So I am back to that game in which I love to hate. I’ve been feeling the burn of late to play MMOs again, so I returned to EQ2 largely because I have nothing else to turn to. I have considered WarHammer Online, howver what I’ve heard about it hasn’t been great thus far anyway. Conan, blech. I have also considered the expansion of lord of the rings but that is a month away and opposite of EQ2’s own which I’m willing to give the game a second shot, even if I’m not particularly thrilled with what we’ve seen of the expansion thus far.
My return to EQ2 has really been little outside of me raiding. I mostly these days log in with my old guild, which is substantially bigger now, and raid with them. It is actually really quite fulfilling. I go on, I raid, I leave. I really kind of enjoy raiding so it fulfills the need to play an MMO… I don’t much like the rest of it right now so I don’t need to deal with it. The guild needs me as well as they didn’t have a defiler for the main tank group and I’m pretty darn good so they get a top-notch defiler to fill in.
The changes of EQ2 since I’ve left haven’t really been much. They have done the obvious tweaks, and from what I’ve seen some of the complaints we had about epic weapons have been listened to and they are now somewhat useful. The bigger updates to the game have come in the form of a couple of new zones. One of which I haven’t been to and don’t even remember the name of offhand. The other is Runnyeye 2, which borrows a note from Nek3 and creates instances of an old zones that are higher level.
I think the idea of creating higher level areas in lower level areas is great. I’ve talked about doing such things before. But I don’t like that they keep the older lower level version in the same place. First of all it seems very unrealistic. Secondly, with the general level of the population growing and growing, there is lesser and lesser of a need for those older areas. So why not just turn RunnyEye into a 75-80 dungeon and then leave it at that. Perhaps have the areas around it slightly higher to keep lower levels away from it so that they don’t wander into a too high of place. I love the idea of mixing, I just wish they wouldn’t try to do both. I think part of the problem here is that Runnyeye is very vital to the level range that it belongs to, I think much of the thirties to this day is spent in that dungeon, if they turned it into high level only, well that might screw the 30s range. Still, there are many broken dungeons at lower levels they can tweak and I don’t know why they couldn’t have just had the higher level zones in one of those that no one uses. The new zone itself seems about as bland as runnyeye but it is kind of nostalgiac to go, and there is some really good loot in the place which certainly makes it worth going.
The other major change is the guild halls. Finally after years of not having a real purpose to having those hard to get guild levels. I mean there was some things to get out of guild halls, you could have a bigger house with a slight level, or somewhat faster and cooler looking horses… but the list was small and the rewards were meager. The guild halls finally give some oomph. They certainly are cool looking things to. Our guild has a medium hall in the city which I think is really more than enough for most guilds, the big ones are grand and really cool looking, but I don’t really know why anyone would need THAT much space… nor do I really knwo what you would put in all of it.
What do Guild Halls do? Well one of the major things they do is ruin the advanced that Echoes of Faydwer made in travel times. I know I am one of the few but I appreciated the boat trips that took 5 or 10 minutes to get to you. They made the world feel bigger, they slowed down the game for just a moment. Now it reversed, we have all the portals to anywhere I would want to go right in the entrance of our house. Worse still, they added a new portal that allows guild leaders to bring a flag to the beginning of raid instances so that no work is needed to go anywhere at all. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand how valuable this last bit is in particular, it really speeds up some raids that often took an hour just to get 24 people to the raid entrance. But still, it is a little disappointing in some ways.
Guild Halls in general seems to do everything they can to make the world easier, to make the world smaller, to make it feel lonelier. It seperates out people further than what they were. Now you have no community whatsoever, just your guild. If you have a decent sized guild you may not ever see anyone outside of it, at best you may see a few members from another allied guild from time to time, but mostly it is just yours.
At this point in the game though, maybe it isn’t that bad. After strong growth in Echoes of Faydwer, EQ2 has been in a downward spiral and it doesn’t look to be getting better any day soon. At this point in its lifecycle the best thing that SOE can do for EQ2 is to try their best to appease the masses, and to do that they need to make the game easier. After all if there is no work in the game then people won’t get frustrated and leave, right? That seems to me to be exactly what is going on here. I give SOE credit for trying to appease players actually, you want to listen to what they have to say. But sometimes players don’t know what is good for them and it doesn’t seem that SOE understands this basic rule of MMO design.