Unfamiliar Familiarity

EverQuest II Return

I’ve been thinking about EverQuest II a lot lately, especially as my interest in World of Warcraft continues to hover around the “rock bottom” range.  I’ve found myself eyeing the box for The Shadow Odyssey more and more in the local game store lately, but each time I talk myself out of picking it up.  I like the idea of playing EQII again, I just don’t think it’d go over so well in reality.  The fact of the matter is that I’ve sort of been drifting away from MMOs altogether.

Some of my greatest times in gaming have occurred in the three years that I played EverQuest II.  WoW may hold my subscription at the moment, but it’s never held that magic, nostalgic feeling for me that EQII did.  Imagine my reaction then, when I received an email the other day from Sony Online Entertainment inviting me to try EQII again for 14 days free.  The email was apparently sent to any dormant accounts with an Iksar character.  The only Iksar character I had was created just to check out the PvP server way back when it was introduced.  I abandoned him at level 20.

I immediately dug out my Rise of Kunark discs and re-installed the game and started patching… for about 15 hours.  Yikes.  The next day I launched the game and the nostalgia flooded back as soon as I heard the opening music.  I couldn’t suppress the smile creeping across my face, and I soon found myself back home on the Kithicor server’s version of Norrath.

It’s been over a year, maybe slightly less, that I last logged in to the game, and obviously much has changed.  I logged in as my level 73 Berserker first and I was fairly lost.  I saw a bunch of messages flash on my screen informing me of new combat arts, a new introductory summary screen (very cool), a new map system (extremely cool), and some black circle with crossed swords icon which I still haven’t a clue about.  I took a few minutes to familiarize myself with all of my long forgotten combat art icons, mounted up on my horse, and headed out to explore.

I hate to say it, but my first reaction was that the graphics looked amazingly dull.  I used to be one of the staunchest defenders of EQIIs look, but after a year and a bit of WoW’s in your face assault of colours, I couldn’t help but feel that EQII just looked so very bland.  It’s amazing how attached to WoW’s look I’ve become; it definitely comes as a surprise to me, because I hated it before i played it.

Everything seemed mostly the same yet very different as well.  East Freeport was completely empty; I guess everyone uses the broker somewhere else these days.  I’d really like to check out the Shadow Odyssey but unforunately, it’s not available as part of the 14 free days.  While in Freeport, I decided to check out Stargrace’s Norrathian Museum, which is just stunning in its awesomeness.  It’s a showcase of imagination that reminds me of some the things that set EQII apart from other games.  Well done Stargrace.

I ended up spending about an hour or two just running around, checking things out.  At this point, I think EQII is going to remain a nostalgic trip for me; I can’t see myself re-subscribing.  It’s mostly because I’m getting burned out on MMOs in general, but also that I think I’ve been away from it for too long.  The fun I had in EQII is too far removed now, and perhaps, best left a memory.  Never say never though.

3 Replies to “Unfamiliar Familiarity”

  1. Thank you for peeking around my humble abode – as far as broker, everyone hides out in their guild halls now, which is a shame, I miss a local place for everyone to gather, and I think it’s something EQ2 could REALLY use. Guild halls did nothing but separate everyone.

    The circle with the swords is a new threat meter, I love it.

    I agree about the blandness in colours of EQ2. I’ve adjusted my settings quite a bit in order to make it look far richer then it did by default.

    It’s nice to see you wandering through, even if you’re not going to subscribe. 😉

  2. Yes, the colors ARE bland. I notice that every time I come back and I adjust the heck out of my brightness, saturation, and contrast to try to fix it. The graphics and environment ARE beautiful, but unfortunately there’s a gamma and ‘washed out’ feeling about the world that really makes it lose some allure for me.

  3. I am also on my free comeback 14 day trial. The thing that really struck me as well is that it isn’t as big as I remember it. With the zoning the enviornments seem really fragmented and small. WoW has such a feeling of grand scale. Northrend is so huge. Ice crown has citidels that are truly giant. Nothing in EQ2, pre-TSO, that I have seen can compare to feeling of being dwarfed by these giagantic mountains and structures. Add to it the lack of zoning screens and seemless transitions between zones, the feeling of a world comes through rather than a set of seperate pods with different themes.

    Guild Halls though I must say, are really cool. Some stuff, WoW should really catch up with.

    After a year long absence from EQ2, it was funny to see the same people in Level_80 chat making the same comments they were making a year ago. Welcome back to Kithicor.

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