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Old 10-16-04, 07:44 PM   #1
Mithan
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 67
Default EverQuest 2 First Impressions + 45 screenshots

I’ve been eagerly watching EQ2 since it was first announced, which is a surprise for some of my friends because they know how much I hated the original EverQuest, due to its camping and forced grouping. Most people figured EQ2 would just be more of the same, so if you hated the first one, why bother? Well, I am glad I stuck to my initial impression of the game.

I have been playing EQ2 for about a month now and I have raised a Human Crusader up to level 14, which isn’t that high, but I like to think I have explored every single nook and cranny of the zones that have been open to me and most importantly, I have learned how the game’s system works.

The conclusion I have reached after a month? Simple.
EQ2 Rocks (so far).

No, it isn’t all “good” and there definitely is some bad with this game so far, but overall, the game is very good and I think a lot of people will end up liking it, but I will go into that a little more later. For now, I want to cover a few basic “parts” of the game.

Character Creation:
The Character Creation system is very well done in that you can do pretty much whatever you want with your characters looks. People who played SWG will feel at home with this system, though it isn’t quite as detailed. One thing people may not like is that EQ2 doesn’t have you adjusting any stats when you start. All you do is “build” your characters physical features and move on to the game. Still, for those of you watching World of Warcraft and not knowing which is for you, I can say that the EQ2 system is more detailed.

Starting Out:
SOE seems to have realized that people have short attention spans these days and a lot of people don’t want to spend hours and hours reading manuals. They want to jump right in with a short tutorial and move on. EQ2 does this very well by starting you on a Boat. On the boat, you get to use every major system in EQ2, including the quest journal, combat, inventory, talking with people, etc. What happens is that the Captain of the Boat sends you on a short little “quest” on the boat, and the boat acts as your tutorial and gets you aquatinted with the game early. It works pretty well and everybody I spoke with liked it so far.

After you finish the Boat Tutorial, you start out on what is basically a newbie island called the Isle of Refuge, that has various quests for you to do, and gets you further aquatinted with the game.

The Isle of Refuge is actually a lot of fun and very well done. There is a small town in the middle (just a collection of huts with some NPC’s) and then outside of town, there are various quests, where you can reach a level of between 5-8 fairly easily, before you leave and go off to Qeynos of Freeport. The isle itself has about 15 or 20 quests for you to do, ranging in difficulty and type. Melee Classes will collect a full suit of armor before they leave, amongst other things.

Overall, I think that between the Boat Training area and the Isle of Refuge, Sony has done an excellent job of “training” people in how their game works. By the time you leave the Isle, you will actually be fairly caught up what you should be doing, which is nice. Far to many games dump you in an area and say “go play”. Gee thanks.

Your First City:
Depending on the alignment you choose (Good for Qeynos or Evil for Freeport) you end up taking a boat (actually you teleport) from the Isle to a small town outside Qeynos.

Qeynos (and I imagine Freeport as well) is surrounded by a few small villages, and these villages are populated by NPC’s that sell you stuff, give you quests, etc. You actually need to do a quest before you can enter the main cities themselves.

Anyways, upon landing at the small village you select, you can wander around and start doing quests, buying or selling equipment, checking out the inn, or just exploring the surrounding areas.

The towns themselves are all connected by zones meaning you can walk through various zones to get to where you want to go OR you can use the Boat Bell, which basically teleports you directly to the town you want to go too. It’s pretty nifty and saves you from having to waste too much time zoning.

Architecture / Level Design
One thing you guys will notice about the games architecture is that it is extremely well done. Cities look very, very good and are logical in how they are built. Dungeons are also very well built and take advantage of the games graphics engine. The environments are also done fairly well, but one thing that bothered me was that the world didn’t seem very “tall”. What I mean by that is that other than Antonica, Mountains seemed to all be about 40 feet high and that was all. It’s just something that bugged me…

Overall, you will all be fairly impressed by the level design. Some of it is average, some of it is extremely well done but none of it is poorly done, from what I have seen so far.

Graphics
EQ2 has some of the best graphics of any game, period. Now, some of you are going to say “but the characters look like plastic models”. Well, no they don’t. When your character is moving and the shadows, cloth simulation and everything else is working, characters do NOT look like Mattel action figures, in fact, they look great.

The spell effects, combat effects, character models, trees, buildings, grass, water, waterfalls and everything else in this game will simply blow your mind away. It all looks fantastic. I have included a few screenshots as well, but they are not taken at the highest quality settings. I think I took most of them at one notch below Maximum.
The graphics do come at a cost though. If you’re playing with Maxed out graphics, you need one hell of a system. If you don’t have a 3.2gig+ rated CPU and at least a GeForce 6800 GT, forget cranking the graphics up. My system is a AMD 3400, 1 gig ram and a GeForce 6800 GT and I was playing the game with good frame rates at 1280x1024 resolution and “Highest Graphics”, which is one notch below Maximum.

For those of you who don’t have a killer system, the good news is that I tried the beta on my brothers system (P4 2.53, 1 gig ram and a 9700 Pro) and he runs it at Medium Settings and gets a very good frame rate out of the game and the graphics still look excellent.

User Interface:
People who played Horizons will love the EQ2 UI and those of you who played SWG will find it familiar. EQ2 has one of the best UI’s ever made in a game. Every option can be configured. Ever window can be moved or resized. Everything can be enabled or disabled. In short, the UI is exactly what you want from a game, it is transparent, crisp, doesn’t get in the way, and you can set it up any way YOU want to set it up. This is good and EQ2 excels with this aspect of the game.

Other aspects of the UI are well done. The Options Menu lets you configure every single graphics option known to man, which allows you to tweak the game to your video card or personal preferences. Hate Shadows? Turn them off. Don’t like Heat Shimmers? Turn tem off. Don’t want the froth from waves and water falls to show up? Turn it off. Etc.

Inventory windows are handled well, and so are the quest journals and other windows in the game, though I found that the Quest Journal needs some tweaking, specifically in allowing the “quest” area at the top part of the journal to be resized.

In what is a bit of an ironic twist, the “Skill Book” window is almost the same as World of Warcraft’s skill book. I guess if it works, use it.

Zoning:
Let’s get this over with now. I hate zoning. The games I have played the most didn’t have zoning. Zoning sucks. However, to be fair, there are some advantages with it, mainly they can control how the world “flows” a little better sometimes, they can also instance easier, it can have benefits for server load, etc. Still, the load screen does suck.

The good news is, like all Zoning games, you get used to it and SOE has made the Zoneing time fairly short. It takes me about 10-15 seconds to zone into a level. The fact I have a SATA Raptor for a hard drive may make a difference though…
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