Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Confessions of an EQ2 Non-Achiever

I have a bit of a confession to make: I have been doing trivial grey quests in EQ2.

In WoW, I tend to try and push the envelope. Whether it's min-maxing my gear with pages of gear analysis, attempting to solo old group instance, or trying to tackle small group quests on my own, I'm happy to seek out a challenge.

By contrast, in EQ2 I find myself chasing after whatever content seems the most interesting, even if it is below, or way below my level. Case in point, the newly revised Lavastorm with the Sootfoot Goblin questline, which I decided to run through even though half of it was already grey to me at the time I started. Then I went through and tackled the Bloodline Chronicles, a long storyline that pits players against vampires, intended for groups in the late 30's (which had been grey for at least half a dozen levels). From there, it was on to some largely non-combat quests on the Isle of Mara.

By the time I was done with all of this, I was left to decide whether to skip the entire Desert of Flames expansion after having hit level 60 without using any of its content.

Too much experience revisited
Back in February, shortly after I started playing EQ2, I wrote that I was concerned that I was going to outlevel and miss content due to the game's recently quickened exp curve. My concern seems somewhat justified.

The "easy" solution to my current situation would be to argue that content that's more than 5 levels below your character should not award significant amounts of experience. At the current pace, hacking away at easier content offers almost as much experience as the toughest stuff your character can handle, while requiring far less in terms of preparation, gear, and min-maxing. For example, obtaining the good quality "mastercrafted" gear is rarely worthwhile in an environment where I can expect to outlevel the gear almost as soon as I can pay for it.

Then again, that still doesn't explain why I'm spending time on quests that have gone completely grey.

This is the hand-crafted axe I had been using as a mainhand weapon until I got an impressive upgrade for finishing the new questline in the Lavastorm.

Experiencing Content, Rather Than Challenging It
In the end, strangely enough, challenge does not seem to be a big part of the game for me. Working for monks under siege by pirates, incredibly stupid goblins, and occasionally inept vampire hunters has allowed me to explore Norrath and learn about the people living there. Combat is part of the game, and I do like a tough fight every so often, but I find myself enjoying the non-combat quests (and the ones where the combat is trivial due to my level) as much as the most difficult trials.

Maybe I should care that the exp curve isn't in the right place, but, somehow, it doesn't matter to me as much as I thought it would. I'm doing the content that interests me and leaving the rest for future alts, rather than worrying about trying to squeeze in as many AA points as possible on my first character. The incentives say that this is the wrong choice. I'm supposed to be level locking and tackling as much content as possible so that my character gets the maximum number of alternate advancement points, rather than spreading the quest completions between two alts. (This is the approach I took with LOTRO's deed system.) But I'm not, and I don't regret it.

Perhaps some of it is that I don't plan on raiding. I've already come to terms with the concept that Lyriana is probably never going to see her Mythical Epic Weapon unless I let Stargrace have a few minutes at the keyboard. This means that I'm free from needing to worry about whether I have enough AA's and DPS to satisfy a group. (Indeed, I still have yet to actually do anything in a group at level 60.) Then again, I don't really raid full-time in WoW or LOTRO, and I put much more effort into min-maxing both games.

EQ2 offers interesting plotlines, non-combat and crafting quests, and conversations with questgivers that encourage me to actually read the quest text. I guess these things have added up to shift my attitude towards the game. Given that I signed up looking for a change of pace, that isn't a bad thing.

I even went to the bother of casting Lyriana's dark elf illusion spell for this conversation with a pirate. There was no reason why I had to, it just felt right to put on a more evil-looking appearance, especially since I'd just been slaughtering his men as my normal, Fae self.


Cindy said...

These are all the reasons why EQ2 has a special place on my gaming shelf. Yes they made the exp curve way too fast for the level of content that is in the game but then again they keep adding new starting zones which also trivializes the old starting zones.

But the great thing is that many of these quests are well written, sure you have to kill 10 rats disguised as bears going crazy or something but that's not the point, the point is the story behind it is cool to experience. Unless you're the kind that doesn't read quests or care about the writing...

EQ2 is also very diverse and just keeps getting bigger ever year, it may have had a rough start but it easily one of the (if not the one) most enjoyable mmo experience at the moment. IMO. :)

Loredena said...

I am getting such a kick out of the lavastorm quests for the goblins. They are just so funny!

I really enjoy reading the various quests in EQ2 -- some require having played EQ, some are twists on pop culture, and some just deepen the lore. Of course, they have their share of kill 10 rats as well, but overall I think they do a better job than most with interesting quest lines.

Anonymous said...

...please where can I buy a unicorn?