Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Withered Goest Thou: EQ2

Saddle up your griffin, we're off to the Withered Lands! Along with everyone else. Within an hour or two of GU63 going live yesterday Freeport, probably EQ2's busiest server, had five instances of the new overland zone running.

EQ2's ability to spin up copies of any zone that gets too full means you never really get that glorious launchday crush, when frame-rates drop to single figures and it's ten men to every wolf. Still, it was busy enough. After a few minutes of being gazumped on ground spawns just outside the opening quest hub I took to the skies and went exploring. When it wasn't raining, that is. There's a storm dragon in Withering Lands who doesn't like to share the skies with anyone so periodically she makes it rain so hard griffins get too wet to fly. Or something. Anyway, you're grounded.

Did I take a wrong turning? This looks like Vana'diel
It's a nice hark back to the terrifying Wuoshi, who used to lurk in agro range of the Druid Ring in the original Wakening Lands. For a long time I had a low level character camped out there on a suicide mission. When my druid wanted to port to Wakening Lands I'd log the unlucky chump in first. If Wuoshi didn't eat him, it was safe to travel.

Nothing in Withered Lands seems to require quite that degree of paranoid preparation. My first impression of our new playground is that it's quite beautiful. It certainly doesn't look withered. Weird, yes. There's quite a variety of terrain in a relatively small area. Corrupted woodland, obviously, but also an odd flat pond with knee-deep water, a lot of craggy mountains, patches of hold-out Tunarean greenery and some arid dustland. Most of our old friends from Tunare's day seem to have survived the intervening half-millennium. I spotted mist panthers, raptors, giants, satyrs and the ever-unwelcome Holgresh but no sign so far of the clunky, clanky empty suits of armor I used to spend hour after hour dismantling in the olden days.

No fair! I wanted a blue one
The zone is one of the best to fly in so far. Lots of canyons to swoop through. Flying inside the giants' magnificent lofty halls is especially entertaining. It doesn't rain in there, either. If you'd rather not fly (and if you don't have Featherfall you probably shouldn't, what with the 20k falling damage I took when it started to rain and I was foolishly aloft with my crafting cloak on) there are horse stations scattered around. The zone is relatively linear and a ride on the very fast horse from end to end takes a good while, although not quite as long as the interminable canter from the Feerrott docks to Cazic Thule. An odd touch is that while riding you display a pennant and the flag is a different color for different characters. Not sure if this means anything...

Withered Lands is quite three-dimensional, with those canyons plus caves, tunnels and insect mounds. The color palette is very varied. Make the most of the scenery on the way to Skyshrine, because Skyshrine is "a city at war"tm and it looks just like the ones in every other MMO. People (well, droags) lying around all over the place, lots of things on fire, barricades etc etc. If you were hoping for a suave, sophisticated city of dragons to hang out in (I was) then you probably should have come a century ago.

Hey Jim! You left some green in. Boss is gonna be mad.
The layout seems to match the template of The Hole in Odus. A small quest hub where you come in and three wings of heroic content which are also available as three separate instances. The difference here is that the instances are tuned for duos. And they're orange. More orange than a Dutch football fan drinking Tango while eating a tangerine. I have never in my life seen so much orange.

The content itself seems fun, although the quest text manages to be both verbose and lackluster at the same time, which is quite a trick. EQ2 has a relatively high standard of wit and humor for an MMO but I've scarcely cracked a smile so far. The actual tasks are the usual; kill me eight of these, get me six of those, bring me back a wolf, find my missing patrol. Yadda yadda and indeed yadda.

 Norrath's Bore of the Year Finalists limber up
The New Combine expedition is as badly organized and ill-prepared as any expeditionary force not led by gnomes could possibly be and of course any random passing adventurer is going to do a better job than these clowns. It's handy, then, that said clowns seem to have more gold than the First Bank of Norrath to hand out, not to mention weapons and armor that would have been considered suitable for gods only a day ago.

Despite the complete lack of logic, internal consistency and anything approaching  sense in the basic set-up, I'm finding it a lot of fun. In fact, I wouldn't be here writing about it now if it wasn't that so many other people seem to have been finding it fun as well that Freeport has crashed. Again.

As soon as I can get back in, I'm going on a monkey hunt. Someone's going to give me pants if I bring him four monkey spell-books. And they're Godlike pants!

1 comment:

  1. Looks like fun, I might pop in soon to check it out and work on .... meh AA's, lol. Great pics!


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