I thought it would be fun to write a series of posts talking about where my characters are in various games. Lately I have been bouncing back and forth between MMOs, so I’ve touched base with a lot of them recently.
At the time of this writing, my main character in EQ2 is a level 43 Wood Elf Warden (one of the many classes of healer, if you don’t know). After a recent spate of playing, he moved from the clockwork-kobold-infested Steamfont Mountains to the icy island of Everfrost.
I’m not really following the story of what’s going on with these quests. When I arrived in Everfrost, it seemed that people on the dock were rather disgruntled about having made the trip there. (Understandably, because being a solid ice field, it did not look like a great place to live.)
One woman’s poor husband had been eaten by sharks and had her luggage scattered everywhere in the ocean. Of course I cheerfully volunteered to swim around the freezing water among the gigantic sharks to pick up her missing stuff. After dealing with the sharks, I moved inland a little bit to some sort of camp. There I discovered that the NPCs on Everfrost will actually attack me if I accidentally hit them with an AoE. Not far from there, on the Jagged Plains, is a dragon broodmother and a bunch of ice maidens who will kill you dead if you make a wrong turn. It’s not a nice place overall.
My main goal with these newest playing sessions has to find a matching set of armor. Somehow I have ended up with a bright white helmet and boots, but brown leather chest and legs. I don’t normally care a great deal about the way my character looks but this is just ridiculous.
I generally enjoy EQ2, but it’s a very strange animal. There is a substantial learning curve because many of its features are just not "normal." One of the most basic things in an MMO–interacting with NPCs–is done differently in EQ2. In most of the universe, you right-click on things to initiate actions. But not in EQ2. When you right-click on things in EQ2, you get a context menu. You have to left-click on things to initiate actions like you’re used to. That was a huge turn-off to me when I first played. I’ve scoured the (incredibly numerous) options a hundred times trying to find a way to change that, but I’ve never been able to find one. It’s almost as bad as a game without an "invert mouse" option.
(I realize that the EQ2 model is technically more "correct" when you consider operating system standards, but you can’t just ignore years of industry standards like that.) (I also realize EQ2 came out before there were years of industry standards, but still, they could have added an option by now, right?)
EQ2 is not easy to pick up after a long absence either. When I came back to my Warden after over a year, I was completely overwhelmed and unable to function. At level 38, I had literally four action bars completely filled with abilities and I had no clue what was what. I didn’t even know what my main abilities were. (To make things worse, I was on a different computer from the last time I played, and all my keybinds were gone.) I ended up deleting every single action bar and starting over, pouring over my abilities until I distilled out a basic set of about ten actions and buffs.
That’s another thing about EQ2. You don’t just have a "heal" ability. You have five (or more) heal abilities, each subtley different from the others. One is a small heal that is quick to cast. One is a big heal that is slower to cast. One is a super heal that is instantaneous, but has a 15-minute cooldown. One heal looks just like the first heal but uses a different "school of magic" or something. And so on. I tried to pick out one or two that seemed like the most general-purpose that would work on myself or others.
EQ2 has a lot of options for character customization. As if there weren’t enough variety in the twenty or so classes, there is also this "Alternate Advancement" system which seems to let you change the basic function of your class. For example, the "alternate" Warden abilities are more melee-based instead of spell-based, which is actually quite cool. But in addition to the regular set of a thousand abilities you get with normal advancement, there is a whole other set of a thousand "alternate" abilities you can add into your action bars.
I guess the theme of this post is that EQ2 is complicated, and you have to work for your rewards. I would definitely not recommend this game to a casual player new to the MMO genre. But once you get past the learning curve, the game is pretty relaxing and enjoyable.
I’ve done exactly zero group content, though. To be honest, I hardly ever see anyone else in the mid-40s level range. I guess everyone else is already at the level cap.