Monday, November 22, 2004

 

EQ2 roundup

WoW beta ended last week, so I've been playing EQ2. I have a Ratonga cleric on Crushbone. The game has been surprising. In some ways, it's been surprisingly good, and surprisingly bad in others.

Let's start out with the thing that sticks out to me as the most surprisingly bad - crafting. The crafting system in EQ2 was designed for the crafter that said, man, Everquest's crafting was way too easy! If you thought the mind numbing crafting in EQ1 was easy, you will love crafting in EQ2. For everyone else... They have taken a system that was already very repetive and slow and made it even slower and far more complicated. Item pre-requisites iterate out to infinity. The number of recipes has ballooned out by orders of magnitude. Even the number of crafting skills has grown to somewhere near 35 billion different skills you can obtain.

At first glance, you might say that the EQ2 crafting system is similar to WoW's. Both have gather skills and production skills. Both show recipes in a similar manner. Some of the tradeskills are even pretty similar. These similarities quickly end. WoW limits players to two primary professions, which results in a system where every single player isn't running around hitting every possible resource node. The node contention in EQ2 is so bad that even the newbie resources feel like some steps of the cleric epic. The moment nodes are spotted, teams of players run up and click. This results in three different players getting one attempt at a resource. The only exception is fishing - there are always more than enough fish available. Why everything else sucks so bad is kind of a mystery.

So, I got a small stack of elm and decided to make it into boards. I wasn't sure what I was going to do after that but I figured boards would probably be useful. I went to the woodworking machine and hunted for the recipe for boards. Hurray, I have it! Clicked on it, and I need the elm (check), fuel, and some sort of solvent. I ran upstairs to the merchant and bought the fuel but couldn't find the solvent. Making a wild guess I went to an alchemy machine and found the solvent there... sigh. It required fuel, a "liquid", and elm. Haha! I figure, I'll get more elm later, so let me just make what I have into the solvent. I start crafting the solvent and after taking some damage because I wasn't ready to respond to the tradeskilling mishaps (a subject on it's own), I opened my inventory. To my surprise, there were three different stacks of solvent - a pristine stack, a regular stack, and a crude stack.

I should take a second here to mention that bag space is extremely limited in EQ, at least it has been for me so far (I can speak for up to level 14). I have four bags, and I bought one of those from the bazaar type thing in EQ2. I have no bags to spare for bank bags or tradeskills or whatever. Giving me three different stacks of a PREREQUISITE is bullshit. From what I've read on Eqtraders, if it's not the primary component of a recipe, the quality doesn't matter anyway. So, fuck tradeskills. Why they are in the tutorial when they will really only be used by the hardcore 1% of tradeskill fanatics is beyond me.

Here's how the bazaar/auction system works in EQ2 as a seller. You have to find and buy a "market bulletin board" (this has gotten a lot easier since they added it to nearly every vendor in the game). You put this bulletin board up in your apartment and setup the items you want to sell. Then, click start selling and sit around in your apartment staring at the bulletin board until someone buys all your items. That's right, in a game released in the year 2004, you have to sit and wait for your items to sell. If you thought that was just a hack they used for EQ1, wrong! It helps balance the economy somehow or some BS like that.

Your apartment is the last place you want to spend time. Newbies are worse than second class citizens in EQ2. You feel nearly homeless. If you started in freeport, you live in a cesspool with the vagrants, insane people, and whores. Not that I mind whores, but these are boring whores who just talk talk talk and that's it. Your apartment is a total shithole.


A typical EQ2 newbie apartment

As a newbie, this game feels incredibly small. There is ONE newbie zone and that's it - the isle of refuge. Every race and alignment starts there. Once you complete that, you'll move on to one of TWO cities in the game, each with a single large outdoor zone and some smaller indoor/outdoor adventure zones. The cities are somewhat empty and made up of a number of small zones (each with a loading screen to navigate). Freeport has something like 5 "suburbs" and 4 city zones. Of course, you are expected to run all over these zones all the time. The loading screens do help make the game feel a little bigger as I am loathe to run to another area and possibly have to see that screen.

Did anyone besides myself get the impression that every NPC talked? This is far from the case. I don't knoe the exact numbers but I would guess that less than 50% of the quest giving NPC's that I've encountered talk. I'm open to guesses on this statistic. I feel bad for the ones that do talk since I don't usually listen to them. I can read a lot faster than the slow drawls even the jittery gnomes use. The voices are fun but more fluff than content.

The combat system is surprisingly good. A good group REALLY stands out from a bad group by their use of Heroic Opportunities. These super spells are the MMO version of combos. If a party member is spamming random crap, nobody will be able to get any HOs to work, which is a shame since they are all really powerful. Any group that is not chain pulling and waiting for mana and stuff is probably not using HOs to the fullest. Incidentally I have only been in one group that was using HOs at all and they were mostly random. The rest of the time, it's just party members starting a chain and other party members interrupting. I think people just try to start them on the off chance that a chain will randomly be completed by somebody. So, this is one area where the full power hasn't been unlocked yet. I wouldn't want to try a raid encounter without these.

The quest system is both great and bad. I've done a lot of quests for my level and I find myself needing spoiler sites for many of them. The newbie island has a LOT of quests. There are some that it's very unlikely you would solve without a spoiler. Ebik comes to mind, and the collection quests. Quests can be very involved or very short. Your journal will show a laundary list of actions, some of which may result in more actions. There is a great diversity of things that give you quests - items, objects, mobs, books, and other quests. Some of these quests have EQ1 quest "difficulty" though, where the difficulty in completing the quest is more due to really bad directions rather than a challenge.

I'm not sure how much I'll play EQ2 when WoW is released. It's a really involved game with a spiffy storyline, but so is WoW. EQ2 has a lot of drawbacks. The learning curve in EQ2 is incredible. It's a good game when compared to original EverQuest, but so far it has failed to sell me when compared to other modern MMOs. Posted by Hello

Comments:
OK....someone needs to clean THEIR HOUSE!!! What a dump! ;)
 
I'll assume you're talking about the screen shot... :)
 
yes dear :)
 
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