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Bruxxing around Norrath

I gave EQ2 another chance today, and things went pretty well... at least at first. I had found the inner strength in sticking with a single EQ2 character to be found in simple commitment. Suddenly, I was making progress, and without the veil of my alt-a-holicism to cloud my sight, EverQuest 2 was free to be EverQuest 2.

Unfortunately, it was in this uninsulated and unbiased perspective that I discovered a game killer living in the underbelly of EverQuest 2.

Bruxx, my level 28 Swashbuckler, was the lucky recipient of his creator's undivided attention today. I decided if I was going to play EverQuest 2, I should get into a Guild. After all, my complaint was lack of social interaction, and what better way to solve that then to join an large group of players? I eventually ended up joining Explorers of Norrath.

I played about 8 to 10 hours today, grouping on two occasions... but both groups were pretty short lived.

The first group was the rare situation in which somebody wandered along who did have the same quest as me as I was hunting the mobs he needed. The resulting fellowship went well, but once the quest was completed there was no longer really any reason to hang around. I've seen the same thing happen in many MMORPGs, WoW being the classic example, and it leads me to believe that this is a design fault in quest-reliant games. While an integrated quest system might provide context, it backfires because players just want the shortest route to the carrot.

The second group was my attempt to get to meet my new guild members by grouping up with them. I was level 28, they were level 36 and fighting level 34 mobs. I could still make experience points (very slowly), but was just about useless as a Scout who can only attack foes. I missed over 99.5% of the time despite having maxed out slashing skill. EQ2's one-way mentor system is a drag - CoH's sidekicking wins again. I eventually left because I could make better experience solo, and I did.

I ended up spending most of the time soloing, earning level 29 Swashbuckler and level 25 Armorcrafter. In that time, I joined a guild, explored much of Faydwer, did a bit of crafting, and completed a few Prestige-earning quests.

The highlight of the day was passing through Greater Faydark on my way to Steamfont. Truly an awesome zone, it included both hunting and a fully functional tree city. Greater Faydark has got to be the best zone in EverQuest 2. That would explain why it had three instances with over 250 players between them.

I would have liked to come back to Greater Faydark later and explore it, but then it happened. A primordial evil of MMORPG design that I encountered before but had hoped I had rid myself of forever:

Things were going great until it came time to bag 17 Bloodsaber medics in the Crypt of Betryal in order to complete a prestige quest. I was waiting at the only place they spawned and where the wandering Arcane Fury mega mob wouldn't find and eat me: A pool of dank sewer water in a largely forgotten corner of the game. There I waited, about ten to fifteen minutes for the next 6 Bloodsabers to spawn, and when they did spawn there was only about a 1 in 3 chance of each being a medic.

It was during this process that I realized that the developers had failed to learn a vital lesson of current generation MMORPG design: You don't make players sit around for two hours just waiting for your stupid game to spit out the mobs they need to progress. EverQuest 2 almost redeemed itself in my eyes, but knowing that I'd be required to participate in this mob spawnign farce chased me away from it quite successfully.

There's little to no of this bullshit over in City of Heroes, and so it's there I should stay. It's too bad I can't return Echoes of Faydwer and get my $40 back. Even though the DVD discs never did read, I used the key and played the game fair and square.

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