I last played Everquest 2 in January 2007. Over three-and-a-half years ago. Echoes of Faydwer had hit a couple of months before, and Game Update 31 had just been released (EQ2 has just seen Game Update 58 go live).
Since then I've played Lord of the Rings Online (a game I still have great affection for) and Age of Conan (see my last post). Due to the lack of anything else enticing, a few old friends that still play the game, and a long wait until the release of Star Wars: The Old Republic I decided to have another look at EQ2 and see what's changed.
Short answer: A lot.
Long answer: Read on!
First of all I found the game very easy to get back into from a technical viewpoint. EQ2 now has a streaming download that allows you to play whilst the majority of the game (a hefty 16GB or so), and they had a quick passport subscription offer that would allow me to try the game for a few days without committing to a full sub. So, I was up and running in around 20 minutes (though with a few hitches, likely due to the background streaming of assets).
I hit the character creation screen and there were all my old characters waiting for me. I decided I wanted to start from scratch however, so it gave me the perfect opportunity to bring my original EQ character, Merecraft the druid back from the dead.
Within a few minutes Merecraft the human warden was staring back at me. I was pleased to see that the alternate character models are now the default ones when making new characters. I have never been a great fan of the EQ2 character models. They look a little plasticky and unnatural to me, but the alternate models of the humans are much better.
So, next thing was to log in. I was presented with a map and a choice of four starting locations, only one of which (Greater Faydark) I recognised. All the others were new, and biggest surprise of all, there was no Qeynos or Freeport to choose from!
Several early changes I have come across are the new UI, which is a vast improvement. The UI was always one area where EQ2 stood out from the crowd, in it's versatility and modability. I will be trying some UI mods at some point (Emarald Green, The Best Darn Warden On The Server™, and my sister-in-law, has recommended ProfitUI, so I'll look at that at some point).
The new voice chat channels are great. I had grown used to easy and effective voice chat during my time in LoTRO, and it's good to see that EQ2 has taken this on. It is a more flexible system than the one LoTRO uses, with the ability to create user channels with password protection. Good stuff!
I had forgotten about the skill grind in EQ2. Adurj assures me that it has been made easier, but I did spend a couple of hours last night grinding up my harvesting skills. Apparently there is a new harvesting epic quest as well, so I'll look into that sometime.
I've been warned that the broker prices are now a bit silly, and as a newcomer I may find it hard to purchase things from the broker. We'll see, but I'm not surprised - inflation is something every MMO economy suffers from.
Possibly the best thing has been the very warm welcome I've received from friends old and new. I had logged in for only a few minutes before I had my first /tell (from Mynna *waves*) welcoming me back! Since then I've grouped with Udrath (Merecraft's old comrade in arms, also now back from the EQ afterlife) and finally spoken to Jahf as well.
I will be posting more impressions of how EQ2 has changed soon, when I have played the game longer and have a bit more experience. It has been easy to get back into, despite the many changes that are apparent even at this early stage. I was chatting to Jahf last night, and he asked me what, if anything, I would like to see added to EQ2 bearing in mind my background as a returning player. That's a good question and something I'll try and address in a future post.