EQ2 Battleground Preview
It has been a busy week with everything going on in EverQuest II, both on the beta server and on the test server. I havent been able to see all the new things that I want to see prior to the launch of Sentinels Fate, but there was no way I was going to miss out on the introduction of the Battlegrounds on the test copy server.
Finding your way into a battleground is as easy as hitting Alt+Z
Because Battlegrounds are not part of the Sentinels Fate expansion, they were not confined to the beta server, which I really was okay with because it seems like a feature available to everyone should be testable by everyone. After copying my own toon over to the test copy server, I was very excited to get a peek at the new PvP feature!
Getting there is pretty easy. Click your EQ2 menu icon and choose Battlegrounds (second menu option from the top) or press Alt + Z on your keyboard. You can either choose to queue for the first available battleground or you can pick which one you wish to play in. You can also choose to queue as a single player, a group, or as a raid.
Once you are in queue, your Battleground window will indicate this with green text at the bottom. When a game opens up, a dialog window will pop up giving you a limited amount of time to choose to enter the game. You zone onto a different server in order to get into the battleground game so you will need to choose your UI profile your first time in with any new character.
My first run through was in the Gears of KlakAnon game pitting 6 players against 6 players while a struggle ensues to hold the relic. The map is very multi-dimensional which made it tough for melee players and quite a treat for casters.
Gears of Klak'Anon after the bloody battle
Teams are colored in red versus blue indicated by name text color, or gray if youre dead, which I was a lot. You are auto grouped with your team and communicate through the typical /g or /gsay chat command. This is not faction based warfare at all so if you arent queuing as a group, who you are grouped with in the battle will vary wildly but there is some balance as to what classes are grouped together. A force field will hold everyone back until the battle begins and then its a rush to find the first enemy.
If you die, youll have to wait out a minor timer before you respawn back at your original location. Other than the timer, there is no down time and you can jump back into the fray immediately after popping back to life.
When the battle ends, a window will pop up announcing the winning team and giving the summary of performance including kill count, deathblows, damage and healing done and damage received. At this point youll be returned to your home server exactly where you were before. If you drop out of the battleground before it ends and before you have been returned back to your home server, youll be smacked with a truancy which will keep you from engaging in any battleground game play for a period of time. This is an unfortunate fact I learned when a game I was playing in became bugged and didnt release players after it ended. I closed the game out to restart and hopefully get out of the broken battle and when my character finally dropped out, I had sad little red text on my battlegrounds page telling me I had a penalty for truancy. Looking at the official forums, this is a known problem that is being actively worked on at the time of writing this.
See how awesome you rocked, or in my case, how bad I sucked
So far I quite like the battlegrounds and there seemed to be a lot of enthusiasm for them on the test server. They are very reminiscent of WAR scenarios only with smaller maps which forces closer combat. No wasted time chasing enemies down means fast paced combat and constant interaction that keeps you on your toes the entire time youre in the battleground.
The only real downside I can see is that bigger battleground games are going to be difficult to rally enough players to get into on a consistent basis outside of guilds. Most players are going to queue for the quickest game available which inevitably will be the 6 versus 6 battles. My best advice to SOE (once the end battle glitch is fixed) is to work on pumping out a handful of new maps to keep things interesting for the bulk of players who will want the quick and easy battles over the larger scale map.
These PvP battlegrounds are definitely NOT anything like the previous arena flop. They are easy to get into and most importantly they are fun.
Battlegrounds go live on or around February 16th with the release of the expansion. I hope to see you all in battle then!