The Berserker offered a couple of rather convincing arguments as to why he should get the call. For one thing he had two maxed craft skills: Weaponsmithing and Adorning. The Beastlord barely knows what a crafting table looks like. More importantly, the Berserker as a class is just more fun to play.
In fact it's pretty much easy-mode when it comes to soloing. Spec and gear a Berserker appropriately and you get something not dissimilar to The Tasmanian Devil if he had Wolverine's regen mutation. Basic strategy consists of running into the middle of a bunch of mobs and spinning in a circle until everything's dead. And that's without even popping the merc.
|"You do have all the proper scrollwork for this merchandize? Correct?"|
The Beastlord, on the other hand, is comparatively fiddly and significantly more fragile. There's a whole lot of building and finishing going on, plus a roster of pets that all do different things, and a bunch of stances and who knows what-all else going on. You have to think when you play a Beastlord. It's fun when you're in the mood but if you're planning to play mostly at the end of the evening, in short bursts, that's a mood that might not always be easy to summon.
So, Berserker it was: which brought up a problem. Due to a series of complicated and less than foresightful decisions, the Berserker isn't on my All Access account and neither is my All Access account in my name, which means I can't transfer him. Since Age of Malice opened for AA Accounts a couple of weeks before it opened for F2P that meant I'd either have to sub or wait.
I subbed. You'd imagine that would be an unalloyed improvement. I'm not so sure it is.
|G`Thal's not quite the stickler for details that Agamennus is. That used to be a thing.|
At that time I was quite jaded with EQ2. The idea of a less-forgiving, less-accommodating version was appealing. I paid for the one-time $5.00 Silver upgrade, which removed just about all of the really irritating restrictions, leaving what I felt were tantamount to improvements. I had, for example, far less bag space, although it was still far more than many MMOs offer as a maximum. That meant I couldn't just hoard everything until I ended up with a huge mess that would take me days to clean up. Then there were the restrictions on what gear could be equipped, which meant that the gear I crafted or got from quests or drops seemed much more valuable and desirable. A number of the supposed clouds had linings that positively gleamed.
|Comes with over 5m status!|
I even really liked buying "Unlockers" from the Station Cash store to modify armor, weapons or spells above my Silver status into ones he could use. I found that to be a much more involving, meaningful and enjoyable "choice" in gameplay terms than most of the choices I've been offered in MMOs. It was always tangibly satisfying to use an unlocker on a Fabled drop and see it turn into something useable. Those unlockers cost 50 cents each, half that when the SC came from a sale as it often did. It always felt like money well spent.
You also had to buy classes and races separately (in bundles of three), something I really appreciated. Doing that was just plain fun in the way buying a donut is - pointless, self-indulgent fun. The range and variety of restrictions and the means by which they could be individually or collectively overcome opened up whole avenues of creative play for me and I consider the first couple of years after Freeport arrived to be the highlight of my tenure in EQ2, at least in terms of actual gameplay.
|The 66-slotter. |
More inventory in a single bag than you get in some entire games
So, for the first time, my Berserker can send things in the mail and sell anything on the broker, which would be all fine and dandy if it wasn't for another, coincidental, change that happened right around the same time I paid his dues. Along with the expansion came a couple of the usual "quality of life" improvements, from which everyone benefits, whether or not they bought the box. In this case it's access to both the Broker and the Mail from anywhere in the world - providing you're an All Access member.
We have that in GW2 of course and I never think twice about it. It's just how Tyria operates. Norrath however, doesn't. In Norrath instant access to mail and brokerage services from anywhere is just WRONG. I remember when we didn't even have mailboxes for Brell's sake! I remember when getting a mailbox that would work from the inside of your inn room was a big deal! I remember when the proximate location of the nearest Broker was a material factor in deciding where to live!
Giving me free access to these facilities from the UI does not enhance my gameplay. It diminishes it. Fortunately I have walked this road long enough now to recognize these potholes before I fall into them. I may be paying for these "enhanced" services but I darn well don't have to use them and I'm not going to. Well, not when it doesn't suit me.
|UI functions represented as physical objects in the gameworld. |
That's the way to do it.
The line between texture and inconvenience can be hard to define. Someone at ANet decided that buying and selling on the Trading Post remotely was fine but you'd have to go to an NPC to pick up your items or money. That was probably motivated at least in part by the desire to sell consumable pop-up NPCs in the cash shop but also by an awareness that you need to give players reasons to congregate at facilities in cities if the game is going to look like there are actually people playing it.
Too much convenience and the whole experience risks feeling empty and unconvincing; too little risks provoking players into looking around for somewhere less irritating to spend their time and their money. At the moment, across the genre as a whole, I tend to feel the pendulum has swung just a little too far in favor of convenience but there are plenty of signs that it's beginning to fall back. In the meantime I'll just try and exercise a little personal restraint.