Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling reports from the front lines* of the Massively Multiplayer Multiverse.

Friday, January 3, 2014

No Rest Till New Halas

Not quite two weeks ago, Scooter declared that she was a bit bored with the MMOs we are "currently" playing and set out to find a new experience. We did a little research on different F2P games out there, since we plan to check out some of the new games coming out in the spring, and this is really just to tide us over until then. Unless, of course, something really draws us in. After looking at a few games, like Allods and Aion, we settled on EverQuest II.
Look at those abs!
I suppose you could call this a bit of a "Nostalgia lane" piece, though other than a plastic figurine of a High-Elf that a friend bought at a garage sale and gave to me, I have no previous connection to EQ. We haven't played very much to be honest, but I'm already considered "experienced" by Raptr. I think that's more an indicator of how old the game is than that few still play. We picked the RP server, Antonia Bayle, partly because I've had good experiences with RP servers ever since Rift, and partly because it is frankly the most heavily populated server. In the few places we have been so far, there seem to be quite a few players out and about—doing quests, I assume.

It's A Lot Like . . .

I'll probably get a ton of crap for this, but as a player who cut his teeth on World of Warcraft, this is a lot like WoW. It would be far more accurate to say that WoW is like EQII—though they were in development about the same time period and were released less than a month apart. OK, OK, if WoW is Zeus, then Everquest II is like, Poseiden, and EverQuest is Cronus, the father of both. Or put another way, if Everquest is the English of Shakespeare, then EQ2 is modern British, and WoW is American. "They're related," is what I'm saying. But more like cousins than brothers.
The avatars are a bit doll-like.
Jimbuire & Merewyn
Having said that, I think in many ways, EQ2 is what WoW might have ended up like if Blizzard hadn't listened/catered to millions of people in simplifying the game. Of course, that's as someone who had only played a relatively paltry 17 hours or so, and have yet to reach level 20. Even with the option to create a level 85 character (at no apparent expense), the questing and accumulation of XP seems appropriate to the area we started in; unlike WoW, where immediately following Cataclysm, we quickly out leveled the areas we were trying to quest in.

Taking the Plunge

With all the expansions the game has gone through, there are quite a few options on race and class. Because some races and classes are aligned good or evil, not all classes (professions?) are available to all races. However, there is an equivalent class of the "correct" alignment, so the options are still pretty side open. Despite choices like Ogre and Ratonga, Scooter and I played it relatively safe with Wood Elves. I picked the Fury class, an elemental cleric (for healing), and Scooter went with Swashbuckler, a melee Scout.

For some reason, the option of starting near Kelethin (the home of the Wood Elves) was not presented to Scooter (who finished her character creation process first) and we ended up in the icebound north, near New Halas. This was fine, since we had no experience with the game, but we're already getting tired of the relentless white of the tundra landscape. My favorite zones in games are woodland (like Elwynn Forest or Grizzly Hills in WoW, or Silverwood in Rift). Snowy woodlands are cool, too; but not endless snowpack.
Can I help you?
Jimbuire
The conversations that start quests are an interesting variant. I like that you can be sarcastic or even a bit mean to the quest giver, and your words hold true, unlike certain games' voiced dialogue. I do wonder if the dialogue will have an effect in the long run. The basic movements and combat are comfortably familiar, though it's odd for me to stand still to cast spells after getting used to the more—mobile—combat of TSW and GW2. I like that gray mobs (that give no XP for kills) become non-aggressive, making travel easier, even on foot. That said, there is a lot of running back and forth from the quest hubs to the questing areas, and if you miss a step in one quest chain, you'll end up going back through areas you've already been to for another. Character progression (abilities / specialization) is comparable to other MMOs, but the Alternate Advancement (AA) system seems like it was cobbled together over several expansions rather than designed to mesh smoothly.

The SOEmote system that applies the player's facial expression to the avatar is amusing, but it doesn't capture my eyes very well due to the screen glare on my spectacles. Also, I tend to go a bit stone-faced when playing games, so it would take some concentration to use the system effectively. Scooter and I just turned it off.

How Long Will We Sojourn Here?

We haven't even gotten into the housing potential, which I know is a big part of EQ2's appeal to a lot of folks. I did get lost in the housing system the other night, popping out in Qeynos and taking almost an hour to figure out how to get back to the zone Scooter was in.

While EverQuest II has been a pleasant experience overall so far, little niggling things make me wonder how long I will stick around. Right now we are Bronze Level (F2P). Upgrading to Silver (B2P) doesn't seem to unlock the sorts of things I wish it would, like the slider that adjusts how much XP goes to AA or being able to send mail. [EDIT: I know about the shared bank space.] Given the great experiences I can have in GW2 and TSW (or even Rift) without committing to a monthly subscription, paying rent for Quality-of-Life and User Interface options is not something I am willing to do. And the frequent reminders that I could upgrade (for a nominal fee), while not irritating to me as it is to some, certainly is not endearing the game to me.

13 comments:

  1. I played EQ2 from launch to about 6 years out. Completely loved it, but then sorta drifted off. I've gone back from time to time, but with my stable of 17 alts and having a gajillion abilities, and the classes playing differently depending on your AA's, and not even knowing really what the AA's are or do anymore.... it's tough to go back, really.

    Things I thought of as I was reading your post today:

    Yup, WoW and EQ2 are both similar since they're both direct descendants of EQ1. FWIW, I have never played EQ1 at all. I loved EQ2 from the get-go, and I tried WoW a couple of times, but it just never grabbed me. No idea why, it just didn't. But EQ2 had me "Ever-cracked" from the get go.

    That's really odd that Kelethin wasn't an option for Scooter to start. If you like woodlands and such.... you might want to consider starting over and trying again, or simply using a travel bell to go to Kelethin at the start, rather than New Halas. Kelethin is the only starter area I've never completed, but I've gotten to level 10 there a couple of times. I've done New Halas, Timorous Deep, the old old old "starter island," Darklight Woods (a gloomy forest, so maybe another option for you to start?), as well as the Qeynos and Freeport starts. Frankly, New Halas is my least favorite of all of them. I think that like you, I got bored of the monotonous ice everywhere.

    Completely agree that AA's don't mesh -- they were in fact exactly what you said -- added on with each expansion. I haven't played the past couple of expansions, so when I look at the AA's anymore, that's why I truly have no idea what to even try to go for anymore.

    And finally, their F2P matrix or whatever. Another reason I don't go back. Their lifting of the equipment locks recently made it so that my highest-level characters aren't "naked" (equipment gave no benefit while "locked" but even so.... 8 hotbars x 12 buttons = 96 buttons, and I don't recall what my abilities do, so. . . yeah. Still can't ever quite seem to go back. And since they've got a lot of QoL things locked.... yeah.

    Anyway, I hope you enjoy the game. I loved my time in it, but I'm past it anymore. I'll happily give EQN a look once it's out and see if it "Ever-cracks" me like EQ2 did, as my memories of EQ2 really all are fond.

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    1. I am really fond of the small hotkey bars of GW2 and TSW, which make ability choice more strategic and combat more dynamic, imho.

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    2. FWIW, you can see my blogging about EQ2 here:

      http://nomadicgamer.wordpress.com/category/eq-2/

      There may be some useful nuggets in there for you, if you care to check it out. And if not, no skin off my nose either ;-)

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  2. Firstly, welcome to Norrath!

    Secondly, a couple of pieces of advice:

    1. Upgrade to Silver. It makes a huge difference and you really don't need to be Gold. You will only get a single reminder about 5 minutes after you log in and you will be able to use everything you ever need to use unless you ever end up high-level raiding.

    Unless you plan on sending stuff to complete strangers you'll never need the mail. You have direct person-to-person trade you and Scooter, shared bank slots to trade between your own characters and if you start a guild you can use the guild bank as well.

    If you stick with EQ2 you will bless SOE for locking your xp. The reason that after thousands of hours and dozens of characters over nearly a decade my most rounded, complete character is my Berserker on my Silver account is precisely because of that permanent 50/50 split. It absolutely will save you from yourself.

    2. Get out of Frostfang Sea!!! Seriously, they should close that zone down - it creates about the worst possible first impression. It's visually a void and it takes forever and feels completely isolated. Yes, the gear is good but you'll have outgrown it all in a day or two so that hardly matters.

    There are four "recommended" starting areas : Frostfang, Darklight Woods, Timorous Deep and Greater Faydark. Of the four the only one I would recommend is Darklight. You probably need to be evil for that, though. Personally I always relocate either to Freeport (Evil) or Qeynos (Good) and do the low-level zones off the cities before moving out into Antonica or The Commonlands. If you go to Commonlands you'll have a real chance to compare just how twin-close WoW and EQ2 were at the start, too.

    EQ2 is bloody huge after a decade of growth and there's an unbelievable amount of content of all imaginable kinds. Very, very little of that is shown off to any kind of advantage in Frostfang Sea and New Halas, sadly. If you manage to make it out of there and begin exploring things should rapidly improve. I hope so anyway.

    Good luck to you both!

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    1. Thanks for the advice. Our major worry about dropping these toons is the loss of little starter packs we got in the mail, and a meta-quest to get to level 20 in 14 days. Having been reluctant to start another toon for that reason, I don't know whether those perqs are mailed by SOE to alts, as well.

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    2. If I recall correctly they are given to all your characters. You aren't missing much in Kethelin, unless little fairies and whiny, crying children are really just your thing. I agree with Bhagpuss, head over to the mainland. In EQ2 its fairly easy to skip from zone to zone, both travel wise and in terms of picking up on quests and stories.

      Fury is a druid by the way, not so much an elemental cleric.

      Antonia Bayle is a good server, I have a Dark Elf Brigand and a Half Elf Fury floating around there somewhere.

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    3. Ah, I didn't realize that "Cleric" was a specific pair. I was using it as a synonym for priest, like the Calling/Archetype in Rift. Judging from the spell names and visuals, it's definitely elemental/storm-caller

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    4. EQ2's 4 archetypes are fighter, priest, mage, and scout.

      Fighters break down to:

      Crusader (Paladin/Shadowknight)
      Warrior (Guardian/Berserker)
      Brawler (Monk/Bruiser)

      Priests Break down to

      Cleric (Templar/Inquisitor)
      Druid (Warden/Fury)
      Shaman (Mystic/Defiler)
      Shaper (Channeler)

      Mages break down to

      Summoner (Conjuror/Necromancer)
      Enchanter (Illusionist/Coercer)
      Sorcerer (Wizard/Warlock)

      Scout includes

      Predator (Ranger/Assassin)
      Bard (Troubadour/Dirge)
      Rogue (Swashbuckler/Brigand)
      Animalist (Beastlord)

      ------

      As you can see, their naming is a tad different than the typical "fighter, mage, cleric, rogue" naming, and thus the confusion, I'm sure.

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    5. Yep, I would have named the archetype "Cleric" and the superclass(?) "Priest" (Templar/Inquisitor). Scout/Rogue is a little tougher. I find it vaguely amusing that bards always end up lumped in with the agility-based archetypes.

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  3. I've had a little poke around in EQII recently as well, and as somebody who's been playing a lot of Rift recently it wasn't too uncomfortable. However, I have the same issues as yourself with the payment model.. and those pop-ups and the sending you to the website when you exit? Grr. Puts me right off the game completely.. Makes it feel like a free Facebook game rather than an MMO I'd like to stick around in and maybe spend money on. I shall, however, poke around a little more. But not for as long as I like to in an MMO. And haven't yet worked out how to play with housing without paying but my bags are filling up fast with decoration items. >.<

    <3 Jae

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    1. We've messed a bit with the housing. The first and simplest one is free, there's a 5s per week upkeep, but that seems trivial for what we're earning in game. The housing you can buy with SC are free upkeep, which is good since you pay cash for them. http://eq2.wikia.com/wiki/Housing has some good info. Overall, it's about the same as Rift.

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    2. Ah right, cool. Then I'm not missing too much I guess. Quite happy playing around with housing in Rift until something better comes along. :D Really hoping Guild Wars 2 gives us this option soon..

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