One of my D&D group members linked this from Massively on our boards and a discussion ensued.
Massively has some video footage of a press release about EverQuest Next (which is just a working name). The questions asked are quite good and actually touch on several points of frustration about EverQuest 2 (mainly). The answers are about what you’d expect; they answer with ideals and what they hope they deliver or how they hope to make things work.
In other words, don’t hold your breath. Wait and see what they deliver because the hype machine just turned on. From what they said, it sounds like they’re trying to aim somewhere between EQ1 and EQ2. It could be interesting.
Here’s my laundry list of things they did in EQ2 that they need to clean up:
– Get rid of the mechanics for the classes – there is one underlying mechanic that is basically mana and every class effectively dips into this pool to fire their abilities. Every class. Even the supposedly mundane warriors. It makes every class play in the same fashion with the same basic resource management required – no variety. Yes, the results are different in effect, but the core gameplay is the same. Don’t be afraid to make a different system or require that the player pay attention and what for some sort of cue making things even better. Damn, you had so much potential to make each of the bazillion classes mean something else but you missed it!
– Reduce the number of abilities. I can remember there being a huge grid of hotbars with all sorts of abilities on there for every class. It stops being about choice and starts being about which one is available. Whack-a-mole. Make the abilities active to the class and don’t rely on splashing some visible effect to it with a different color. It really does get to be an eyesore and people lose sight of what they did. Active abilities are fun! Include movement in some of the abilities! My favorite abilities in WoW all have movement tied to them; Charge, Disengage, Blink and Death Grip (now there’s a pull!).
– Make the classes mean something. In EQ1 Bards were more effective with instruments in their hands while in EQ2 they were just another type of Rogue that had spells and buffs (really, this is a symptom of the first point I made). Make a Paladin seem more like a basher of undead things or things unholy. The Paladin just felt like another tank type that got a free horse at level (which ever level it was). The Guardian and Berserker didn’t really feel any different (or look any different either thanks to tiered crafted armor) – one had more defensive buffs while the other had more AoEs but in the end, the gameplay felt the same. This came up in the video as well. I missed the Enchanters of EQ1 being able to make illusions or enchant metals – where did that go? Heaven forbid the crafting types require any real assistance from non-crafters. This complaint was a good one that came up in the video footage as well.
– Tiered/level gear system sucks. The path of least resistance became using the not-so-rare rare crafted items for armor and weaponry for all classes. Again, the underlying mechanics were so similar it was just tiresome. How do they change this? Make drops more useful and place limitations on just how much you can craft. Don’t let crafters make a full set of anything. Instead allow them to make various parts or even the odd piece that is really awesome but self only so they get some sort of reward out of crafting that isn’t just another product they can sell. There is no heart in the crafting; nothing to want or look forward to aside from the next tier of gear or something I can sell. Make some fun tradeskills too! Take Engineering from WoW as an example. This complaint also came up in the video.
-The bell system and lack of any real zone boundaries that didn’t involve a door of some type. This is a huge must. EQ1’s zones felt better and more natural than most of EQ2’s – most of them. In EQ you felt like you were transitioning from area to area in a way that made sense but with EQ2 that was often not the case. Commonlands to Nektulos Forest? Come on. That was lame. It got a little better at the higher levels and in future expansions, but it didn’t really change my feeling that I’m in a big box and in that box is this type of stuff.. and the only hole out of the box is right here and it only takes you to this place. It felt too contained.
– Content was sort of dead and inanimate. Oh sure, some wandered around the towns and said things but it still seemed a little heartless and empty. I’m not really sure why. I think some of it is that the enemies just seemed to be there for the sake of being enemies. They were pretty inanimate. The odd patrol or wanderer but most of them just sat around at camps or at spawn points without doing much else. Even the named didn’t really seem to have a point in a lot of cases. There was little that gave you a clue as to why they were there (and yes, I read or listened to the quest stuff). There should be more scripting to the encounters or bosses or something of interest. In the Thundering Plains there was a small town that was randomly attacked by centaurs but nothing ever came from that. Why not? Missed opportunity.
– Dungeons weren’t big enough or were often a little too linear. Some had some pretty big scale to them, but were still very linear. There was little exploration or secret areas to discover in them. I think Varsoon’s was about the only one I played in that wasn’t all that linear. Some of the higher level stuff was better, but you need to keep people interested and rewarded for going into these places.
One of the other voiced complaints was, in essence, about forced grouping. While I don’t dislike being able to solo, I do also enjoying grouping and playing along with friends. EQ2 eventually went the route WoW did and made most of the outdoor content solo content while making the indoor content mostly ‘heroic’. Yes, I use that term loosely. I’m on the fence about forced grouping.
Those were my main issues with EQ2.