Friday, August 2, 2013

Banking The Fires: Everquest, EQ2 and EQNext

As we wait for the EQNext reveals to begin some interesting news has already spilled about Everquest and EQ2. Both are scheduled for expansions this autumn and forward planning for both games stretches past that well into the following year, suggesting that SOE do indeed envisage running three Everquest franchises simultaneously.

I think that's a sound strategy. As I mentioned not long ago, Everquest still has seventeen servers running. EQ players had their chance to jump ship to other games years ago and many did, but there's a core of people for whom Everquest isn't any old MMO, it's the old MMO. Similarly there are people playing EQ2 who simply won't contemplate playing anything else. I'm in a chat channel with a few of them and as far as they're concerned other MMOs, even Everquest-based ones, might as well not exist.

Those people have a point. EQ2 doesn't play very much like EQ1. EQNext will almost certainly not play very much like either.They're set in the same world but half a millennium separates each from the next. If you're settled and happy in one, why move? Once EQNext is upon us it's possible both its predecessors will be mightily eclipsed and new players for either may be thin on the ground, at least for a while, but it's a safe bet a whole lot of current players won't be going anywhere and there's money to be made servicing the needs of change-resisters and stick-in-the-muds.

Not surprisingly, both expansions are solidly aimed at the high end. They usually are. Rather more surprising, and pointing very plainly indeed to the direction SOE sees the EQ2 going in the future, "Heroic Characters" are on the way. Heroic in this context means "skip the first 85 levels". Separate from the expansion, we'll soon be able to roll up characters that begin life at 85, even those of us who've never played EQ2 before.

I have plenty of characters over 85 already and I'm currently leveling up yet another, a now-28 guardian about whom I was going to write this week but didn't find time. Feldon at EQ2Wire expresses the oft-heard sentiment that the "real" game in EQ2 starts at 90, a sentiment I don't share, but it's certainly true that the real level grind starts there. You could probably solo from 1 to 85 in the time it would take you to solo level 91, let alone the whole last ten levels.

With chrono-mentoring there's no need for any of the old content to go to waste and no need for new players to see it before they see the current stuff. They can come back to it at their leisure, and if they become invested in the game they will. Whether 85 is the best starting point is arguable, although it is the required level for flying mounts, and how well total newcomers will adapt to EQ2's immense range of skills, abilities and systems when dumped in media res remains to be seen, but I don't think it's a bad idea in principle.

EQNext may be the rising star in Norrath's firmament but that doesn't mean the other two need fall.


  1. Well, I think SOE has learned a thing or two since EQII. I think they fully expected most EQ players to move to EQII and then slowly ramp down EQ.

    As it turned out, EQII was not the successor that SOE expected. A lot of people went back to EQ, which stayed more popular that EQII for quite a while. Others went to WoW which, for a lot of raiders, became a successor of sorts to WoW, to borrow from another comment.

    This time I think SOE is being clear that EQN is a completely different game with a different style and understand that while some overlap will occur, some will stay behind.

    1. *successor of sorts to EQ

      I hate when I cannot edit my own comments.

    2. Just watched the EQNext presentation. I was impressed but not bowled over. The cartoon art style isn't going to be to everyone's taste, that's for sure, although it worked for me. I thought the audience sounded underwhelmed, but then they often do at these things.

      Once Mrs Bhagpuss gets her hands on EQNExt Landmark, though, I may never see her again...

    3. Well, SOE successfully numbed the crowd with a whole "My EQ Story" presentation. As Syp put it:

      "My EQ Story: There was this time I showed up for the EQNext reveal and ended up trapped in an art film project."

      I actually missed the first 40 minutes of the preso, which apparently was exactly the right plan.

    4. Heh! I missed that too. I came in just when they started to show game footage. Don't think I'll go back and watch the beginning.

  2. The best comment about the presentation I read:
    "It is like the manifesto video from GW2..."

    So, EQNext will be sandbox with dynamic events. I think when blogs end to digest all information, we will see a lot of complaints...

    1. mmmmmmmm...

      The complaints started...

      It is nice to see a commnet at that blog dismayed that EGNext will have only 4 weapon skills and 4 utility skills and pleyrs can use two weapons... "8? that’s less than what even guild wars 2 has :("



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