If it's been a quiet fortnight here on the blog that's not been for lack of game-playing. EQ2E has sucked me in, vortex-like, to its huge and complex world. It's even drawn in a couple of my friends.
There's a lot of flaws with the business model. It's one of the more brutal paywalls - very soon you are slapped hard with restrictions that have frustrated many people. Froobs have loot tantalisingly dangled before them like broke kids outside a sweet shop, noses pressed to the glass. Nor is it perfect from a developers' point of view - they've very clearly given away too much content. Buy Sentinel's Fate cheaply online and you've got everything. You can even buy it second hand, unlocking all content without giving SOE a penny.
In fact Smokejumper (the Senior Producer) admitted today that they've gone overboard with the content. It limits what they can do with the more bitterly contested elements of the business model because they're locked in to the force people to upgrade model rather than Lotro's system of options.
It doesn't matter.
The game rocks and like most MMOs it shows best when busy. A buzzing game is a fun game and if you like MMOs and aren't too wedded to one you should be playing one or more of the very busy main AAA MMOs that will be buzzing this Autumn: F2P EQ2, F2P Lotro, or WoW: Cataclysm. You'll have more fun than you would in a half-empty game.
I started off as a Berserker with the notion of soloing. That lasted until level 5 when I remembered Fighters were horrible with regard to downtime (actually that's mainly fixed now). I made an Inquisitor and as a starting character it's probably the best of the 8 free classes. Inquisitor is like an old school AD&D melee cleric. Plate mail, solid damage, almost unkillable. In addition to being a solid EQ2 class in general it has a particular resilience to the vicissitudes of the cash shop. Its main attacks are Alternate Advancment abilities (which Bronze players can max out) which replace spells (which Bronze players are severely restricted in).
He's now level 34 and a member of The Bronze Age, a guild which allows no Gold or Platinum players (although you're allowed to have other subbed accounts, just can't join the guild with them).
Then a friend joined and we started duoing rather obsessively. We blasted a pair of mages up to 20-something over the double exp weekend, tried out a Guardian/Inquistor pair and then, after doing a couple of dungeons, my friend decided he really wanted to sub. Seeing legendary loot drop and not being able to use it was too much for the poor snowflake!
Our latest incarnations are a Troll Shadowknight (me) and a High Elf Defiler. We both picked for imbaness. Shadowknights are currently the flavour of the month, very overpowered and function well without good gear. The Troll makes him really look the part - he's big, he talks loud, he grunts a lot, he blocks a doorway when he stands in it. He is what people expect in a tank and he's very easy for other people to keep track of. The Defiler is a shortage class at end game mainly because they're horrible to solo level. Of course since we're duoing that's a non-issue and they're really good and they look cool. High Elf is the strongest healer race which meant he had to do the betrayal quest. It was interesting but it's not really something most people would want to do if they didn't have to.
We've done a lot of crafting and agreed today to restrict the crafting and concentrate on adventuring plus one craft each (I have 4 level 30+ crafters already!). We have a guild set up which is just for us 2 and is basically for storage. In due course it will become a large building for him to decorate in macabre ways as well as a crafting centre and a teleport hub.
So against my expectations I'm subbing to EQ2 again. It's actually the fourth time I've started a subcription to this game. Maybe it will be fourth time lucky.