With all the SOE-talk recently (Free Realms, EQ3-talk, discussions on Twitter), I’ve considered giving EverQuest II another chance. I played it on and off for about a month last time and liked what I saw, but I didn’t stay past the free time I got with the Shadow Odyssey-box. I wasn’t surprised when I found myself considering a re-sub and up until today I was just waiting for a free evening to start playing again.
Then I started to think about the reasons why I never did stay in the first place. I only did get to level 19 with my shadow knight, so I didn’t get very far, but if I really did enjoy it that much I probably should’ve kept my sub running (right, Tobold?). So I took a look at my old screenshots and tried to remember my impressions of EQII. Why did I leave?
- The PvE seem rather bland. After 19 levels, the PvE-content in EverQuest II seemed like a long series of classic MMO-quests. Go to place A, kill Y, fetch X, etc. Say what you will about World of Warcraft, but at least the quests in that game are rich and varied – Blizzard has learned a lot of lessons since launch. Maybe I’m just a bit spoiled after playing that game for so long. Then again, reaching level 19 in WoW – except for perhaps in the draenei and blood elf starting areas – isn’t all that fun either…
- The graphics look rather old. Again comparing EverQuest II with World of Warcraft, the graphics in the former haven’t really aged that well. The more realistic style of EQII ages much faster than the more cartoony style of WoW – a good, Trinity-style graphics update would be rather nice to see (and will probably never happen). The dark elf starting area, Darklight Woods, didn’t really help show the game at its best side either, even though I really enjoyed Neriak, the dark elf capital.
- The character design can be rather crap. Using the alternate models did help a bit with that problem. Without them, I’m not sure I would’ve made it past character creation. I’m just that picky. Or I’d end up playing a froglok.
- Zoning. I hate zoning, I truly do – especially when it’s done between two zones on the same continent. It’s a rather minor nuisance in EQII, as the respective zones are rather large, but zoning inside Freeport did not sit right with me. I guess I’m spoiled after playing Vanguard and World of Warcraft. I just prefer large, persistent worlds. Zoning breaks immersion.
- I don’t feel at home in Norrath. I know that Norrath is filled with lore and that players that come from EverQuest have lived in that particular world for the last ten years. I just thought it was a bit too…much. Too much magic, too many races, too much weird stuff going on. “Tacky” might be the word I’m looking for. If you’re from Sweden and played pen-and-paper RPGs as a kid, you might remember the campaign setting Ereb Altor from Drakar och Demoner. As much as I loved that particular setting growing up, as a fantasy world it’s not very believable. Coming from someone that really likes the lore of Warcraft, that probably says a lot…
- The community is already in place. Without bringing my friends with me from WoW, it would be hard to find a brand new guild to join. I joined up with a rather large and old guild after a few levels of play that already owned a guild hall. Even though the hall was impressive, I felt like a big part of the experience would be to buy your own and help decorate it from scratch. Reaching that point would probably take a long time, getting involved with the community and getting to know enough people to make that a possibility – something that’d probably take a long time, since most players have probably already found a guild they call their home by now.
Those are the points I remember thinking about during my (brief) time in EverQuest II. There was a lot to like about the game, so I’m still considering giving it the benefit of the doubt and another try. I love the housing system, the combat was fun and the shadowknight class seemed promising.
But what I really loved about playing EverQuest II was that I had no clue what the hell I was doing. When picking quest rewards, I wasn’t sure what stats were best for me – I had to try to do some form of noobish theory crafting instead. I didn’t know where to go, what to do, how to gain the most AAs or what areas would net me the most XP or the greatest rewards. I did not know how the system actually worked, I was shocked when I heard shadowknights complain in guild chat about their power running out when mine never seemed to. I didn’t know what abilities I would get the next time I leveled up, nor what skills to improve, even what role my class was expected to fill (at least at first). When picking up collection items I didn’t know if I should vendor any spare ones or put them up for auction. Then again, I had no idea what the best way to sell items to other players was.
All I knew was that I was a lone dark elf in a large world, owning a crummy apartement in Neriak that only contained a table, a mirror and a lamp. I didn’t even have a bed, since I couldn’t afford one. And I remember that it felt great.