Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Chaos Descends, Expectations Rise : EQ2

EQ2's fourteenth expansion, Chaos Descending, went Live not much more than a couple of hours ago. Wilhelm, of course, has a post commemorating the event but I had no intention of posting about it tonight...not until I logged in.

After I'd been playing for an hour or so I felt I couldn't wait until tomorrow to express my very positive first impressions on everything from the thrilling opening sequence and the stunning visuals to the general high standard of the writing.

EQ2's graphics - and particularly its graphic design - have been verging on the spectacular for years now. The older zones, all the way up to Velious, which is sadly all that most new players and particularly most new Free to Play players see, might as well belong to a different game entirely.

Even by those standards Myrist, The Great Library is stunning. It's hard to convey its grandeur in screenshots, especially ones with a piratical rat in the foreground, but everything about it is magnificent. The placement of the desks, the chairs and the stacks of books is just about perfect. I've been in plenty of libraries. This is a library.

The expansion itself begins in the smoothest and most intuitive fashion I've seen in an EQ2 update for many years. There's no running around doing pre-quests or going to odd locations. You get two letters by in-game mail. Both begin quests that take you where you need to go.

One explains that you can reach Myrist by means of the Wizard Spires. I chose to follow the instructions in the other first and found myself ported to an instance whose location and ensuing events I won't spoil for anyone who might be about to see it for themselves. I'll just say I found it immersive and emotionally engaging.

From there it's straight to Myrist, where I immediately found myself swept up in a series of naturalistic, well-written quests, few of which involved any kind of combat. Some will see this as drudge-work they have to get out of the way before the real content appears but for me it was as refreshing and welcome as cold springwater on a summer's day.

I can honestly say I've enjoyed every EQ2 expansion for many years now but none of them ever started as convincingly and satisfyingly as this one has. Here's hoping the high standards set at the beginning continue all the way to the end.

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