EverQuest Next Making Stats Matter Again
EverQuest Next is in full production and EverQuest Next: Landmark is right around the corner. What kind of stats can we expect to see on gear or player buffs? There’s certainly enough anecdotal evidence to be found in Sony Online Entertainment’s other titles to suggest they intend to follow the same stat-loaded gear system modern players are familiar with. Personally, I think that would be detrimental to the health of the title and here are a few reasons why.
For a number of years now, it has not been uncommon to hop into a new MMORPG, start a character, and have enough gear to add +25 to all your character’s stats (or attributes if you prefer the term) within the first few levels. This process normally takes anywhere from ten minutes to a few hours. While I can see the appeal of this on the surface, I think it causes more harm than good.
Anyone that has ever spent a decent amount of time playing Dungeons & Dragons (the pen and paper version) will recognize this pitfall. It’s a seductive trap we’ve all fallen into, whether it be as players or as Dungeon Masters (DM). It’s also one of the most destructive things a DM can do to a campaign if they’re not prepared to deal with the inevitable consequences. What am I talking about? Giving the players loads of items with tons of power. To counteract this, the monsters and NPCs of the world also need such items and thus begins a downward spiral of making the most powerful items in the game feel like common trash. It removes the sense of pride in ownership.
In the original EverQuest, magic items were very rare, especially before you hit level 20. Keep in mind that getting to that level could take months of playing. I realize the idea of playing a game today for two weeks without ever seeing an item drop with a single stat boost seems incomprehensible, but that’s the way it was back in the day and there were reasons for it. When I was level 14, I saw someone selling a set of leggings (Charred Greaves, or something of the sort) in the East Commons tunnel. I don’t remember the exact amount they were asking, but it was somewhere in the range of 100 platinum pieces. At this point in the game, that amount was a near fortune for a low level character. I wanted those leggings though, so I went to West Commons and spent almost 3 weeks killing Will O’ Wisps to get the light globes and greater light globes off their corpses. At the time, it was the most efficient way I knew of to make any money.
After nearly 3 weeks of continually grinding on these mobs, I finally had enough money and went back to the East Commons tunnel. Now obviously, the person I had originally seen selling the leggings was long gone, but I found someone else selling a similar set. I bought them on the spot and was ecstatic! I had just bought my first set of magic leggings. Do you know what the stat boost on them was? +2 to strength and +1 to stamina. That’s it.
By today’s standards, this is a completely crazy concept, but it shouldn’t be. The reason I was so excited about those leggings was the fact that stat boosts of any kind were rare and even though it was “only” a +2 and +1 boost, those stat changes genuinely mattered. Unlike today where I can add 10 points in strength to any current character and barely tell. Right now, my EverQuest character is level 47 and has already maxed out all their attribute stats. It’s ridiculous.
The other part of this argument goes back once again to community building. After I had spent weeks grinding and saving enough platinum to purchase a piece of magic gear, I was randomly approached by a fellow warrior (of much higher level than myself). After a brief conversation, I was given a breastplate with a +5 strength on it. I nearly passed out from the shock. He had finally gotten a better chest piece during his travels and just wanted to pass on this one on to someone that would use it. That was my introduction to the Citizens of Halas guild (Morelle Thule represent!) and the beginning of a great time for me in EverQuest.
What has all of this got to do with the cost of Batwing Crunchies at your local Norrathian grocery store? As usual, everything. I was level 14 or so when I got that breastplate. I kept it and didn’t find a better piece of gear until I was nearly level 30. Again, that was months down the road. When I finally had no more use for it, I went back to the North Desert of Ro where Sabal (the warrior) had originally given me the breastplate. After talking with a few likely candidates, I gave the chest piece away to an up and coming warrior that was out adventuring with a passion.
Ignoring the fact that nearly every piece of gear players have now are either BOP or BOE (Bind on Pick-up/Bind on Equip), the stats on today’s gear is so over the top that nearly everything I have, I consider vendor trash when I replace it. With very few exceptions, I wouldn’t even bother to save a piece of gear to give away because I know that within a day of someone getting it, they’d be replacing it themselves. It wouldn’t mean anything. And yet, I can remember the moment I got that breastplate from Sabal and the day that I finally passed it on very clearly.
So in the end, which matters more? The piece of gear that you’re going to replace in a day or two with its +100 stats or that item you spent weeks working for that only has a +2? Personally, I think it’s high time we see a return to the days of when gear actually meant something to players.
Join me next week when I talk about the importance of zone lines and how they’re addition or removal could affect EverQuest Next. While you wait for next week’s piece, catch up on any previous EverQuest Next articles you may have missed! If you’ve got questions, old-school aspects you’d like me to cover, or anything in between, shoot me an email or hit me up on Twitter!