Monday, November 15, 2004

EverQuest II - Let The Games Begin!

Last night the stars were shining brightly. The beam of a lighthouse was gently sweeping the sky, as large crabs scurried across the beach.

I had just gotten off a ship on a place called, “Refugee Island” where I spent a few hours learning how to fight. We were defending the compound from invading goblins and gaining the much needed skills we would need to survive in this new world.

EverQuest II (EQII) is a bit different then the original EverQuest. The first thing that became painfully obvious is that you need a graphics card with DirectX 9 compatibility. If you don't yet have that level of graphics, then EQII will be a much more expensive game for you to buy.

One of the new touches in EQII is that of Non-Player Characters (NPC) that actually speak to you. It's nice to not only hear the voices, but to not have to sit there and read a ton of script to figure out what your quest is going to be.

Another nice touch is that you no longer have to type in tedious answers and questions to interact with the NPC. Now it gives you multiple choices with which you can interact with the NPC. Things such as, “I'm not interested right now thanks” or “I'll help you fight the goblins”. Just click on the answer you want to get the next juicy bit of your quest.

As you can expect from the hefty requirements, the graphics are stunning, and the variety you can choose from to create your characters is amazing. Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) has done a great job in not only the graphics, but also the sound effects and the story line.

In the start of the original EverQuest there would be newbie characters all running around screaming little help me questions. Now, with EQII you begin your career on Refugee Island working through a tutorial and getting the help new players so desperately require. When they are ready, they can leave the island and head to their chosen starting city.

Once at the city entrance, however, they are still not allowed to play with the more skilled characters until they become citizens of their chosen city. To do this they must complete a quest.

If you're keeping track so far, a new player will have to survive Refugee Island, and then go on a quest to become a citizen before they are even allowed to continue throughout the rest of the game. I like this feature because it not only assists new players, but keeps them from just running around annoying seasoned players too much.

I recall trying to learn EverQuest for the first time and spending a huge amount of time just trying to learn the game mechanics. Now, with this new way to enter the game, I can see where new players would be less intimidated from the experience.

The player interface has been reworked and seems much nicer providing a much cleaner view then the old one did. The chat window, for example, stays hidden and only appears when something is being written to it. Moving the mouse over it will keep it lit for you to read what you have missed if you'd like.

Another nice addition is with the Quest Journal where it keeps track of the quests you have done, and what you are still working on. In the upper right corner of the player interface is your current goal for the quest you are working on, which removes the old need to write down a bunch of notes on little pieces of paper and lay them all over your desk while you play. Plus, I always lost them and on the long quests I could never remember all of the details.

Playing EverQuest seemed to have something lacking. When I used to run Advanced Dungeons & Dragons games I always made sure that the players were grounded in town. They would always have a room at a local Inn, or even bought houses when they became more wealthy. I found it gave them better desire to protect and defend the town they lived in.

With EQII you also get a room to call your own. I hear that later you have the ability to increase your digs as you progress. My room currently has a table, chandelier, and a nice picture given to me by my landlord. I used to find an abandoned hut in Kelethin within the old EverQuest game to sit and camp (exit the game). Now I can go home, kick off the old adventuring boots, and relax as I reflect on the days adventures.

In just a few short gaming sessions I have risen to a 6th level fighter, and well on my way to becoming the 51st level Paladin I once was in EverQuest. Most of my second gaming session was spent as an interior decorator and just trying to find my way around my new city of Qeynos.

In EverQuest it wasn't long before I had gaming burnout. Too many hours spent in front of the computer, and when it seemed to fall into a boring same old routine, I dropped it like a bad habit.

Now comes EQII, and I am once again cleaning off my armor, sharpening my blade, and rescuing damsels in distress. What can I say, it's what I like to do. After I have seen all of the basics EQII has to offer I'm certain I will be moving on from it as well. Until then, the monsters and evil doer's of all types had better watch their step when Halfdan the Highborn is around!

Soon it'll be off to the dungeons and doing my part to protect the fair city where the good and righteous live.

Want to join me? I am on the Highkeep server, and a goodie living in the city of Qeynos. If you make it through the trials, both in our world and in Sony's, look me up and I'll buy you a drink at the local tavern.

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