Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My first impressions on Everquest 2 Extended

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.

8 comments:

  1. I like the sound of the conversation-type quest interactions.

    I'd be curious to hear more about the "good" vs. "evil" cities, especially what exactly they mean by "evil". It can't be what I think of, since to my understanding it would be fairly impossible to have a city full of evil people living together, unless it's a giant prison or asylum.

    Is it possible to make a character with a smiling face, or do they all have serious expressions?

    I like the selection of races you list. I'll have to try this out later.

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  2. "Good" and "evil" is about your citizenship relations. Good cities won't tolerate evil citizens and vice versa. Gorowyn and New Hallas are neutral, but they both tend a little for one side or the other. Gorowyn won't attack good characters on sight, but won't let you use their services either (other then the crafting NPCs/workstations).

    Now for what makes them "good" or "evil", is the race and their deities, from what I understand so far. Neriak, the dark elf city, follows the same evil standards as Menzoberranzan, from R.A. Salvatore's books. The citizens are rude most of the time to the player character, and the inside the city quests are all about intrigue, manipulation and revenge. The starting area, before you reach the city, has lots of "chaotic" quests, where you collect something for a purpose just for your quest giver to change its mind at the end, making something completely different with the reagents you brought. Innoruuk is their evil deity, and they are extremelly devoted to it.

    I am still early in the game (even though I play since last winter /shame) and still discovering the lore and storylines.

    By the way, I forgot to mention something before that I bet you'd enjoy in the game: they have real books! Like back in Morrowind, you can get books as rewards/drops that actually tell a story. You can also place them in your house later. Also, a Sage (craft) can make a blank book that you can actually write on it and share to others.

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  3. Oh, and about the faces: some races are quite stubborn and won't let me make them smile. Others will though.

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  4. Well, I'd definitely go to the "good" cities, then. I'm not interested in a city where everyone's rude to me and everyone backstabs each other. I can't believe a city like that could even exist for long, since cities require law, order, and cooperation to survive. I only read one Salvatore book, and I don't think it described how Menzoberranzan functioned.

    Books are good, as long as the stories in them are well-written. That's what I liked about those Elder Scrolls books (most of them were in Daggerfall, as well). A lot of them were actually very good short stories. ^_^

    I'm looking at the free accounts, and they look very restrictive compared to other F2P games. No sending of mail? But if I do join it, I'd probably want to join on your server.

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  5. I just love the Menzoberranzan parts of Drizzt's story. I am reading the whole series right now, but it has to be the best description of an evil city I have ever read. It all goes around their deity, Lolth, which is chaotic evil, and their blind faith. It is impossible to explain more without spoilers though.

    Some of the books do contain good stories. Their valentine's day event is about Norrath's goddess of love, and the book I got from completing the quest is a quite interesting spooky story. Yeah, spooky! Another book I got on that was from a guy and his "black book" of flirting techniques. Quite entertaining.

    Most books I've got so far are about the monster races. When you kill some monsters, like skeletons, there is a chance that a specific body part will drop. Once you examine it, you'll be given the chance to accept a "lore and legend" quest, which will give you a trophy (a weapon to place on a wall at your house) and a book. There is also a quest for each race's language, which you can study by examining drops and eventually you can understand what they are yelling at you.

    As for the free to play restrictions: Bronze, the totally free one, won't let you send mail, or use the auction house at all. Bag slots are restricted too, as you might have noticed. But it is a good start to see if you wish to go beyond that. I did, which gets me kinda divided. I liked the game so much that now I pay for a sub, and I did pay for the extra races too, and getting cutie cosmetics with the change left. They got me! But I admit, I played as bronze for some good months first.

    Also, I won't "lose" everything if I don't pay next month. I will lose some advantages for sure, but I can still log in and use most of the game.

    Right now gold membership is being given free due to their "welcome back" program. I wonder if it would apply to your new account. Give it a try, maybe you can test the game more comfortably that way.

    And about the servers: EQ2 Extended has only one, the "Freeport" server. EQ2 still exists as a subscription only game, with their own separate servers. The patcher/launcher are different too, so make sure you got the extended version.

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  6. Well, if there's no auction house in the free version either, then I'm afraid I'll have to decline, because I don't want another game that you have to buy multiple times. I have dozens of games to play that I only had to pay for once!

    One nice thing about Allods, which may have spoiled me, is that it allows full auction house and mail access with the free accounts.

    The Salvatore book I read, BTW, was The Crystal Shard.

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  7. Can't remember the exact auction house restrictions, it's something I generally don't use in games. I know that bronze members can't use, but I don't know about the silver ones, which they pay only once for some upgrades. I've been gold for some time now, paid for a month, then now I got 45 of it free due to the "welcome back" program.

    I have tried Allods too briefly, and since I have so many games here right now I did not continue. Do they have a good housing system? I'm a housing junkie.

    I highly recommend "The Dark Elf Trilogy" by Salvatore. It tells the story of Drizzt before he left the underdark and where he met his panther companion.

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  8. I don't think they had a housing system last time I played, but they didn't have mounts either, and I know they have those now, so maybe they have housing, too. I know Luna Plus has housing, with functional furniture and such that you can place, but I think the free furniture only lasts for a limited time.

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