Thursday, December 23, 2021

Get Expansion. Register Expansion. Wait.

Today was the day I finally stopped putting it off and pre-ordered End of Dragons. I've been thinking about doing it since the expansion got a firm release date, which must have been sometime around the back end of the summer. Contrast that with the EverQuest II expansion, Visions of Vetrovia, which I pre-ordered the same morning the press release appeared and you can see how keen I was. 

As a rule, I like to pre-order expansions for games I'm playing at the earliest opportunity, not so much for the perks, which are generally quite modest at the level I buy in, but because it seems the tidiest way to do things. I can't think I've ever waited this long before pre-ordering an expansion I always knew I was going to buy.

I guess you could point at EverQuest's Terror of Luclin, which came out in December. I almost certainly will buy that but I haven't yet. As for pre-ordering it, the idea never even entered my head until I started writing this post.

The three purchases, actual or putative, tell an revealing story of their own, standing as they do on very different points of the interest curve. 

I was quite excited about the EQII expansion from the moment I read about what was going to be in it. It looked like more of the stuff I already knew I liked and it was set in a place I was interested to see, with which I felt I had some history. 

Conversely, when the details of the GW2 expansion emerged, most of what I read left me feeling deflated, bored and very slightly annoyed. It looked like more of the stuff I already knew I didn't much like and it was set in a place I wasn't at all interested to see, with which I felt I had no history whatsoever. It really didn't help that a whole load of franchise grognards were all over it, either.


The EQ expansion sits somewhere in the middle. It's filled with stuff I neither much like or dislike, for the very good reason I never get to see it. It's a long, long time since I played any current endgame content in the older Everquest and it's likely to be even longer before I do. Longer as in never.

The setting of ToL does appeal to me. I love Luclin. We have just spent two years there in EQII, though, so I feel my Luclin-based needs have been more than adequately met for the time being. The main appeal to me is the extra five levels but there's really no point paying for those until I plan to play the game, which isn't likely to be this side of the late spring or summer.

These last few years I've found myself needing to think about game purchases in a way I haven't had to do since the turn of the milennium. It's nothing to do with the cost, which remains very low in terms of entertainment hours. It's the direct result of the way my gaming habits have changed, itself the direct result of the increased amount of free time I've had.

What with illness, the pandemic and my approaching retirement, I've had more time available both to play games and write about them than ever before. The last three years have been by far my most productive on this blog. In the first eight years I never broke two hundred posts in a calendar year. In 2019 I posted 250 times, last year it was 293 and this will be my 340th post of 2021.

To reach those numbers I've needed to find more to write about than just the handful of mmorpgs I might happen to be playing. I've also needed to find more than the same sets of dailies to keep myself amused during the endless lockdowns, which for me started back in 2019, when I was having chemotherapy.

I made a very deliberate decision to expand the range of content on the blog back then. The most obvious change must be the numerous music posts, the majority of which I freely admit are there for my own pleasure and amusement rather than the entertainment of an audience, but there have been forays into various aspects of popular culture, all of which have, I think, added to the general standing of the blog.


Perhaps less obviously, I've written a lot more about games other than mmorpgs. I used to write almost exclusively on that topic. I considered this to be an mmorpg blog, not a gaming blog. That made a lot of sense because I only very rarely played anything else. Mmorpgs readily expand to fill as much time as you care to throw at them so, while I was working at least, the majority of the time I never felt the need for any other kinds of games.

It was partly the extra time that tempted me to go looking outside the boundaries of the genre but it was also the ever-increasing availabilty of free games. Just as the free-to-play revolution hugely expanded the range of mmorpgs I was able to experiment with, so the plethora of gaming platforms vying for customers - Steam, Amazon, Epic and the rest - tempted me to start looking at games and genres I'd never even have considered a few years before.

Almost all of the outcomes of these changes have been positive. I've loved being able to write more, I've played and enjoyed a lot of games I would never have tried and I've generally kept myself interested, amused, entertained and busy during what have been some challenging times both personally and globally.

It does, however, mean more planning than I've been used to for quite a while. There's not much point buying - or even downloading for free - games I have no intention of playing in the immediate future. About the only time that makes sense is when there are limited-time offers for games I would like to play but don't have time for right away.

Everything else needs to be sorted according to practical considerations. Will I play it right now? If not, will I miss out on some worthwhile bonus if I wait until later? Do I want to pay full price or wait for a sale? And so on and so on. All the things I've been reading other people saying about their game-buying choices for years.

While I was exclusively playing mmorpgs and felt I didn't have enough time even to do those justice, I didn't have to bother about any of that. I felt quite smug about it. There are posts here where you can see me being smug about it for several thousand words.

Well, I'm not feeling quite so smug now. Pleased with myself, oh yes. Still that. It's all worked out rather nicely. Smug about being above it all, though? No, not any more.

None of which really explains why I pulled the trigger on End of Dragons today. It's an uninspiring, lackluster patchwork of an expansion, from what I've seen. A bunch more pseudo-classes I won't play, a story I won't care about, a load of weapons I don't want. 

There's a bastardized sort of fishing, the go-to of desperate developers everywhere, combined with a peculiar take on boats that looks to be neither one thing nor the other. That's not setting my pulse racing.

Then there's Cantha. Everyone loves Cantha, apparently. I'm hoping it's going to be pretty, at least. I've probably been there before. I have all the Guild Wars expansions and I've played at least a bit of most of them. If I have, though, it didn't make much of an impression. I can't actually remember Cantha at all.

As for the freebies I'd have missed out on if I'd waited until launch day, I'm not clear on whether there are any. As I look at the official web page it seems to me everything is included in the various tiers regardless of purchase date. I'm not sure any of them are incentives for pre-ordering. Oh, wait, yes there are. I see the tiny asterisks and the tiny footnotes now. Boy, that's really selling it.

The real reason I bought it now rather than later is Christmas. I've been buying so much these last few weeks I've just gotten into the habit of it. Instead of asking myself "Why?" today I found myself asking "Why not?"

It's not the greatest of reasons but I feel good that I got it done. And that's not the greatest of endorsements, either, now I come to think about it. "You know you're going to have to buy this thing eventually. Just get it over with".

Oh well, at least I got another blog post out of it. And there'll be plenty more come February, count on that.


  1. Cantha was in the Factions expansion for Guild Wars, which, if I remember rightly, was the first expansion to be released.

    I probably spent more time with Factions (and so Cantha) than any other release of Guild Wars, including the original - despite the fact the original's campaign just went on and on (and on). xD

    Be that as it may, I've been kinda lukewarm on the expansion too. It has been in the back of my mind as something I will inevitably get. But I know no detail of it beyond the setting and the name. I haven't done any of the class trials, or read any media releases of info (if they even exist).

    Still; your post did remind me it is a thing that exists and maybe it would make a suitable Christmas present for a friend. xD

    1. Yay! Shilling for NCSoft! That's what I'm here for!

      I have a feeling Faction may be the only GW expansion I haven't played at all, which would explain a lot. I did all the original campaign, most of Eye of the North and a few hours of the one with the pseudo-African setting. Maybe I should try to play through some of Factions before EoD drops.

      Being optimistic, I hope it's like HoT, which I was expecting to dislike but actually loved. It's one of my favorite expansions for any mmorpg and I still play through parts of it even now, just for fun. Realistically, though, PoF was much better received and is now treated as if it was a work of genius. I disliked it when it was new and the older it gets, the more I loathe it. Unfortunately I imagine it will be the model of success for everything from now on. At least we won't have to put up with Joko this time.


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