Someone commented yesterday on my xfire numbers for EQ over the past week – and I had to laugh. I gently reminded them that in order to set up a trader in EQ you still have to be constantly online, so I’ve been leaving my computer on while my trader sits in the bazaar and does her thing. Spells are expensive after all, and I’m still getting back into the swing of things. From that stemmed a conversation about how ‘easy’ things appear to be in EQ now, and whether or not EQ is still the same immersing game that it used to be. 

I had to disagree with the argument, because while things may have changed over the past 10 years it’s still one of the most complicated games I’ve played in terms of just plain game play, not to mention the questing and crafting systems. When I first came back there were so many changes to take in that it felt like a different game – for about an hour and then I started to see the familiar patterns again that I’d seen back in 2002 when I first started. A few of the changes caught me off guard. For example when you die you no longer lose anything at all except for the experience, you return fully geared. The only reason you would have to obtain your corpse is to get a rez and re-gain your experience. You also no longer lose your spell set up when you die, the gems are still in their last positions. This doesn’t take away the need for saved spell lists since those are always handy but if you’re a low level and die and have forgotten to put together a saved spell list you won’t spend hours setting one up. For some reason (I’m not sure why) if you are not of appropriate level to wear a piece of gear – you can now still wear it. You won’t get any stats from that piece of gear but it will fit into your gear slot just fine. I’m not exactly sure what this change was for, but it’s interesting. 

Mercenaries and the experience you gain while leveling has been changed a lot – but there’s a good reason for this. The game is 10 years old after all. If it took you as long as it did at release to level, then you’d probably be put off by trying to catch up to friends who are level 85. The community is much the same as it’s always been, maybe a little quieter now and there are less people around but the ones who are around love the game. They’re passionate about things, and they’re friendly and helpful. Out of all the games I’ve played EQ has one of the best communities I’ve ever seen. Vanguard is another with an outstanding community, but you really have to look for it first. 

The basics of the game are all the same and it’s comforting. There’s no one way to do an encounter. Monk pulls are still used (and are still amazing), kiting is still done (unless the mobs summon, ew!) and questing still involves figuring out the proper text to say to an NPC. There are still LOTS of options of what to do in game, especially once you start working on aa. If you get into crafting at all then your options are multiplied. Trains are still trains, and they still hurt (and they are fun!) and the very basic components of the game that make it fun are all still there and intact. The fact that things in the game are ‘bigger’ then you and there’s NO guarantee that you’re going to win, is a feeling that I love. Whether you’re taking down an even con mob or battling a great deity, things feel bigger then you. There’s a moment in the fight where you think to yourself (from time to time) “oh crud, I am not going to beat this!” and then it rips you apart. On the same note, there’s the satisfaction of taking down an encounter and then it becoming easier each and every time, and then a sense of triumph as you defeat it without breaking out in a sweat. It’s got that feeling of ‘conquiring’ that a lot of games miss. I don’t want to be able to defeat everything in the game easily, group or raid or solo. It should feel like a challenge (but also leave enough encounters around that I CAN defeat, so I don’t feel overwhelmed). This feeling is one I get every day as I play EQ. In EQ2, not so much. I felt like I could defeat pretty much anything depending on who I had with me. There was very little in the game that couldn’t be beaten, unless it was a high end raid zone (and I’m not a raider these days). 

If it sounds like I’m being a poster girl for SOE and their games, well guess what, I am. I enjoy the games, I wouldn’t be writing about them and I wouldn’t have played them for the last 7 years if I didn’t. I feel passionate about them, and I love the experiences I’ve had in them. There’s no shame in that (at least not for me). Does it mean I ignore the flaws or faults in the games? No, of course not. No game is perfect and it’s bound to happen. Bugs are there, down times occur, rollbacks hurt and all the rest. I’d rather spend my time talking about the good points of a game and share my passion for it then rip it apart and do nothing but complain – unless I really don’t enjoy a game (and trust me, it has happened) for whatever reason. What a fantastic time where we have so many choices of things to play, and so many great people in each of the games. I feel lucky to have found games that match my play style (or did I match my play style to their games?) and I hope everyone else out there finds ‘their’ game too. 

Shew, sorry for the rambling, but I guess you can expect that on my blog from time to time!

Safe travels, see you in Norrath!