A Whole New World

I need to come up for a breath of air and actually post something! Sorry for the slow posts, but I’ve been having a blast in EverQuest on the Ragirefire server. I have a lot of stuff to write about, but for the most part I want to focus on giving you guys a brief update with where the game/server is at in general and some of my impressions of EverQuest after over a decade of not playing any official version.

Daybreak just announced tonight that a NEW progression server is coming because of how popular Ragefire has been. The new server will be called Lockjaw. Right now it remains to be seen if a merge will take place down the road, or if this server will suffer the same fate as Vulak (Fippy’s counterpart) did when it became a ghost town. The reason for the server? Yeah, it’s due to the success, but that success has meant queues. On average, the wait time to play all weekend was about 1.5 hours. Oh, and yeah they added a queue. Before the queue, it was mashing the login to see if you could get lucky.

The first Nagafen, Vox, and Phinny kills happened only days after the server launched. Just goes to show you that not only do multiboxers have an advantage, but this isn’t the same EverQuest I remember. This version of Norrath truly is a whole new world.

The Norrath I remember wasn’t full of 80% Mages. Right now, Mages, Necros, and a few other magic classes are so broken that they can burn down yellows like they were nothing. Groups right now are pulling piles of mobs and burning them all down in a DPS race. The Norrath I remember was a careful approach to pulling one mob at a time.

NRO

Leveling is also much, much quicker. Not only is it hard-coded at 2x, with the decrease in difficulty you can plow through mobs without breaking a sweat. Last night in North Ro I was pulling mobs to my group. I’d bring in 2 red con Dry Bone Skeletons, a Yellow Crypt Mummy, and anything else I could possibly snag all at once. In a matter of a few hours we had each gained 3-4 levels. That’s absolutely unheard of in the Norrath I remember. To top it all off, I was tanking — a Bard.

Zones have also changed considerably. They turned South Ro and Oasis into one zone, did something to North Ro to make it squat, merged the Commonlands into one zone, and completely destroyed Freeport. I’m not sure how I feel about the other zone changes, but Freeport definitely sucks.

While this is so far, far away from the Norrath I remember, I’m still having so much fun I can’t stop. For the first time in YEARS I’m antsy to get done with work and play. Something about EverQuest, even when it’s not truly the EverQuest of old, captivates my attention like no other game has ever been able to do.

Keen the Bard of Ragefire

Keen-Day-1-Ragefire

EverQuest Ragefire server actually launched yesterday! I was wearing my lucky EverQuest shirt so it was a sure thing. Servers came up a little later than expected (4 hours) but after that I was able to get in right away and experience no issues for the next 3 hours until I had to get to bed.

I successfully rolled my Wood Elf Bard named Keen! I normally fuss a lot over stats, but since I wanted my name and wanted to get in the game I just tossed points equally in DEX and CHA. DEX and CHA both influence note misses, and CHA influences the charm and mez success rates or something like that. Honestly, if you’re currently worried about stats — don’t. In most cases they make only a slight difference in classic, and much less later on.

Starting off in Greater Faydark was rough. The zone I started in was packed, so I decided to test out the /pickzone command to find an instance of GFay with less people. It worked for about 10 minutes until all available zones were at 70+ people, which means it was packed anywhere you go. Felt nice playing with so many people, but fighting over skeletons was a struggle.

I managed to reach level 3 rather quickly. The push to level 4 was a little more difficult since mob density was low and I was having to kill mostly blue and whites with the occasional yellow. I emphasized skeletons for the bone chips and when I hit level 4 and 60 bone chips I ran to Kaladim where I turned them all in for some armor and another 1.5 levels. Level 5.5 wasn’t bad for 3 hours of work!

Our Gaming Community is really active in EQ! I was really happy to meet a few new faces and get to chat with new people on ventrilo. We’re all planning to meet up today and gain some levels camping mobs. I think we can manage to get several more levels today and then hopefully be hitting dungeons by the weekend.

I’m getting questions about what classes we need most. Right now we do not have any particular class needs. I recommend playing what you enjoy because you never know who is going to stick around. Today we might have a lot of Shamans, but in a month there may be none.  If you’re interested in joining us for EQ, stop by our forums or hop on Ventrilo.

Our First Week in ESO

We just hit level 16 last night in ESO, and I think we are about to finish up the first zone (Stonefall) for the Ebonheart Pact.  I have to say right off the bat here that I am really enjoying myself far more than I expected.  We picked up ESO as sort of a ‘what the heck we’ll give it a try’ kind of deal.  Turns out, ESO does several things better than most MMOs.

Exploration

I haven’t felt rewarded for exploring, or even the drive to explore a zone, in a very long time.  Roaming around the map in ESO is extremely rewarding.  Hidden throughout the zones are lore books to raise your Mages Guild level, Skyshards to give you skill points, and entire quest chains.  These things are all -awesome- and immensely important.  It’s one thing if the rewards for exploration are jumping puzzles — I feel no desire to explore and find those — but something entirely different when you can truly unlock more content you will not find unless you just roam around.

Throughout the map are optional public dungeons (really just caves with monsters), points of interest, these awesome event things that spawn bad guys, hidden quests, mini-world bosses, and even special crafting stations.  Exploring is totally worth your time.

Story

The story so far has been really quite good.  You’ll need a bit of reading comprehension, but if you can keep these fantasy names straight you’ll figure out that everything you’ve done in the first zone all ties together.  All of the NPCs you’ve met along the way seem to be connected, and many of their individual stories are all building up to something bigger.  Graev and I explored off the beaten path and found this awesome little hidden temple ruins that ended up leading to a longer quest chain that sent us back in time and explained a huge portion of what was going on in Stonefall.  Had we not found this quest we would have missed out on the backstory.

ESO is delivering the story in a really passive way.  I think back to the story in SWTOR which was really spoon-fed, forced into questing instances, and just heavy-handed (and not optional).  The story in ESO falls together and is there for you to absorb however much (or little) you want.

Atmosphere

Story and exploration have yielded a fantastic atmosphere.  Tamriel isn’t a sandbox world.  I do not feel the world is quite as free as the original EverQuest, but it’s a happy medium.  I’m usually not a fan of ‘playing through’ a zone mechanics, but ESO makes the experience rewarding and entertaining to the point that I forget all about the themepark nature and just focus on the moment.  This is where the “Elder Scrolls” feel comes in, and Graev has pointed out dozens of references to things he has seen, done, or known about based on past Elder Scrolls games.  Again, it’s well done.

Character Development

Level takes a decent amount of time.  We spent exactly one week getting to level 16 and spent the entire time in one zone.  Leveling our characters hasn’t been a complete walk in the park, and we’ve had to make a lot of choices along the way.  I love how skill points are limited and in high demand. I cherish every point we find, and I think long and hard before allocating them into skills. My choices have actually mattered.

I’m eager to progress and see what comes next.  As we join up with several in-game guilds (like factions) even more possibilities for character development, story, and exploration unfold.  I am very pleased with my experiences thus far in ESO. Let’s see what another week brings!

Day 2 and 3 in ESO – Progress!

The Argonian brothers, Squats-In-Bushes and Eats-His-Feelings, are well on their way!  We just hit level 10 last night after slowing roaming around and just ‘doing’ whatever comes our way.  As I said the other day, we’re taking it slow.  We’re not in a rush to power game to the max level or get into the PvP right away.  When we run across a fellow Argonian needing assistance, we lend a hand.  When a snotty Dunmer demands we kill the Dreugh on his land we begrudgingly clean them out.  We like to roleplay it up a bit!

So far the world and immersion factor has been great.  I’ve always maintained that ESO has a nice world.  It feels almost EQ1 level of open, in a way.  If EQ1 was populated with a lot of quests instead of camps of mobs, that would be ESO.

The act of questing — go here, kill this, etc. – is a little boring.  The way in which ZoS delivers those quests in ESO, however, is fitting.  For example, we helped some guy rob a house earlier in the game and when we arrived in another city he was there to greet us and actually remembered the work we did to help him.  We then, without even knowing to find him here, continued on to another heist.  We’ve met several  — and I do mean several — NPCs who remember what we did for them and it appears provide us an experience matching our actions.  The continuity is actually remarkable.

I also like how we  can be roaming around just exploring and an NPC will run up to us and ask for help fighting back some annoying Shalks or whatever kind of monster might be attacking their house.  Kinda cool.  Sure, once they actually give you the quest and you realize it’s “Kill 1o Shalks” it sorta kills it a bit.

A lot of quests are bugged.  We’ve run into 4 quests now that can’t be completed because of some glitch that won’t let an item activate or a monster be summoned.  I don’t know if it’s their phasing tech or the megaserver to blame, but the broken quests make progressing really frustrating.  We completed this long series of quests to finally get to the boss just to have him not spawn.  Logging in the next day fixed the issue, but it was a buzz kill.

Tonight we’ll experience the PvP.  Stay tuned tomorrow for my first ever initial thoughts on ESO’s alleged “DAoC style” experience.

Too many Games, too little time

Sorry for the slow few days around here.  We’ve actually been *gasp* playing games.

The Elder Scrolls Online

ESO launched two days ago, and I’m actually having more fun than I thought I would.  No that’s not an April Fool’s day psych-out.  I think it’s partially how we’re going about things.  Three days in we are still only level 8.  We are going really, really slow.  I long for the days when I could play 10 hours at a time — those are my weekends — but playing slow has helped avoid the burnout.  ESO is quest-heavy leveling.  The quests themselves are 85% boring and “go here do this” lead you by the nose stuff, but you don’t get lead one quest to the next — that’s part is less linear.  If I can actually get to 10, we’ll be able to PvP!  Stay tuned.

Live Streaming

We are making a serious push to stream more of the games we play and even upload to Youtube.  I got Graev a microphone, the new Playstation Gold headset, and a Live Gamer Portable.  He better stream or I’ll kick his butt.

Look for his streams every morning between 9am-12pm pacific time.  He’ll most likely be streaming a lot of Xbox One Plants Vs. Zombies Garden Warfare.  Then look for me to stream in the evenings.  Probably a lot of ESO and EQ Next Landmark.  You can find our stream on Twitch.tv or on our stream page here on the blog.  Be sure to follow us to know when we go live!

Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls

Graev and I picked up RoS and started completely new characters.  We’re now on Act 5 and just (minor spoilers) beat Adra.  So far so good.  I think Diablo 3 has been patched for the better over the past year, especially in loot patch 2.0. The legendary loot drops are pretty sweet now that they have been tuned to give you pretty much a guaranteed drop every 2-3 hours.  Each boss you kill for the first time is also a guaranteed drop.  We’ll write up more formal thoughts once we finish the campaign and run some of the new Rift and Bounties.

It’s still, hard as it tries, not Diablo 2 .  Really fun though, and much improved.  Now that I think about it… D3 is probably awesome on consoles.  More on that in the D3 post to come.

So many games…

Aside from Diablo 3 and Elder Scrolls, I’m also enjoying the heck out of Landmark.  I claimed an awesome bit of open land where I’m going to build a a Harvest Moon style farm (pictures coming soon!).  It’s an awesome piece of property overlooking a lake and the ocean on a flat hilltop.  Man I love Landmark.  I’m also wanting to jump in and play more Albion Online, some original EverQuest, and Assassin’s Creed Black Flag.  Sheesh, there just aren’t enough hours in the day.