Tuesday, June 2, 2009

EQ1: The game is not dead!

Sunday I was able to play Everquest quite a bit and to be honest I didn’t get anything accomplished but a ton of exploration. Some people would consider that not getting anywhere because they didn’t clear out a quest hub or farm faction somewhere. I can level as fast and as hard as I want to in EQ1 if I really tried. I don’t need a group, I can make my own and I know exactly where to go and how to pull it off. Thing is I don’t want to. I never gave myself the time to really get into the lore and the behind the scenes personalities inside the new starter city offered by the expansion The Serpent’s Spine. I got into it briefly in 2006 when I returned on my last stint but by level 36 I stopped playing I felt jaded that the community I used to know and love was gone. Big mistake there.

I get some emails that tell me:

“Hey it is great you are back I am reliving my old memories again.”

Or

“Oh wow I remember that I wish I could go back!”

Why can’t you? People talk about Everquest like it is dead. No, no it is not. The game is still here, it is still quite alive and well, but only YOUR misconceptions of what an MMO should be now have been warped. People still have a stigma that if there are not quest hubs and NPC’s to hold your hand and tell you where to go you cannot play that MMO anymore. Do you think Lineage II does this? No it does not. People still play that (most of them are programmed bots but that is another issue)

I talked to a guy last night on my server that had been playing since 2001. He never left, even when the hype train plowed through Norrath for World of Warcraft and EQ2 and all those modern day games. He said to me:

“Hey…you’re back…they always come back."

And why is that? This is my 2nd attempt at an EQ1 return. The other was in 2006 with Serpent Spine. The problem was I left the new content and fell back into my old patterns of leveling in the same old zones like I was playing in 2003 all over again. I didn’t even get half the Serpent Spine content. So I feel there is a lot more out there for me to learn and explore than I tried back in 2006. Back then it was Nostalgia, but now EQ1 will be MY game again.

Let me tell you: Everquest has been dumbed down a lot. I won’t lie. Some features I despise right now. For example when you die there are no more corpse runs. The experience loss has been cut back on, you can buy clarity potions and haste potions off vendors, you can get a mount at any level (for a mere 10K plat), mercenaries make it possible for you to form your own groups and hot zones create a level frenzy that is hard to pass up. In fact if many of you came back you /claim on your veteran account would have so many rewards you would probably be set for a month. Heck through that alone I have gotten 3 free mounts (a worg, a white horse and a roboboar), XP boost potions, 3 bags, several devices which port me around the world, free gear equal to my level and much much more. Sony is all but HANDING you the keys to your memories on a platter. Yes still I hear people talk like it would be impossible to come back. Sure, your old friends and guilds may be gone, but the beauty of the game is that you can make your OWN memories because you are not hand tied to go through the same stupid zones over and over reading the same quests and memorizing the same mob locations. The main issue you WILL face is that the low end game is very very quiet. But what game is it NOT quiet in. I never group in WoW. I never group in EQ2, so why should it be different now?

Povar is still crowded but I hear other servers are even more so. I don’t mind two boxing but I don’t HAVE to anymore. I just like to do it. It is fun. Now I just have the ability to play what I want by hiring a tank or healer and heading off somewhere. Are the dungeons in Everquest 1 easy to explore? Not really. Are there quests that will guide you from point A to point B? Not really. But the quests are THERE. In the Serpent Spine expansion that content will take you from 1-70 if you let it, maybe even further. Yes, there are quests too, a lot of them. You just need to READ and do them. NPC’s are labeled over their heads with what level quests they offer, there is a quest journal, and there are things to do. You might have to put a little work into but heaven forbid you have to do that in an MMO today.

Everquest is not dead. It is dead in YOUR mind and what you expect an MMO to be because today we are all trained zombies. The thing about the game is that it never put people on rails and it never really will. Now as for the crafting aspect, a condition certainly remedied in EQ2, I cannot speak of that too much. I have yet to get under the hood and really dive into it. Back in my glory days I was just a fletcher and sometimes a cook but that was it. I fletched to make arrows and that was that. I was a puller always and to run out of arrows meant body pulling and that was a nightmare. I will have to investigate crafting more but I know in EQ1 that the system is archaic at best unless some major overhauls have been done. There are a lot of combines and a ton of farming and there are no gathering nodes or shiny things laying on the ground. You basically kill and loot and that is about it.

Leveling and getting anywhere in EQ1 takes time. More time than people are willing to devote to it. Sure if you have a high level druid or wizard you can clear 1-20 in about 2 hours of powerleveling, but I am not back to do that. I used to that back when I wasn’t raiding and that was ALL I did was twink alts and power level characters in Paludal Caverns (I had 4 freaking accounts). I really do not want to do that again (besides I have lost the ability to play the Druid). This weekend it took me a ton of time to explore, look and examine the many facets of Crescent Reach. The expansion of the Serpent’s Spine was put in as a response to World of Warcraft and other newer MMO’s in attempt to put EQ1 into the new generation. Less downtime, quests, more solo ability. Did it work? Who knows. I like Serpent Spine, and I do like the content. However you still need to do your research to get along in the game and that is what makes EQ1 a gem to me. There are many hidden facets even I do not know of after all these years. I feel it is too soon to write it off when there are 8+ expansions of content I never stepped foot in.

Later this week: my findings of a day doing “quests” around the starter city of Crescent Reach. Until then my buddy Styed and I are focusing on getting the characters we want to level out of the tutorial and then setting up a grouping time.