Global Chat: EverQuest II’s 15 years of being in WoW’s shadow

    
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For just a few short weeks of its now 15-year lifespan, EverQuest II existed apart from a launched World of Warcraft. Then late November 2004 happened, and EQII — and the rest of the MMO industry — got overshadowed by Azeroth.

Despite this, EverQuest II went on to develop a good reputation as a surprisingly strong and robust fantasy MMORPG, especially after the bumps of its early years were ironed out. MMO blog Inventory Full looked back on the start of this title from a player’s perspective.

“The EverQuest II that Scott [Hartsman] rebuilt was scarcely the same game,” wrote Bhagpuss. “Out went much of the forced grouping and most of the nannying restraints. In came solo content and choice. Players were able to interact socially and practically because they chose to, not because the game made them. Best of all, the passive-aggressive crafting system got an extreme makeover that laid down the foundations that would eventually turn EQII’s tradeskill offer into a gold standard for the genre.”

Mailvatar: A virtual world in ArcheAge Unchained

“Not that there aren’t any more features I like. I could – and probably will at some point – rave about the trade system, means of travel, naval content, varied PvP and PvE options and lots of other stuff all day long. However, for me the game’s main draw isn’t any single one of those features. It’s what the sum of all that does: it gives me the feeling of my character inhabiting a living, breathing world instead of me ‘just’ playing a game.”

Occasional Hero: SWTOR, you had me at Nautolan

“I saw some players complaining that it’s hard to make a good looking Nautolan — there are no perfectly clear skin options, and the faces are all a little bit odd looking — but I kind of like that. They’re a race of alien amphibious squid people. I feel like that fits. Also, have you seen Kit Fisto from the movies? Not going to be winning any beauty pageants.”

Blessing of Kings: The Old Republic Onslaught

“And BioWare is doing this for a lot of different elements. I wrote a post once about story choices that constrain the future. In Onslaught, that doesn’t seem to hold anymore, and Bioware is actively committing to making many similar versions of the story, with differences to account for your choices.”

Nerdy Bookahs: Gaming nostalgia — what about Guild Wars?

“I was very surprised to see how well the game has aged. The graphics are still pretty and the combat still feels tactical and modern enough. The feature of unlocking skills and being able to switch your attributes and chosen skills at will when you’re in a town still works pretty well. So, my first verdict here is that Guild Wars is still very much a game that can be enjoyed and I am glad I went to check it out when the nostalgic urge hit me!”

Nosy Gamer: Not-so-quick thoughts about EVE Vegas

“On the subject of retention, expect to see the introduction of a daily login rewards system. Initially for new players, CCP plans to expand the feature for veterans as well. I know that such a system worked well when I played Elder Scrolls Online, and that Pearl Abyss’ Black Desert Online has a system for new players. I’m interested to see what CCP comes up with for EVE.”

Kaylriene: Can Blizzard deliver Shadowlands?

“All of these things sound great, but one of the things that bothers me is that as I sat down at the airport on Sunday to start writing about what was just announced, I found myself including the phrase ‘if implemented as discussed’ a lot. Rather than bog down such a post with that statement on loop, I figured it would be a better first post-vacation post to tackle why this skepticism exists of Blizzard and the WoW team.”

Every day there are tons of terrific, insightful, and unusual articles posted across the MMO gaming blogosphere — and every day, Justin reads as many as he can. Global Chat is a sampling of noteworthy essays, rants, and guides from the past few weeks of MMO discourse.

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Kross Vilalobos

If EQ2 was WAY more polished and had a big graphical update to make it easier on the eyes it would be booming it has all the pieces there imo just need to put them together.

seculaparsec
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seculaparsec

Yeah well they could start with not making the most attrocious tab targetting system ive ever seen in an mmo.

When you target in EQ2 you also select every single nonhostile npc AND silly objects …thats the sole reason I left eq2.

There isnt even a setting to change it…

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Toy Clown

I was so excited about EQ2 and had never heard of WoW. Think I still have the pre-character creation discs they sent out about 3 months before the game released (if I’m remembering correctly). That was back in the days when NDAs were still in effect for game testing, so very little information trickled out except what the devs wanted you to see.

Fast forward about a week into release. My husband and I were leveling in the Commonlands, enjoying the nostalgia EQ2 gave to EQ1, when zone chat started popping off with people talking about WoW. That was the first time I’d ever heard about the game. The bright day-Glo cartoony graphics weren’t my cup of tea, so never bothered with it until about 5 years later when my computer broke down and all I had access to was a 484 pentinum, and WoW was the only MMO on the market that could run on it. Once I got a new computer about 3 months later, I bee-lined out of there.

Thinking back, EQ2 was a little frustrating due to the difficulty of killing mobs, even for a tank-healer combination fighting at the same level, which was under 10. I remembered thinking of how stupidly hard they were to fight. We ended up doing the social thing at that time and played the game for a while. I was happily decorating away and actually enjoyed the complexity of early crafting.

I’ve often wondered if EQ2 might have pulled ahead of WoW if they had started out with those changes in the beginning. I feel the appeal of WoW as that it was easy for just about anyone to jump into. I admit that I enjoyed questing my way through the game and enjoyed the pop references. But with no housing and no real charter customization, that chased me away along with the graphics not being enjoyable.

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Schlag Sweetleaf

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Utakata

One thing I’ve noted about Mr. Schlag’s editorial memes, is one doesn’t have to post much about the subject after the fact. Because it’s mostly all there and laid to bare. o.O

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PanagiotisLial1

So I checked EQ2 along with my sis around 1 and half year ago and I played WoW from almost the end of WotLK up to Draenor(only lasted 1 month on that expansion) with breaks. If I take it into pure fun element, EQ2 seemed more fun but less polished than WoW. If it had some polish and graphical revamp it probably could attract more people

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Bruno Brito

Polish is a great world, actually. EQ2 is way bigger than WoW, has way better systems and class building, and if they polished a lot of the systems, went back on some dumb decisions ( bad itemization systems, class system ), they would have a incredible product on their hands.

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losludvig

I feel like EQ2 is a game that has kept adding on systems and content, and almost never has gone back to refine old stuff

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Bruno Brito

Basically.

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Baemir

Yep, this dev philosophy was the demise of dozens of online games. They just kept on piling up endgame content, never bothered to refine anything, and their games just kept on losing players. Because, duh, they could never keep up with the endgame locusts. This should be pretty obvious.

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Matthew Yetter

You’re right. But there’s a good reason why it happens. Premium MMO’s require huge amounts of code and a team of programmers. But after the game launches, staff changes over time. The longer the title lives, the less likely that any programmers will remain who were part of the original build.

To modify existing systems requires a solid understanding of the code that runs those systems. Believe it or not, it can be very hard for a programmer to come in and rewrite someone else’s code. Tweak, yes, but totally rewrite? Not so much.

This means that it is both easier and more cost effective for titles to add new systems rather than refining anything that has come before.

As for the old zones/content, there are a few titles that have done this. LotRO immediately springs to mind, having reworked the content in the Shadows of Angmar zones and also later doing a beauty pass over them. But it’s not that sexy for a game to do that compared to releasing new content. When it was done in LotRO the various blogs made mention and then that was about it. But whenever a new content update comes out, word goes far and wide.

So naturally the studio is going to look at things and think that the place they should focus the lion’s share of resources is continuing to take on new systems and content rather than going back and reworking much.

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styopa

Except EQ2 now has a lot of cruft – how many skill point systems atop systems are there? 5? 6?

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Bruno Brito

I believe 6. It needs to shave off a LOT of the rough accumulated.

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styopa

Ugh.
PERSONALLY I didn’t discover EQ2 until long after I’d parted company with WoW…and frankly I loved it. I found it far more expansive and interesting than WoW. The idea that you could work your reputation around to being part of the other faction (something I did on my mighty ratonga as soon as I knew about it), for example.
One of the better housing systems I’ve seen.
Great crafting.
And I have to admit, as I was just grinding away adventuring …the moment I was literally abducted and came-to in a bloody cell underground having no flipping clue where I was or why?..absolutely sold me on the game.
So much more complicated, so much more interesting.
…unfortunately so flipping ugly today it’s nearly impossible to get anyone to even try it. And the (as you mention) 6 different skill point systems that have been more or less abandoned as char-dev wreckage as the game goes on….it’s hard to motivate myself even to dig in.

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Jaymes Buckman

Kit Fisto is a gorgeous man.

oldandgrumpy
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oldandgrumpy

I think some one has rose coloured glasses on regarding EQ2 crafting. Sub components anyone. Crafting dependencies on other crafters etc. By the 3rd revamp of crafting I was over it and it had soured the game for me.

My revision of the EQ2 story, having had so many players abandon EQ2 for WoW, Scott decided in desperation to make EQ2 more Wow like.

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Matthew Yetter

EQ2 was beautiful at launch but most users never saw that. This was because the system requirements for being able to run the game on the best settings were beyond probably 99.9% of all gaming machines that people were running. Even people getting brand new machines were usually unable to crank up all the settings and still actually play the game.

They did eventually fix that, but by that point WoW was solidly established. While WoW has rarely been able to be called beautiful, it also smartly avoided the other issue: By the time that EQ2 was able to be run at max settings by most users, its graphics looked badly dated. There were far prettier games on the market. And let’s be honest — EQ2 has not aged nearly as gracefully as most of them.

So while the actual game present in EQ2 has always been superior in a great many ways compared to just about everything else on the market, the title was behind the 8 ball from the very beginning. It has attracted a very loyal player base and done a solid job of maintaining them. Yet it has no chance of ever growing, no matter how much content it puts out.

On top of that is the whole reputation that Daybreak has developed and its murky ownership situation. Frankly, if they announced EQ3 tomorrow would anyone really take it seriously? I’m not sure anyone at this point would bank on their ability to deliver in the first place, much less give what the announcement promises. And even if they did somehow deliver it, would we even trust them to maintain the game with proper update cadences, etc.? They could deliver an incredible game and I wager that a significant number of potential players would stay away simply out of a lack of trust in the company.

And of course all of this means that EQ2 can never really do more than stagnate. Its golden age is long gone and will not come again.

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Oleg Chebeneev

No surprise, WoW is superior MMO in pretty much any area. WoW even surpassed EQ2 in collectables.

EQ2 needs alot of revamps to become appealing for newcomers. Graphics overhaul, combat overhaul, quests overhaul – these are the main things. Probably not worth it at this point, and EQ3 would be a better solution

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

I respectfully disagree on most of your points except one. I would like to see an EQ3.

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Armsman

Yeah, I heard there was the EverQuest Next thing…oh, wait… (too soon))? ;)

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Bruno Brito

If WoW had balls, Oleg would be licking them.

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Bruno Brito

No surprise, WoW is superior MMO in pretty much any area.

You saying this is completely negligible. You’re the most rabid WoW whiteknight in this place. WoW is your Mona Lisa, and it tells more about you than about WoW or EQ2, for that matter.

WoW even surpassed EQ2 in collectables.

Not really, but sure.

EQ2 needs alot of revamps to become appealing for newcomers.

Agreed.

Graphics overhaul

To an extent. The last think EQ2 needs is to become another run-of-the-mill MMO with realistic graphics. What EQ2 needs is to double down on it’s charismatic graphics, improving them, sure, but not changing their concept.

combat overhaul

Agreed. EQ2 combat system is extremely convoluted and rotations are messy, and even having 50slots for spells are not enough at this point. This game suffered a lot from feature/spell bloat.

quests overhaul – these are the main things.

No. Questing in EQ2 is actually a decent experience. Their biggest issue isn’t questing itself, is itemization, combat, the fact that the old zones weren’t improved to bring the quest experience to par with the new gold road leveling, some graphic problems, and a severe need for a talent tree overhaul.

Probably not worth it at this point, and EQ3 would be a better solution

I don’t think EQ2 will ever become a mainstream MMO, and EQ3 if done by DBG will be a mess.

But EQ2, if brought back with a leveling pruning, talent overhaul, the rework of the class system towards the one it had in beta, and ability pruning/stat squish, would be a solid MMO to be beholden til today, which is sometimes. It’s still alive.

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Oleg Chebeneev

If you think Im whiteknighting you can point me out in which areas EQ2 is better than WoW.

And yeah, forgot about abilities/dmg numbers pruning. EQ2 needs to hit those hard. As for quests, EQ2 afaik never improved them since launch. Look at quests in WoW. Vanilla quests and quests in modern expansions are day and night difference.

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Bruno Brito

If you think Im whiteknighting you can point me out in which areas EQ2 is better than WoW.

Sure: Questing experience. Class design. Number of races. Number of classes. Voice-acted questing dialog. The crafting is a hundred times better than WoW’s crafting, which is pathetic and was always pathetic. EQ2 has housing. WoW doesn’t. EQ2 has facial recognition for a funny experience. WoW doesn’t. The skill system in EQ2 is ten times better than WoW’s, since you actively craft and improve your skills. EQ2’s fashion system is way better than WoW’s transmog system. The faction system with betrayal. The deity system. Ascension, as a concept.

The big problem with EQ2 is execution of several features, and bloating. They need to prune a lot of the classes, and fix itemization. But the QoL features that the game has? The questing experience? Those are pretty good already, and just need to be streamlined just a bit.

I can’t even shittalk EQ2 itemization ( which i hate, btw ), because WoW’s itemization isn’t better anymore ( When you have six stats and only three of them are usable, you know you’re not playing a RPG anymore. Both WoW and EQ2 had a “decent itemization system” that made you look for items that other people would consider “bad” because they benefited you. )

For instance: Raiding Druids get the shapeshifting helm on classic, and Warden Staff. Warriors level itemized for Spirit to diminish downtime. And Shadowknights benefited from Intellect since they are part spellcasters.

It’s not the perfect itemization, but it’s better than EQ2’s crap “Primary Stats” bullshit or WoW’s “This attribute doesn’t benefit your class”.

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Oleg Chebeneev

I hate crafting in EQ2. It isn’t more complex or interesting, its just more tedious. So for me it is worse.

You can cut the number of EQ2 classes in half since they are almost identical and class design/mechanics overal is way worse than WoW.

Questing in EQ2 always felt generic while WoW has alot of creativity in it.

Skill development. Aight, there is solid ground to argue about it and I kinda like different tier of skills in EQ2, and research system. I wouldnt say WoW’s system is “10 times worse”, but progression feels more meaningful in EQ2. We’ll see how it compares to Shadowlands where Blizzard said its gonna make every level feel rewarding.

Housing yeah, its major selling of EQ2. But WoW isnt about housing. And also has some features that EQ2 lacks of. Like PvP arenas.

And who the hell cares about facial recognition crap in EQ2? Show me just one person

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Bruno Brito

I hate crafting in EQ2. It isn’t more complex or interesting, its just more tedious. So for me it is worse.

That’s your problem. Not a EQ2 problem. WoW’s crafting is a complete disgrace.

You can cut the number of EQ2 classes in half since they are almost identical and class design/mechanics overal is way worse than WoW.

That’s debatable. All classes in EQ2 have similar 4 bases, then they split into adventure classes and lastly they specialize in their final form. EQ2 class system is more akin to older MMOs. I’ll agree it didn’t age well, but it’s not like the classes are bad. Saying they are bad is saying that Classic WoW class design is bad.

Questing in EQ2 always felt generic while WoW has alot of creativity in it.

That’s completely subjective, and you saying that WoW’s questing has a lot of creativity makes me doubt how much you actively can SEE what you are playing. Are you really saying to me that killing almost 40 satyrs in Desolace is good questing? Are you telling me that the Charred Valley in Stonetalon was good questing?

The reality of the situation is that WoW’s questing is exactly the same bs that EQ2 has. The betrayal quests for EQ2 are some of the best quests ever made.

Yet, neither of the games hold a candle to Ragnarok’s quests.

Skill development. Aight, there is solid ground to argue about it and I kinda like different tier of skills in EQ2, and research system. I wouldnt say WoW’s system is “10 times worse”, but progression feels more meaningful in EQ2. We’ll see how it compares to Shadowlands where Blizzard said its gonna make every level felt rewarding.

It’s 10 times worse. That’s not debatable. WoW gives your the skills as you level. They made trainers obsolete. I’m highly sure i’ll have the same discussion with you when Shadowlands arrive, and it’ll be the same thing: They will NOT bring trainers back, they will NOT make you evolve skills, they won’t make a new prof.

Housing yeah, its major selling of EQ2. But WoW isnt about housing. And also has some features that EQ2 lacks of. Like PvP arenas.

That’s not a good argument. No MMO is about housing. Housing is a feature that can be done well and improve the experience of being part of a world, Wildstar style. WoW has a shitload of QoL already, and Housing is a great feature for downtimes/content droughts.

And who the hell cares about facial recognition crap in EQ2? Show me just one person

I do. I’m one person.