So I’ve been beta testing SOE’s new trading card game for EQ1 & EQ2 for the past week and today the game went live officially so today I guess I can talk about the game a little bit. Now keep in mind there are some things I do not know about the game… for instance, during beta you could not get boosters from in game drops, so I can’t honestly say that I can comment on the drop rate… I also was not able to get any loot cards in beta to be able to comment on the process of redeeming them or how good the items are in reality. That being said, I can talk a bit about it, I have gone through all 11 tutorials, plus 5 of the scenarios so far.
For the game itself, without any integration features, I can honestly say the game is fairly unspecial. It is sort of like Star Wars (from what I remember) with its missions mixed with Magic: The Gathering, which is now the standard in the TCG industry. You can beat your opponent by either attacking him directly and using up his health, or by completing 4 quests. On the surface the game seems like it’d be easier if you attack directly, but it seems that it is actually easier to complete the quests (partially because you get useful bonuses for completing quests). They did this I think in part because they wanted some added depth to the game, which I think it does but it also adds a ton of unneeded complication to the game which is a harsh tradeoff… maybe because this is geared at MMO players it’ll pay off, but I think it may bite them in the foot big time.
The other reason I think they did this was because they wanted to establish the feel of Everquest, which I think they did really well in the game, although I think for them it may have been a better idea had they just made it a quest based game. I think that would establish the feel without the need for avatar vs avatar (after all EQ has never been about PvP). However, the game has classes, a power bar, a health bar, quests, raids, monsters, items, abilities, etc… and I think they did a pretty good job because of all of it to simulate the feel of the MMOs.
The entire game outside of a couple of features feals painfully like MTG however. You can tell that they play that game, and I understand how that occurs. Many of the abilities feel very much like Magic in fact, and it makes you wonder why you wouldn’t play MTG which is a much richer game than this one, especially considering that they are both online, and MTG is only slightly more expensive. (I think packs for LoN is $3 whereas MTG is $3.50). The game even copies the MTG online interface, which is fairly good, but they didn’t even seem to improve upon any of that UI at all, and in fact are a couple of features short. This is a huge negative to me, I do agree MTG online did it well, but at least they could try to differentiate themselves a little….
So that leaves me with what does make this game special compared to others? Is there anything different? I think the classes is about the main difference to the game, however, even this isn’t that huge of a deal… I think I have seen other games where you have basically had an avatar card that you control that the opponent has to beat in order to win… I wanna say pokemon or yu gi oh, but I’m unsure… at it’s basist even MTG online has a feature where your avatar gives you unique powers to your game which is essentially what the avatars do here….
My other real complaint is the amount of reading, which I suppose is EQish too but hey it still ain’t great. The tutorial is really long, and not very easy to go through.. I wish I could print up a rule book or even get one shipped to me as it is a pain to read rules on the monitor…. The scenarios are equally as wordy and I tried to read them to begin with but I stopped about half way through them out of boredom. I think the stories would be better placed after the fight and not before, and I think it’d be nice if you could revisit just the stories from the menu. I would read em, they seemed interesting, but they were too long and when you are starting up a game you are in the mentality to play not read (this I think is the issue with most quests in MMOs too)
In the end as a stand alone game, this one would likely not make it… as an EQ edition, it may. They obviously have a realization of this too because they are pushing it hard… free packs on drops, loot cards that can be traded for in game items, and I am sure free packs for all access is around the corner too. They are pushing the game hard to the players but no one else. And for that, I think it will be a brilliant success. After all, we all sit and wait for raids, or wait for the spires, or wait for the boat. This provides something to do in all the waiting, and it is interactive. (though the games could have a quick mode or something to allow people to play each other quick, as it is it may only be worthwhile if you know you have a half hour to blow). I personally have found crafting to be the perfect time to play as I don’t normally have to pay too much attention to crafting and playing in the same screen allows me to see if my craft is going badly. This I think will be the saving grace of the game… in the end I don’t even think that the loot was necessary as anything more than to give many players an initial reason to play… I think in the end, much of the population may very well play the game only for the fact that there is so much waiting to get stuff done.