Having finally cleared the hurdles that have made my work-day worse than miserable this last month, I’ve been putting in more hours at the office/from home this last week, and playing a little less EQ2; at the same time, the rest of our gang has been playing a little less too.
Bear in mind that I’ve been playing EQ2 on-and-off since day 1 and I was an EQ1 fanboi before that. I’ve also had the advantage of being in good company when the expansions came out to give me a beginners intro to the expansion content (thanks, BK!)
But, aside from Granik, “the gang” are relative “newbs” at this game, and when I stop and try to look at the game from their perspective, this “end game” is a mess.
For the first 50 levels you are firmly anchored to your home town; the path of progression is relatively clear – once you know about the docks and the harbormaster and you think to go on out to the other side’s docks, the mechanism of progression is relatively straight forward.
Unfortunately, it made me realize that the game itself utterly fails to guide you on this path. That may be ok, maybe its a socializing atom – give the guy a quest in Everfrost and make him ask how to get there.
The next problem I found was that there is no guiding storyline at this point. Each zone seems to make do with a group of, what I call, “on-ramp” starter quests. There’s no sense of story, just a bunch of fast-exp quests you can pick up at the zone line. But without going to Allakhazam or Gamepressureyou have no guide to choosing between Zek and Enchanted Lands, except that Enchanted Lands seems to be harvester/grinder heaven when you first land there, only getting interesting if you can stomach reaching level 30 to earn the “honor” of fighting newbie mobs.
Once you reach the 50s, everything falls apart. You reach expansion land, and there is literally nothing to guide you into any expansion content. First the method of reaching the content changes. DoF: magic carpets, neat, but different. KoS: Teleporters in various zones. EoF: Boats from the place you normally use mariners’ bells to port around.
While these mechanisms are novel and unique and fun when they come out, to a new player working up the ranks, they are perplexing and confusing. You notice these things being added, but you don’t notice them on your way up.
And once you do discover the expansion content, there is a learning curve to make WWII Online proud.
Desert of Flames aka “Wii hasn’t been invented yet, so lets see how we can be innovative with the mouse buttons”. Some things need right clicks, some need left clicks, some need double clicks, some need click and hold. Double click a carpet, lets see where that takes us. Right click a carpet and get a list. Rescue a hostage on a grifters quest? Is that a right click, left click, hail or what?
I’ve watched my regular gang tearing hair out trying to work out not how to solve DoF puzzles but how to interact with them. DoF quests frequently appear under their own “zone” locales; like other players, I’ve reported every single one of these I encounter, but in 3 years, I’ve only ever seen two fixed.
DoF does introduce several new and novel features, and it introduces some nice zones and dungeons. I seem to recall storyline being stronger than it is, but that’s because I had buddies whirlwind me through access to the court of coin. Honestly, our guys got bored of token grinding after one evening: without me giving them spoilers, they had no idea why they were doing it. There’s a guy on the docks who explains a little about the factions, which actually all of them stood and read, but it didn’t give them any kind of motivation to get into the faction.
This is perhaps, partly, because DoF works differently than all the previous zone+dungeon combinations they’d gotten used to in the EQ-original content – even down to having to click on door knockers instead of doors themselves. Gah!
We did living tombs a few nights ago and had a lot of fun – the Silent City access quest is a lot of fun and shows some of the potential that DoF holds. But the lack of quest-lore threading together our adventures really makes it feel like a desert :( I’ve decided not to push any of our guys into Pillars of Flame and see if they wind up there somehow on their own. I don’t think they will tho.
Kingdom of Sky seems to mark some kind of KT boundary event for EQ2 (note the absence of quest info?) The zones look kinda neat, the quest lore/text has a little more robustness to it although in both spelling and grammar it looks like unproofed kfsone. But from the very outset, our little band of adventurers asked ‘why?’ Maybe we’re not high enough level to do more than grind torpid blossoms and turn in tasty baskets full of tangleflies. But we’ve got zero sense of what’s up there, what potential it holds, what we might be doing or what quests we might want to track down. I took a long break after KoS came out, so I don’t have the same introduction to it that I got for DoF. To us, so far, its just a series of floating spawn-camps separated by gaps you have to use a “griffin” equivalent to cross.
In short: Kingdom of Sky feels utterly airy-fairy and wholly fails to connect with us as a group in any way :(
Echoes of Faydwer is absolutely fantastic :) I love it. However, the rest of the gang didn’t want to play Fae, so I started my group-Fury in Freeport. The EQ2 team appear to have done a terrify lore-spinning job with EoF, and I suspect that if you Play the Faeprogression is meaningful and interesting. As it is, we did bits of Crushbone and some bits of Butcherblock and had fun. We’ve got quest-tendrils pointing us towards Klak’anon, but we also have two other expansions competing for our interest and no real compass to point us towards any in particular – but mostly there’s no frickin’ way we want to wind up in Lesser Faydark. Ryan, please tell me that’s not your baby?
I’d liketo visit some of the other content in EoF – Loping Plains looks pretty darn cool. But I’ve got to recover our lil’ groups flagging interest.
The really core part of our problem as a group is that we are flying through all this content. Yes – we level too fast and too easily.
After everyone got to roughly the same level range, we all had quests that were blue/green to us solo that we were doing, but started doing as a group. That gets old and boring fast when you have a well equipped 5-man group. So we tried to move it up a notch and do some more challenging quests.
In short: We can either consume content faster than we can enjoy it, or we can consume content that just isn’t enjoyable (unchallenging).
I still hold Vitality beholden for this. Levelling didn’t used to be this fast. And what’s most annoying about vitality is that you can decline it. I’m already way ahead of our group, but thanks to vitality there’s no frickin’ way they can catch up with me unless I choose to forgo lots of quests. Even with combat exp turned off and me mentoring every time we group for the last 2 weeks now, I’m still slowly pulling ahead ofthem! ARGH
[I suspect this may be a problem with the interaction between vitality and mentoring: you get 50% exp when mentoring down, but I think the vitality bonus still works at 100%; when I (lev 54) was mentoring easting (lev 36) my exp bar was progressing almost as fast as his]
I guess what’s happened to our group is that we’ve started running dry of quest-series and lines to do in any particular place; over the last 15 levels of “original” content, we became accustomed to being bounced around between zones trying to forage for something to do.
Having broached 50, our number of destinations is wider but the pickings between them seem so much slimmer, and the clues as to where to go slimmer still. Any its darn annoying trying to move between them. If you head out to Maj’dul and find nobody has anything particular to do and you don’t feel like grinding some more tokens, it’s gonna take you 20-30 minutes to get to KoS, much of which is a bunch of standing around. Travelling isn’t bad, but loitering is.
Like Killer, I find that the EQ2 world feels very small. Spending 5 minutes waiting on the docks or 5 minutes waiting at the spires does not make the world feel big, it makes the developer seem hostile. The griffons, the horses, the clouds… Are all fine ways of adding time to travel. I’d even enjoy more of the carpets being travels rather than simple ports.
We’ve been discussing whether or not we should join another guild; right now there’s just 5 of us and none of us know much about the game beyond where we’re at – or even right where we are at. But that’s really kind of my point here. We were hoping that the new content would unfold itself for us like the content we’ve consumed so far. But that just hasn’t happened and EQ2 affiliate/fan sites seem to be drying up.
We tried to get our magic carpets, but SoE have apparently both bumped up the entry requirements (no quest pre level 47) and sneaked up the toughness of the mobs (the final mob is Heroic, not Epic, yet he consistently wipes us out before we can so much as cast a heal or swing a sword; even more so than he did when I tried him solo with Straef when she was level 54). I’m guessing we’ll need the entire gang to be 58+ to take him on.
I’m pretty sure that if any of these expansions weren’t currently in game now but were released tomorrow right underneath us, we’d have a totally different perspective on them. But somehow the fact that we have to turn to big brother to get more than a toe in the waters of this new content somehow seems to be rubbing us the wrong way.