Last night I *finally* booted up EQ2 for a real gaming session. Sure glad I activated on Tuesday — one tenth of my monthly fee squandered! (See, that’s the mentality that a monthly sub causes in my cheapskate brain that a lifetime one doesn’t.)
Anyway, sheesh, talk about starting on a negative note. Let’s get on to the good stuff. My berserker’s hotbar was filled to the brim with 30+ skills that I no longer had a clue how to use effectively, so I started out by knocking some gray quests out of my journal. A few updates past, gray quests started giving Achievement Point experience so they’re actually worth doing now. I played for about three hours and never took on anything more dangerous than “green” but it was a good shakedown to get the kinks out.
The increased leveling speed was really noticeable. I made almost half a level by doing gray and green quests and killing gray and green mobs. My ‘zerker is a wisp of experience away from level 40 now. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I do like getting the rat pellets of new levels and abilities. On the other hand, I’ll always feel like I failed to reach cap (if in fact I do reach cap) “fairly.”
What really struck me last night, though, was how much “local knowledge” is contained in a long-running MMO. My berserker is in Angela’s guild (of course) with a few other old friends, and I was just listening to them talk and feeling totally lost. The shorthand lingo that gets used and the common knowledge shared makes the game really confusing for a “noob” and I’m essentially a noob who is starting at level 40ish. This isn’t even remotely an issue exclusive to EQ2; all MMOs have their own local dialect. I just usually return to MMOs guild-less and so am not immediately exposed to the lingo.
What also struck me is how much deep lore there is behind the game. I went to Butcherblock vi the Sinking Sands and saw a dude who had work for me, so I stopped to chat. Since I was alone I read everything he had to say, and he had a lot to say about the political climate of the main city in the area, what sorts of dangers I might face there, who the local tribes were, and so forth. I think I stood there for 10 minutes reading and re-reading until I’d absorbed all the info.
On the negative side of things, I’m not sure EQ2 does enough to put events and things in your line of site. They have a lot of “live events” that come with updates and patches, and whenever I’ve wanted to partake in them, I’ve felt like I needed to ask Angela where they were. That might just be laziness on my part (it’s easier to just ask her) but I’m not sure. But I just consulted her on how SHE learns this stuff and it sounds to me like she learns about stuff by reading the patch notes or surfing forums. I’m a firm believer in putting all the info a player needs IN THE GAME in such a way that most players will self-discover it. Use Town Criers or something in the main cities, near the banks, that sort of thing.
Last and trivial point in this wall of text. I took some screenshots, which you can see parts of in this post. These are the default quality screenshots and I think you’ll agree they don’t look great. I wonder how much bad press this has given EQ2, because the game looks pretty sharp when you’re actually playing it. I need to tweak the settings in order to get better screenies.
Oh, and one more last point. My crashing is gone; turning off multi-core support seems to have fixed it.