Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Independence Bonus Weekend And The Role of the AA

When the July 4th holiday in the US falls on or adjacent to a weekend, you can count on two things:
- Lots of offline plans (e.g. painting our dining room, which is now yellow, while not painting the dog, who remains non-yellow despite her mischievous curiosity)
- Bonus experience in games like EQ2 and DDO

The difference between this and previous EQ2 bonuses is that this time, I'm actually at both the level and the trade cap on my main.  Typically, I use this sort of time to grind away at tradeskills on my alts, but that seemed relatively pointless since my army covers all of the gear and spell-crafting trades up to levels that are substantially higher than my highest alt. 

So, I decided instead to simply use the time "normally". 

Regular activities, bonus rewards
I've never paid much attention to bonus AAXP, but this weekend convinces me that I should.  Lyriana gained 8 AA, hitting 184 (significant because I can now respec without having to juggle trees to keep the TSO endlines) from some routine questing, a few misc dungeon runs with the guild, and a PUG that made it as far as the second named in DB (which was as far as I needed to go for the epic weapon questline update anyway).

I can start to see a bit of why long-time players, especially the more group oriented ones, are frustrated with the way that the EQ2 AA system works out.  I've been 90 for a bit, and did most of my leveling via quests, and I'm still 66 AA from the maximum AA cap.  Zippy bonus weekend gains are great, but they also call attention to the fact that I can expect a greatly diminished rate of advancement going forward as I chew through one-time bonuses for quests and the first pass through each dungeon. 

Then again, the sad part is that I can see the remaining places to spend my points, and I don't see anything on the list that will really change the game.  The 250 AA sound like a lot, but every tree has its useless branches.  With a fair amount of room to go, I already have the most significant abilities.  Each additional AA ding will take proportionally longer, while adding less and less power until I'm left with just about everything that I would actually want.  It would be nice if the way you build your AA's had a greater effect on your character, but I'm guessing that they're having a hard enough time finding niches for 24 subclasses without giving each one two or more AA spec variations to play with. 

World of Warcraft's forthcoming expansion was originally going to include a "Path of the Titans" alternate advancement system, which was axed before the beta to some degree of outcry.  Seeing how this type of mechanic is playing out in EQ2 today, I'm not convinced that WoW is missing out. 

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