At the request of a friend, I had started writing a post comparing the mid-games of EverQuest II and World of Warcraft, now that my WoW character is level 49. I was well into writing my post when I realized that it was heading towards becoming the longest, most pointless blog post in history. So this is my reboot.
In the first version of my post, I had broken the games up into several components, offering my opinions on The World, Graphics, Interface, etc. All these things are subjective, and for every person who would agree with my opinion on them, I’m sure there’s another who’d disagree wholeheartedly. Ultimately though, these things mean little to someone’s overall opinion of an MMO. They certainly contribute, but they’re smaller pieces in a larger puzzle. What matters most is the experience you have in an MMO, and it’s for that reason that I cannot fairly compare WoW and EQII.
Reviewing any MMO is a difficult task because they’re constantly changing, but EQII and WoW aren’t the only things that have changed since their launch. I’ve changed as well. My entire life has changed in fact.
I played EQII with my wife for about three and a half years. When we started playing it was just the two of us along with the two friends who convinced us to play in the first place. It was awesome. Everything was new to us (max level characters were still a fairly rare sight), and it was great fun just chatting with our friends, forget the game itself. We eventually joined a guild, now long since gone, that had some fantastic people in it. We were a small, casual guild which didn’t raid, but still had fun hitting all the instances in the then newly released Kingdom of Sky. I would love to have some recordings of our conversations on Ventrilo, because there were countless times where I laughed so hard I cried.
This time was the pinnacle of EQII for me, and none of it had anything to do with graphics, sound, or user interfaces. My enjoyment of EQII was influenced more by those I experienced it with.
Our small guild fell apart after a few people left for other games, and my wife and I soon joined a raiding guild. It was fun, for a while, seeing raid zones that we never thought we’d see and taking on their challenges, but as soon as the raiding became our “job”, my enjoyment of the game quickly went downhill.
Regarding that whole “life changing” thing I mentioned earlier, I became a dad towards the end of my time in EQII, and have only started playing WoW since then. Needless to say, having a newborn to take care of does not complement an MMO lifestyle. I just don’t have the time to spend playing the computer like I used to. I can’t spend all night running an instance, or raiding; in fact, I’m lucky if I can manage to spend two straight hours in a game. I’m not complaining; I’d much rather spend time with my daughter. My point is, the changes in my life have dictated how I play WoW, and have in effect limited the experiences I can gain from it.
Not only do I not spend the same amount of time playing WoW as I did EQII, coming to WoW four years after its launch has also had an effect on my experience. This is most evident in the fact that the majority of the population is at max level, and finding a group to run through a lower level dungeon, at least on my server, is next to impossible. In fact, at level 49, I have yet to be in a real group. I’ve only visited three dungeons, and I was run through by a level 70 character for each one, so I can’t say I really experienced them.
I’m enjoying WoW, don’t get me wrong, but I’m playing far differently than how I played EQII. I knew I wouldn’t be able to dedicate a lot of time to WoW, so I approached it with the intention of soloing my way through it. As a result, I haven’t felt the social dynamic that was present in EQII. So in the end, no matter how great WoW’s game mechanics are, no matter how awesome its world is, and no matter how cool its quests are, I’ll probably never have as much fun playing it as I did playing EQII. I suspect if WoW was the first MMO I played, and started it four years ago, the situation would be reversed.
So that’s my long-winded way of saying that it’s not fair for me to compare the two games, because so much of my enjoyment of them comes from things outside of the games themselves. I love them both, but for different reasons.
If that’s still not good enough for you, here are my opinions on some of the facets of gameplay:
WoW’s is better, and not even close for me. I love the seamless zones and the sense of history evoked by all the cool stuff within them.
I found many of EQII’s zones to be bland and lifeless. The RoK zones feel big just for the sake of being big.
WoW for sure. It’s “scary” zones feel scary, wandering into contested territory makes me nervous, etc. EQII just feels like a bunch of differently decorated zones.
It’s a tie. This is so subjective and a matter of personal taste. I used to love the “realistic” look of EQIIs graphics, but the stylized WoW graphics have really grown on me, to the point that I don’t consider them stylized or cartoony.
I don’t use UI mods, so I don’t consider them. That said, EQII’s default interface kicks the crap out of WoW’s. It’s so much more customizable. You need to use mods on WoW’s UI just to begin doing some of the simple stuff you can do with EQII’s.
EQII, hands down. Many more options, and there’s something there for everyone.
The Starting Experience:
WoW, just slightly.
The Leveling Experience:
EQII. Easier to group and the quests tie in to the instances much better. Grouping has been non-existent in WoW.
EQII. There have been many instances while playing WoW where I’ve thought to myself, “EQII does this so much better”. I prefer EQII’s animations, spell-casting, combat, and general gameplay to WoW’s. I feel like I’m actually doing something when playing EQII; WoW feels more like pushing buttons. EQII feels more fun.
Put EQII’s gameplay into WoW’s world, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a game.