The morning after (EQ2 silver review)

The carnivorous plant has been on a furniture spree again

the carnivorous plant has been on a furniture spree again

Edit:  looks like I picked a bad time to post this, what with the PSS1 deal which is a mess! Please take the following as about the game, and not the people running it who seem (to this newcomer, me) to be unable to grasp some very simple fundaments.  Eh, it looks so stupid to me. What on earth are they ….

Main post: This post has been building a while!

February is half done and people are finally doing their jobs, gloomy resignation abounds and the world is running if not smoothly at least without all that New Year hysteria. The ever-growing list of free to play titles is accumulating nicely on my hard drive, very satisfying, and just as life has settled so also I found myself spending the tail-end of the day more with a few favourite games than being a pretty butterfly flittering between all the lovely blossoms of gamitude like I did last month. Tra la tra la.

I am glad I came to EQ2 late, I have no baggage and no rage. I have only known it in it’s present incarnation and I like it very much indeed. It runs well on the lapdap with medium/lowish settings so that was the first hurdle cleared like a champion. I’ve got used to the rather odd f2p setup – it has the virtue of allowing me to increase/decrease/abstain from spending at will, which is pretty good going. Solo access is mediocre but that’s the same all over and everywhere just about, no need to single this game out for something as widespread as that. The cash shop items, many of them, are quite charming. I’ve seen some total rubbish that clearly took five minutes to make in cash shops, EQ2 has a nice cash shop with pixels that took time to assemble. And things that do things and furniture. The carnivorous plant wants my credit card.

EQ2 also gets the thumbs up from the younger generation who tried it and now play it on the weekends. I’m glad. I like grouping with my family. I love the portal system that allows us to visit each other and leave little presents. Just today I dropped off a heart shaped box of chocolates and some kind of mushroom thing on someones bed under a stair in their house in New Halas. I’m smiling as I think of that person discovering these little items. And as you can see from the pic, this was our first Errollisi (Day?) which caused something of a crafting binge.

Parts of the game are gated and constricted to non-subscribing players, which is a shame but hey ho, stuff we don’t access won’t stimulate us to spend money, so it’s less our problem than theirs. I still haven’t found out all the ins an outs of what we can’t do but looks like some things can’t be bought a la carte. Fortunately enough is available to keep us occupied for a good while. Although we can create our own groups and group with others at will, solo access is always going to be an issue I check out simply because I’m tired at the end of the day and very often not in the mood for socialising. I believe there is some kind of mercenary NPC system available later on in the game, gated behind bought content – haven’t got that far, and I’m not sure to what extent the NPCs help out. Got to say I’m not likely to buy into the expansion if it turns out they are only there to fill in gaps in a group, and very likely to buy if they allow me to solo group and high-end content when I want to.  Oh look flying pig.

From noobland the endgame looks far too sticky for me – group/guild based with all the additives that that implies, having to be there at a certain time, having to be geared, having to this, having to that – whatever. One day when I can sit on my behind all day and eat chocolate I’ll… probably rather sit on my behind and eat chocolate. The journey on the other hand is entertaining and fills me with joy unbounded. (Levelling is too fast but again EQ2 isn’t exactly alone on that one) – I actually look forward to the quest text!

I like – the graphics. A lot. I ofen change settings depending on what mood I’m in – low graphics for getting on with things high for just oohing and aahing. It’s pretty clear that more than just time was spent on how this game looks – there is genuine affection in the way it has been made. Care, attention to detail, humour. And I like the way there are surprises. Like the working music box that the carnivorous plant crafted from the Erollisi Festival, or the man selling pickles in Freeport, or the wonderful house portal system. I am glad I am new to EQ2 because I don’t know what was removed in the Freeport revamp. I hate revamps. I like accretions, layers, complexity, odd bits, and signs of ancient developers long past – these things add to the experience and immersion, whereas streamlining removes stuff and simplifies to the point of blandness and beyond.

From what I can gather, some of the crafting has lost some relevance but the housing system saves the day for me in that respect. I seems likely that I will never need or be able to create good weaponry (? not entirely sure). However, I can craft things that will give me enormous pleasure and hours of entertainment by being used in various houses. The crafting for houses is more than popular with the rest us too, I am pleased to say, although we now know to keep the carnivous plant away from the crafting stations. And… I found myself humming the Commonlands music on the bus.

Discovering this game has been an unexpected and continuing pleasure. Given recent events it reminds me of a sweet and lively child with vapid, shallow parents. I want to hug it!

Categories: EQ2, Reviews and Impressions

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