EverQuest Next – Consider This

It’s time for mob consideration methods to have a little mystery again.
EverQuest Next - The Pace of Combat

Can you believe it’s been 10 days since the official reveal of EverQuest Next? Since then we’ve been sharing every piece of news we can (keep up with all of it at our sister site, EQ Hammer!). While a lot has been revealed, there are still plenty of things we still have to wonder about. One of those items still surrounded in mystery is the mob consideration system.
In today’s MMORPGs, it’s easy to determine how powerful a monster is with a quick glance because it seems every game on the market gives you the exact level of the mob in question just by clicking on them. For mobs that are slightly stronger than their equally-leveled brethren, they tend to get a moniker of “Veteran” in front of their name. The truly powerful tend to get something along the lines of “Champion”. To me, this takes out all the sense of mystery and adventure I think needs to make a serious return to the genre.
Do you know what our consideration system was back in the day? A color coded system that wasn’t difficult to decipher, but had plenty of leeway in it. Though it’s changed in the current version of EverQuest (the change made in 2006 added a couple of additional color levels), the system still leaves you guessing. Here’s a quick break down of how the system works today:
Even low level mobs could spell trouble in groups.·         Grey - 16 levels or more below your level
·         Green - 11 to 15 levels below your level
·         Light Blue - 6 to 10 levels below your level
·         Dark Blue - 1 to 5 levels below your level
·         White - Same level as you
·         Yellow - 1 to 3 levels higher than you
·         Red - 4+ levels above you

Grey mobs wouldn’t give you any experience points, and XP progressed upwards from there. When you either right-clicked a mob or hit “c” while you had it targeted, the con system responded back with a few different pieces of information. It would tell you how the mob viewed you (indifferently, dubious, threatening, ready to attack, etc.), let you know what color the mob was by printing that sentence in the appropriate color, and give you a little flavor text to let you know your chances (“looks like it would wipe the floor with you”, “what would you like your tombstone to say”, and more).
When you were hunting solo back then, a blue mob was a decent challenge. A yellow mob was very difficult to take down, and a red mob would be nearly impossible depending on your class and personal skill level. Think about that in comparison to today… a mob that was one level above you was a serious challenge that very often did not work out in your favor. In today’s games, they’re all pushovers at that level difference.
That’s all well and good, but so what, right? The system had a little flair and color to it. Whoopee! Actually, yes – it was a big deal. Why you ask? Because of that little category colored red. See what it says up there? 4+ levels above you. That means if you were level 15 and you conned a mob that was level 19 or a mob that was level 50, they both came up with the exact same text. Anything coming up red was to be avoided at all costs when you were soloing or out in a pair, but reds were regular hunting fodder for full groups because they were great experience.
Never pass up the chance to kill a dryad.In areas that had permanent hunting spots, such as Lower Guk, Sol A, and the Overthere, it wasn’t so much of a big deal, because players knew what level they needed to be and which mobs to tag since they were continually hunted so often. That’s not true of many, many other zones in the game though. Especially the first time you and your friends decide to go exploring a new zone you’ve never hunted in. Now you’re in a whole new realm of trepidation and excitement as you take your chances out in the world. All of sudden, you don’t know if that red-conned ghoul in the distance is 4 levels above your character or 30.
“All you have to do is just hunt where there are whites and yellows and slowly branch out though”. That sounds good in theory, but this all comes back to one of the things that truly made EverQuest brilliant –interlocking game mechanics. Remember how I talked about how EverQuest was famous for planting super-high level mobs in lower level zones? Oh yeah… they did it a lot. It’s because of this that you were always on your toes in a new area. And I loved it!
One other final aspect of the consideration system to also keep in mind was that not all mobs were created equal. It didn’t happen very often (and very well may have been a bug in the system), but occasionally you would run into mobs we all referred to as “under-cons”. This meant that even though it may come up as a blue when you con it, the damned thing would hit like a Mack truck or have a killer damage shield protecting it so your tanks would get chewed through like nothing as they’re trying to melee the mob unless a caster was able to cancel the shield. These made for some extraordinary moments of glorious victory or gruesome death.
Another factor that added to the thrill of combat, especially during dungeon crawls, was that most mobs wouldn’t stand there and let you bring them to zero health – they’d get up and start running away before that happened… normally right into the path of their friends which then joined the fray. But of course, that’s a topic for next week!
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!

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