Although the last 5 days have been largely hectic with work-related stuff, especially the auth issues, I’ve gotten in a little time trying out EQ2’s Echoes of Faydwer. I really didn’t have any expectations, I thought I’d log in to my paladin and see what was new. I was caught off my guard by my usually begrudging guildie, Hoggy, extolling the pleasures of the new experience. Hoggy’s recommendation to try out a new character is amongst the highest of accolades.

I almost had a change of mind at character creation. Winged wood elves? How ghey. But if it sucked, it wouldn’t take much of my time.

I rolled a conjuror; I haven’t played one before. The whole ship & boat thing of the original EQ was a little … chintzy. They’ve cleaned that up a whole bunch it looks a lot nicer now. There was no Isle of Refuge. It also stirred up fond memories when I was presented with a world map to choose my starting city, and it was cool to see the map of “modern day” Norrath.

After that, in short order, you’ve landed in Greater Fay.

I very quickly got the feeling that the team had found their legs with Echoes of Faydwer. I’ve commented before that I felt the initial EQ2 world felt very manufactured; things lacked simple organic practicalities in the way things were laid out being goverened instead by conflicting aesthetics. Maybe this road does look rustic, but only if I block out the world its set in – wherein it looks completely out of place. And made all the more glaring by the high-resolution and polycount of the EQ2 engine.

WoW is significantly less graphically intense than EQ2 but conversely more immersively consistent and natural.

But what I’ve seen of EoF so far, it seems the vision, tools and skills were in sync.

I must confess it is a little reminiscent of playing a night elf in WoW. The woodland scenery, the tinkly music. The quests are coherent enough that I’m reading the text.

Mostly it’s been good fun. I just haven’t really had the time to sit down and play, or have a notion of what I’ll spend my time doing if I do, so I find myself soloing.

The coolest thing has to be gliding as a Fae, jumping off things and slowly coasting to a landing. Why a creature would evolve wings – and all the hassle that goes with – just to float an inch off the ground… Well that’s beyond me. They didn’t build Kelethin, but moved into it.

Although I wasn’t Faydark folk in EQ1, I spent a lot of time there because of the Bard’s guild and Mistmoore, so hearing the new versions of the music tugs at the memory too. The new-old music is pretty cool by and large.

One of the finest achievements of EoF, though, is the way they’ve made it both interestingly new but tantalizingly familiar. It plays far more like you’re seeing it the far side of a cataclysm and a few hundred years. The earlier zones feel retrofitted to try and reflect the earlier world.

I suspect I’ll be spending more time in Norrath again when I need to escape from tha battlefield.

Course – thru the marvel of multiple computers, that doesn’t mean I won’t be in our game in some form watching the natives experimenting with their speedhacks.


Christ hasn’t speed hacking been done to death yet.

That’s the trouble with interweb hacks, they spend so much time thinking up new leet ways of becoming the OMFGIPWNDYOUheadshotBOOM11tybillionONE!!111orz master they never know when something is not fashionable anymore :P

Speedhacks are also unfortunately fairly generic – some guy busts his ass developing one for Starcraft, and it’ll probably work in almost everything else. It all comes down to how do you detect it, which is something I won’t talk about at all.

I played EQ2 for awhile and liked it to a certain degree. The crafting process is the best I’ve ever experienced in a MMORPG (I’ve been told it’s similar to SWG’s crafting).

However what was always somewhat depressing was the low number of players (at least on the server that I was on).

For my next foray inro MMORPG’aming I am looking forward to the 2007′ release of Vanguard: Saga of Heros -being developed by Sigil, a company made up of former designers from EQ and UO.

Everything I’ve read about Vanguard further builds my hopes -This could be the one that mounts a reasonably challenge to WoW’s absolute dominance. For those of you who don’t know anything about this new coming title you must go to their website (google the name) and read the press releases, developer released info’, and 3rd party previews. I’m sure you’ll be impressed.

I’m not sure what you’ve been reading to lead you to that conclusion?

WoW’s dominance does not reside in any of the things the Vanguard audience hold dear. At best, Vanguard will be to WoW what Mozilla (not firef0x) was to IE3. Each individual attribute sounded great. Now mozilla.org goes out of its way to hide the old Mozilla browser; Moz was nothing more than a cult, and as a result there are people out there who received enough of a mindjob that they’re still running it “because” of something that, if they really thought about it, is nothing more than an excuse not to admit that Moz was just an ego trip for a bunch of devs too gullible to see that in a perverse twist of fate, in Netscape vs Microsoft, Netscape were the evil party.

Vanguard won’t touch WoW. You and I might personally enjoy it orders of magnitude more than we might enjoy WoW, but that’s part of the success of WoW.

Warcraft is designed to appeal, Vanguard is designed to satisfy appetites. If you build a convenience store and a gourmet mussel restaurant 2 miles outside of town, which one will see more customers?

WoW probably has more unhappy customers than any other MMO, but it also has roughly 10x more customers than EQ1+EQ2 combined.

Vanguard beta was one of my big dissapointments this year.

I have an eye on Age of Conan and PotBS… :)

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