Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What I'm Working On: EQ2

EQ2 marked Labor Day with a double exp weekend, and I took advantage by finishing off all of the solo content I had yet to complete from the current expansion.  As a result, my AA count shot up from 241 to 258, finally entering the new ground from the current expansion, with a mere two months to go until the next one.

Having 10 points on the third tier of the DOV AA tree means that one of my default buffs now offers a 10% boost to the coveted Crit Chance stat.
After picking up the new AA abilities and trading in some more shards for Ry'Gorr shard gear (now including the gloves, bracers, hat, and boots, along with the T1 chest), Lyriana is sitting about midway through the heroic instance progression.  Her stat sheet includes 118% Critical Mitigation (with a few empty adorn slots I could fill if I wanted to spend shards on adornments), 205% crit chance, 125% crit bonus, and 164% multi-attack.  Instances in DOV are strictly gated by these types of numbers - especially the Crit Mit and Crit Chance - but I've got the gear to get my foot in the door of the KD instances. 

Overall, EQ2 is generally the game I go with given the choices amongst all the MMO's in my stable, and that's usually the criteria I go by when deciding what games to pay for and play.  Unfortunately, SOE is consistently testing my resolve on this front. 

Unfortunate updates and decisions
The last Game Update brought in a messy revamp of every item in the game - Arkenor has been covering the ugly and unpredictable details.  The mere fact that there were some issues with items that pre-date the current design might have been forgiveable if the current design was good.  Unfortunately, it's hard to recommend the itemization plan.  A Scout like Lyriana requires a specific amount of crit to auto-crit all mobs in a given zone, and a corresponding amount of crit mit to avoid being one-shot by AOE attacks.  Once you're at that number - if and when they get the itemization progression in the order they plan, this will be a highly regimented progression from tier to tier - you're just after multi-attack and crit bonus to improve your DPS.  It's neither creative nor interesting. 

Meanwhile, the weekend featured SOE's latest Winback promotion.  If only I had let my account lapse no later than August 2nd, I would have received three days of free game time, an exclusive mount, and $5 worth of Station Cash just for resubscribing.  As someone who routinely comes and goes between MMO's, the message is really clear - when my EQ2 subscription runs out, I should not renew it until the next time SOE offers me a bribe to do so. 

Between this promotion and another one that was carefully designed to exclude players who came back voluntarily for the expansion earlier this year, I have missed out on $20 worth of Station Cash that I would have received had I been willing to schedule my gaming time around SOE's marketing gimmicks.  That's half the price of an expansion, which would have done wonders to soften the blow of having SOE ask me to open my wallet for a second paid expansion box in nine months come November.  This goes doubly when the allegedly feature-focused expansion consists of a bunch of features I'm not that interested in bundled with an AA cap increase that will presumably be mandatory. 

Amidst all these adjustments, cross-server grouping is en route to EQ2, possibly as early as this month.  This could have a major impact on my EQ2 play.  As a Dirge - a class that provides crucial and arguably overpowered buffs to melee party members - I have routinely enjoyed quick group invites which have made it possible for me to spend time in Norrath's heroic dungeons.  Depending on how the automated system plays out, it is very possible that this gravy train will be derailed shortly. 

Beyond this milestone, and the expansion, lies an interesting thought experiment - how long can an otherwise enjoyable gameplay experience remain so in the face of what I see as major issues with the game's itemization, mechanics, business model, marketing, and general development direction?  I suppose I'll keep y'all posted. 


Yeebo said...

I'm not even playing EQ II much at the moment, and the items stat revemp sounded like something that was going to go badly to me.

An aside, but one of my current peeves with the game is that the alternate sets of lowbie gear you could get from various starting areas have been removed. It doesn't make the foggiest bit of sense for me to be getting gear with thick fur on a tropical island. I can see why they wanted the stats equalized, but why didn't they just change the stats on the existing gear so you have some cosmetic options?

Xaxziminrax II said...

very great post. Clearly demonstrates how it's not just the in game experience that matters, but the company and their actions as a whole.