I started playing "Everquest 2 Extended" this past winter, mostly because I got envious of my husband having this awesome housing in the game he was playing. It's a great reason to try a game, right? Now I got hooked into the game, but still just starting to understand it.
The very first impression back then, after reading a couple of tutorial screens, was that gathering nodes were absurdly abundant. I was simply surrounded, while exploring the little area I had been given as a start point. Also, clicking them was enough to start gathering, and I could gather EVERYTHING, no limitations or needing to train a specific skill first.
Some good minutes later, I get out of my gathering amazement and try and quest and check what the game is about.
Quest text comes in little pieces, as you talk and answer to the NPC, which creates a nice dialog experience, dragging the game back to an RPG feeling. You get dialogue options, even though they don't really affect much in the end, it is quite amusing the answers you can give to an NPC to deny a quest instead of just cutting a window to not join it. After the dialog, it is shown a window with the quest details, rewards and the option to accept it or not.
Each starting zone will give you gathering and crafting tutorial quests. So yeah, don't go crazy like me on the gathering nodes before you get the related quest, since you'll be requested to gather many kinds of different resources.
As you level up, spells come automatically to you, no need to go to a trainer every so many certain levels to get new spells. What trainers will actually have - and those are found in big cities - are additional optional spells, such as summoning food for templars and a non combat eagle companion for rangers. Also, some combat tips.
Crafting works very different from the games I've been playing. First impression: this is not an AFK crafting system. You have to actually be there to craft, to counter events or accelerate/slow down the craft, so that the item creation succeeds. It's a mini-game, and while it makes crafting more time consuming, I enjoy it.
Spells are upgraded as you gain levels, but some of them will require you to research (past lvl 20). It's pretty simple, you'll have a list of possible upgrades, and they'll only take time to be yours. Or you can craft/buy the upgrades, which are made by alchemists, jewel crafters and sages.
One of the things I love the most in this game is the alignment system. Your character race options are divided between Good, Neutral and Evil.
|Character races and alignments from EQ2 Zam.|
Good and Evil characters have to choose between 2 starting areas, while Neutral characters will have to choose between the total of 4 starting areas. Choosing a Good or Evil city will determinate the choice of alignment for Neutral characters.
But the reason I love this system is the fact that there is no unending mindless war going on. There isn't a forced way to prevent characters to work together if they so wish. The division is about their alignment, which only affects cities they can go and deities they can pick. So if my evil and twisted ranger wishes to go have tea with a goodly fae, that's fine. We are not forced by the game to hate each other. We can join guilds, groups and raids if we so wish. No faction drama: I love it.
And as I mentioned, there is an interesting deity system going on. A veteran in this game would have more details, but it seems that the events that made the EQ2 world shatter made the gods go away. They've been coming back slowly, and you can pick one to pray for, which will grant you some long cooldown skills, an altar for your home (where you do offerings and collect the said skills) and later on an exclusive cloak and helpful pet. So as far as I'm understanding the system and the lore, more may be added soon. Also, I've read that along with the remaking of a certain city (Freeport), they will be changing the deity system too, but they gave no details on that (source)
The one tip I'd give is to join one of the many guilds from the recruiting system. That's how I learned many of the details that got me lost, and also how I managed to spend many months without spending a dime on my account, since they gave me this huge bag that made the bag slot limitations quite not limiting.
Other little things worth mentioning:
* You can gather while mounted.
* When you dismount for combat or to swim, the mount will automatically come back when you are out of combat or out of the water.
* Your first mount is given at around level 20, for free, by finishing one of the starting areas.
* There are collectibles. Sparkly things with a "?", that you gather, collect, and exchange for rewards.
* Your first house is given for free, in the city area you chose to start.
* You can change citizenship and alignment in the game. Just takes effort and patience.
* Automatic traveling is extremely fast and free of charge.
Overall the game felt quite complex back when I first tried it, with many things that took me a while to understand. It has, so far (my highest character is lvl 29) enough quests so that the level up grind is entertaining enough. Some quests are actually intriguing if not just plain funny, with each zone getting very different story lines. Hidden quests are present, where you have to mouse over an abject to realize you can interact with it to start a quest, which also rewards you for exploring beyond the quest indicated areas.
Later I'll post my impressions on each of the starting zones.