sound, and you should find something very useful at your feet.

Robbing The Bank

You should save your game before deciding to rob the bank. Blood will likely be shed and the citizens and soldiers of Arx will turn on you. One of the many steps in robbing the bank involves forging a key to unlock the button that opens the wall to the bank's secure area. There are one or two places where you can find a metal bar that you need in order to make the key (actually you need 1 gold and 1 regular metal bar). I didn't find any pre-formed metal bars until later in the game. I decided to make my own. Just place two chunks of metal into the bin of the machine with one thumper in the dwarf forge and pull the lever. Voila!

My Character

I devoted almost every one of my level up points to combat skills, object knowledge, and magic casting. At the very beginning of this game, I spent 1 attribute point each on Dexterity and Constitution and divided the rest evenly between Strength and Intelligence. I spent all of my skill points evenly on Object Knowledge, Magic, Close Combat, Projectiles, and Defence. For the rest of the game, I only spent my level up points on those two attributes and five skills, and ended up with a very strong fighter who could mix almost any potion and cast every spell. My Stealth stunk and I was never able to pick a lock (Technical), but I really didn't need those skills to get by.

I was also stinking rich at the end, and had around 30 life potions and 10 mana potions on me when the Noden came back to get me, whereas the first time I played, I'd exhausted every lily pad and life potion in the game so I had to eat tons of food whenever I needed life energy back.

Fricking Ladders

People at the Arx forum think I'm crazy, but I cannot climb down ladders in this game! There are two ladders you need to go down that are so tall you get injured if you just walk off the ledge. Unfortunately, I am completely unable to use a ladder unless I'm climbing UP it. Other players say you're supposed to just look down and move forward to get on a ladder from the top. I believe them, but it didn't ever work for me!
-------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 6:58 PM ----- BODY: The Lava Pit

I found the Dwarven City (Level 8) to be the most stressful, most frustrating, and least fun part of the game. The worst part was where you had to jump across the laval pit on the platforms. You can't use magic there (so no Levitate), and you MUST do this part in order to finish the game. I literally spent and hour just trying to make the first jump. Here's how I finally did it:

1. Quick save (F5) now.
2. Just walk off the cliff onto the first platform.
3. Turn to face the closest platform on your right and look down so that you can see your feet. Walk in the direction of the next platform until your feet are halfway off the edge. You will find that if you're very careful you can actually walk completely off the edge without falling down! Unfortunately, I have found that you cannot jump unless your feet are PARTIALLY on the platform. So basically, walk as far off the edge of the platform as you can while still being able to jump (just hit SPACE while you're not moving to do a test vertical jump. If you can't do it, you've walked too far).
4. In mouselook mode (where you have the little crosshairs), place your crosshairs on the lower right corner of the target platform and use W+SPACE to jump. If your crosshairs are not on that corner when you jump YOU WILL NOT MAKE IT.
5. The third and fourth platforms are easy to jump onto. But jumping from the fourth platform to the exit is tougher. Quick save once you reach the fourth platform.
6. Look down again and you'll notice a big support bar jutting out from the platform in the direction of the exit. This bar actually extends the useable length of the platform. Position yourself over the bar and start walking toward the exit. Again, find the sweet spot where you're as far off the platform as possible but you can still jump.
7. Look up, place your crosshairs on the nearest part of the ledge, and W+SPACE to jump.

Although crossing the lava pit made me happy (because I'd worked so hard to get there), it was extremely difficult, especially because the jump responsiveness is not very good. The jumps to the second platform and the exit were simply too long, and I wouldn't be surprised if some people actually quit playing the game altogether because of it. I really hope Arkane Studios doesn't pull anything like this in Arx 2.
-------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 6:36 PM ----- BODY: Crypt Part 2 - Retreiving the Helmet

Here's another area where the RPGDot walkthrough left out some crucial details that led to a fair amount of wasted time and frustration on my part. Here they are:

1. There are five glowing objects altogether in crypt levels 4 and 5. You only need four of them in order to get the helmet, and they must all be the same kind. The yellow glowing object serves a completely unrelated purpose. You need the four blue ones to open Poxellis's tomb.
2. The game is a little inconsistent as to how it requires you to place items or use them together. Sometimes, if you're supposed to put an object somewhere, it's enough to simply drag it out of inventory and drop it in the correct locations. Other times, however, you have to actually double-click the item in your inventory and "Use" it on the place where it goes. The latter is true in Poxellis's tomb. You have to "Use" the glowing objects on the four columns in order to make anything happen. This knowledge will help you in at least one other part of the game.
3. Once you find and don Poxellis's helmet and try to leave, the portcullis you passed to enter this level shuts and some liches come out to greet you. The only way to open the gate is to:

A) Weigh down two of the three pressure plates by the tomb before you put the helmet on. (One plate must remain up.) You should be able to find a skull and a bone on this level to put on the plates. (The plates don't require much; you can put just about anything on them.) I weighed down the two outside plates, although you might be able to pick any two.
B) You must follow the arrows that appear on the floor as closely as possible. If you mess up on one, the next arrow won't appear and you'll probably get ambushed trying to backtrack.
C) Walk over the pressure plate that is still up ONE time. This will open the portcullis. I don't know for sure if walking over it again makes the gate fall down again, but I think that happened to me at least once.
D) Cast the Speed spell to outrun the liches. I only had one life potion to my name at the time and I couldn't afford to mess with those guys for a second.

-------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 6:16 PM ----- BODY: Crypt Part 1 - Retrieving the Shield

There's one thing the RPGDot walkthrough doesn't mention about Crypt Level 2 (Game Level 5), and it's hardly obvious, so here it is:

After killing all the beasts and inspecting all the rooms on Crypt Level 2, you'll find a closed portcullis in the middle of the west end of the level, right across from Azrael Darkthorne's corpse. Opening that portcullis is a little complicated:

1. Follow the outside loop (so you can avoid the trap behind Darkthorne's body) to the corridor that runs North/South and has the two levers next to eachother on the floor.
2. There are two hidden buttons, one on each west wall of this corridor. Locate them now, but don't press them yet unless you're a very quick runner.
3. Get next to one of the buttons and cast the Speed spell so you can get a move on.
4. Now quickly press both buttons and run (following the outside corridor) to the portcullis. It only stays open for a few seconds. If the gate closes before you get there, repeat steps 3 and 4.

I was able to reach the open gate without the Speed spell, but the gate always came down on my head, taking a nasty toll on my life energy.
-------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 6:01 PM ----- BODY: Ylside Guards and Liches

Two of the most evil and difficult to kill foes you'll face in Arx Fatalis are the Ylside Guards and the Liches. The easiest way to deal with these guys is to avoid them, either by casting a Speed spell to outrun them, or use an Invisibility ring or spell to pass under their radar. Unfortunately you miss out on some heavy experience points doing this. Here are the most effective ways I found to kill them. There may be other ways, depending on your character's strengths.


Cast the paralyze spell on them. It typically only lasts for a couple seconds, but it has a permanent after-effect: They no longer try to cast any spells! (And their spells are what makes them so dangeous!) Once they stop casting spells, they're pretty easy to kill with fireballs or a good sword. I found this to be true with every lich I fought until the second time I was in the crypt, after snagging Poxellis's helmet. Those two liches always seemed to keep their magic abilities. So for them I just used the Speed spell and hightailed it outta there.

Ylside Guards

Make sure your mana level is high. Sheath your weapon so you can move more quickly. Get some fireballs charged up, hurl the first one once you're in range, and run backwards so you're always facing the guard. Fire until the guard is dead or you're out of mana/spells. You won't have time to turn around before he hacks you to death, so you might as well be able to whip out your sword if necessary once your charged-up spells are spent.
-------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 5:05 PM ----- BODY: I Finished!

Woo hoo, I completed the game! I never got to finish (or even start) a number of the side quests, and I made a number of bad mistakes during the game that affected the storyline and caused me to miss out on some experience and rewards. Thus, I vow to play Arx once again, this time doing things right. Here's a list of what I'll be doing differently:

1. Don't squander attributes and skills points. Early in the game I tried to have a completely "flat" set of skills and attributes; no one attribute or skill had higher points than the others. This turned out to be a mistake because I got through the game mainly relying on Strength (attribute), Object Knowledge, Magic, Close Combat, Projectiles, and maybe Defense (skills). Next time I play I will only use my level up points for those things.
2. Don't kill the trolls (too soon, at least). This cheats you out of at least three side quests.
3. Don't kill everyone in the tavern. This cheats you out of at least one side quest.
4. Collect everything you can hold, trade often. I left a lot of valuable items laying around in chests and on corpses because I didn't need them at the time. I should have picked them up for sale at least. (Part of the reason for my behavior was I didn't know how to sell things til halfway through the game.) You can even sell "important" items once they've served their purpose (often for a handsome price). You want to trade often so that 1) You can make money and 2) You have room in your inventory to pick up more.
5. Don't overlook a SINGLE lily pad or life potion. There is a limited number of herbs and potions lying around in the game. The merchants don't replenish their supplies. There were times in the game when I had to fight some heavy-duty foes and only had 1 or 2 life potions on me. Grab every lily pad and make life potions with them as soon as you can.
6. Play at 640x480. I switched down to 640x480 (from 800x600) because I was having problems in the lava pit on level 8. I found that the game didn't look any different on my 17" Samsung screen and it performed better.
7. Print out the map section of the RPGDot walkthrough. For all its faults, RPGDot's Guide to Arx Fatalis was indispensable for mainly one thing: the maps. Even though I had the walkthrough loaded up on a laptop right at my side for convenience, it was still a pain to read a section of the walkthrough then page down 30 pages to locate the map that the walkthrough constantly refers to. It would have been tons easier to just have the maps printed out so I could refer to them without paging around.
-------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 4:49 PM ----- BODY: Pawning Your Wares

Maybe it's just because Arx is the first RPG I've ever played, and the manual doesn't mention details like this because every RPG player should already know them... but it took me ages to figure out how to sell things I'd picked up for gold. I kept trying to offer items from my inventory to shopkeepers and nothing happened. It turns out this is what you have to do:

Instead of dealing with the shopkeeper him/herself, go straight to their goods. Open any of the store's chests and then open your own inventory. When you float over a personal inventory item with your mouse, a little number will pop up. If it's green, you can sell the item by dragging it into the chest's empty slots. (You'll hear the coins dropping into your purse. What a thrill!) If the little number's red, the shopkeeper's not interested.

Different shopkeepers will buy different kinds of items, and it usually makes sense who'll like what. (For example, the jeweler in Arx will happily take those giant diamonds and rubies from the caves off your hands.)

What if you want to sell something you're wearing (which thus doesn't show up in your inventory)? Easy- open your log book to the page where it shows what you look like. Drag the armor or weapon you want to get rid of from your picture to your inventory. Then you can drag it to an open chest.
-------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 4:36 PM ----- BODY: Close Combat Tip

Another thing I had trouble figuring out at first was how to control my weapons (thrust, sideswipe, downward hack). The direction of my swings seemed random. Something the manual doesn't mention is that the direction you're moving when you left-click affects the type of swing you make. Moving backward creates a forward thrust. Moving forward creates a downward hack, etc. -------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 4:28 PM ----- BODY: Spiders and Rats

I had a heck of a time dealing with rats and spiders the first couple of times I played the game. I'd swing with full force, aimed directly at them and always seemed to miss. I eventually realized it was because I was too tall to reach with my early weapons (fists and bones). The trick? Press C to crawl and hack away! Don't forget to hit C again to stand back up when you're done. Otherwise it'll be slow going.
-------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 9:28 AM ----- BODY: Regarding Windows XP: I Think I Spoke Too Soon

This weekend, Windows XP started behaving the same way it did before I got the right video drivers installed; it stopped loading my saved games. I know the game files aren't corrupt, because I copied them all back over to the Windows Me partition and they're all working fine there. Here's the exact behavior I'm seeing under XP:

I select the game I want to load from the main menu and click Load Game. Instead of displaying the load level image with the progress bar, I'm immediately dropped into a black screen with my inventory popped up- only it's totally empty. I also see the red symbol to the right of the screen that indicates I've leveled up. If I move the direction keys, I can hear my feet moving, but I can't ever see anything. It's like I've started a completely new game but there's no location.

Although that really bites, like I said before, playing under Windows Me is quicker and more responsive anyway, so I guess I'm satisfied.
-------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 9:21 AM ----- BODY: Just So Ya Know

Judging by the comments of other players, it sounds like even though you can still complete the game if you kill all the trolls before you need them, the game's a fair amount longer if you don't. You'll actually miss out on a couple of challenges and locations if you wipe them all out too soon. So much, in fact, that I'm probably going to re-play Arx after I finish my current game, just to see what I missed.
-------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 5:00 PM ----- BODY: I was supposed to kill all those trolls, wasn't I?

I don't do spoilers, so I'll try to word this carefully:

You may find a place early in the game where a troll is blocking an entrance. "Hmm. He must be guarding something pretty good," you think. "I wanna see what's back there." So, after a short while you find that it's really not that hard to get past that guy, and you go down a tunnel to see what's going on. Unfortunately, the inhabitants of the tunnel, trolls, are rather aggressive. So aggressive, in fact, that you end up having to kill all of them to get out alive.

Some time later, in another part of the game, someone might ask you to go down and talk to the trolls- to solicit their help for a big job. And you might panic.

Well, don't panic. Many have acted as you have, and the developers must have known that this situation could occur, because they made sure that you won't get stuck in the game if it does. Just trust me on this.

If you need a hint, just try returning to the scene of the crime. -------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 4:41 PM ----- BODY: The Patch

When I first got the game, I downloaded the latest patch (1.16a) before I even put the Arx Fatalis CD in the drive. I installed the patch immediately after installing the game. When I started having problems with the game, I realized I had never played it without the patch installed- so I tried the experiment of completely uninstalling Arx and all saved games, then re-installing the game without the patch.

Well, it was pretty obvious why there's a patch. I didn't play the unpatched version for very long because the level load and game save times were horrendous! I mean worse than Black & White! For that reason alone, I recommend you install the patch. Also, I deleted all my saved games before installing version 1.16a again- although you're supposed to be able to keep your old saved games when you install Arx patches, old games won't get the same benefit of all the fixes that new games will.

Also, patch 1.16a is supposedly a lot better than the original patch 1.16. The latter actually introduced a bug or two. You can download the latest Arx patches here. -------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 4:28 PM ----- BODY: XP or Me?

My system is set up to dual-boot between Windows Me and Windows XP Pro. XP is the default OS. The only reason I have Windows Me installed is so I can play older games that don't work correctly on XP, even in compatibility mode. During the period when I was trying to get Arx to run reliably on my system, I was able to get Windows Me working first- and it was actually working so well that for the first few days, I didn't even bother with XP because I just wanted to play. But this got to be a big hassle- if I wanted to check my email or pay some bills, I'd have to boot back into XP, and then restart and load Me when I wanted to play again.

So, I got XP working right, then transferred my saved games from the Windows Me partition over and continued playing. Unfortunately I've found that the game runs a little bit better on Windows Me. For one thing, sometimes the gameplay is a little jumpy on XP... you'll be running and things will hang for just a fraction of a second. It's usually not disasterous, but it's noticeable, and it doesn't happen on Windows Me. Also, loading levels and entering the main menu take MUCH longer on Windows XP. (Okay, we're just talking about a few seconds here, but once you get pretty far in the game, you'll be crossing levels all the time, and those level load times sure get annoying.) And yes, I shut down all other applications before starting the game. Additionally I have my services pretty tweaked for performance; I don't load any non-essential ones.

So I'm now only playing on XP as a convienience... I'm sad to say that it was more fun on Windows Me.

Lest you think I've got a chumpy system that's not enough for XP, it's a Pentium 4 with 256MB RAM and a GeForce2 AGP card. I know the GeForce2 ain't the greatest, but it's not the reason my Arx experience is inferior on XP. -------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 4:10 PM ----- BODY: NVIDIA Video Issues

The game developers recommend you use version 30.82 of NVIDIA's drivers if you have a GeForce or TNT card, despite the fact that six releases of the drivers have come out since then (they're now up to version 43.45).

Let me tell you though, they're not kidding. I was actually running with the GeForce2 drivers that ship with Windows XP (older than 30.82), and I was unable to load any saved games. On a whim, I installed the latest drivers I could find at the time (41.09) and even though I could then load a previously saved game, if I actually tried to save one, the game would crash with a fatal memory error! I don't understand how this has anything to do with video drivers, but all I know is, I've been running with version 30.82, and haven't had a single crash or bizarre problem since.

The driver rule also holds true for Windows Me. Before I had the game running reliably on XP, I tweaked around with Windows Me, and I couldn't really get it stable until I got the 30.82 drivers loaded.

It's not very obvious on NVIDIA's site how to get any but the very latest drivers. The trick is, once you get to the page that lists the latest drivers for your card and operating system, you have to click on the link on the left for that driver's archive page. The Windows XP/2000 archive is here, and the Windows 95/98/Me archive is here.

I just want to note that this is the third game I've played that has required me to get a specific version of the NVIDIA drivers in order to play properly. The other two were Zanzarah and Black & White. They're all modern 3D games. It's very frustrating, and I'm just thankful that I know my way around a computer. I really feel sorry for people who don't know much about PCs and just want to play a game- and end up having to upgrade (or downgrade!) their drivers and such in order to play. I imagine a lot of people just put up with the crashes (if the game's even playable) or give up.

Not me though. I've got loads of time to waste hunting down drivers. Psyche. -------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 3:37 PM ----- BODY: Introduction

Hello teenage America! I'm newly addicted to the first-person RPG Arx Fatalis. It's the first true role-playing type game I've ever played (although Zanzarah: The Hidden Portal was a bit of a warm-up). Anyway, even though I think it's a wonderful game, I had significant issues getting it to run on my PC- and like Zanzarah, there are many things the user manual doesn't tell you that are essential to playing the game.

I haven't completed Arx yet, so I decided to set up a blog to share my insights as I discover them. Once I'm done I'll probably wrap everything up into another page like I did for Zanzarah.

If the manual and this page don't help you find what you need, check out the Arx Fatalis Forum. --------