No 2 Games are Created EQual.
I’ve been playing EQ2 for four days now, when time allows. Some further thoughts have arisen, as they are wont to do…
The crafting is quite engaging. As it turns out, my character had a book explaining how to craft all along, but I didn’t initially know the difference between examining a book and reading it. D’oh! The crafting hall in Kelethin walks one through all the steps involved and it’s pretty easy to pick up. I didn’t realize for a while though that the reactive skills could be used at any time… I thought they were only used in reaction to events.
For anyone unfamiliar, in EQ2 crafting is active, not passive; you don’t go AFK and leave your character to process a massive stack of trivial crafting jobs. Instead each item crafted requires some attention, but the experience reward is commensurately higher. The reactive skills are an interesting mix… there are 6 to choose from at any given time. The player can increase progress, increase the chances of success, or make tradeoffs between progress and success. After a bit of muddling around I found it was fairly easy to discover the tactics that optimize my chances of rapid success; so it’s not so complicated that one can’t solve how to do it within a few tries, but it’s complicated enough that from one crafting trial to the next the actual buttons one hits will differ (though the general tactic remains the same). That’s good – it reduces tedium and keeps the player involved.
As one crafts, a series of events occurs every now and then – flaws appear in the crafted item which need to be fixed using the same reactive skills mentioned above. It’s trivially easy to just hit one of the two buttons with the same icon as the problem that arose; the only time I failed was when I was busy punching buttons for my general tactics as above and didn’t notice the flaw in time, and thus hit the wrong button to resolve the flaw. Even those failures aren’t catastrophic – they just decrease the overall chance of success by a little bit.
Characters start out as crafting generalists, able to craft anything at all at a low level. As they gain more experience, characters choose a field of study to specialize in, then later choose a subspecialty. That means all characters can make any simple item, or any journeyman item in their specialty, or anything up to their skill level in their subspecialty. A lot of items seem to require rare components, so the cheaper gear will be more common than the nicer stuff overall. That’s a decent economic balance.
Moving on from crafting, I got my Dirge to 16th level and found I was having some trouble fighting linked spawns… I could kill one monster my level or a bit higher, but when I had to fight 3 monsters my level it was hit and miss. Actually it was often hit and pray and flee, or hit and die. As it turns out, the stealth I was raving about earlier is ineffective against foes above one’s level, or even foes at one’s level once one gets into the teens. The good news is that the red line around the mob’s names does in fact exist, so one can still tell visually which foes will see through the stealth. I found fleeing usually works pretty well though; mobs don’t follow one very far and with a bit of speed and luck one can escape almost anything.
After a bit of deliberation I started a second character, this one a Froglok Fury. I picked the Froglok because I liked the idea of being able to breath underwater indefinitely. The Fury is an offensive druid, with DoTs and some pretty decent heals. What a difference! I found it trivially simple to fight a single monster a bit over my level, or 2 or 3 monsters my level. I routinely fought 4 or 5 monsters a bit under my level, pulling them one after another, slapping DoTs on them all, healing myself as they all slowly died around me. The Fury was a great fit for my playstyle… I’m ok with dealing a bit less damage, but being able to deal it to multiple targets, and having the fights take a bit longer in exchange for being able to heal myself.
I was less enchanted with the Queen’s Colony (the newbie zone for Qeynos) though. The content was a bit sparse and I quickly found myself doing nothing but green quests, then grey quests, and there was no vector quest to lead me to another area (Qeynos proper) at the appropriate time. Yuck. The flow was much better in the Faydark.
Then I got the froggy to level 9 and discovered that the Fury class has a water breathing buff spell that lasts 15 minutes. Well, crap. As it turns out there was no reason to pick the froggy. So I made another Fae character, because I really liked the free slow fall and the movement speed buffs they get, and preferred the Faydark to Qeynos. So my new Fae Fury is now level 12 and I’m quite enjoying him.