A game’s death penalty is a big factor in how people play it. If there’s a significant one, people tend to care more about healing and defense, whether that is damage mitigation with armor, or dodging attacks or blocking and parrying them. Of course some games are set up so that if you can lay down crazy DPS, that’s a viable survival tactic, especially if you can link some vampiric damage to the attacks.

What those games don’t take into account is how much it hurts to take damage in the first place. (Nearly all of them, yes, there’s stuff like Darkest Dungeon that takes fatigue and sanity into account.)

My point is that if you’re playing the game in real life, as Sydney is, she’d obviously much rather not take any damage at all. Sure, it’s cool to be able to survive being impaled and then regenerating, except for the part where it would really fucking hurt to get impaled. Sure, if you’re the Swamp Thing and you’re made of moss, it probably doesn’t hurt much, if at all, but if you’re Wolverine, it still hurts like hell. Obviously Wolvie has a bonkers pain threshold, but there’s got to be times where he wouldn’t mind switching powers with Kitty Pride or Colossus.

I’ve read a few LitRPG books, where characters are put in a position where they’re essentially playing a game. Sometimes they literally are, through a Matrix quality VR setup, and I don’t really care for those because as far as I’m concerned, the stakes are super low if it’s just a game, but some books have RPG elements in them even though it’s the real world (at least, within the fictional universe of the novel) like a computer or ability that rates their gear or skills and there’s an obvious progression path. Whatever the story hook is, the characters in those are usually fairly concerned with damage mitigation, but it depends on how much the writer likes to push the “ow this really hurts for real” elements of the story.

If I was Sydney, I’m not sure what I’d do. Getting out of there ASAP seems like the best option, but… upgrading her shield so she can take multiple direct hits from the “shimmer blast” as she called it also seems tasty. On the other hand, her shield is already overkill when she’s not fighting world bosses, so it might feel like a wasted point, especially since she doesn’t know if she can even max out every orb. She’s assumed that’s the case, but what if her orbs are like some game where you can only specialize in 2 or 3 things? She doesn’t know if she has a level cap.

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