After three weeks of playing I have found several items that have struck me as much better than my previous impressions led me to believe.
Though before I start that list I wanted to re-iterate the three items I feel EQ2 is most ‘hurt’ by. These items are subjective, of course but I wanted to get them out there.
Art Style and Direction
I believe the game’s art is not inviting, or presents much in the way of “pop” and “zing”. When people see me playing they never walk up and go “wow that is awesome looking. What are you playing?” That, to me, is a problem. These days, you want people to be wowed by the look of your game.
EQ2 has a lot of depth and variety, and with almost six expansions out now (as of this writing) there is a lot for a new player to take in. Yes there are help tips, and I suspect buried in the game is some documentation, but none of it is presented well to a new user.
The problem I have with the game is that the default UI when you first launch the game is a mess. I think they need to two things: 1. Have an artist take a pass at all the windows, looking at some of the more popular skins and see where the default can be improved. 2. Build a more cohesive initial layout of the windows, so things are nicer for new players.
Now the EQ2 does allow UI skins and installing them is fairly simple. Kudos to them, and yes that fact does mitigate part of my UI issue since you can correct things. Though I believe Users should have to do minimal work to get an organized functional UI. (yes I know UI layout is subjective, and many people might be happy with the default layout)
Now on to the fun stuff…
Again things I have discovered in my current EQ2 venture that are better than I recalled or expected.
Variety of classes.
I love all the different classes. Yes, I know many are similar, but the options are fantastic. My only complaint, which I did not mention them specifically above, is the accessibility of all those classes and that is something I believe could be solved with simply some updates to character creation screens.
Variety and Number of Quests Available
This really should be a standard feature for MMOs, but I wanted to mention it here because back at launch I my character’s seem to run out of quests they could do. Part of that problem was many of the quests back then were built for groups only. Sony has since adjust the game to make more quests soloable, and I suspect they adjusted the leveling curve. All I know is thus far in this visit to the game I have been happily surprised by the number of quests my characters have had access to.
Variety of Character growth options
I suspect that once you are at max level, and max AA, much like wow you are then limited to improving your character through gear. But what I like about EQ2 is that they offer adventures two connected growth options for characters to advance down,and I enjoy options.
I am also very fond of how abilities have varying levels within each tier. The game simply gives players the apprentice level ability in each tier; such as, Death Swarm 1. No need to run back to town and find a trainer. Also you can acquire upgrades to those abilities journeyman (crafted), Adept(dropped), Expert(crafted with rares), before the next tier version (ex. Death Swarm 2).
This provides adventures a market for drops, harvesters a market for goods, as well as giving tradesmen have a fantastic and outlet. All without, forcing adventures back to town when they level.
Do I want to focus on leveling up, or do I need more AA points? Do I want to spend the evening knocking out old quests for AA, or simply push for the next adventure level. Oh, and yes you can respec.
Sub point: Mentoring
This has become more common, but I that makes it no less a good idea. Being about to drop your effective level down to match a group member so you can play with them with out re-rolling or totally dominating content.
Variety in Social Advancement (aka Personal and Guild Housing)
These are two amazing features that provide additional goals for players. I would even say the guild leveling and guild hall systems are in the top 5 things I love about EQ2. These give guilds in game benefits and goals to players other than a chat channel and shared storage. Every member can help contribute to the guild, and the guild can in return provide amenities back to the members.
The game plays completely different for me once I joined the Halasian Empire. I had guild mates to get get info from, and I gained access to the amazing tools in our hall, such as: banker, broker, crafting stations, NPC gathers, crafting merchants, and teleporters to various locations. These change the way I play the game.
Personal housing, while not as big a selling point to all players, offers alternate activities for players to pursue. It gives players a place to display some status and decorative items they have acquired and some players work relentlessly to make their homes look fantastic.
Variety of Environments
This should be a given in any fantasy MMO, but I mention it here because it is something I am discovering EQ2 does better than I previously thought it did. The Qeyons, Kelethin, Freeport, Neriak, and Gorowyn starting areas all look and feel starkly different to me. Even though each starting area needs to fulfill some basic game functions of leading, training the characters in the ways of the game, they do so each with their own “way” as they also work to teach the ways of the culture they are in.
I have not purposefully traveled to many other locations outside of the starting areas, but I have seen screenshots, and had a few “accidental” trips to some higher level zones. Those places instantly impressed me with how they were “different” from places I had seen previously.
I believe my initial “downer” on the game’s environmental variety stemmed from spending all of my time at launch on the the starter isle, then Qeyons, and Antonica all of which share a similar “feel” on purpose.
Being the MMO vagabond that I am, I can not predict how long this venture into EQ2 will last. But I can say that this has been one of my most entertaining ventures into the game, almost as exciting as at launch. There are so many places in the game world I have never seen, and I have a strong desire to venture out to them; of course that does mean I will have to stop playing alts and get myself out of the crafting hall.