Monday, December 5, 2022

My Other Mount Is A Camel

One of the rarely-mentioned features of each new EverQuest II expansion is the intra-zone transportation. It always follows roughly the same format: a series of stations at which you can hop onto some kind of creature or device and find yourself being carried from one significant location to the next, quickly, safely and without having to dip into your pocket for so much as a copper piece. 

EQII has always offered the option of a safe ride anyone can afford. The addition to the game of the Griffins that served as flying taxis was one of the most memorable things that happened in beta. They were added close to launch and brought with them amazement and delight - when they worked. 

I was almost as amazed and delighted today, when I realised the on-rails rides in Renewal of Ro are provided by camels. I have no particular affection for camels in real life, although I did once ride one along a Turkish beach, an experience that lives with me still but in virtuality I think of camels with greart fondness. A camel is what what my Raki Disciple rode for most of the time I played Vanguard: Saga of Heroes.

As I remember, he chose a camel not for aesthetic or role-playing reasons but because it was cheaper to buy than a horse. It was also slower and more cumbersome but it suited him very well. Later, when every race was given the option of a different species of mount to ride, he stuck with his trusty two-humper, although I'm ashamed to say that once he got his hands on the free flying reindeer SOE handed out when they knew the game didn't have too much longer to run, he stabled the poor, old camel without a second thought.

I don't think I've ridden a camel on any character in any game since then, so it was a real nostalgia trip to see my Ratonga Berserker bouncing over the deser sands, clinging to the back of a galumphing Bactrian. It also set me thinking about all those other rides I've taken in expansions of years gone by and I started to wonder how many I could remember.

Let's see how I do. I promise this is all entirely from memory.

  • EQII Base Game: Griffins - You had to do a quest and find Griffin eggs to get access to them in some zones.
  • Desert of Flames: Flying Carpets
  • Kingdom of Sky: Clouds - You could get your own, independent Cloud mount through a lengthy quest, too, although the cloud didn't fly, or at least not yet.
  • Echoes of Faydwer - Horses, surprisingly.
  • Rise of Kunark - It started with the Sokokar - a weird thing whose species I never was quite sure of. There was a quest you had to do to for that one, which I remember being annoying but not why. What the other zones were I can't remember although the Iksar guards definitely rode rhinos.
  • The Shadow Odyssey - An all-dungeon expansion, except for the one open-world zone, Moors of Ykesha, which had gnomish cannons and hot air balloons. 
  • Sentinel's Fate: Hmm. Really should remember this one. I played it all the way through. It's another Islands in the Sky setting so it might have been something that flew. I suspect it might have been some form of magic teleport, though.
  • Age of Discovery - Feature expansions, so, once again, none.
  • Destiny of Velious - Introduced flying mounts but there were also fixed routes and I think those were serviced by Griffins again.
  • Chains of Eternity - Not the least idea, even though I've played it all the way through. I imagine I was on a flying mount throughout.
  • Tears of Veeshan - Ditto, although it was a dragoncentric expansion and I think it might have been wyverns?
  • Altar of Malice - Nope. I got nothing. And I've played through the whole thing once and much of it several times more. I only remember flying. Maybe there wasn't anything?
  • Terrors of Thalumbra - See Altar of Malice.
  • Kunark Ascending - This is getting embarassing. I think I'd better stop now...

Some of that vagueness is my terrible memory but it's pretty clear to me that, while the introduction of flying mounts may not have put a stop to in-zone, on rails ground transport, they did render them so redundant I never really used them again, until we reached the stage in EQII's development when the developers decided flying had rendered too much of the content trivial and started making us work for it in each zone of every new expansion.

Again, without looking it up, I'm not sure exactly when that started. I know Altar of Malice made you do a quest before you could use your flying mount but it only affected the beginning of the first zone. The first time I remember having to do a whole zonal Signature line to earn flying retrospectively for the rest of my account was probably Blood of Luclin, in which I mostly used a cloak with Featherfall to get around by controlled gliding but in which I also flew about on some trained Shiknar, which always seemed like an accident waiting to happen.

It seems to me that even knowing you're going to be flying under your own power eventually (Or, rather, the power of your own flying mount.) drains the significance of whatever interim ground-based option the game provides in the meantime. For most of those earlier expansions I can even remember some of the routes, not just the mounts, whereas I couldn't with any conviction tell you anything at all about what I was sitting on in almost any of the expansions after Velious.

Except for this one. I'm going to remember the camels.


  1. One thing I've always liked about EQ2 which is different from other MMO's in my experience is you can hope off that rails mount mid flight if needed. This was really huge in Antonica when you just wanted to get near the Gnoll cave rather than go all the way to the Thundering Steppes Griffin.

  2. Replies
    1. Yep, that's a really useful feature. I've made plenty of use of it over the years, I find it very frustrating in other games when you can't get off until the end of the ride.


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