I’ve been a little behind on posting my 2 copper pieces about the test notes for EverQuest 2’s Game Update 53. I don’t feel too bad since if you pay attention to the RSS feed on the left side of the blog you have been linked to the excellent coverage Feldon’s been providing on EQ2 Wire and you’ll be able to follow Stargrace’s experiences on the Test server on MmoQuests. But I really should post my own thoughts just so I can go back later and see if I was too optimistic or unduly pessimistic. So here goes.
Achievements – One can look at this as a long overdue expansion to the current slayer/wanted poster system in which players could go to the various wanted posters throughout Norrath to see how many monsters they needed to kill to get a title. But in reality, SOE is jumping on the achievements bandwagon started by Mythic with Warhammer Online’s Tome of Knowledge and copied by Blizzard in World of Warcraft. I’m not saying this is a bad thing. I look forward to achievements as a way to get the last few alternate advancement (yes, they have been renamed in the patch) points I need. If anything, the achievement system will point out the places I can go to get those last few AA points. For more, check out Stargrace's post on achievements. And for those who can't wait to see what all the achievements are, you can visit Xalmat, who has compiled a very nice list. (Hat tip to Feldon).
Chronomagic – Yes! Self-mentoring so I can do the quests that I missed without all the mobs being grey. And I like the fact that the levels you can mentor to are multiples of 5. Yes, the fights will be harder than if you could pick any level you want and guarantee you will be 10 levels above the boss. But that should discourage some of the farmers out there.
Some of the associated items also have my full approval. 37 new daily missions? Combine that with the daily double missions in The Shadow Odyssey expansion and/or the 3 daily tradeskill missions in the Moors of Ykesha and people shouldn’t be able to complain too much about having nothing to do.
I also like the fact that the spawn rates of placeholders is being reduced. One, with all the people who will want to work on their achievements, I can see wanting to make the achievements more accessible. But quite frankly, I hated some of those camps.
Another thing I like is the adjustment of some of the mobs difficulty levels based on their loot tables. Having contested x2 and x3 raid mobs who did not have any chance to drop a fabled item was a bit frustrating. Upgrading the chance to gain a fabled item from the remaining mobs is just icing on the cake.
For more, check out Stargrace's post on chronomagic.
The Shard of Love – Yes, more group content. We were teased during the Erollisi Day event with the fate of Erollisi Marr and now we may get to find out the end of the story.
Racial ability revamp – I have 4 wood-elf characters and I approve of the changes I saw listed over on EQ2 Wire. Even for Yonger, my woodworker who I never plan on adventuring with. I don’t know how dark elves are going to take the changes.
One bad thing is that some things were taken out. Sarnaks can't breath fire, dwarves can't summon ale and halflings can't summon pie. No pie! Has anyone told Brenlo?
Feldon put together an awesome post on the racial revamps on EQ2 Wire.
Ranger/scout changes – I’m going to be a bit selfish here and look at what is going to affect my main character, a wood-elf ranger. First off, I like the racial bonuses I can get. Next, scouts automatically disarm chests when they open them. That gets rid of a couple of annoying mouse-clicks, but it also gets rid of just a little bit of immersion as well. I like the fact that examining my ranged combat arts will now display the correct critical bonus now. Not sure exactly what that means, but I’m looking forward to seeing what it looks like.
Gorowyn – The promise of an easier to navigate Gorowyn is music to my ears. I can get to my necromancer’s starter home, the broker and the crafting stations, but anything else was a challenge. This is a change I’m really looking forward to.
The Heirloom Tag – GU53 promises to make greater use of the heirloom tag. What I think is going to happen is that a lot of raid loot is going to be given the heirloom tag. Raiders may wind up loving and hating this change. They will love it since players will not have to leave the raid, swap to an alt, then get back into the raid in order to give an alt the piece of loot. Raiders may hate the change since the devs may take this opportunity to make it difficult for raiders to sell “loot rights” to fabled gear. The last bit was speculation on my part because many players would consider that a nerf and I didn't recognize any nerfs explicitly stated in the test notes. We'll have to wait and see.
Unbound Elemental Essences – Unbound Elemntal Essences are those items that you get in Lavastorm for performing a couple of quests over and over and over. Sounds like shards except that shards are heirloom and require you go into instances. No longer. The elemental essences are now going to be marked as heirloom also. If I were interested in the things, I would say “it’s about time.” Although now that they are heirloom, maybe I will become interested just in case I actually get an alt high enough in level to use them.
PvP – I play on a carebear server, so I don’t know how the changes will affect gameplay. But from what I’ve read, I’d say the devs are trying to encourage more PvP action.
Player Housing – I like the fact that a room is being added to housing. My room in the inn is a little crowded. I’m hoping that I’ll get another room.
Spells – Once again I am going to be a bit selfish and look at the spells that will affect my main. The first is that Cheap Shot will become a bit more powerful against single up arrow mobs. The next is that group and self targeted buffs which do not expire will persist through death. That should speed up some things, especially for all those healer types who seem to have to recast a lot of things after they die. I’m not sure about the changes to the ranges of combat arts and spells to make them more uniform. I hope that won’t turn out to be a hidden nerf for rangers. I enjoy being able to hit things from over 50 meters away.
User interface – The user interface is getting a makeover with changes to the claim and threat windows as well as the changes that add the achievements into the quest journal. The devs have also added a mentoring window that will remind players to mentor when lower level characters are in a group. The changes sound like some nice quality of life improvements. Once again, Feldon is all over the subject and has more on EQ2 Wire.
Tradeskills – Being the rabid tradeskiller that I am, I saved the best subject for last. I didn’t think there was much for tradeskillers in this game update. Sure, my carpenter will be able to make stable-type stuff. And I’m a bit upset that the products of tradeskilling will no longer have the makers name on them. How am I supposed to be able to tell if someone is trying to corner the market (evil) or just making a lot of spells (very cool)? But the piece that floored me was that a player’s tradeskill level will count for purchasing racial traditions.
Holy cow! That may not mean a lot to most people, but I have 8 level 80 crafters and one level 70. I know that a lot of the racial traditions aid crafters, but can you image the head start in adventuring life my crafters are going to have if I decide to start adventuring with them? Imagine my level 12 wood-elf warden who just happens to be a level 80 provisioner who has completed the tradeskill epic line. I’ll be equipped with a cloak that gives me +800 vs. heat, the Earring of the Solstice that not only aids crafting but gives a good amount of in-combat power and health regeneration, and the racial traditions of a level 80 character. I’m hoping that I am a rare enough case that no one at SOE changes their minds about this one!
Now, this is not a comprehensive look at the GU53 notes that were posted on the forums. Bloggers like Feldon and Stargrace are doing great job providing the actual features. In this post I'm basically playing the role of one of cable news' talking heads. But if any of this peaks your interest, go ahead and take a look at the notes or even copy your character over to the Test server. This game update is sounding pretty good to me.