EverQuest II would probably rank second on my list of MMORPGs that I wish was easier for me to get into and play more (below Lord of the Rings Online). But they sure don’t make much of effort to accommodate new or returning players.
The longest I’ve ever played EverQuest II is leveling a Warden up into the 40s five years ago. Whenever I return to that character, it’s almost impossible to figure out how to play the game again, because EQ2 follows the “more-is-more” philosophy of giving out hotbar abilities every character level. If you don’t play regularly, it’s pretty hard to comprehend the sheer magnitude of hotbar skills given to you, when to use them, or whether to use them at all.
At some point, I must have used a free level boost on that level 40ish Warden, because he’s now level 100. He’s still wearing the exact same mismatched armor that you can see in that five-year-old blog post up there. The only thing that’s changed is that he’s now wandering around lost and confused in Qeynos, perhaps hanging out by the stables in a desperate attempt to figure out how to get a more normal-looking horse, instead of the leaping raptor he used to ride.
Somewhere in the past couple of years Daybreak gave away free level 95 characters, so I made a level 95 Necromancer. I haven’t done anything with that character. I walked a few paces down the road from where I started, on some kind of island, and logged out.
This year, Daybreak gave away free level 100 characters (again I think?). I rolled an Ogre Coercer because it sounded like a funny concept for a character. Is it a good idea to roll an Ogre Coercer? I have no idea. Here’s how this new guy looked right after I made the character:
I stayed in the game long enough to take a few screenshots, then logged out.
Sunday I thought I would log into that character and see if I could find someplace interesting to go on a glowing flying horse in neon purple armor. EQ2 is, to its credit, one of the few games you can sort-of play with just the right hand on the mouse, which is the only kind of game I can play for any length of time at the moment. Here’s where I was when I logged in:
I had no idea where I was, or how I got there, or what happened to my blindingly washed-out glowing horse. I hope those quests in that other place weren’t important. Before I could begin to find out where the game had placed me, it crashed. Then I started writing this blog post. :)
Am I missing something or does EQ2 lack a “full screen windowed” graphics setting? How is that even possible in 2018? Has Daybreak ever once looked at another MMORPG in the past ten years?
Anyway it turns out my Ogre Coercer was in a place called The Commonlands, near the city of Freeport. I don’t know if I’ve ever been there before. The name “Freeport” is familiar so surely I’ve been there sometime in the past ten years, but I can’t remember anything about it. I think it’s one of the main places or something, and not knowing it is like not knowing about Stormwind in WoW. :)
As far as I can tell, there’s nothing in-game to give me a hint about where to go or what to do with any of these high-level characters. My Coercer’s journal is completely empty. The daily objectives are generic and meaningless. My optimal strategy for playing EverQuest II with these high-level characters is to log in, turn around in a circle, and look for a quest at my level. If I don’t find out, I log out. So far I haven’t found one. (My 95 Necromancer does actually have one quest in his journal that I can follow but I don’t know how to get where it wants me to go hehe.)
I don’t know what else to do. Wandering aimlessly might result in an amusing NPC conversation but for the most part nothing happens. The “content” in EverQuest II is pretty hard to find. I’m sure I can look up exactly where to go to find the starting point for the optimal quest chain at my level, but it’s a bit mind-boggling that they don’t tell you in the game. (EQ2 is not the only game with this problem, to be clear. Even FFXIV suffers from the “we developers figure everyone will look up where to go on Google” syndrome.)
I ended up logging back into a level 17 Conjurer I made at the end of last year. It’s the only character I’m even slightly comfortable playing right now. Still, even at level 17, I’m already overwhelmed by the number of hotbar abilities thrown at me. Unless the benefit is incredibly obvious and something I’d use all the time in every encounter, I don’t put them on my bar.
There’s a lot I like about EverQuest II, it being one of the last “old school” style MMORPGs around, and the massive amounts of content to explore (if you can find it), but there’s also a number of things that rub me the wrong way. Just little nagging quality-of-life things that are “off” that make it hard to get back into the game. (Similar to ESO, actually.) Like the weirdness in alt-tabbing, and the odd way you have to use the left mouse button instead of the right. (Still! In 2018!) I won’t even go into the font situation. Games like WoW have made concerted efforts to modernize, but EQ2 has remained stubbornly “backwards” for as long as I can remember.