Years ago, during the initial days of href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/eq2" target="_blank">EverQuest
there was a set path of progression. When I say "a set path of
progression" in reference to most games, it means that even though
there are multiple areas for players to advance their characters at
various levels, people tend to choose certain hotspots in order to
level quickly. When I say it in reference to EverQuest II, I mean there
was one and only one (up until level 30) path choice possible unless
you felt the need to betray your home city and defect to the other side.
No matter what your alignment was, everyone started on an island for
his or her first few levels. After that, you would travel to your city
of choice (Qeynos or Freeport - there were no other options) and work
yourself to the bone to become a citizen. Once you were finally a
citizen, you would make your way out into the world... just to find you
had one choice of direction. Antonica for the goody-goody types of
Qeynos and The Commonlands for the denizens of Freeport.
While both of these areas were fairly massive in scope (especially for
those days), it was still one zone, with one or two dungeons. Unless
you were willing to do the betrayal quest around level 18 (thus
banishing yourself from your home), you stayed in either Antonica or
The Commonlands from level 8 to 20.
Hurray! You've hit level 20, you've chosen your final class, gotten one
two new spells, so *now* it must be time to explore all the href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/72689" target="_blank">brave
new zones EverQuest II had to
offer you, right? Uh... no. Sorry.
If you were a faithful citizen of Qeynos, you would make your way into
the Thundering Steppes while the riff raff from Freeport would creep
into Nektulos Forest. Again, the zones were indeed massive and well
thought out, but it was *one* zone that you would be stuck in for
another ten levels. It wasn't until you hit level 30 that you could
begin to (barely) branch off, by being able to choose between The
Enchanted Lands or Zek, the Orcish Wastelands. Yeehaw! Two whole
The Road Less Traveled
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The only reasoning I can think of behind this design idea has to
revolve around community. Perhaps the original EverQuest II team
thought that if they made everyone play in the same zone that would
keep the sense of community spirit from EverQuest alive. Considering
the fact that there was little need for groups to rest since the health
and mana regeneration speeds had been made much faster than that of its
predecessor, this was a valid concern. Unfortunately, it failed to add
the player mentality into the equation.
If you start a character, and play just that character, the system
above is not just a great idea; it's a stroke of genius. When that same
player starts another character and has to play through all of the same
content again without a choice though, that begins to become a problem.
Forcing a person to play through the same content over and over any
time they want to create an alt is never a wise idea. Sure, a player
could always have a whole new experience on the other side, but I know
I'm not the only person in the world that doesn't play on the good side
of games, so that content essentially doesn’t exist.
Fortunately for all of us, the EverQuest II team has made some radical
(and completely awesome) changes over the last few years. At the end of
last month, href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/71739" target="_blank">I
talked briefly about how players
could now start the game as the class of their choice and also had a
choice of cities to start in, depending on their race. That was just
the tip of the iceberg.
Getting the Lay of the Land
From the moment I hit level 3, I had options available to me. I could
remain in Darklight Wood, or take a very accessible tunnel and go to
The Commonlands to sneak my way to Freeport. Darklight Wood also had
access points that led not only to The Commonlands, but Nektulos Forest
as well. The real gem of all encompassing freedom was found within the
dark underground tunnels of the Dockside Markets in Neriak. From there,
I discovered I could travel the world.
The docks in Neriak will lead players to those in Nektulos Forest
(which is far different from being dumped in the upper reaches of the
forest), the docks in Thundering Steppes, or The Sinking Sands. From
those three points, virtually every zone in the game can be reached.
This doesn't mean you won't have to do some exploring and question
asking to figure out how to get somewhere, but it's worth the effort.
If you wait at either the end of the docks in Nektulos Forest or
Thundering Steppes, a boat will eventually show up to carry you on a
journey of the seas. As a tip of the hat to the glory days of
EverQuest, "The Boat" has been added and unless you travel by Druid
Grove, it remains the only way to get to Butcherblock, where a myriad
of new adventures await you. Unlike the days of yore, the boat shows up
on the docks every four minutes or so. The ocean voyage also only takes
a couple of minutes. There are no more hour-long corpse runs because
you're waiting on the docks for your ship to arrive.
Being able to travel to various lands in search of new discoveries or
elves to slaughter is important to the dark elf in me. Even more so,
it's important to players in general, especially those of the explorer
variety. Just as the early EverQuest slowly added more and more lands
to conquer, EverQuest II is following the same path. It's taken some
time to get there, but I no longer feel as though I'm on a roller
coaster barreling down a specific destined path that I have to follow.
I have the choice to go out and explore the lands I want, not those I
have to. It's these kinds of choices that make all the difference.
My reintroduction to EverQuest II has been both daunting and
exhilarating at the same time. Everything about it is both familiar and
completely new. The game really has changed since I've been gone. As
such, I still feel as though I haven't begun to scratch the surface of
all there is to offer. It's amazing how much the continued dedication
of a passionate development team and a few years can make. My journey
continues, but in the meantime, if you have any suggestions or want to
see a specific guide created, be sure to href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/forumdisplay.php?f=22"
a message in our forums or href="mailto:[email protected]">send me an
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our EverQuest II Game Page.