I’ve been spending a lot of time in EverQuest this week, satisfying my cravings for nostalgia and a game that doesn’t just hand me everything on a silver platter. At first I thought I would jump right back in with my level 90s because it wasn’t that long ago that I was playing regularly, but once I was actually in game (and after I had set my hotbars up, I had to re-install the game once I formatted my PC) I was at a complete loss on what to do.
Now, SOE actually addresses this issue for the majority of returning players. When you enter the game you receive a precious little book that belongs to a chain of quests that are a part of the ‘Hero’s Journey’. These quests will point you in the right direction from levels 1 to 85 – and there they stop. So it’s great for lower levels returning, or for making a new character, but for me at level 90 all it said was go play in House of Thule. I (thankfully) remembered where that was, but HoT is almost 2 expansions old now, and I was hoping to explore the latest expansion.
That didn’t mean there was absolutely nothing for me to do, there always is, in EverQuest. I took a look at my crafting skills and noticed that I was working on brewing previously. I’m 300/300 in Baking, Jewel crafting, and Tailoring, but only 250-270 in the other crafting disciplines. I headed to Abysmal Sea which is my crafting zone of choice, and set to work making a handful of drinks.
Crafting in EQ1 is just as annoying as it always has been. You lose materials whether you fail or succeed a combine and those skill ups are as rare as can be. With over 200 combines I managed to inch my crafting from 263 brewing to 272 and then I ran out of materials. I’ll have to head to Kaladim so I can gather more mushrooms before too long. The broker was in a sad state, but that also has to do with the fact that the game was down for 7 hours due to a patch. At this moment you’re still required to be online in order to perform sales, and a lot of people leave their characters up AFK while they’re at work. I suppose that’s one of the best changes coming in the 19th expansion due later this year.
Once I ran out of crafting materials I decided to take a peek at the new player experience. The Mines of Gloomingdeep have been remodeled, new players are given more explanation and story behind why they are trapped within. There are achievements for completing more than just the basics to the tutorial, and there are more NPC within the mines. You can hire a mercenary which is always a great idea especially since at those levels they are completely free of cost. I created a Vah Shir shaman, hired myself a tank, and was set. Forum posts indicate that any class combination is able to level up to around 60-65 with a tank mercenary, so I wanted to see if that theory was true.
I get tired of the comments that say you can never return to your ‘home’ MMO. Yes, games have changed and evolved over time, but so have we. Personally, EQ still scratches an itch that a lot of other games just don’t touch. I feel a sense of pride in leveling, in crafting, in pretty much everything. Some things are archaic, but I think there’s room for a game like that, perhaps even a niche demand.
If it’s any indication, EQ is still doing incredibly well for its age. There were over 400 people on my one server last night (and there are many servers still) and while it may not be the millions we see in some games, for a 13 year old MMO I’m just tickled that it’s still being developed, and not shutting down.