#587 Everquest 2

Posted: 26th May 2013 by Jeroen in Games
Tags: , , , ,

242nd played so far

Platform: PC
Year of Release: 2004
Developer: Sony Online Entertainment
Publisher: Sony Online Entertainment

Sequels are fairly common in videogames – if a formula works, why not tweak it and try again? As a lot of engine work and assets can be reused, it can even be cheaper, or cost as much, as making a completely new game.

The only place where we don’t really see this are MMORPGs. Any improvements the creators want to make for them are generally done to the game itself. Especially with a subscription model, it’s there anyway, and people don’t generally want to reinvest the time learning a new game and levelling all their characters.

In fact, the only example, other than today’s Everquest 2, that I can think of is the recently released Guild Wars 2 (we’ve discussed Guild Wars before). It obviously worked for EQ2 though, seeing how it’s still going strong after eight years. Why?

Our Thoughts

First, a comment on timing. Usually, we try to give a game enough time to show us what it’s about and give us a feel for it. We set ourselves a guidelines of five hours for it, which is often enough, but with MMORPGs it’s limiting. At the same time, I must admit I often don’t enjoy them enough to want to play for that much longer. Obviously there are exceptions to this rule such as Guild Wars and Aion.

Everquest 2 really made some of those elements clear to me. First, it suffers from a problem I’ve seen multiple MMORPGs struggle with: The ‘tutorial’ section seems really, really long – I hadn’t left it after several hours of play (six or so). That’s fine if it’s integrated in building up a story and lets you access the cool things as a part of it. Here, it isn’t.

Rather, it’s a long prologue that focuses on story telling and giving you lots of quests and starter items. What it also does, however, is hint at mechanics that, after six-seven hours of play, you don’t have access to yet, while cluttering your inventory with stuff for it. One annoyance here is something related to a pet shop, but the main culprit is housing.

In the game, you can get a house, decorate it and so on – neat thing that’s one of the series’ selling points. You acquire furniture for it fairly soon. At the point in the game we got to, however, you’re not there yet, and actually feel quite a while away from it still. Realistic, possibly, but it really felt like it got in the way. Every time I thought I’d be able to move towards the main game, there was just another batch of quests, and after some time it just made you want to give up.

 Rant over, to the game. The basics are the same as any other MMORPG – run around, click to target, attack and use your abilities. It feels like there are more abilities in the original, with lots more complications in alternative ways of advancement – in fact, you’re recommended to spend half your XP on alternative advancement rather than straight up levels from some point on. Didn’t get to experience crafting, because, well, not far enough in. Lots of stuff you can get for it though. It looks pretty, I suppose. It’s just… yeah, it’s an upgrade. They’ve added abilities, it looks nicer and so on. It just took far too long to get to the point.

Final Thoughts

Potentially good. The game has elements of being fun, and I enjoyed playing it for most of it. It’s just that the feelings of endless introduction missions became a bit much and really put me off in the end. A shame.

This also ends our journey through MMORPGs (and related online games). It’s weird – I’ve always seen the appeal of them but (with the exception of the slightly different Kingdom of Loathing) never really got into them. I’m still not sure whether I’ll be able to make the time and interest investment in them to make all of them worth it, but there’s certainly some I hope I can revisit. And if not, who knows – perhaps there’ll be another one some day that grabs me further.

That isn’t to say that we haven’t enjoyed our voyage through the world of internet gaming. In many ways it has been the defining feature of the 200-250 group of games rather than it being the section where every game is brand new to me.  Sure some have been a bit pants (Ultima) and others have been repetitive (Runescape) but it has definitely been a worthwhile experience.