Thursday, November 27, 2014

Rallics Of The Past : EQ2

As far as content goes, EQ2's Altar of Malice expansion seems to have been well-received, by and large. Still, there have been a lot of grumblings and mutterings among the faithful concerning two aspects: the supposedly inferior perks and/or excessive cost of the Collector's Edition and the approach the dev team has taken over xp gain for the added five levels.

On the CE I have nothing to add beyond that I've yet to see one for any MMO that I'd have given more than a few dollars above base price for. On the latter, well, Feldon at EQ2 Wire felt strongly enough about it to write an editorial on the subject that just about covers everything.

It seems the feathers of a proportion of the playerbase have been ruffled particularly brutally by two separate decisions: to reduce xp in "contested dungeons" outside of the expansion and also in Dungeon Maker instances. The details of exactly what was included, who the changes affected and precisely how the xp was altered are arcane beyond the patience or interest of anyone but the most dedicated EQ2 archivist and opinions vary over whether and to what degree these changes were either necessary or appropriate. What no-one argues, however, is that some degree of choice on how to approach leveling was removed from the players. Taking away peoples' options rarely goes down well.

A question that I fear will soon become all too familiar...
On top of that, as I mentioned earlier, the tradeskill questline tops out with three more craft levels yet to go. Feldon has a sobering analysis in the article already linked of what that means to the average crafter. It's not pretty.

The situation is compounded by the mature (irony unintended) state of EQ2's playerbase. Many, possibly most, players have several max-level adventure characters; plenty of players maintain a stable of max-level crafters. Even those who are comfortable taking their first character from 95 to100 largely by questing in the current expansion will balk at going through those same quests (let alone those writs!) over and over just to bring all their team into contention for the new end-game content. 

I have a lot of sympathy with those who feel the whole "we made great new stuff and we want you all to appreciate it" approach has gone too far. You'd like to think that if the content is that great (and what I have seen so far really is pretty darn good) it should be able to stand on its own without needing to be propped up by nerfs to potential competition from the game's past glories. 

I can at least look at this with some equanimity. My own enjoyment is largely unaffected. save as the furore sours the mood of the players around me, which it observably is doing. I'm happy enough questing away and I'm in no hurry. Playing EQ2 as my secondary MMO, it's unlikely I'll have time to level more than one adventuring class to 100 before changes have been made or new content added anyway. Tweaks to the xp rate are already happening. Moreover, the nerfs don't seem to have affected mentored xp at all. That remains a very viable option for nipping ahead of the questing curve, should I need to apply a boost.

As for crafting I plan on sticking to just the one class for the time being. Having completed the questline I am now leveling my Weaponsmith purely by doing the crafting daily in Twilight Sea. I tend to play GW2 for most of the evening then spend an hour or so in Norrath before bedtime, of which Skrit's crafting daily takes 5-10 minutes and gives about 8% or so of a craft level. At that rate it will take me a couple of months and I'm comfortable with that.

As of a couple of nights ago, though, I have a new motivation to get to 100 sooner rather than later. Skrit tasked me with catching the grimling runner to find out what he was delivering. I vaguely remembered a "grimling runner" from old Luclin but I couldn't immediately place the name. It seemed an odd "crafting" quest but who can say for sure what goes on in a ratonga's mind? So off I went to catch me a grimling.
Snaring him was simple enough. When I moved in to search his fallen body, as well as the quest item, something else flashed up in the loot window. At first I did genuinely think I'd imagined it but no, the grimling runner had indeed dropped the pattern for a Rallic Pack. What's more, to my great surprise and delight, it remained in my packs after I returned to Skrit for the hand-in.

Luclin has been whole (sort of) for months now but I felt the moon had truly risen again when I examined the recipe and received a scribable version for my recipe book. The Rallic Pack was a low-level signature quest of the Luclin era in EQ1, a quest I did several times and of which I have fond, if somewhat vague, memories even now.

I wanted my Rallic Pack then and I want my Rallic Pack now. I'm not yet sure what making one will require nor how useful it will be if I succeed in making it (85% weight reduction doesn't have quite the same draw these days), but I want it.

Things I really want in MMOs are rare. I savor them when I find them. To get my Rallic Pack I need an Artisan level of 100, which, I think, means having any tradeskill at that level. It's a tasty carrot to take away some of the bitterness in the grind.


  1. For me, EQ2 has become my "go to" game. But I feel very insulated from the complaints of the player community, as I'm still working my way through original release content. The wife and I have been level locked at 50 for some time, and my tank, her healer and our two mercs just finished up Lavastorm and Solusek's Eye for the first time.

    This is an amazingly fun and relaxing game. I find I love the tone and the volume of content. I'm curious and apprehensive to see how it compares with what has been released for it in later expansions.

    1. Sorry, late reply... EQ2's expansion history deserves a post of its own really. First there was the idea of the mini-expansions that never really took off; then for a while the whole thrust seemed to be to put as much distance between "old" and "new" Norrath as possible. That didn't go down all that well either.

      Then they did a complete 180 and the Faydwer and Kunark expansions played every nostalgia card in the hand to considerable effect. Then there was EQ2's version of LDoN (The Shadow Odyssey) after which things fell into a fairly consistent pattern of two overland zones plus a bunch of dungeons.

      In retrospect I like all the expansions but some were certainly more fun "at level" than others. If you're talking about gameplay, however, they are all reasonably consistent in tone, approach and challenge. It's mostly the settings and themes that change. There's also a LOT of content. The Kunark expansion could have been released as a standalone game and it would have been bigger than plenty of fledgling MMOs.


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