Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Played Lately: Everquest 2

  • Every time I start this post, it takes on the tone of a confessional. I'll just have to go with that.

  • Everquest has always held a strange fascination for me. As the first massive RPG to bring in huge numbers, I could not help but wonder what it would be like to join the adventure in an online world. Of course, I didn't have the computer for it and struggled under the burden of a dial-up connection, so playing was out of the question. But the time I had the resources to barely meet the requirements to play, I discovered that barely was not really enough. Additionally I discovered that in an online RPG that is years old, the areas dedicated to new players become a barren wasteland. I played long enough to know the phenomenon had passed me by. I cancelled my account and looked for something else.

  • But the fascination was still there. I bought a Playstation 2 for the sole purpose of playing Champions of Norrath, the Dark Alliance inspired game set in the world of Everquest. I bought several pen-and-paper role playing game books for the same reason. And just recently, Sony released an online card game called Legends of Norrath. I love collectible card games, though I don't play them. I was immediately hooked on this.

  • Then a funny thing happened. My excitement for the Guild Wars expansion had come and gone. And as I've already chronicled here (and here) my love for World of Warcraft had waned substantially. So I was looking for something new. So I thought, "What the heck? Why not Everquest 2?"

  • I started doing some research and discovered that EQ2 bit the bullet and created several quest series that would take a solo player from start to maximum level, much like WoW. Even better, it looked like they had done one better by including solo instances, something WoW is sorely lacking. Since the game was a few years old and had three expansions under its belt, I thought I might as well give it a shot.

  • In the pro column, it was a new experience for me, but familiar enough that I did not feel lost. I started my adventure in Kelethin, the latest expansion zone, and was soon overwhelmed with the number of options available to me. Thankfully, that was overwhelmed in a good way. I was never at a loss for things to do. That includes the inventive crafting system. With WoW, you kick a button and the thing done. In EQ2 you can do that, but you won't produce nearly the quality of product. I would not mind seeing this system emulated in other games.

  • However there are a few negatives that I should cover as well. Although the game will run, I have to run in in High Performance mode for it to run with any chance of smooth play. Thus I'm missing out on what should be a very attractive game. Also, I've suddenly hit a level of difficultly in my missions where the quest have outpaced my level. Now I'm faced with grinding for experience so that I can outlevel the quests, just to bring them to a difficulty where I can complete them.

  • One final problem I have with the game is that there is direction is limited. You get a great feel for how expansive the world is, but the quests are not very explicit in guiding your experience.

  • So while I've enjoyed my time playing, it has only made me appreciate WoW more. It's nice to have a competent alternative, though.

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