It seems strangely appropriate this weekend, when Steam has a special deal on the game, to start chronicling the adventures I’ve been having with Arbitrary in EQ2.
We’ve only just kicked this project off and the plan is to play one night a week. Neither of us have played it before, although I did try the demo about a year ago and it didn’t grab me (more on this later). We were advised that we could get some in game bonuses if we used their refer-a-friend (RAF) scheme, so the first challenge was to figure out the RAF and to .. err.. locate friends with EQ2 subs. Ysharros came to the rescue (thanks! you have unleashed a monster) with the latter.
RAF is designed to be asymmetrical. It’s assumed that you have one experienced player and one newbie – so the rewards are designed for that. When you have two newbies it’s going to get a bit odd. It basically works out that Arb gets an extra month free when I sub, but she can mentor me so that I get 10% increased xp. We won’t be using that because we don’t want one person to level up 10% faster, that would … kind of totally not be the point. She also gets a free mount when I sub.
However, if I read the blurb correctly, we do both get increased adventuring xp when we are together in a group, which actually IS what we wanted. Plus cloaks that give faster run speed.
First stop: picking races and classes
I still think that EQ2 has fairly ugly character models, you can decide for yourself whether you agree. Having looked at them, I suggested Sarnak on the grounds of being cool looking. Plus you can’t go wrong with dragon ladies. You can’t see it in the screenie but she (of course it’s a she, don’t pretend you can’t tell!!) has a long spiky tail. We also liked that SOE realise that reptilians are not mammals and hence don’t have boobs. They even went as far as making the females larger than the male models.
Our main goal was to pick a fairly easy mode duo that could both start in the same starting zone. After all, we don’t know the game, so we want to hedge our bets against finding in 20 levels time that we can’t do stuff that we want to do.
So the standard optimal duo setup in just about any MMO is a dps-oriented tank and a dps-oriented healer. We went with Fury and Shadow Knight. And just for a change, I’m the healer this time around. The Fury is – oh who am I kidding, it sounds like a WoW resto druid. DoTs, HoTs, roots, and apparently some shapeshifts later on.
Note: we really did have to chat in instant messenger before logging on to make sure that we coordinated our race/ class/ starting areas.
We both liked the dragon ladies a lot, they do look good in game. And the game itself is much prettier than you’d think from looking at the character models.
We also thought their starting area was good fun. There was a good variety of things to do, we got to explore a bit together, kill stuff, work out how to use dangerous plants to kill stuff for us, climb ladders, ride griffons (I’m sure a griffon is a type of dog though), kill pirates, acquire combat pets, and tame our own pokemons. I was commenting that if it only had dragons it would be perfect, and Arb pointed out, “We’re the dragons!” which is true.
We also loved the collections which will be familiar to anyone from Free Realms. Yes, EQ2 had them first but I played FR first. You see shiny glows, you can pick them up, you get stuff to add to your collection tabs. I actually have no idea if there’s a point or not.
I particularly like that your character turns to look at an NPC or other character when you’re talking to them. It’s just a nice touch.
What they decide to tell you in the starting area is a bit random. You will eventually get to an area with lots of trainers who can tell you about different parts of the game, but hopefully you’ll have figured out how to access your inventory and use your shiny quest rewards before then.
We also liked that when a mob dropped a chest (ie. extra special bonus item), the stuff inside was tailored to our little group. All the things we found, one of us could use. OK, it was mostly Shadow Knight gear but since she’s taking the beatings I can’t really complain.
You get a lot of abilities in this game. It isn’t helped by the fact that every time an old ability gets updated, they leave the old one on your hotbar and add a new icon for the new one. We had to start using second hotbars by about level 10 (which you get to very very very fast if you just do the quests). Also, we seemed to both have lots of buffs. Maybe we just both picked buffing classes but I sense that the EQ2 devs read somewhere that players love buffs and really went to town on them.
Spells get resisted a lot. Well, maybe not a lot but every time it would really be useful. Crowd control in particular is super unreliable. It doesn’t really matter to us but it reminds me why I didn’t like the trial last time – I picked a crowd control class. It sucked.
Next time, we’re planning to take a look at our Sarnak city. We’re pretty much done with the starting zone now. I also need to figure out how to actually take screenshots. I thought I had done it properly but as you can see above I just got a picture of the paper doll model.
Note to SOE
Oh, SoE, you jokers. Don’t make it difficult for people to give you their money. The main issue I had with sorting out the RAF is that when someone refers you, you get an email with a link to the trial. You have to use that link to get the bonuses.
However, because I had played the trial about a year ago and decided not to sub, SOE didn’t want to let me play the trial again. Even though it was a different trial and I now had someone to play with.
Fortunately this is the internet, we all have multiple email addresses, so setting up a new account was only a minor roadblock. But seriously, what are they afraid of? That people would just play their trial over and over again and deprive them of useful income?